Stephanie Selesnick, International Trade Information, Inc.

Last year, in a post- show survey from one of the largest United States largest exhibitions, I was happily surprised by this question: Thinking about the future of the industry, are there any shows that could “steal the thunder” of the XYZ Show or that your company might attend instead of the XYZ Show? Which show and why?

This annual exhibition has engaged exhibitor and visitor bases. Exhibit space sells out every year and there is a waiting list. Attendees (over 100,000) line up to buy all types of logo-decorated show merchandise, including clothing. They brag about how many years they’ve attended the exhibition. (Qualification is a rigorous process.)

On first and even second glance, it appears these organizers should have no worries about competition, but clearly, they do. They are smart. The question alone illustrates that they are not complacent about that year’s success. No matter how successful the show, there is always competition – another show or technology waiting to pounce and take away market share.

Asking the right questions of your exhibition’s stakeholders – exhibitors, visitors, sponsors, even press – is one of the best indicators on the future health of not only your show, but the industry it serves. Hearing the answers, then making the adjustments is far more difficult!

On the positive side, the by-product of answers may shed light on new industry sectors or possible partnerships which may enhance your event.

Do you know your attendees and exhibitors’ answers about the competition?