Weekly News & Insights: Is Bigger Really Better?


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Earlier this week, news broke about British media company UBM purchasing trade show organizer Advanstar for $972 million in cash. This would make UBM the largest events organizer in the U.S.

Advanstar currently produces more than 50 trade shows each year, many of which are in the fashion industry, including the MAGIC Marketplace apparel trade shows in Las Vegas. Other events in their portfolio focus on licensing, life sciences, and power sports. UBM, which also owns PR Newswire in addition to a number of shows, is based in London and employs about 5,000 people in more than 20 countries.

Last year, Nielsen Exhibitions sold for $950 million to ONEX and was renamed Emerald Expositions, which then acquired George Little Management for $335 million.

So what do all these new massive show production deals really mean? First of all, it appears to be a good sign for the industry. If trade shows were dying as many have predicted, it’s not likely that investors would be buying them at these kinds of prices. They apparently see potential for growth.

But on the flip side, is it good for the trade show industry to be controlled by a few mega-players? Time will tell. There are still plenty of association-owned shows and privately-owned shows. But could this be a sign that the mid-range show organizers are going away and shows will be either independently run or part of a conglomerate? What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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