The Young Professionals View of Exhibitions

Just recently The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released a brand new publication in cooperation with the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO); the 2015 Young Professional Exhibitor Needs and Preferences Study.

The good news? Nearly all young exhibitors find that exhibitions deliver unique value that cannot be fulfilled by other marketing or sales channels. So we can lean back, relax and do everything the way we used to, right?

Well, looking deeper into the study we find that young exhibitors think otherwise. CEIR President and CEO Brian Casey, CEM, states:

"This particular study suggests the future of the industry is bright; though it also points out young exhibitors have unique preferences. Organizers need to pay attention and adjust content and marketing approaches to remain relevant and positioned for growth."

Pulling from the report, I found a few interesting tidbits that can provide exhibition organizers with a new perspective.

Treat others the way you want to be treated

While being knowledgable about the product is a top-ranked attribute all exhibitors want to project to attract and engange attendees, presenting a friendly and outgoing approach is uniquely appealing to young professionals.

As the CEIR report states:

“This appetite for a friendly and inviting atmosphere permeates mass media approaches today. Casual and friendly dominates staff profiles especially in the service industry. Look to staff profiles on the websites of various marketing, advertising, social media and other related agencies. It is likely you will find bios that project casual and friendly people, there may even be humor and whimsy; this is by design for a reason.”

What does this mean for you? If you want to help exhibitors create a friendlier atmosphere in the booth, try taking the time to brainstorm additional services that you might be able to offer that will promote this behavior. For example, are there choices around catering options and booth equipment you might be able to provide that are better suited to an open, casual atmosphere?

Speak to me

When it comes to marketing, exhibitors rely on multiple information sources to identify exhibition opportunities. These range from e-mails from the organizer, to the organizers website, trade association publications, word of mouth, social media and more. Per the report, the most trusted source is e-mail from the organizer (37%), followed by the organizers website (23%) and industry association membership (23%).

Making use of this information is about asking and addressing hard questions around your marketing strategy. Is your website covering the promotion aspect of the exhibition sufficiently? Can prospective exhibitors access all relevant information from your website? Is it easy for them to get in contact with you? Are you using trust-building elements (e.g. testimonials) in your marketing communication? Make sure the answer to all is yes!

Looking Ahead

As discussed in a previous blog post on Gen Y & Events, people born between 1980 and the mid-2000s form the largest generation in the U.S., representing around one-third of the total U.S. population. Understanding what they think and what they value most is essential to our industry's ability to respond to their preferences and assure future growth.

Have you made any strategic changes to prepare for the onset of Millennials (or Gen Z?!) I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Contact me on LinkedIn or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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