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Looking Ahead to 2018

Originally published by Trade Show Executive December 2017 Edition


As an association leader, it is my duty to stay in tune with our members as well as continuously survey issues and trends that affect the industry. As we close one year and look to the next, the question becomes ‘How does an association stay relevant to its members?’ This is what we asked ourselves as IAEE reviewed its strategic objectives for 2018.

In evaluating IAEE’s strategic plan, we collaborated with a futurist to analyze how our industry fits into the global business market to determine how we should approach our short- and long-term goals. Not surprisingly, the role that technology plays in our industry led the conversation – as is the case with most industries!

Industry associations are tasked with helping their members stay on top of the technological curve, which puts providing timely and relevant education at the top of our “to do” list. As attendees at last month’s Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition in San Antonio experienced, a considerable amount of our education offerings focused on applying the latest innovations – such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (AR) – to the inherent needs of our industry.

It is imperative though, that in the effort to stay on top of the technology wave, we do not lose sight of what makes our industry unique: the value of face-to-face interaction. Along those lines, in 2017 the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) published the Attendee Floor Engagement Study, an eight-part series focusing on tactics used to increase attendee interest and participation on and off the show floor.

CEIR also added two reports to its Industry Insights Series, which offers a wide range of strategies for exhibitors and show organizers from leading industry experts on ways to maximize the face-to-face marketplace. In 2018, CEIR will continue its mission of providing industry-leading, objective research on the exhibitions and events industry by exploring and analyzing exhibiting best practices along with marketing strategies targeted at increasing trade show return on investment (ROI).

2018 will also bring a heightened emphasis on venue safety and security. As I discussed in April’s issue, the industry-wide collaboration known as the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI) has been working to create a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved designation and certification for our industry that will provide U.S. venues with guidelines and best practices for their safety and security programs. In collaboration with ESCA and IAVM, the coming year promises to hold significant strides toward accomplishing this worthy endeavor that will benefit us all.

Which leads me to the subject of Exhibitions Day. Once again, the exhibitions and events industry will make itself heard on Capitol Hill, so mark your calendars for 5-6 June 2018. A vital component of the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign, Exhibitions Day brings together members from all facets of the industry to educate members of U.S. Congress on the importance that our $80 billion industry has on the overall U.S. economy.

It is also our opportunity to weigh in on the decisions our government makes on our behalf so that we take a proactive role in the process. Exhibitions Day contributes to the ongoing relationships we are building with U.S. government entities, and reflects positively on the impact that our active advocacy efforts has on our industry.

On behalf of IAEE, I wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday season and look forward to welcoming a dynamic and prosperous new year for the exhibitions and events industry.

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President & CEO

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