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June 06, 2005

EXPO Magazine to Change Criteria for Best New Show Awards

It's not often that we break a news story over here, but here's one that may not exactly qualify as a "Drudge" moment, but which you're unlikely to hear about anywhere else.

The well-meaning folks at EXPO Magazine were excited to announce and promote their first "Best New Show" awards, which was launched to celebrate new events which ran during 2004. 

After the announcements of winners were made public a few weeks ago, EXPO had some explaining to do.

It turns out one of the shows that won may not be all it was cracked up to be.  And competitors of the show in question were not happy about them receiving an award.

After handling the complaints and admitting there was little they could do because the rules did not require third party audits, the powers that be at EXPO decided they could not revoke the award. 

As a result, you may not be hearing much more about the 2004 awards.

Which is too bad for the other winners, which included Digital Life Expo (best new consumer show), World of Concrete Mexico (best new international show), All Asia Food Expo (best new co-located launch) and RoboNexus Conference and Exposition (best new trade/consumer hybrid).  If EXPO indeed chooses to not go forward with promotion and a gala for the awards, these four shows will be deprived of the acclaim that should rightfully be theirs to celebrate. 

But there is a silver lining.  We've learned that EXPO will change the criteria for entry for its 2005 Best New Show Awards.  All nominees will have to provide third-party audits that substantiate their claims.

While it's unfortunate audits weren't in the criteria for 2004, we believe that EXPO's decision to make this change is a positive for every ethical show manager in the industry.  It stands to reason that once audited, these new shows will continue to toe the line by providing factual numbers for the duration of their respective runs.  Which will then (hopefully) encourage any competitors to follow suit.

That audits are vitally important to our industry is graphically illustrated in a poll by Natural-stone.com, which asked its audience whether there were too many tradeshows. 

77% said there were too many shows.
3% said there weren't enough.
20% said it was about the right amount.

The article on the survey then editorialized about the differences between the large shows and small shows, the horizontals, the verticals and the regionals, and offered a reason why each type was important.

But the author also noted this:

  • Who will win the War of the Trade Shows?
    The answer was unanimous: The Promoters of the venues.
    Whether attendees show up or not, the promoters have collected their fees from the exhibitors and proclaim what a great success the show was like a politician with memorized talking points. Even the ITSS New York Show, which has been officially declared a bona fide joke, touted rave reviews from its own promoters. How much lipstick can you put on a pig?

And that's what can happen when people stop believing our story.  So why ever give them a reason to not believe?  Our viewpoint is that it only takes is one show in any industry who doesn't play it straight with customers for exhibitors and attendees to cast doubt upon all shows in that industry.  So this is a battle we have to win for our own sake as well as that of the trade show industry as a whole.

We have been following the EXPO Awards story with significant interest because one of TWG's clients is Coverings, which overlaps with the show in question, ITSS, in the stone fabricating machinery segment.  I'm disclosing that fact again so you can choose to discount this post in its entirety and/or any or all of my opinions, which are mine alone and not necessarily shared by my client, National Trade Productions, nor by any of the sponsors or co-sponsors of Coverings.

At the end of the day, our opinion is that what EXPO did was reasonable.  To put it in the same terms as Natural-Stone.com, what EXPO did was put away the lipstick and go get a healthier pig next year.

10:47 AM in Trade Show Industry | Permalink

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