New CEIR report offers up-to-date insights on attracting attendees to exhibitions

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently issued a new report, Attracting Attendees, that helps readers explore attendee preferences and understand how best to attract and engage attendees to an exhibition or to visit a booth.

Research results come from a recently completed study that is a repeat and extension of a project last done 10 years ago. It provides highly-valuable up-to-date insights on how to effectively market to attendees and communicate with them on-premise at an event.

Provided below are overall, key findings:

  • Personal discussions are very likely to influence a prospect to attend. Ranking highest in importance for considering whether to attend an exhibition for personal discussion was email from colleagues followed by word of mouth.
  • Most attendees, 94 per cent, engage in pre-planning activities, presenting exhibition organizers with opportunities to engage pre-registrants to motivate them to attend. The most popular activities include choosing or registering to attend an education session/workshop (63 per cent), searching the exhibitor directory (56 per cent) or registering to attend special events (56 per cent).
  • When it comes to information sources relied upon when an attendee is at an event, surprisingly the printed exhibition catalogue is still the most used resource, with 70 per cent noting using the printed exhibition program. Only 24 per cent use a smart phone/mobile version of the program. This low-usage level may be as much a function of limited availability as it is to preference and merits watching as smart phone and mobile device usage continues to climb and more events offer this alternative to attendees.
  • Over one-half, 53 per cent, rely on information provided by exhibitors, thus suggesting an opportunity for exhibition organizers to consider: offering exhibitor marketing programs to help boost attendance.

CEIR Research Director Nancy Drapeau, PRC, said, “This report provides very important, current insights to help organizers and exhibitors align their marketing approaches with current attendee behaviours and preferences. Some long-standing practices still work today while other practices are not apt to be as effective as they were in the past. This report also highlights differences by different attendee characteristics such as age and frequency of attending.”

Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing at Baylor University noted, “This study highlights the importance of knowing your audience. With the segment differences we’ve observed, organizers and exhibitors alike should be able to more effectively promote attendance.”

This study was conducted by Jeff Tanner, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing at Baylor University, and Nancy Drapeau, PRC, Research Director of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) using a panel of exhibition attendees provided by ResearchNow. The study was made possible by a grant from the CEIR Foundation and is available at

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