Macworld Expo SF attendance numbers released; Boston next

Framingham, Mass.-based IDG World Expo on Friday will release attendance figures for January's Macworld Conference & Expo, held in San Francisco, Calif. Attendance for this year's show totaled 32,409, compared to 90,473 for the same Expo held in 2003. These numbers reflect a new accounting procedure implemented by IDG World Expo for January's show. According to the organizers, this does not represent an actual decrease in attendees.

"IDG World Expo's new President, David Korse, wanted to put a standard in place where the attendance at all of our shows could be audited by a third-party," Warwick Davies, IDG World Expo group vice president, told MacCentral in an interview today. "Doing that, we had to change the practices that were performed before in calculating attendance."

Prior to Macworld Conference & Expo 2004, Davies explained that attendance was calculated using a turnstile accounting approach. This means that if an someone attended the show on three separate days, they were counted three times for the attendance records. Other IT tradeshows will send out badges to people they think will attend and count that number for attendance, whether the people actually show up or not, Davies said.

While recognizing that the number of exhibitors at the show was smaller than last year, Davies doesn't believe the new audited number actually represents a decrease in Expo attendance.

The perception of lower Expo attendance could have a detrimental affect on exhibitors signing up for next year's tradeshow in San Francisco, but Davies said things are going well on that front. In fact, he said IDG World Expo recorded their largest-ever booking day in January for exhibitors coming to next year's show.

Attendance numbers are important, but Davies believes that companies put more weight in the quality of people they talk to at an Expo, instead of sheer numbers.

"The companies that monitor a tradeshow, monitor the number of leads that they got from the show," said Davies.

Boston Expo

The next show for the Mac community will be held at the new convention center in Boston, Mass. IDG World Expo decided to move the show to Boston in late 2002 -- Apple subsequently pulled out of the Boston show, saying they disagreed with the move from New York.

Davies noted that the Boston show will be "challenging in a number of ways," but thinks Apple is only a part of the equation for exhibitors and attendees.

"Apple is a key stakeholder, but the exhibitors aren't selling to Apple, they are selling to the community," said Davies. "If exhibitors sense that the community will be there and they can do business, then they will want to be involved."

Davies characterized IDG World Expo's relationship with Apple as being "strong" saying that they are working "very closely with Apple."

To get a feeling for what the Mac community wants from a Boston tradeshow, Davies and others from IDG World Expo are talking to Mac User Groups and others in the community, as well as companies that have exhibited at past shows.

"We are going to need the Mac community to make this show successful," said Davies.

IDG World Expo and MacCentral.com are both owned by IDG.

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