Although the business and economic literature
is flooded with management themes in general, the particular subject of
trade show management has remained something of a backwater –
despite its indisputably substantial macroeconomic importance to the trade
show industry. Trade show companies have taken root all over the world.
Some have their own exhibition grounds and are very professional in the
way they plan, organise and stage events. Yet doing so demands highly
specialized management expertise.
Most papers examining selected trade show management issues from a theoretical
and practical perspective appeared only as recently as the 1990s. Brief
articles cropped up earlier in trade show-specific journals, but tended
to focus on narrow aspects of trade show management linked to transient
topics or headlines.
We, as the editors of this compendium, made it our goal to provide a cogent
framework for the key problem areas in trade show management, a framework
that would be acknowledged and accepted by both practitioners and the
scholarly community alike. We have found a management-oriented approach
especially useful in this undertaking. Accordingly, the articles in this
compendium; Trade Show Management; are grouped and categorised
to reflect the principal stages in the management decisionmaking process.
"Trade show" is only one of many terms used around the globe
to describe one and the same phenomenon. This compendium treats the terms
trade show, trade fair and exposition (naturally, with the exception of
World Expositions) as synonymous. A trade show can be defined as a
temporary market event, held at intervals, where a large number of buyers
(attendees) and sellers (exhibitors) interact for the purpose of purchasing
displayed goods and services, either at the time of presentation or at
a future date.
Trade show management involves planning, coordinating, implementing and
monitoring these events. To this end, trade show organisers have recourse
to a wide range of service providers. In many cases, trade shows exist
in symbiosis with conventions and
other events, during which market players seek to enhance the “pull”
or drawing power of shows by adding complementary congresses and attractive
Trade show management can be examined from various angles. One
is the perspective of the decision-makers at the trade show companies
or trade show providers that plan, organise and stage these events.
The articles honing in on this viewpoint cover the core of organisers'
trade show management activities. They begin with an analysis of the point
of departure for trade show companies — the foundation upon which
decisions about objectives and strategies are to be based. Decisions about
strategic alternatives stake out the framework for long-term activities,
providing orientation for both the goals and the realization of individual
trade shows. To plan and operationalise trade show projects successfully,
management teams must apply suitable organisational strategies and recruit
highly qualified executives and staff. Tight controlling is an integral
part of the systematic management process. The resultant feedback shows
whether goals have been met or if new trade show strategies are called
At every stage in the management process, trade show companies come into
contact with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and service partners.
Therefore, any worthwhile compendium of Trade Show Management
must explore the perspective of these target groups. During the planning,
organisation and staging of trade shows, trade show users, those
on the demand side, make relatively complex management decisions. Examples
include deciding whether to participate in a trade show or how to design
its presence. Such issues appear in this compendium under the heading:
How exhibitors and visitors manage their trade show activities.
Figure 1:Content structure of the
compendium Trade Show Management
Building on this management-oriented classification
of trade show specific issues, Fig. 1 outlines the structure of this book.
To help you find your way around the various authors' articles, here is
a brief summary of the contents.
Part I: Origins, history and future challenges
of the trade show industry
The articles grouped into Part I are devoted to the origins and
historic development of the trade show industry. The first chapter
provides an introduction to the history of trade shows, spanning back
to their very beginnings and tracing the evolution of an industry whose
roots are deepest in Europe and in Germany, in particular.
Moving on from this historic context, the second chapter discusses
different types of trade shows and their goals and functions. It analyses
the regional, national and international impact of trade shows. The third
chapter investigates requirements placed on infrastructures and locations.
The fourth chapter makes some extrapolations about
future developments and concludes Part I.
Part II: Strategic management of trade
The origins and outlook of the trade show industry paint the backdrop
for strategic trade show management, the activities and aims of which
are portrayed in Part II. The first chapter lays the groundwork
for understanding trade fair research and collating the information needed
for conducting strategic trade show management. The procurement
of information forms the basis for deriving trade show-specific goals
and approaching fundamental strategic decision-making. The second
chapter covers a wide range of strategic factors: the importance
of corporate principles and trade show company portfolio, PR and multiplier
strategies, to name a few.
The third chapter offers discussions of product development strategies.
Individual trade shows are the actual products (or services) provided
by a trade show company. Thus, the decision to develop a new show is one
of the most important tasks trade show company managers ever have to tackle.
Chapter four looks at problems regarding the formation of strategic
alliances, collaborative ventures and networks from the point of view
of trade show companies.
In many cases, systematic internationalisation is the only way for trade
show companies to grow their business. The fifth chapter covers
all the key issues related to internationalisation; it deals with fundamental
aspects of internationalising the trade show business and advancing the
experience of trade show management teams in different countries and on
Part III: Operational management of
trade show companies
The foregoing treatment of strategic trade show management sets the scene
for taking practical steps and applying organisational models. Part
III provides analysis of operational trade show management and focuses
on matters of project and process management, the use of marketing tools
to acquire exhibitors and visitors, and the various forms of trade show
controlling and quality management available.
Part IV: Managing special trade show
events and service providers
At a time when competition in the trade show industry is becoming ever
more fierce, the number and variety of related services, congresses and
events on offer is growing constantly. As this development unfolds, managing
events, congresses and services is
often a constituent part of what it means to manage a trade show company.
Part IV is devoted in full to this topic.
Part V: How exhibitors and visitors
manage their trade show activities
Whilst Parts II through IV concentrate primarily on
trade show management from the point of view of trade show companies,
Part V shifts to the perspective of exhibitors and visitors.
Issues related to participation in trade shows form the centre of attention
in this portion of the guide.
We hope that you as a reader will find the structure of this compendium
useful in gaining a systematic understanding of the core issues that concern
the broad topic of trade show management. The compendium Trade Show
Management is also meant to serve as a reference work for delving
into specific subject areas. Thus, we’ve supplied an extensive index
of keywords for your convenience.
We trust that the book in your hands will give you an informative, in-depth
insight into the fascinating world of trade show management.
Werner M. Dornscheidt
“In the forward-looking markets of Asia,
as in other parts of the world, trade shows play a pivotal role as 'marketplaces
for markets' – bringing international and local exhibitors and visitors
together. Trade Show Management is a veritable treasure trove of ideas
for successful trade show and event management."
Dr. Charles Chow, Managing Director, East-West Gateway Pte Ltd, Singapore