Attracting Gens Y & Z to our exhibitions
EW ’ s US commentator , Stephanie Selesnick , looks at how the next generation will engage with exhibitions and tradeshows
Top : Stephanie Selesnick hen I started attending
Expo ! Expo !, IAEE ’ s signature annual event every December as a 20-something year old , it was a big deal . The annual exhibition and conference for the US trade show industry was one of my most anticipated events of the year . It was the place to learn my craft . The floor was full of cool products , and if I saw something particularly useful for our business , it was shared with company decisionmakers . It was also where I made friends who I still have today . Thinking back now , the age range was quite varied from young newbies to older veterans .
Fast forward to 2022 . Not as many young people are found on the average show floor . Organisations are holding competitions for ‘ 30 under 30 ’ and are challenged with getting qualified candidates . It got me thinking , with smaller travel budgets and fewer people being sent to exhibitions as buyers / visitors , what ’ s an organiser to do to entice and integrate the next generation into trade shows ?
I spoke with Liz Irving , CMO , Clarion North America , Michelle Swayze , senior marketing manager for The International Surface Event ( TISE ), Sydney Nolan , account manager , SoolNua , a MICE business advisory firm , and an ‘ Under 30 ’ newer professional in the industry , and Joe Kowalsky , show director of The PhotoX Events , Emerald Expositions and 2022 UFI NGL Grant recipient .
Irving shared what Clarion North America is doing with their portfolio to attract younger audiences to their shows . Like all industries post-Covid , there have been a lot of retirements . Part of reaching retiree ’ s replacements involves the laborious tasks of email validation and finding those new people . She said : “ It is industry dependent . There ’ s not one answer , but you must keep digging and digging to get to the right people , then provide the right enticements to attend in person .”
Using the data obtained by offline events ( webinars , conferences , educational sessions ) has helped find next gen prospective attendees . Working and incentivising industry CEOs to bring teams to events is another tactic . Irving said : “ We ask Bellwether attendees , ‘ How can we help you bring teams that include younger members to our shows ?’ To that end , we now include entry level sessions at our expos .”
Additionally , Clarion ’ s exhibitions produce on-site content in a fun and engaging way , creating FOMO around events . Irving explained : “ Our social media teams use moments to encourage visitors to showcase themselves on platforms such as Instagram . They post photos of visitors engaged in face-
to-face networking on different platforms , asking them to tag themselves .” Seeing peers in those posts will encourage others to attend the following edition .
Engagement tactics Swayze has taken a different tactic .
12 Issue 4 2022 www . exhibitionworld . co . uk