- THE MAGAZINE
This year’s attendance eclipsed that of 2007 by the end of the first exhibit day. This growth occurred during a year when Association Meetings magazine reported that 50 percent of U.S.-based association annual meetings have experienced decreased or flat attendance over 2007, and that most growth for the remaining 50 percent was only in the single digits.
“While the exhibition maxed out its square footage, we also were pleased that the growth in the number of buyers eclipsed that of most other association events,” said ISSA Executive Director John Garfinkel. “The majority of groups posting increases in 2008 are in the high-tech and medical fields, so this is a big accomplishment for the cleaning profession, and it reflects the strong drive of our industry to pursue professionalism, networking, and new ideas.”
ISSA’s 2008 double-digit growth also is in contrast to other visitor statistics from the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), where ISSA/INTERCLEAN took place. Despite being in one of the top convention cities in the United States, the LVCC has reported less than half a percent of visitor growth during the first six months of this year over last year, according to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority’s June executive summary.
“It is a testament to the vitality and staying power of our industry that in challenging economic times, the attendance and mood of this year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN was strong and upbeat,” said Dennis Shearer, vice president of sales for Georgia-Pacific Professional.
An adjacent exhibit hall-never before used by ISSA/INTERCLEAN when in Las Vegas-was added to accommodate record event space this year. Yet even with this expansion and the move of the ISSA Resource Center to the registration-lobby concourse, the show fully sold out of available exhibit space.
There were 90 first-time exhibitors present at this year’s show, bringing with them many new products and ideas. Additionally, 75 of the first-time firms from last year’s event returned.
According to Association Meetings, two top tactics that event organizers have begun using to increase value in the face of a turbulent U.S. economy are selecting convenient locations and improving educational sessions. Both of these were employed by ISSA for the 2008 show.
At the request of exhibitors and attendees, ISSA switched from the scheduled 2008 show location of Anaheim, CA, to Las Vegas, when a date at the LVCC became available last year.
ISSA also made a number of adjustments to the educational-conference schedule and content, resulting in a 19 percent increase in seminar attendance this year. This growth led to standing room only for many sessions, including the popular keynote address by comedian Dr. Bill Cosby, as well as sold-out workshops covering the Cleaning Industry Management Standard, or CIMS; technical floor care; and slip-and-fall prevention. The All-Industry Networking Lunch also was sold out for the third year in a row.
“ISSA seminars and continuing-education sessions offered learning opportunities for everyone,” said William Krueger, GOJO Global Group vice president and general manager. “This year’s ISSA/INTERCLEAN was very productive for GOJO. We were able to collaborate with our key distributors and our sales teams about how we are going to be successful in the balance of 2008, in 2009, and beyond.”
Distributor attendance was up 6 percent over last year-including those attending the co-located DistriPakUSA™ exhibition-with a 27 percent increase in distributor companies over 2007. BSC individual participation was up 10 percent. Results indicate this was due to contractors bringing more personnel per company, as BSC firms in attendance were within 1 percent of last year. ISP attendance took the largest jump in 2008, with more than 30 percent more individuals and properties present.
“The 2008 ISSA/INTERCLEAN show in Las Vegas was a big success for [our company],” said Rich Steinberg, vice president of sales for ProTeam. “The traffic at our booth was exceptional, and we were pleased with the number of new contacts and loyal customers that stopped by.”
While exhibitors naturally favor increased attendance, the true measure of a tradeshow’s return on investment is how well each company meets its individual goals. For a great many ISSA/INTERCLEAN exhibitors, the results were very positive. Among exhibit managers who stated that their intent was to build market visibility, influence branding and image perceptions, or differentiate themselves from the competition, 100 percent reported success in Las Vegas. Also, nearly 40 percent of exhibitors surveyed said they had success introducing new products.
In addition, 85 percent of exhibit managers surveyed said their companies generated new business at ISSA/INTERCLEAN while 94 percent said they strengthened existing relationships-both vital steps as the industry heads into uncertain economic times.