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EXHIBITOR Provides the Education that Trade Show Marketers Need

Mark Travers (EIA) spoke with John Pavek, Chief Marketing Officer for EXHIBITOR Media Group at its annual ‘EXHIBITORLIVE’ show in Las Vegas.


EIA: Tell us about EXHIBITOR. What function does the Exhibitor brand play in the industry?


Pavek: The EXHIBITOR brand is all about educating tradeshow exhibit managers and event managers to perform their jobs better. Our role is to provide education. We deliver that education through EXHIBITOR magazine, a monthly publication; EXHIBITORLIVE, our annual conference for tradeshow and event marketers, and EXHIBITORFastTrack, which is a series of smaller conferences held on four dates in four locations each year.


What’s new at EXHIBITORLIVE this year?


There’s always something new. This year, we have 42 certified new products in our New Product Showcase. These are products and services that are making their first-ever public debut to the tradeshow industry. The New Product Showcase is just one of many reasons why people come to the show floor.


Are there any new programs or services that the EXHIBITOR Media Group is launching?


Yes, we’re seeing an increase in international attendance at our show, so we’re having our first annual international dinner, bringing together 70 delegates from 25 countries to mix and network. The world is getting smaller. We’re addressing that.


There are lots of industry meetings for tradeshow and conference people. What makes the EXHIBITORLIVE show unique?


We’re really the only tradeshow for people in the tradeshow industry. While there are some other events for industry personnel, EXHIBITORLIVE is about face-to-face marketing, educating companies about how to plan for, participate at and benefit from a tradeshow or event. It’s education you can’t get anywhere else.


Just looking at the expo hall this year, it appears as if exhibitors have really embraced technology.


Yes, we’re seeing an increased infusion of technology in the event space. Exhibitors are employing RFID chips, interactive video, lead tracking and fulfillment systems, and much more. Technology, including all the social media tools, is really making an impact on the industry, not so much in competition with face-to-face events, but in enhancing the whole event experience.


With the evolution of the app for the event world, social has become a huge component. How do you use your event app to connect with exhibitors, attendees and people who are unable to come to the show?


There are many ways. Our app is open, which means you don’t have to be an attendee to download and use it. You can keep track of the different conversations that are going on at the show, and most importantly, connect with people who do what you do. Sometimes there are questions, sometimes comments are sent to us. As show organizers, we’re able to broadcast alerts. And attendees – and those unable to attend – are able to broadcast their questions or interests and get immediate answers. It’s really wonderful.


What do you want people to know about EXHIBITOR?


It’s the #1 place for tradeshow and event marketing education. We have the industry’s only university-affiliated professional certification program, CTSM, which stands for Certified Trade Show Marketer. We have over 3,500 professionals enrolled in that program. It’s like a Master’s in marketing with a specific emphasis on tradeshows and events. There’s really nothing else like it. Our attendees – the people who come here for education – benefit from that professional certification in their jobs from everything including better pay to more responsibilities. We’re really proud of the CTSM program.


How many sessions are you offering at EXHIBITORLIVE this year?


We have over 180 sessions over 4 days. Of those, about half apply to the CTSM program. They are either core-required sessions or electives that CTSM candidates can take.


For a few years, the industry saw a decline in the number of tradeshows and the number of people attending tradeshows. And then there was a rebound in 2013 and 2014. Where do you think the industry is headed?


Tradeshows will remain a vital component for business for years to come. The concept of tradeshows really goes back thousands of years, where people met to exchange ideas and to buy and sell things. As we continue to adopt tools and technologies to enhance the live experience, the industry is only going to grow stronger. The nice thing about the tradeshow industry is it’s so diversified. Every industry has a tradeshow. While one market sector might be down, another will be up. There’s always a need for tradeshow products and services.


One final question: What’s the best business or career advice you’ve ever received?


I’d say ‘Keep Moving.’ This show has been around for 27 years and not all shows have that life. What we consistently try to do each year is innovate. How can we get better? How can we make improvements? You have to keep moving and keep innovating in this industry.



You can reach John Pavek, CMO of EXHIBITOR Media Group, at 507.289.6556 or For more information, visit


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