2008 International Exhibiting Trends & Outlook
The information in this white paper comes from a January 2008 survey of over 340 corporate exhibitors from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and other areas. Most with international exhibiting experience who represent a broad range of industries. The detailed findings in this report provide exhibitors with a guide to the decision-making and logistical process of exhibiting internationally.
The report is broken into three core sections:
- Foreign Events - Exhibitor Survey Results
The opening section of the report is viewed from the angle of U.S. exhibitors participating in events outside the U.S. Topics cover everything from event selection to unexpected exhibit costs.
- Domestic Events - Exhibitor Survey Results
Findings in this section of the report focus on the importance of marketing to international buyers at domestic events. This section of the report also presents European, Asian, and other international exhibitors with some of the challenges and unexpected costs associated with event marketing in the U.S.
- Write-In Responses
Select exhibitor write-in responses are presented in the final section of the report. These valuable comments are the direct feedback offered by exhibitors in regards to their specific advice on exhibiting in international events, as well as the differences and similarities between U.S. and foreign events.
The report analysis will help exhibitors and event marketers analyze the opportunities and challenges associated with international event exhibiting and exhibit design.
The survey invitations were sent to a specialized group of marketers; many are experienced international exhibitors. In fact, 87 percent of the survey participants "exhibited in shows outside the U.S. in the past three years," or "have plans to exhibit internationally in 2008." Despite the challenges associated with exhibiting overseas, this unique group of exhibitors feel it's both necessary and worthwhile, and are overwhelmingly expanding their international exhibiting efforts.
Importance of International Exhibit Marketing
More exhibitors participating - those exhibitors who expect to exhibit in "more" foreign events over the next two to three years outnumber exhibitors who expect to exhibit in "less" foreign events more than eight to one.
Value of international events is growing - exhibitors are fifteen times more likely to believe exhibiting at foreign events will be "more important" than "less important" over the next few years.
Larger exhibit spaces expected - exhibitors who anticipate their total exhibit space at foreign events will "increase" over the next two to three years outnumber exhibitors who expect their space to "decrease" more than six to one.
International results are equivalent - most exhibitors who participated in a foreign event said their results were "better" or "about the same" as their U.S. trade shows.
Foreign Event Selection
The two most important criteria in international event selection are found to be: 1) Attendee demographics and 2) Geographical regions. Among the companies exhibiting internationally, some venue countries are much more appealing than others. More than one-third of the exhibitors say they would likely add events in Canada and Germany to their exhibit schedule; while one-quarter of the exhibitors are considering events in China and other parts of Asia.
Booth Staff and Exhibit Design at Foreign Trade Shows
The details of planning your event-side presence can be very difficult to anticipate. Here are a few of the many points of wisdom in the report:
Speaking the language(s) - about four out of five exhibitors staff their booth with multi-lingual employees at foreign events.
The right structure for the work - exhibitors indicated that the most effective exhibit structures at foreign events are "Lightweight custom, hybrid exhibits (incorporating both custom and modular elements)."
Reduce shipping costs and hassles - exhibitors indicated it is best to "Build and store a booth overseas" or "Rent at show location" rather than "Ship a domestic booth."
International Exhibit Marketing at Domestic Events
First we examined the importance placed on business generated from international attendees at domestic shows. Three out of four exhibitors feel it is more important today to reach international attendees at domestic events than it was a few years ago.
For their most successful tactic, exhibitors most often cite "Meetings in the booth" as the most effective way to reach international buyers at domestic trade shows. "Educational Events" were also given a strong mention by the exhibitors as a reliable means to making successful contacts.
Next, we turned to the international exhibitors coming to domestic events. The three "unexpected costs" that international exhibitors most often mention in regard to U.S. exhibitions are (in order of importance):
- 1. Materials handling ("drayage")
- 2. Installation and dismantle
- 3. Exhibit transportation
All three items are not-at-all unfamiliar to domestic exhibitors as well.
Within the White Paper we have also included photos of exhibits that have been used successfully in international events. These beautiful images show the environments and settings that create the kind of presence to allow your company to put your best foot forward into international exhibiting.
Exhibitors participating in the survey represent a wide range of industries including:
- Manufacturing/Industrial: 37%
- Computers/Electronics/Technology: 17%
- Medical/Healthcare: 12%
- Professional and Business Services: 9%
- Fashion/Apparel: 3%
- Publishing: 2%
- Other industries: 19%.
The average budget for exhibitors taking part in the survey is $456,250 USD.