Although the number of attendees at tradeshows continues to drop in the face of economic recession, exhibitors have cause to remain optimistic, suggests a new whitepaper from a Shelton, Conn.-based media auditor BPA Worldwide. Titled "Determining Exhibitor ROI at B-to-B Tradeshow Events," it asserts that for exhibitors, it's quality—not quantity—that counts most when it comes to leads on the tradeshow floor.
The focus of the BPA whitepaper is a survey of more than 5,000 contacts at companies that exhibit at U.S. tradeshows, conducted between November and December 2008. According to those contacts, they are becoming more selective about which tradeshows they exhibit at, and more demanding when it comes to collecting on the sales promises that show organizers make them.
"Perhaps the most interesting conclusion to be drawn from all of the data gathered," reads the BPA whitepaper, "is the fact that, overwhelmingly, across all titles and company sizes, respondents are demanding accountability from their event organizers in terms of purchasing power and titles."
In fact, 47 percent of survey respondents said that using an independent tradeshow audit to verify the quality of tradeshow attendees is either "extremely important" or "somewhat important." Meanwhile, 46 percent of respondents rated audience quality—in terms of purchase influence and buying power—as the No. 1 factor influencing their decision to exhibit at a given tradeshow.
To that end, the overwhelming majority of respondents believe event organizers should be held at least somewhat accountable for delivery of audience in terms of quality promised (90 percent), title quality (84 percent) and attendees' quality of buying power (82 percent).
"Audited event data can work to the benefit of both tradeshow organizers and exhibitors," the whitepaper continues. "Since face-to-face events are considered the most expensive among all media platforms, exhibitors require trustworthy attendance data on which to base their decisions and formulate their ROI—especially in a down economy."
Because tradeshow traffic is down—40 percent of survey respondents told BPA that tradeshow traffic at their exhibits has decreased over the past year—BPA insists that now is the perfect time for show organizers to adopt a new mindset that focuses less on the quantity of sales leads and more on the quality, as measured by independent audits.
Concludes the company, "While overall attendance may be down at tradeshows, organizers can show that quality is being sustained."