Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum Concludes in D.C.

The 10th Annual Exhibition and Convention Executives Forum (ECEF), an invitation-only event for C-level meetings executives, concluded this week in Washington, D.C., its organizers announced yesterday.

Self-described as the world's only conference exclusively for "A-list" business media and association executives, this year's one-day show hosted 192 verified executives — up from 184 last year — who discussed new ways to increase revenue and keep events relevant.

Keynote speakers included Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), who shared strategies for improving the competitiveness of U.S. conventions, and Adam Hartung, managing partner of Spark Partners, who recommended that meeting planners "pay greater attention to what's happening at the fringe of your market than to what your customers are telling you" to ensure event relevance.

"Both ECEF keynoters inspired us with their message that innovation is crucial to the future of exhibitions and conventions," said ECEF producer Sam Lippman. "Shapiro explained how his team creates at least three new benefits for each CES, which helps ensure the continued support of exhibitors and attendees. And Hartung explained that our strategic planning [should] be based on forecasting what events will be like 10 years from now and working backward to ensure your event evolves into this future model."

Hand-picked by Lippman to address issues of innovation, growth and the value of face-to-face events, other ECEF speakers included Hal Vandiver, executive consultant, Material Handling Industry of America; Mary Pat Heftman, executive vice president, convention, for the National Restaurant Association; Amy Nichols, CEO, Dogtopia; Wayne Jacobs, president, Jacobs, Jenner & Kent Marketing Research; Tammy Blosil, vice president, online learning, ASAE; C.B. Wismar, vice president, events, AARP; Helen Marano, director, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, U.S. Department of Commerce; and Bridger McGaw, director, Office of Private Sector, U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

ECEF 2012 will take place May 30, 2012, in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.eceforum.com.