Challenge: With so much consolidation, competition and content disruption impacting trade shows over the last decade, many associations have decided to sell their shows to a large management company (and collect a big check and/or a royalty), hire a third-party operator to manage it (at a hefty annual fee) or shut it down (to limit/eliminate the negative impact on their financial statement).
I worked at an association with an aging, 45-year old trade show. Our management team (and a handful of its board members) recognized that show revenues had flattened, expenses were increasing and we were seeing warning signs that industry members were changing their dependence on the show for building future business. All of these symptoms were confirming that dramatic changes needed to take place, or the show might become smaller, irrelevant or worst… insolvent.
Solution: My team and I put together a 100+ point, trade show improvement plan which we code named ‘Version 5.0’. This was tongue-in-cheek due to the relatively few changes made in the show from its launch over four decades prior (it was still at V1.0). Our goal was to implement all of V 5.0 tactics and strategies in time for the show’s 50th anniversary.
Results: We completed the improvement plan re-engineering in under three years and watched the show revenue grow from $7.5 million to nearly $15 million, gross operating profit consistently topped 65% and attendee satisfaction/ROI saw a much improved, upward trajectory.
I have had the pleasure of working with Gary for over 13 years during his tenure at U.S. Travel. Gary is an energetic leader who helped transform U.S. Travel's premier event, IPW, by reducing costs through operational efficiencies, increasing revenues by introducing new projects and developing creative sponsorship opportunities. Gary’s passion for U.S. Travel’s events inspired his entire team to be more efficient and creative.
Jay Atherton, EVP Operations-Freeman Companies