AWS re:Invent 2023, a conference and expo hosted by Amazon Web Service (AWS) for the global cloud-computing community, attracted tens of thousands customers, partners and AWS team members to Las Vegas Nov. 27-Dec. 1. AWS, producer of one of the largest U.S. corporate events of the year, generated Q3 revenues of $23.06 billion, according to a statement. The cloud unit, which CNBC calls the world’s top provider of computing and storage services, grew revenue 12% year over year for the quarter.
“Generative AI took center stage during keynotes, race cars and robots wowed at the expo, and no one will forget Major Lazer’s cover of David Bowie at re:Play any time soon,” according to the AWS re:Invent website.
The sprawling “campus” for AWS re:Invent covered 10 hotels on the Las Vegas Strip for sleeping rooms and spanned six dedicated venues, including Caesars Forum, Mandalay Bay, The Venetian, Wynn, Encore and MGM. (See the full list here.)
With full conference passes priced at $2,099, this year’s in-person event offered keynote announcements, training and certification opportunities, more than 2,000 technical sessions, a trade show floor with hundreds of partners, after-hours events and more.
Attendees were encouraged to walk or use the monorail service between MGM and Caesars Forum to get around, but free shuttles were available for venues more than a 15-minute walk from one another. Taxi and rideshare options were also available.
What can other event professionals learn from AWS re:Invent 2023? Exhibit News Now curated a list of nine highlights from this year’s show.
2. New products. AWS took center stage to introduce eight major product announcements that were covered widely in tech and mainstream media. Selipsky talked about Amazon's newAI-powered chatbot Q and how it will impact the customer experience. A complete list of new product releases can be found here.
3. Sessions. Over the course of five days, the event offered more than 2,000 sessions with training and certification in a variety of formats, including:
Breakout sessions werelecture-style and ran 45-60 minutes. AWS experts, customers and partners presented these sessions, which often included 10-15 minutes of Q&A. These sessions were recorded and uploaded to the AWS Events YouTube channel.
Builders' sessions wereone-hour hands-on sessions with 10 attendees and one AWS expert per table. Each builders’ session began with a short explanation or demo of what attendees were going to build. There was no formal presentation — just 10 attendees, their laptops and the AWS expert.
Chalk talks were interactive whiteboarding 60-minute sessions with AWS experts. Attendees engaged in a lively technical discussion centered around real-world architecture challenges with a small group of experts and peers.
Workshops were two-hour interactive sessions where attendees worked in small teams to solve real problems using AWS services. Each workshop kicked off with a 10- to 15-minute lecture by a speaker, and the rest of the time was spent working as a group on their laptops.
4. Fun + fitness. A new addition to the re:Invent 2023 campus, the Rec Center at Mandalay Bay offered attendees the opportunity to test their skills on the field, on the pitch, or on the track. Attendees had the chance to watch, play and experience AWS sports collaborations with some of the major sports franchises like the NFL that partner with AWS. Check out a video of the rec center here.
5. Repurposing content.Listen to interviews with key figures from the world of AWS, recorded during AWS re:Invent 2023. Or watch on demand. Hear about the latest trends and breakthroughs in cloud computing — including product announcements, news about AI and machine learning and infrastructure innovations that AWS leaders shared at re:Invent 2023.
6. Expo. Held at The Venetian, the expo was the place to be to access a wide range of activities, including the AWS Village, the AWS Community Developer Lounge, sponsor booths and learning opportunities. On the show floor, hundreds of AWS Partners offered software, data and services that run on AWS. Sponsors included startup and major brands like Accenture, Deloitte, pwc, Salesforce, Cisco and Capital One — to name a few. See a full list here.
7. Zones on the show floor. Attendees could browse the experience through four distinct zones including Data, Developer Solutions, Infrastructure Solutions, Security and AWS for Industries. At the center of each zone was an AWS pavilion that featured a cluster of AWS exhibits, demos and content to help attendees to better understand the application of AWS services.
8. Done deals. Bookable meeting and reception space (BMS) was available Nov. 27-30 at Encore. AWS re:Invent offered a variety of meeting and reception room capacities (for 15-400 people) and configurations (including boardroom, executive boardroom, reception, rounds and u-shape) in two-, three- or four-hour blocks of time. Each room included standard audio/visual (A/V) equipment, conference wireless internet and a digital sign outside of the room.
9. Giving back. Partnering with Fill it Forward, AWS made donations to its non-profit customer charity: water to assist water-insecure communities around the world, where people have to carry heavy water containers daily for cooking, bathing and drinking. For every walk completed, a donation was made toward water systems and sanitation projects for schools in Cambodia, where access to clean water continues to be a daily challenge.
EventWorks, an event rental provider based in North Charleston, SC, andQuest Events, a drape and scenic elements provider headquartered in Frisco, Texas, are merging and integrating their offerings, providing expanded selection and services to a broad clientele across multiple locations.JEGI CLARITY, an investment bank for the events sectors, represented EventWorks, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The combined organization will employ about 780 team members and manage more than 550,000 square feet of warehoused equipment nationwide, supporting about 50,000 events annually.
"The merger enhances our capabilities in a growing number of markets and allows us to provide an expanded service and product selection to our clients, offering an experience unlike any other in the event industry!" said Lee Dunlap, founder and CEO of Quest Events, which has 16 locations across North America. Quest Events provides pipe and drape, scenic and furnishing rental solutions to the AV, hospitality, events, bridal and exhibition industries.
"We are ecstatic to be combining these two industry leaders to create more value for our clients, more opportunities for our teams and leverage our combined resources to provide a unique, unprecedented offering to our social and corporate markets," said Mike Schmidt, CEO of EventWorks, which has locations across five states and eight cities, including Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Savannah, Jacksonville, Birmingham, Atlanta, Nashville, and Orlando.
With showrooms, rental resources, and experienced staff across the Southeast, EventWorks provides on-site solutions for events throughout the region.
Deeper Dive: Q&A with EventWorks CEO Mike Schmidt
How did this deal come about?
Our leadership teams have known each other very well for many years and knew each other’s company’s cultures were very similar, which is always important in combining companies. We also shared the desire to create a company that is unlike any other in terms of our selection, service experience and reach, so it made sense to us to work together on the same team.
Who are some of your biggest clients? Will you name a few of the 50,000 events that the companies support annually?
We work with many of the top wedding and corporate planners across the country, as well as special events like the Grammy’s, the Super Bowl, NBA, NFL and MLB Sporting Events, SEC college tailgates, PGA golf tournaments, Indy car races and more.
What's the plan for the leadership team for the merged companies?
All leadership teams will remain in place. Over the course of time, we will make some minor changes in focus and roles as we evolve and integrate.
Ahead of the Curve – Case Study: How Greenbuild Redefined Exhibitor Engagement
December 6, 2023
Exclusively sponsored by Honeycomb Strategies.
When it comes to sustainable innovations, one thing that sets apart Greenbuild International Conference + Expo is its sophisticated exhibitor engagement programs. Interlacing strategies for operations and communications have allowed Greenbuild to convince exhibitors of their stake in a sustainable event and to garner acclaim, awards and a stellar reputation. Along with their signature exhibitor requirement, the Greenbuild Mandatory Exhibitor Greening Guidelines (GMEGG), Greenbuild and show partner U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched a new education module in 2023 to advance exhibitor engagement further.
GMEGG was established in 2012 specifically for Greenbuild as a uniform, measurable and comprehensive way to address exhibitor impacts. Now in its 10th year, GMEGG is a mandatory, 22-question online survey for exhibitors regarding best practices and requirements that include booth materials, electrical use, transportation and shipping and giveaways. GMEGG was the first of its kind for the trade show industry and was certainly the first mandatory guidelines for exhibitors at a tradeshow — though it has since been emulated and copied across the industry.
GMEGG participation carries promotional incentives for exhibitors. The Greenbuild Green Exhibitor Awards recognize outstanding environmental performance determined by manual and numerical assessment of GMEGG submissions and scores. Greenbuild Event Director Katie Gillham said the incentives go beyond acknowledgment.
“When the exhibitor feels a sense of belonging and commitment to a piece of the show, they understand they’re making a mark on our show through this program,” she said. She said for the business side of things, GMEGG results in better retention for exhibitors. For the success of the conference as a networking and innovation hub, it increases the sense of community for exhibitors and those they interface with onsite, including show management.
In its early years, the uniqueness of GMEGG and its stringent requirements was a hindrance for some exhibitor, but Gillham has noticed the industry catching up. “Now there is increased willingness and desire to participate [in GMEGG] because exhibitors are feeling pressures from outside Greenbuild,” she said.
Now the motivation to comply comes from beyond the accolades of the Greenbuild Green Exhibitor Awards, but from stakeholder pressures and corporate sustainability requirements. Once ahead of its time, GMEGG is now setting the pace for exhibitor responsibility in trade show sustainability.
Moving the Needle
GMEGG participation is near 100% every year, partly because exhibitors receive access to select booth space only after completing the survey. Gillham said the next hurdle is “to move the needle for higher [GMEGG] scores across the board.” The key to more sustainable exhibitor builds and operations would come not from stricter requirements, but from better educating exhibitors to take advantage of sustainable tools at their disposal.
USGBC Senior Manager, Education & Events Don Hatch was inspired by Greenbuild’s authentic connection to its exhibitors to level up. His philosophy: “your show is only as good as your exhibitors,” and despite excellent waste management and other operational guidelines, Greenbuild could do even better. He noticed GMEGG was often completed by just one representative of each exhibitor team. While GMEGG holds the exhibit manager accountable for sustainable planning, Hatch wanted to democratize the knowledge and increase buy-in for a sustainable exhibit throughout the team. Furthermore, he wanted to bridge the gap between the GMEGG deadline and when exhibitors showed up on the expo floor to encourage follow-through on the planning commitments detailed in each company’s submission.
Introducing the Greenbuild Education Module
Greenbuild leadership understands the technical lingo behind GMEGG can be daunting. So, Hatch and the events and education team at USGBC dreamt up a new education module to provide exhibitors with the knowledge to explain why GMEGG is important and beneficial. The primary goal of the education is to engage exhibitors not just in accountability but to give them stakes in the sustainable outcomes of the event.
The module is accessed online with a free USGBC.org account. It’s organized by category, echoing the familiar format of GMEGG, and includes tips and best practices for each area of sustainability. For example, one tip for show floor giveaways is: “swag items that are focused on a social good or experience can be more meaningful to attendee audiences and is a waste-free option.” While it is not a requirement to offer experience-based giveaways, this tip offers an alternative, more sustainable, and potentially more impactful way to connect to booth visitors.
In addition, the training calls out changes to GMEGG from prior years that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. In 2023, Greenbuild changed the requirement for post-consumer recycled content in booth flooring from 25 to 30%. For repeat exhibitors, this adjustment could have been lost in the checklist of GMEGG requirements. As part of the educational component, however, the change is accompanied by guidance on how to request and source flooring that complies
At the end of the module, participants take a short quiz to test their knowledge and shore up comprehension, and each individual receives a certificate of completion, which enables USGBC to track who completes the training. As the program develops, event managers can access reports to follow up about levels of compliance with exhibit owners as they work with them to improve their GMEGG scores.
GMEGG and the new training are important components of a comprehensive sustainability strategy Greenbuild has been developing for years. Onsite, Greenbuild provides sustainability tours of the host venue in which practices like waste sorting, kitchen and catering programs, and water reuse systems are highlighted. The show floor features the Sustainability Hub — the home for learning about Greenbuild Sustainability initiatives and engaging with the host destination through give-back programs like The Legacy Project, an annual local investment program that demonstrates the benefits of green building and sustainability to community health and equity.
Volunteers make up a valuable piece of Greenbuild’s engagement puzzle, and the education module is a great tool to strengthen the volunteer program. Volunteers who are generally undergraduate and graduate students or emerging professionals under the age of 30 receive complimentary conference registration in exchange for supporting Greenbuild’s sustainability goals. As stewards of the event sustainability strategy, Greenbuild volunteers staff waste bins, eating areas, community programming activations and the Sustainability Hub. The program prides itself on providing the next generation of green building professionals opportunities to network laterally and with Greenbuild attendees.
The education module was mandatory for volunteer training in 2023. Hatch said the role of volunteers is vital.
“Do they realize they’re the tip of the spear? They’re ensuring that the job of the people back of house is easy,” Hatch said. “They’re the ones saying to the attendee ‘This is where this has to go.’ They’re mitigating waste contamination rates. [That’s why] contamination rates of Greenbuild are near zero.” This person-to-person communication at the floor is a powerful way to put a sustainability strategy into place.
Expanding the reach of the education module beyond the volunteers opens up more channels of communication from management to exhibitor and offers more chances for impact mitigation, so volunteers become the last line of defense rather than the primary educators for exhibitor behavior.
Both Gillham and Hatch want to integrate the training more seamlessly next year. “We want to be their partner in creating more sustainable exhibit booths,” said Gillham. Through a combination of communication, education and innovation, such partnership is possible. Greenbuild is proud to be a leader in trade show sustainability, but not greedy in reaping the benefits. Gillham sees the GMEGG as a resource “to provide [exhibitors] with education to understand how to make a more sustainable exhibit [even] at shows that don’t have these requirements.”
2023 was a test run for the software. Launched in the summer prior to the October conference, it wasn’t mandatory for exhibitors. Next year the training will have an earlier rollout to pair with the availability of GMEGG. As an incentive for more participation, each person who completes the training will receive a GBCI continuing education credit. Whether or not the training becomes mandatory is still being considered, but the availability of knowledge will undoubtedly assist with the goals to increase exhibitor engagement and their pursuant GMEGG scores.
As Greenbuild aspires to be a zero-waste event in the near future and continues to recertify for EIC, WELL, and TRUE certifications, steps to engage exhibitors become essential. The room for sustainable growth narrows significantly once big impact inefficiencies have been remedied. Preventing and managing impacts from exhibitor and attendee behavior are difficult areas for consistent results, but Greenbuild is taking the challenge head-on. As the imperative for more sustainable solutions increases, once again the industry’s preeminent green building expo is ahead of its time to innovate solutions to close the gaps in its sustainability strategy.
The latest report, released on Nov. 29, highlights a notable milestone: for the first time since the pandemic, group hotel nights reached the same booking levels as in 2019. The data gauged Q3 guest stays that were reserved within group bookings or room blocks – a metric largely associated with business events, according to EIC officials. Additionally, the uptick in RFP activity during this same period signifies an increase in business professionals seeking venues and accommodations for future events.
Most indicators point to the global business events industry’s continued strength, however, various factors, including weakening economies and global tensions, demonstrate the potential to spur a slowdown in 2024, according to the Barometer. Still, the forecast is overwhelmingly positive for an industry that was greatly impacted by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, according to EIC officials.
“Since we launched the Barometer in January 2022, we have observed a sustained uptick in events activity,” said EIC CEO Amy Calvert. “This points the way to a promising full recovery and continued evidence of the relevance of our sector and our industry’s true purpose — fostering human connections and collaboration.”
Key findings from EIC’s Q3 Global Events Barometer include:
· The recovery in global hotel group room nights was driven by continued strength in Asia Pacific, as North America and Western Europe neared full recovery.
· RFP activity for large and medium events reached 101% of 2019 levels, while small events declined to 87% of 2019 levels.
· The latest global economic outlook anticipates 2024 will be characterized by weaker economic activity, with a slowdown early in the year followed by tepid growth – conditions that will keep business leaders cautious.
· Geopolitical tensions such as those related to the Middle East, China-Taiwan and Russia-NATO are perceived as the top downside risk to businesses in the near term. More than a quarter of businesses now cite the risk that sticky inflation could keep interest rates higher for longer.
The latest Barometer supports findings from the EIC’s 2023 Global Economic Significance of Business Events Study released in May 2023, which measured the full scope of the $1.6 trillion global business events industry, its recovery and where the industry is heading. Released in May 2023, the study revealed that global business events are continuing to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, with global event spending expected to reach 2019 levels by 2025.
Designed to provide key data points tracking the full scope of the post-pandemic recovery, the quarterly Global Events Barometer monitors the industry’s progress over time and by key global regions and countries. Created by EIC’s research partner, Oxford Economics, the Barometer uses data provided by Amadeus Hospitality, Cvent, the Global Business Travel Association and STR Global to monitor the changes within the market relative to pre-pandemic levels.
Serving as a global champion for event professionals and event industry excellence, the Events Industry Council boasts a global membership of more than 30 member organizations representing more than 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the events industry. Besides its Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program – a credential globally recognized as the badge of event industry excellence, its four signature programs – Sustainability and Social Impact, Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX), Knowledge and Leadership – represent the association’s key initiatives, assets, services and products.
What is the current mindset of CEOs in the event industry? In part two of our series, experiential marketing agency leaders shared what their top business concerns are now and moving into 2024, and how they and their organization are addressing them.
The KMPG CEO Outlook study cited 2022’s No. 1 risk to growth was disruptive technology while 2023’s No. 1 risk is geopolitics and political uncertainty. From my perspective, risks posed by disruption and uncertainty are not new. In fact, they are foundational and enduring. For leaders to lead effectively, we must accept that the only thing that is certain is uncertainty.
As a leader of a global organization, my decision-making always factors the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). Geopolitical unrest fed by socioeconomic polarization, disruptive technologies and climate change is certainly increasing in speed and intensity. However, the core challenge for a global leader remains the same — how to make business decisions that are in service to global citizenship. Therefore, my stance is uncertainty is both the No. 1 risk to growth and the No. 1 opportunity for growth, so I am equally as excited as I am concerned.
Successful brand experiences transcend the things that make us different from one another. As experiential marketers, our job is to deliver moments that unify and magnify commonalities across human values and human experience. Despite polarity and uncertainty, we as global leaders across all industries need to re-orient the products and services we offer, the things we make and do, to more intentionally deliver value.
This re-orientation absolutely includes how we gather and how we experience… experiences. Right now, our experiences need to deliver on our agency’s and our client’s business objectives of course, and they also need to deliver human value.
Our agency has identified the top things humans value in our uncertain world:
Feeling connected, engaged and supported
Feeling in control in a world gone awry
Finding solace in the face of external stresses
Finding simplicity in the face of hyper-stimulation
Opportunities to learn, grow and evolve
Elevating their quality of life with family, friends and community
Connection, community and belonging are the primary human values we focus on when building experiences. We also factor in creating moments of reprieve from uncertainty and how to maximize growth and learning despite uncertainty. The purpose of brand experiences is to reflect, amplify and activate these human values so participants find spaces of commonality, inspiration, inclusion and most importantly, meaning.
This is both a challenge and the most rewarding aspect of our remit as agency partners to our clients because when we can help create experiences where a global brand delivers what its global citizens care about, reflects their values, unites them in commonality and results in collective celebration, we have done our job well and correctly.
Emerging technologies, particularly generative AI, are reshaping the corporate events sector. Our commitment to this evolution is two-fold: to seamlessly blend these tools into our daily operations, increasing efficiency and foresight, and to integrate them into our client solutions, unlocking our potential to create richer, more immersive experiences.
In a post-pandemic world, the experiential marketing industry is confronting novel challenges: rapidly shifting audience expectations, heightened demand for deeply personalized experiences and the complexities of engaging a diverse, global audience. Tools like generative AI will allow us to provide new solutions: predictive attendee engagement, efficient event logistics automation, enhanced communications and tailored content delivery, to name a few.
With sophisticated AI-driven analytics, we will evaluate every aspect of our events, driving continuous improvement and ensuring attendee satisfaction.
An integral part of our go-forward plan is empowering our team to maximize these advancements. Continuous training, collaboration with tech pioneers and stakeholder engagement are core to our strategy.
Adopting these technologies is not our only goal. While we are deeply committed to shaping the future of experiential marketing and redefining brand experiences, we also recognize our associated responsibilities. Central to our approach is client collaboration, emphasizing the undeniable need to harness technology from both their perspective and ours. However, ensuring ethical deployment and prioritizing cyber-security are of utmost importance. This includes implementing rigorous safeguards for client IP, robustly protecting user data and actively mitigating system biases.
As we integrate these pioneering technologies, we envision a corporate events landscape transformed by technology but still deeply rooted in the principles of human connection and genuine, authentic experiences. Through these advancements, our guiding tenet remains clear: an unwavering commitment to integrity and a relentless drive for innovation.
Freeman, a global events company, has revealed its CEO succession plan. Janet Dell, currently serving as the company’s president and COO, is set to step into the role of CEO, effective July 1, 2024, succeeding Bob Priest-Heck, who will retire after a remarkable 15-year tenure. He will continue as a member of Freeman’s board of directors.
Dell, who joined Freeman in 2018, has held various key positions within the company and currently oversees the execution of its long-term strategy on a global scale. Her leadership during the pandemic notably involved rehiring 95% of furloughed employees, bringing in more than 3,000 new staff members and achieving record revenue growth. Emphasizing safety, she prioritized the well-being of employees, customers, partners and event attendees.
Priest-Heck, acknowledging Dell's transformative influence, said, "Since Janet joined Freeman in 2018, she has transformed Freeman in ways large and small." He commended her data-driven decision-making, integrated operational model and her efforts to diversify the workforce, expressing confidence in her leadership during these dynamic times for the events industry.
After joining Freeman in 2011 with the acquisition of Wheelhouse Solutions, Priest-Heck was named CEO in 2018. He was the first non-family member to lead the company and its fourth CEO. Read our full story here.
Prior to launching Wheelhouse Solutions in 2007, Priest-Heck spent the early part of his career on the show organizer side of the business. From 2003 to 2007, he served as CEO of Medialive, which bought COMDEX from Softbank in 2003. He began his career in events industry in 1985, when he worked for Hyatt for five years.
With 35 years of industry experience, Priest-Heck has contributed to Freeman's growth. His advocacy for sustainability and his "Go LIVE Together" initiative during the pandemic showcased his commitment to the industry and its workers.
Dell expressed gratitude for the mentorship she received from Priest-Heck, emphasizing her excitement to lead the company and continue fostering meaningful client experiences.
Freeman Chair Carrie Freeman Parsons praised Priest-Heck's significant impact on the company's culture and strategy and expressed confidence in Dell's ability to lead Freeman into its next phase.
Freeman has made two major acquisitions in 2023. In April, Freeman acquired Denver-based Impact Point Group, a technology-focused, boutique consultancy firm offering a full suite of strategic advisory and event management services. Read our story here.
In August, Freeman acquired Sparks, a global brand experience agency with more than 750 employees. Sparks provides exhibit and event experiences to a diverse group of Fortune 1000 brands, including Google, Salesforce, Anheuser-Busch InBev and T-Mobile.
Sparks combined with Freeman’s agency business, which also caters to major corporate clients, including Amazon, Cisco and Kohler. Freeman’s agency and Sparks are integrating, and Sparks CEO David Sudjian, who reports to Dell, stayed on after the acquisition. Read our full story here.
The combined companies have more than 4,500 employees. Today, Freeman leverages its 96-year legacy and stands as a global leader in events, dedicated to redefining live experiences for a new era. Utilizing a data-driven approach and a vast network of industry experts, Freeman shapes exhibitions, exhibits and events that drive audience engagement.
What do you need to know before you attend Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition? After chatting with IAEE Vice President, Marketing and Communications Nicole Bowman and scrutinizing the full schedule of programming, Exhibit News Now (ENN) put together this list of new and notable networking and education events to help you plan.
Scheduled for Dec. 5-7 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center (KBHCCD), Expo! Expo!, which was held in Louisville, Ky. in 2022, is on pace to draw 2,000 event professionals to Dallas, the hometown headquarters of the association.
The KBHCCD, which is set to break ground on a massive expansion in 2024, currently offers 1 million square feet of space and connects via skybridge to the 1,001-room Omni Dallas Hotel, the headquarters hotel for the event.
IAEE attendees can sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour of the convention center to get a preview of the expanded OVG-managed venue that will feature 800,000 square feet of exhibit space when construction is completed in 2028.
Besides the event, Dallas offers a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, attractions and more near the KBHCCD. As the ninth-largest city and part of the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the nation, Dallas covers 343 square miles and has a population of 1.2 million. If you have some free time before, during or after the event, Visit Dallas has put together some ideas for IAEE attendees here.
Expect mild winter temperatures in early December in Dallas, with average highs of 59 degrees and average lows of 38 degrees. Check the weather before you pack.
The event marks a new era for the association, as Marsha Flanagan takes the helm on Dec. 1 as the first female CEO and president in its 95-year history. IAEE Chair Dennis Smith, vice president of business development for AAHOA, will officially hand over the gavel to Incoming IAEE Chair Marie Browne, RX group vice president.
This year’s “Show for Shows” will include its usual mix of tried-and-true activities, as well as plenty of new offerings to keep the event fresh. One of the first things that regular attendees will notice: tweaks to the event schedule.
With so much to see and do over the course of three days, ENN has curated a list (in chronological order) of what you need to know before you head to Dallas.
2. Executive half-day. This new session, scheduled for 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 5, was created for top-level executives and designed to provide high-level strategic insights, industry trends and leadership skills. The event is sold out, but IAEE will provide an opportunity onsite to attend should space become available due to non-attendance on a first come first serve basis. Remember: Plan ahead for next year and register early.
3. 7 content trackswith dozens of sessions by industry experts. What are the challenges facing event professionals in 2023? Beginning on Tuesday and running through Thursday, IAEE session will address key topics in these areas:
Building and Retaining Talent
Do the Right Thing No Matter Who’s Watching
Exploring Event Technology
Surveying the Exhibition Landscape of Tomorrow
Innovative Sales & Sponsorship Solutions
The Business of Legal
4. Opening Reception on the show floor. New in 2023, Expo! Expo! will open at 3:45 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 5 with a Neighborhood Block Party. Join the festival and do some business while you stroll through four iconic neighborhoods in Dallas: Victory Park, Deep Ellum, The Arts District and Dallas Farmers Market. Be sure to check out the cool activations by Visit Dallas.
5. Inclusive events. After the neighborhood block party, IAEE is hosting two events on Tues., Dec. 5. From 8-9:30 pm, meet with other members of the IAEE Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community at the iconic JR's Bar & Grill at the PRIDE After Party. From 9-11 p.m., the Young Professionals Party — for IAEE members under 35 years old — will be held at Free Play Arcade - Dallas.
6. Sold-out show floor with 250 exhibitors, including venues, cities, contractors, event tech companies and much more. A complete list of exhibitors and the floor plan can be found here. The show will be open a total of 7.5 hours over two days — 3:45-6:45 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 5 and 10:15 a.m.-2:45 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 6.
7. New(er) exhibitors: IAEE Tech2Grow Collective. IAEE has partnered with DAHLIA+Agency to cultivate the IAEE Tech2Grow Collective, a shared-space hub with experts and ideas for scaling the most important components of your exhibition. The area on the show floor will feature 12 companies — from Cobalt Event Studios and Jampack to Snoball and Zenus.
8. Wakeup wellness. Start the day off right with the Terence Donnelly Memorial Health & Wellness Event, hosted by Maritz at 6:15 am on Wed., Dec. 6 at the Omni. In honor of Terence Donnelly, who unexpectedly passed away in July 2019, this event is designed to bring the IAEE community together to celebrate the host city and Terence. Instructors from Cowboys Fit, a fitness facility in partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, will lead the wakeup wellness program. All fitness levels are welcome and registration funds will be donated to support the CEIR Foundation.
9. Keynote by TrendHunter. At 8:30 a.m. on Wed., Dec. 6, TrendHunter Chief Growth Officer Jonathon Brown will be the one and only keynote speaker at the event. Using hip hop as a lens for uncovering innovation lessons, Brown’s keynote will bridge diverse worlds to uncover shared principles and fresh perspectives. As the leader of the Business Innovation Group, he’s interviewed more than 400 leaders to uncover best practices around innovation across different industries. After hundreds of interviews with global innovation leaders, Brown has uncovered methods for sparking creativity and systematic innovation across many industries.
10. Meetup for women. Women in Exhibitions Network is hosting a happy hour from 4:45-5:30 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 6 at the Pegasus lobby bar at the Omni. Stop by for cocktails, conversations and connections with leaders from the North American chapter before heading to chapter receptions. All are welcome. RSVP here.
11. Chapter Receptions. Always a highlight, IAEE Chapter Receptions will be held 5:30-7 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 6 at the Omni. Mix and mingle with peers in your region.
12. Humanity Rocks returns. A celebration with a cause, Humanity Rocks will be held 9 p.m.-12 a.m. on Wed., Dec. 6 at Backyard Dallas. Help support a local charity at this networking event that will feature games, live entertainment, food, drinks and fun.
13. Two theaters on the show floor. On Wed., Dec. 6, IAEE will offer educational content in its Innovation and Sustainability theaters on the show floor. Twenty-minute sessions on a wide variety of topics will run from 10:30 a.m.- 2:10 p.m.
14. Stop by TSNN booth #1113. Meet the TSNN staff: President Rachel Wimberly, Vice President of Sales John Rice and Vice President of Content Danica Tormohlen. Enter to win a pair of Beats headphones that will be given away during the event. Valued at $200, these wireless on-ear headphones are one of the hottest tech gifts this holiday season.
15. Two nights of exhibitor parties. In years past, IAEE exhibitors only had one night available to host client events. In 2023, exhibitors are welcome to host parties after the show floor closes at 6:45 p.m. on Tues., Dec. 5, and after chapter receptions end at 7 p.m. on Wed., Dec. 6.
Moss Inc. –– a Franklin Park, Ill.-based producer of premium graphics, complex structures and custom installations for brand experiences — has expanded into the U.K. with the strategic acquisition of MacroArt, a wide-format print, graphics and branding specialist. Managing Director Michael Green and the senior leadership team of MacroArt will remain in their roles, reporting to Moss President and CEO Jason Popp. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
“The U.K. is clearly an established and vibrant market for experiential, entertainment, sport and retail brand marketers,” Popp said. “Many of our customers are already active in the U.K., and we are delighted to partner with both a high-caliber team and a strong business to accelerate our vision of being a truly global production partner for branded experiences.”
Founded in 1992, MacroArt delivers innovative and sustainable print solutions to clients across live events, retail, sport, heritage, property and visitor attractions. The company’s in-house print, production and finishing facility combines the latest materials, color management and print technologies to provide visually impactful branded solutions for its extensive client base that includes many of the world’s biggest brands and their agencies.
“Moss is a leading global player and their investment in MacroArt is a testament to the talent of our people and the loyalty of our customers,” said Green. “The combination of Moss and MacroArt represents great news for customers, our employees and the growth potential of both businesses. We share the same values on sustainability, service, innovation and a commitment to a strong people culture that make this such a great fit.”
Popp added, “We are delighted to welcome the talented MacroArt team and their clients to Moss and look forward to an exciting future ahead. Our footprint of production facilities in the U.S., Germany, Poland, and now the U.K. ensures we are able to support clients in a consistent and effective way regardless of where their branded experience is.”
Exhibit News Now (ENN) caught up with Popp to find out the inside scoop on the deal. Here’s what we learned.
Deeper Dive: Q&A with Moss President and CEO Jason Popp
How did the deal come about?
First, it began by choosing where we wanted to expand. The U.K. market is important – there are some great corporate brands based in the country, a vibrant live events scene and an active retail and corporate market. Plus, I was very familiar with the exhibit/event ecosystem since I had lived and worked there for many years.
I knew from my previous role running GES EMEA that there were a number of production partners for tension fabric and structures operating in the market, and MacroArt was really the most similar to Moss. Outstanding quality, focus on customer service and placing an importance on operating sustainably. I think this was evidenced most clearly when MacroArt took home several prestigious awards at the 2023 UK Graphics Awards. So that led me to reach out to MacroArt at the end of last year, and we worked on this throughout 2023. It was a very deliberate process, to say the least.
As the process and discussions progressed, we got to know the team and capabilities there, and they got to know us. We all saw what a perfect fit it was — not only from an end market and end client point of view but also from a cultural and values perspective.
Who owned MacroArt?
It was owned by a U.K.-based private equity company and a mix of individual investors and management.
How many employees are at MacroArt? Total employees now at Moss?
There are approximately 100 staff at MacroArt, and the acquisition puts the total employees at Moss at more than 400 now. Our team is based in the U.S., Germany, Poland and now the U.K.
What do your customers need to know about the deal? How does it impact them?
It is great news for our customers in all geographies. First, it allows Moss to serve them seamlessly if or when they do projects in the U.K. We will be able to share best practices across our businesses of like-minded professionals, ensuring that Moss consistently stays at the forefront of R&D or development in our industry. Furthermore, we can optimize our production strategy depending on the location of the event.
What’s the first item on your agenda as you integrate the acquisition?
The first item is to expand the touchpoints between all the teams. We’ve created a “buddy system” to introduce MacroArt staff to their counterparts in the other geographies. We’re also convening the first of many cross-border team meetings in December at our global headquarters to begin sharing best practices.
Geopolitics and political uncertainty now pose the greatest risk to business growth, according to a recent survey of more than 1,300 CEOs of the world’s largest businesses. The persistent flux in global politics, trade dynamics and international relations has required a new level of resilience from business leaders, who have been tasked with re-assessing their strategic priorities, focusing on the rise of generative AI, talent management and elevated stakeholder expectations in addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
Derived from the KPMG 2023 CEO Outlook — the annual survey conducted by KPMG Internationalthat provides unique insights into the mindset, strategies and planning tactics of CEOs — these results also show that while confidence in the global economic outlook over the next three years remains broadly unchanged since the 2022 survey (73% compared to 71% last year), there has been a significant shift across CEOs’ views on what constitutes a risk to their business.
The greatest risks these CEOs cited in 2023 include:
1. Geopolitics and political uncertainty
2. Operational issues
3. Emerging/disruptive technology
4. Supply chain
5. Regulatory concerns
6. Environmental/climate change
7. Interest rates
8. Cyber security
9. Reputational risk
So how do these risks resonate with trade show and events CEOs? Exhibit News Now (ENN) asked several leading event industry leaders what their top business concerns are now and moving into 2024, and how they and their organization are addressing them. In part one of a series, here’s what leaders from two of the largest global event and trade show producers shared. In coming weeks, we will share perspectives from C-level executives that represent contractors, experiential marketing agencies, destination marketing organizations and venues.
Hugh Jones, CEO, RX
Biggest concern: Environment and climate change
I share all these concerns. With regards to the environment and climate change, this is one that we can impact on multiple fronts. At RX and throughout the events landscape, we are making great strides in this area, which is a testament to our industry’s perseverance.
2022 was the year the industry made its commitment to bringing sustainability to our shows and to our customers. In 2023, we have accelerated our efforts to measure our carbon footprint, including emissions data from shows at our top 30 venues. We share best practices among shows so that our customers can benefit from the ideas and innovations across sectors.
Events offer the efficiency of bringing everyone together at one time. We are working with our sectors across the business to help them with their individual sustainability missions, and we’ve already seen phenomenal changes to the way our venues, events, teams, visitors and exhibitors are working. It’s such an important topic, and one where we know we can really make a difference.
As I mentioned in a recent RELX podcast, we believe that in the future, fewer people will go to exhibitions, but those people will have more buying power. What I mean by that is because of ESG conflicts, carbon footprints and tightening spend on business travel, the idea of business tourism — you get to do this job, and if you do it well, you get to go to the fun trade show – that will probably die out. More senior people will go to the trade shows, and they will be coming with very senior points of view to do big business. You might not send 50 people to a trade show as a bit of a perk. You might send 10 instead to build business.
Seeing full trade shows and not being able to see what used to be carpet beneath their feet is no longer a good barometer of a good trade show. A good trade show's barometer is not how many square meters or feet an exhibitor takes. The barometer is how much business is done. There will still be fun and networking, but that will change. The face of trade shows will change to be a more serious place where business is done. That is for sure. It is our duty as a trade show not to put on the same old show every single year, but to place the bets and show the industry what is coming, what is new and what we should pay attention to.
Biggest concerns: Environment and Disruptive Technologies
Identifying, assessing and managing risks is an ongoing activity at Informa and many of the factors this report identifies will be topics of discussion for businesses of all types and sizes. We all know we are living in a world of higher inflation today than five years ago, and that has caused challenges for some markets and communities. One of the great characteristics of exhibitions is that they help businesses to trade, find customers and build commercial relationships in a very time- and cost-effective way, and this makes trade shows more valuable now than ever before.
Other matters highlighted that resonate with our business include: environmental and climate change – a topic that is of ever-increasing importance to our customers, shareholders and colleagues – and the impact of emerging and disruptive technologies, which are transforming the way we work and do business.
Climate Change: A Driver of Customer Satisfaction
Our customers are becoming more aware of their own carbon footprint and often find our events, which take place in global hubs on major travel routes, act as a travel consolidator. By bringing together buyers and suppliers from across the world, allowing them to share knowledge, build relationships and do business – our customers tell us it reduces their need to make multiple trips.
Eighty percent of our customers say they care about sustainability, and we are seeing a strong correlation between making our events more sustainable and an increase in customer satisfaction. Informa’s approach to sustainability is reflected in our Faster Forward strategy, which includes ambitious commitments around our operations, our brands and products and our broader community impact.
We are working together with our exhibitors and supply chains to move away from disposable stands, together. The Better Stands program aims to replace single-use stands with high-quality, reusable structures made with sustainable materials, in turn helping to reduce the environmental impact of events, delivering a better customer experience, offering commercial benefits as well as mitigating health and safety risks and minimizing waste.
Disruptive Technologies: Opening Up New Opportunities
The COVID pandemic halted our ability to bring audiences together in person overnight, and we had to pivot our offering to customers to provide virtual events and online communities at a pace we’d never seen before. This experience reinforced the need for us to stay at the forefront of technological innovation to ensure we can continually innovate our products, services and the way we do business.
Disruptive technologies such as generative AI and machine learning create a host of opportunities for our events and our brands, including offering customers more targeted connections, integrating AI into our marketing strategies and the ability to analyze large volumes of customer feedback in more efficient ways. This is an exciting time as we look at how we can apply these technologies to the way we work and create more value for customers.
Three global trade show producers recently reported financials, and revenue from exhibitions is soaring, with all three posting double-digit growth. Highlights from RELX, Informa plc and Easyfairs financials include:
RX, the global exhibitions division of RELX, reported underlying revenue growth of 32% for the first nine months of 2023. Overall, RELX reported underlying revenue growth of 8.0% YTD through Sept. 30.
Informa plc reported strength and momentum across its portfolio with underlying revenue growth of 31.7% for the first 10 months of 2023.
Easyfairs 2022-23 revenues grew to €193.8 million ($210.1 million), an increase of 19% on the previous year.
Deeper Dive: RX
Context: RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers, serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs more than 35,000 people, with more than 40% in North America. The market capitalisation is approximately £55bn/€63bn/$66bn.
Trade show revenues soar: Exhibitions, which made up 12% of H1 2023 revenue for RELX, reported double-digit revenue growth YTD through Sept. 30. RX produces 400 events covering 43 sectors in 22 countries. “Average like-for-like event revenue across the portfolio continues to run ahead of pre-pandemic levels, with increased exhibitor usage of a growing range of digital tools,” according to RELX Interim Results 2023.
Looking back: In July, RELX reported H1 revenues of £4,499m ($5,585m) vs. £3,969m ($4,927m) in H1 2022, with underlying growth of 8.0%, according to RELX Interim Results 2023.
What they’re saying: “As we enter the final quarter, momentum remains strong across the group, and we expect underlying growth rates in revenue and adjusted operating profit to remain above historical trends, driving another year of strong growth in adjusted earnings per share on a constant currency basis,” according to the RELX trading update.
Looking ahead: For its full year outlook, RX exhibitions said it expects a year of strong underlying revenue growth. The operating result will continue to benefit from the structurally lower cost base, with full year adjusted operating margin expected to be above pre-pandemic levels.
Deeper Dive: Easyfairs
Context: Brussels-based Easyfairs reported Recurring EBITDA hit €35.6 million ($38.6 million) for its financial year 2022-2023, an increase of 25% on 2021-2022, according to a press release. Easyfairs has reported a strong rebound from the pandemic, which brought virtually the entire European events industry to a halt. As a result, Easyfairs ranks No. 11 in the Stax Top 20 ranking of world exhibition organizers by 2022 revenues.
What they’re saying: Easyfairs CFO Marc Hellemans said, “We have more than weathered the storm of COVID [and] we’ve emerged stronger than ever. We have achieved more than 15% organic growth through a mix of volume recovery and launches. In March we fully refinanced all bank debt until the end of 2027, strengthening our liquidity position with pre-COVID terms, putting us in an excellent position to develop new and future activities.”
Trade show rebound: “The more the world goes digital, the more value people place on the ability to meet face-to-face. We offer real-life social media!” said Easyfairs Group CEO Anne Lafère. “Easyfairs is a clear post-COVID winner within the industry based on the steepness of the rebound, not only in financial results but also in the number of exhibitors and visitors and customer satisfaction.”
Two consecutive record years: Matt Benyon, who shares Group CEO responsibilities with Lafère, commented, “Our results were further strengthened by a 9% layer of revenues generated by events launched over the past two years. We also successfully enlarged our portfolio of trade shows with Coiltech, Kuteno and KPA, all three of them perfectly aligned with the Easyfairs brand, and now the market is back stronger than ever.”
AI roadmap: Lafère said: “The rise of artificial intelligence is transforming our own industry, as well as the sectors and professional communities we serve. We’re currently working on our AI value creation roadmap. It has great potential on the one hand to increase the efficiency and job satisfaction of our talents, and on the other, to enhance the experience of all participants at our events and venues. We are convinced that AI will further boost existing revenues and generate entirely new revenue streams.”
Sustainability goals: Easyfairs also reported the progress it is making on sustainability and the green agenda, with the aim of halving emissions by 2030 and becoming fully net zero by 2050. “We are currently finalizing our second carbon footprint calculations and we can already see the impact of the measures we are taking in terms of energy, travel and accommodation, logistics, production and waste and food waste,” Lafère said.
Nurturing the talent pool: Benyon and Lafère underline the importance of acquiring, developing and retaining talent to Easyfairs’ ongoing success. “In our last financial year we won the UFI HR Award for innovative recruitment and retention strategies and we added ‘Great Place to Work’ labels for Switzerland and Germany. Our high eNPS score shows the engagement of our 800 talents across Europe,” Benyon said.
Back story: Easyfairs, which has 800 employees, organizes 100 face-to-face event brands in 14 countries (Algeria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.) and manages eight event venues in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden (Antwerp, Ghent, Mechelen-Brussels North, Namur, Gorinchem, Hardenberg, Malmö and Stockholm).
Deeper Dive: Informa
Context: Informa’s major brands, geographic breadth and depth in specialist markets are delivering further outperformance in 2023 and strong momentum into 2024, according to Informa PLC’s 10-Month Trading Update. As a result, Informa has increased its full year expectations in 2023 to revenues of £3.15bn+ ($3.91+ bn), up from £3.05bn ($3.78bn).
What they’re saying: “We are confirming an upgrade to revenue and profit in 2023 and extending our share buyback programme to £1.15bn ($1.42bn),” said Stephen A. Carter, Group chief executive, Informa. “In 2024, our task is to continue to improve our product and service offering, grow organically, and use our cash flows and balance sheet to seize opportunities to build and buy further scale.”
Informa Markets: This division of Informa plc includes major B2B brands across 10+ major international markets and deep positions in 20+ growing market categories across its portfolio of transaction-led, live and on-demand events. Full year revenues will be ahead of 2019 levels in all major geographies, including North America, South America, ASEAN, Europe and China, the latter having seen significant acceleration through the year following the removal of COVID restrictions, according to Informa.
Top trade show performers in 2023: “We have seen growth in all major market categories in 2023, with particularly strong performances in Healthcare (Arab Health, Medlab), Health & Nutrition (Natural Products Expo West, Supplyside West), Pharma (CPhI Worldwide, CPhI China), Beauty (China Beauty Expo) and Luxury (Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Art Miami, Monaco Yacht Show),” according to Informa PLC’s 10-Month Trading Update
What they’re saying: “Structural demand for face-to-face connections and B2B market access remains high, and the quality of our product offering is improving, with technology enabling better matchmaking between buyers and sellers, on-demand access to content and data to support faster decision making and a range of other value-added services,” according to Informa officials.
Tarsus: The Tarsus business has continued to perform well post-acquisition ($940m valuation / sub-9x post-synergy EV/EBITDA), delivering 65% underlying revenue growth through the period to date, with strong performances in Healthcare (Health Connect Partners), Anti-Aging & Aesthetics (A4M Spring Congress) and Aviation (Dubai Airshow).
Combination and Growth: Alongside operational delivery, Informa has been focused on combining the Tarsus businesses and brands with Informa, and this process is now largely complete, ensuring the combined companies will enter 2024 as one business. About 60% of Tarsus’ 2024 revenue is included within Informa Markets (including all major biennial events), with about 40% combined into Informa Connect, where the company sees increasing opportunities for differentiated high value, branded, specialist professional content-led B2B events, such as SuperReturn, Bio-Europe, IM Power and A4M.
Informa Connect: This division includes major content-led brands with international reach and depth across industries and professional communities. Increasingly powerful customer data and analytics are delivering strong growth across Informa Connect. Following the addition of Tarsus and Winsight brands, the business is generating more than £600m ($745m) of annual revenue, with two-thirds from live and on-demand events and one-third from digital services, with 70%+ of revenue generated in North America.
Top trade show performers in 2023: All major market categories are performing well in 2023, including Finance (SuperReturn, SuperInvestor) Life Sciences (Bio-Europe, Biotech Showcase), Foodservice (National Restaurant Show, FSTEC), Anti-Aging & Aesthetics (Anti-Aging World Congress, A4M Winter Congress) and Pop Culture (FanExpo Canada, Megacon Orlando).
Informa Tech: This division serves B2B markets with specialist technology brands and first-party data through IIRIS (20m+ records). The growing range of high value B2B services have combined to deliver good growth in 2023, despite the challenges and reductions in some B2C and media budgets across the technology sector, according to Informa officials. As the broader technology market recovers, Informa Tech is in a strong position to build on its existing relationships and further expand its range of audience-led B2B digital services for technology customers, where the company sees a significant long-term opportunity to create value.
Top event performers in 2023: Informa Tech has 15+ major franchises, including Black Hat, Enterprise Connect, LEAP, Game Developer Conference. Demand for high quality face-to-face connections and accredited training is strong and pacing into 2024 is currently ahead of last year, according to Informa officials.