WASHINGTON—Reed Exhibitions, in a dramatic shift away from expo-industry booth-pricing norms, has moved away from selling booths based on square-footage and instead has implemented a new approach based on location, attributes and timing.
“Nancy Walsh, Reed EVP and keynote at the Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum here Wednesday, described a pricing initiative that allows customers to select space based on what they most value. Some will want to be at the center of the hall. Some will want to be near the food-and-beverage stations. Some will want to book early and save, and some will want to go for a blowout position through sheer size. “It just makes sense,” Walsh said. “We are willing to pay more for things we truly value. The option to choose is a value.”
Reed is the world’s largest event producer, with 500 events in 39 countries and 44 markets, so what it does carries a lot of weight in the industry.
Results, Walsh told the 150 or so ECEF attendees, have been good. Re-signs are up, customer retention and yield have increased, and exhibitor satisfaction has also improved.
ECEF, a one-day executive event run by industry consultant and veteran Sam Lippman, attracted a variety of top-level show executives from both the independent-organizer community as well as associations. Sessions included one on the value of face-to-face, and another on next-generation marketing techniques that featured Jenn Heinold, events vice president at Access Intelligence, parent company of FOLIO: and sister publication EXPO magazine publisher Red 7 Media, and CEA’s John T. Kelley.
A session on what exhibitors expect, and how they perceive value in the shows they invest in, was especially lively. The panelists were Jeffrey A. Masters, senior manager of event marketing for Philips Healthcare, and Kathleen Gunderson, project manager at Wells Fargo.
Perhaps most surprising, in an era where big corporations are organizing their own events, neither panelist said they have any interest in that. “Neither of us wants to be in the business of aggregating attendees,” said Masters. “I want to help you do that.”
But in exchange for supporting an event, especially as an anchor exhibitor, Masters said, he expects—and won’t compromise—on certain things from the organizer:
• The producer accepts the presence of my proprietary measurement and swipe-gathering systems, and partners to make those tools perform as designed.
• The producer understands and accepts why it is critical to have on-demand authentication with attendees for basic registration data at time of swipe.
• The producer must abandon use of poor-quality attendee swipe devices.
• Producer and registration-management companies must provide the visual necessities on badges for the most up-too—date tools, such as iPads.
• Producers need to understand that events that cannot be measured effectively will either be downsized or removed from the portfolio.
Gunderson mentioned the varying costs of drayage from venue to venue, saying it makes it very hard to create budgets. She also said that online alternatives to events don’t have the same effect. “Fans, friends and followers are not like face-to-face,” she said. “Make sure when attendees come to a show, it’s compelling and innovative.”