Final Attendance Numbers Suggest Comeback for Motivation Show

After several consecutive years of declining interest and attendance, The Motivation Show — the nation's largest incentive-industry trade show — has good news to celebrate: Although overall registration was down yet again at the 2011 show, the event hosted a record number of brands as exhibitors and also had its strongest opening day in recent memory, show organizers announced last month.

The 2011 Motivation Show took place Oct. 4-6 in Chicago. Its final registration count for all attendee badge categories topped 5,000, with an additional 1,500 for exhibitor personnel, bringing the final registration figure to more than 6,500. Although that's down from 7,181 in 2010, it's nonetheless an improvement in show organizers' eyes.

"This was our best opening day in years," said Motivation Show Managing Director Pete Erickson. "The strong conference program on Tuesday contributed to a quick start in the exhibit hall on Wednesday morning and the quality of the audience this year was exceptional. Over 88 percent of our registrants represented a net buying influence, which is well above the all-show average of 80 percent."

Added exhibitor Bob Dawson, founder of The Business Group, "I met with real buyers for the first time in many years. While in years past ... the audience was treated to a lot of flash, splash and oh those after show parties, this year was all about learning and connecting for business."

Highlight from this year's attendance figures:

• Nearly 600 brands — a show record — were represented on the exhibit floor.

• The show's educational program received its highest rating in five years from more than 400 attendees.

• Nearly 500 guests attended the show's opening-day keynote luncheon featuring G.J. Hart, the new CEO of California Pizza Kitchen and former CEO of Texas Roadhouse, setting a new record for keynote attendance.

• More than 700 registrations came from promotional product distributors who attended "Distributor Day" on Oct. 6, when they were treated to free education, lunch and parking.

Other attendance draws were the first-ever Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRP) professional program, the Recognition Professionals International (RPI) Fall Summit, the Incentive Research Foundation's (IRF) 2011 IRF Symposium and the inaugural CEO Summit & Luncheon.

"Once again, The Motivation Show has proven why it's so important for the stakeholders in this marketplace to come together each year to meet, exchange information and learn what can be done to improve business — especially during this difficult economic environment," Erickson said. "The 2011 Incentive Merchandise Trends Survey indicates that merchandise incentives are finally on the rise again, indicating we've turned the corner. The Motivation Show will keep that momentum going for those who attended this past show and for those who are planning to participate in 2012."

The 2012 Motivation Show is scheduled for Oct. 23-25 in Chicago. For more information, visit