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Lessons in Learning

Read IAEE President David DuBois’ letter on the importance of professional development, and the steps taken to ensure education sessions at #ExpoExpo are made in enjoyable and digestible formats.

Originally published by Trade Show Executive

An economic trend gaining traction these days is the dropping rate of unemployment. According to data presented by economist Dr. Lindsey Piegza with Stifel Fixed Income at this year’s PREDICT Conference hosted by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), we can expect this trend to continue. Upper management is now being challenged with the best ways to attract and retain good talent.

Professional development is an effective solution for this challenge. Now is the time to invest in our teams and support their professional growth. One of the top rewards we can offer employees is the promise that we will help them stay at the top of their game, which is not a bad deal when you consider this tidbit from the World Economic Forum: by 2022, professionals will need an additional 101 days of learning to keep their skills on par with what their jobs require. The shift toward ongoing professional development is in full effect, and to ignore it is to ignore your most coveted asset.

How this translates to our industry is that one of the most important elements of a great show is for attendees to walk away feeling that they have gained valuable information from the event, and it was worth the cost and their time to attend. The attention given to creating the best experience possible has taken on a life of its own, as many show organizers can attest, and the call to action points to creating just the right balance among the many ways in which attendees are presented information.

This is crucial in meeting their needs – whether those be to learn about products and services, obtain continuing education, get updates on the latest best practices or gain perspective from fellow colleagues. Like so many of you, we are faced with every single one of these demands when evaluating the learning component at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition. We know from surveying past attendees and from reviewing CEIR research and reports that the expectations are high in terms of obtaining worthwhile takeaways in enjoyable formats. One thing is certain: variety and value are key.

Which is why we have approached the learning process from an experiential mindset. Between activations and learning labs on the show floor, to the festival-like atmosphere of networking that supports peer-to-peer learning, to the tried-and-true traditional learning formats, the goal is to foster thought leadership in a way that allows each attendee to feel confident they are putting their best foot forward after applying what they learned at Expo! Expo!

Given the intense focus on technology that is the status quo at every show these days, another perspective that we are honing is that of the disruptor – but not in the way you might think. We so often hear about disruptors and automatically think of the technology itself. Have you ever thought about the end user as the “disruptor” rather than the tech? As in, how their beliefs and values disrupt the business environment, rather than the other way around? This concept has shaped our approach in how we present the latest tech applications for the exhibitions and events industry.

Education is even more important right now because employment is directly tied into the economy. Executive leaders are wise to think in terms of adding professional development to the list of benefits they offer members of their team. In turn, show organizers are wise to make sure attendees walk away from their shows feeling they have the takeaways they need to satisfy their professional development demands.

We look forward to showing you how we have applied these lessons in learning in Las Vegas next month! There will be plenty to see and do, so start planning your Expo! Expo! experience now by visiting

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

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