With the Apex attendance numbers painting an ugly picture – trade show floor walkers dropped nearly 35% from last year and are down more than 50% from just a few years ago – expect the typical hue and cry over whether there are too many shows.
Market forces will decide whether there are too many shows, and which ones will live and which will die.
Rarely does a healthy show fail on its own. The exception: Surface Mount International, which its peak in the mid 1990s drew 5,000 attendees to the San Jose Convention Center each year. The assembly event was produced by a number of concerns, including Miller-Freeman, SMTA, IPC and EIA. Problem was, the latter three didn’t like the financial arrangement, under which Miller-Freeman kept the bulk of the proceeds from the lucrative exhibition, while all the partners split the conference revenue. So the partners forced Miller-Freeman out, and the show collapsed within two years. Which is what at least one the partners wanted all along, as getting SMI out of the way set the stage for the then-biggest prize of all: Nepcon West.
But the sabotage that undermined SMI is the exception, not the rule. Nepcon East, Wescon, Electro and plenty of other once-vibrant events went away or were merged because the market stopped supporting them.
So don’t get caught up in the “should they or shouldn’t they” talk about Apex. The market will work its magic on its own.