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Center for Exhibition Industry Research

CEIR releases power of exhibitions in the 21st Century Generational Study

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) announces the release of its much anticipated, large-scale generational study on the exhibitions and events industry. The Power of Exhibitions in the 21st Century – Identify, Discover and Embrace Change from the Point of View of Young Professionals began with the goal of identifying how to better attract young professionals to industry-wide exhibitions and events.

David Audrain, CEM, President of Messe Frankfurt Inc. and current chair of CEIR’s Research Committee, commented recently on the importance of this new research. “For years the exhibition industry has received much anecdotal information about the future of the industry and the participation (or supposed lack of it) from the next generations of attendees and exhibitors. For the first time, as an industry, we now have a clear study using definitive research that will help all exhibition organizers define the best way to develop their shows to attract the newer generations.”

The Power of Exhibitions study was completed in two phases and commenced in October 2008. Lusage Marketing, a research firm based out of Chicago, IL interviewed more than 300 young professional attendees, ages 20 to 39, at 10 diverse business-to-business exhibitions. This on-site research helped to identify the specific likes, dislikes, perceptions and attitudes of these attendees’ experiences. An in-depth, quantitative online survey was then fielded by Burke, Inc., a marketing research industry leader, to approximately 1,200 young professionals who attended or had the opportunity to attend any exhibition related to their career in the past three years.

Exhibitions and events industry executives and organizers will find the results of CEIR’s qualitative and quantitative research enlightening and encouraging. Amongst dozens of major findings, CEIR discovered that the vast majority of survey respondents who had an opportunity to attend an exhibition chose to do so. Furthermore, 87 percent of those who expect an invitation to an exhibition in the next two years stated they are very likely or somewhat likely to attend one. CEIR’s research further uncovered the differences between the attitudes and expectations of Generation X attendees (ages 28-39) and Millennial attendees (ages 18 to 27) in the areas of education, exhibitor interaction, technology and networking.

The Power of Exhibitions offers a wealth of insight into how young professionals want to connect, learn and network at exhibitions and events. CEIR’s study includes additional interpretations and insight from generational expert Chuck Underwood, author and founder of The Generational Imperative. GES CEO and 2009 CEIR Chairman Kevin Rabbitt referred to the study as, “powerful research providing insights into how to best connect with the next generation of event and exhibition customers.” He further stated that CEIR’s report is a “must read for any exhibition organizer.”

CEIR gratefully acknowledges the major grant from the Exhibition Industry Foundation (EIF) which made this research possible. Additionally, Freeman’s support for the qualitative analysis conducted at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers’ WESTEC show, and Champion Exposition Services’ support for the American Wind Energy Association’s WindPower show allowed additional industry sectors to be added to the report. Finally, the CEIR Research Committee and CEIR Board were instrumental in refining the parameters of the study and evaluating its findings.

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