The Motivation Show/Incentive Travel & Meeting Executives Show, which lights up Chicago's McCormick Place every September with thousands of destination exhibitors and meeting and incentive buyers, is not immune to the economic slowdown. Buyer attendance for the 2002 IT&ME was up substantially from 2001 (which convened just a few weeks after 9/11), but numbers were off 19 percent from 2000. Exhibit sales were also disappointing, not even hitting 2001 levels.

“Clearly the economy and the post-9/11 travel world are still recovering,” says Wayne Dunham, Dunham Communications, an IT&ME spokesman. While traffic was slow on the show floor, Dunham praised the caliber of the 2002 buyers. “Overall, the show went very well. Most of the exhibitors were quite pleased with the quality of the floor traffic.”

In an effort to attract nontraditional attendees, such as sales and marketing professionals, IT&ME blanketed the Chicago area with advertisements. Radio ads played on three stations, and a insert ran in 40,000 Wednesday and Monday editions of the Chicago Tribune before the show.

Show manager Hall-Erickson reports that the show attracted 15,573 registered buyers. A total of 2,246 exhibitors occupied 303,470 net square feet of exhibit space (an 8 percent decline from last year), which includes the 863 exhibitors at the concurrent National Premium Incentive show.