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EXHIBITOR 2010 Survey: More Spending On Exhibits Than Shipping

Trade show exhibitors look ahead at their 2010 buying plans

A few weeks ago Skyline gladly hosted the Upper Midwest Exhibit Designers and Producers Association chapter meeting, here at our main facility in Minnesota.

About 60 industry professionals were treated dinner and not just one, but two excellent presentations about the state of the exhibition industry.  The newly-elected EDPA President John Rose presented highlights from the 2009 EDPA Economic Survey, which showed how exhibit builders fared in 2008.  (Most made money.  2009 will be a more interesting survey.)

The second presenter, Mark Kuehl of EXHIBITOR Media Group, shared the as-yet-unpublished EXHIBITOR Magazine’s 2010 Economic Outlook Survey. The goal of EXHIBITOR’s survey was to “quantify trends in corporate spending on trade shows for the coming year.”  Which for our audience meant, do exhibitors feel safe enough to resume spending on trade shows, or not?

The survey will be published in EXHIBITOR’s March 2010 issue, but we got enough of a sneak peek to share a key insight with you. 

EXHIBITOR used a common format for many questions, asking survey takers if they planned to spend more, the same, or less on an item in 2010.  Most people answered “the same” to these questions – it was the gap in percent between those who answered “increase” versus “decrease” that gives a clue to what the year will bring.

Do exhibitors want lighter weight exhibits?

The biggest “Aha!” for me (I might have even dropped my dessert spoon) was that exhibitors are ready to spend more on trade show exhibits than before, and that they will buy lighter weight exhibits.  Here’s how I came to that conclusion:

When asked what their expected spending would be for exhibit shipping, only 5.5% said they would increase, while 33% said they would decrease spending.  With 5.5% minus 33%, that’s a negative 27.5% gap indicating less planned spending on shipping.

But when asked what their expected spending would be for exhibits/displays, 17% said they would increase, while 22.1% said they would decrease spending.  With 17% minus 22.1%, that’s about a negative 5% gap indicating slightly less planned spending on exhibits/displays.  (Their actual behavior during 2009 was much more towards “decrease” – so this feels like an improvement!)

How do exhibitors plan to nearly maintain spending on exhibits and displays, but spend that much less on shipping?  I think it’s because they intend to buy lighter weight exhibits and displays that will lower their shipping costs.

Do you agree?  And what do you plan to do?  Let me know in the comments box below. 

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Mike Thimmesch
About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

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