If you live in a "cool" city (i.e. not Pittsburgh), watch out for this trend.
Eventually, this too will become a sponsorship sales opportunity. I can already see the product placement opportunities. Can't be long before the cellcos get involved either.
If your show is failing, hey, why not start your own flash mob. You could build attendance by the thousands. Of course they'll all leave in 10 minutes, but your exhibitors won't know what hit them ; )
I've always been in favor of attendance audits. Even when figurative revolvers were pointed at my head insisting I cooperate in a corporate lie. When the first organized attempt by a independent third-party auditing firm was made a few years ago, I was on the inaugural Board.
While I'm still in favor of audits, I'm thinking that maybe the issue will go away, at least in certain segments. Part of that reasoning is due to show reviews on blogs like this one, again on MacWorld CreativePro.
If you (or more likely your company's executives) contribute to the promotion inflated attendance numbers, you'd better hope blogging never catches up to your event. You simply won't have the wiggle room to fudge.
At the same time, take note of the positive comments. When your event is interesting and offers value, you'll get good 'press' from your community.
This week's Tradeshow Week had a cover story on the recent MacWorld in NYC. Among the problems IDG World Expo has faced are: Steve Jobs not coming to keynote, a shift in attendees from end users to professional users and the upcoming probability of losing Apple as an exhibitor.
You would think that in the face of these challenges, the folks at IDG World Expo would do everything in their power to understand their core audience. Particularly as so many Mac users are SOHO types with concerns about what to do with their kids when they want to attend the show.
Although the event has lately suffered, Networld+Interop still has loyal fans.
Perhaps the most loyal would be "Roy", who worked on the N+I NOC (Network Operations Center) at several shows in the 90's. His shrine to N+I includes graphics of pocket guides, an event timelines and other trivia.
While I don't think Roy's efforts will have any impact on halting the event's decline, this paean to his favorite event is at least emblematic of the potential of developing community.
However, if I happen to find out that Roy is in his 40s and living with his mother, I'll recant.