Executives in every industry are demanding definitive results linking marketing spend to business impact, and tradeshows are no exception. Exhibit managers need solid data when selecting the right tradeshows for their companies.

Standardized, certified, independent tradeshow audits are the best baseline tools available:

  • They are free to exhibitors.
  • They are the easiest place to find reliable, non-biased, basic data.

Approximately 13,000 tradeshows take place in the US annually. Of those, approximately 75 are audited. The problem is that far too many tradeshow organizers do not audit their shows because the exhibiting companies do not request audits.

Audits have long been a standard in the publication world and are widely used when making print advertising decisions. Providing audits is a given for any business-to-business publication seriously competing for ad revenues. Many exhibit mangers have not been exposed to publication or tradeshow audits, and many others have never even seen one.

What is a tradeshow audit?

  • It is a report produced by an independent, third-party, certified auditor of registration data

  • The audit objectively confirms attendance figures and demographics collected in the registration process. Optional exhibitor data might also be added.

  • Auditing involves contacting attendees to validate attendance and demographic data.

  • An audit is not a survey, which typically provides a more in-depth analysis of attendees, such as buying power, audience activity, strategic planning, and competitive analysis.

Show organizers make the decision to purchase an audit, but the auditing process is independent of show management. Audits are standardized, so users can be sure that the basic attendee information is consistently reported.

Since the term "audit" is often misused, exhibitors must know the difference between an audit and other, non-certified data.

The Exhibition & Event Industry Audit Council (EEIAC) has made it easier to identify a certified audit. Composed of representatives from show management and exhibitors, this council identified and defined consistent standards for all independent auditors. Beginning with 2006 show audits, if you see the EEIAC "check mark," you can be confident that you are seeing a certified, independent audit.

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image of Skip Cox

Jonathan "Skip" Cox is CEO and president of Exhibit Surveys, Inc. (www.exhibitsurveys.com).