An Updated Look at Evaluating Market Share for Convention Centers

convention centers market share

In 2016, we used data from the 2015 TSNN Top 250 to examine “[What Is Market Share and What Does this KPI Mean to Convention Centers?]” The following is a refreshed look at that post with new data from the 2017 TSNN Top 250. In a future post, we will examine how metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs) can aid in venue management and also take a look at other venue metrics to measure, monitor and evaluate performance.  

Market Share as a Convention Center KPI

In the convention center world, absolute market share is often cited and used in feasibility studies. This distorts its importance however because it is not that meaningful to the vast majority of convention centers. In this context, market share leadership among convention centers is most likely in the low single digits. There is simply no way to track the diverse type of events that play in convention centers to make this metric useful. It is only when segments of the market are measured that using market share as a KPI is meaningful. In some instances, the measurement will have geographic limitations since many events rotate to different regions each year and the competition, therefore, is regional. This measure is sometimes called relative market share, and it can be used to show market share among regional competitors and/or market share among competitors for a particular market segment. The TSNN Top 250 and large annual medical association meetings are examples. Now with relative market share, useful comparisons and judgments can be made ranking convention centers. Below is data showing relative market share for TSNN’s Top 250—a very popular metric because the scale and importance of the trade shows, association meetings, and consumer shows have grown. Most are prominent business and media events reported on globally.

Convention Center Market Share %
Las Vegas Convention Center 10.42%
Orange County Convention Center 9.58%
McCormick Place 8.33%
Javits Convention Center 5.42%
Mandalay Bay Convention Center 5.00%
Georgia World Congress Center 4.58%
Indiana Convention Center 4.17%

San Diego Convention Center

AmericasMart Atlanta 3.75%
Boston Convention & Exhibition Center 3.33%
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center 3.33%
Sands Expo & Convention Center 3.33%

By contrast, relative market share offers insight on how to identify and outperform specific competitors. Additionally, it's helpful to calculate relative market share on an ongoing basis to see whether your convention center is enhancing its position within the industry or increasingly falling behind the competition.

Ways to Increase Market Share

So your convention center has been consistently monitoring relative market share and the decline is obvious. The majority of convention centers will analyze their market position and conclude that they are operating below their optimal market share. Maybe they have not been able to craft an effective marketing campaign, or the most common response; they are not as large as their competitors in order to attract the biggest and best events. In sum, they see themselves in a much more competitive position promising a higher market share, followed by greater economic impact if only… The expansion option appears to be the only way and it seems to be an almost knee-jerk reaction to bad news. Convention center expansion is a time-consuming, politically controversial and expensive option. However, convention centers have other tools and opportunities to improve market share. Listed below are the tools that private companies often employ with commentary on how they may apply to convention centers:

  • Innovations which Differentiate from Competitors - Many convention centers are employing this strategy, making civic improvements and incenting private industry to invest in hospitality-related businesses. The more creative ones are incorporating these things into convention center districts. Other convention centers have upgraded their wireless internet capacity and coverage, made significant changes in food & beverage service and improved the amenities and space for meeting rooms and ballrooms.
  • Innovative and Thoughtful Marketing – Sometimes the marketing message lacks clarity; the marketing “call to action” to attract trade shows and professional association meetings do not quite fit the traditional view of the city. There was a time for example when Orlando and Las Vegas were not considered serious places to conduct business. Clearly, all that has changed, so a concerted, innovative and thoughtful marketing effort initiated by a convention center in partnership with the CVB can work. Altering the message and ultimately changing perceptions about a city and its convention center takes persistent work.
  • Focus Marketing on Sectors with the Best Probability of Success - Another way to grow market share is to focus your efforts on clients where you have the best probability of success. Probability does not mean that something will not occur if the percent is very low or zero. It means that the chance of it occurring has a history of occurring at a certain percentage in the sample. Convention centers through in-depth research can find out past probabilities of success for certain economic sectors and in turn concentrate marketing and sales resources on those sectors or “verticals”. The probabilities can be used as a predictive tool to determine the level of effort required and steer marketing efforts in the best direction.

Don’t forget to check back for an expanded look at what key performance indicators can aid in your venue management efforts.

In the meantime, learn how Ungerboeck for Convention Centers can help you unlock your venue’s KPIs.

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