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SISO Update


15 Apr 2022

SISO Update

As we reach mid-April, we are happy to report that mask and vaccination mandates have been lifted in cities, counties and states across the U.S. On the international front, Covid restrictions have been eased around the globe, making international travel easier for exhibitors and attendees. In recent weeks, safe and successful events — such as the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show, Coverings, SIAL, International Pizza Expo, and Bar & Restaurant Expo — were held in U.S.

SISO Activities

CEO Summit

More than 300 registered independent show organizers and C-level executives from sponsoring companies gathered for the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) CEO Summit, held March 21-24 at the Vinoy Renaissance, for three days of networking and education.

“After the last two years, you could tell that everyone was extremely happy to be back together in-person,” said SISO CEO David Audrain. “The SISO CEO Summit is the largest and most recognized annual gathering of the leaders in our industry, and it was most definitely back to business for us all!”

CEOs from all major independent organizers were in attendance, including: Informa Markets CEO Charlie McCurdy, RX Global CEO Hugh Jones, Emerald CEO and President Hervé Sedky, Tarsus Group CEO Doug Emslie, Clarion Events CEO Russell Wilcox and Diversified Communications CEO Ted Wirth.

Couldn't make the SISO CEO Summit in 2022? See the video wrap-up and hear what our attendees had to say. Attendees in their own words: Watch key takeaways from MJBiz's Cassandra Farrington, Continental Exhibitions' Walter Charnizon and U.S. Travel Association's Nan Marchand Beauvois.

Read a full recap in the SISO media release here

View a photo gallery from the 2022 SISO CEO Summit.

Read more coverage of CEO Summit in industry press:

Summer Conference

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the SISO Summer Conference, scheduled for Aug. 9-11 at the Oklahoma City Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
Asia CEO Summit

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the Asia CEO Summit, which will be held Oct. 4-6 at the Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.  

Case Studies 

In February, SISO attended MAGIC, SOURCING, PROJECT, OFFPRICE AND Womenswear in Nevada (WWIN) in Las Vegas to interview exhibitors, attendees and show producers about the return of in-person. Exhibitors and attendees we interviewed were thrilled to back, and they shared their excitement about the importance of face-to-face as a critical marketing channel. Watch the video case study.

Special Interest Groups

Small Business

The Small Business SIG continues to hold monthly roundtable discussions. No registration is required. Mark your calendar for these upcoming roundtables:

  • 11 a.m. ET, on Tues., April 26
  • 11 a.m. ET, on Tues., May 24

Consumer Events 

The Consumer Events SIG will host a “Think Tank” to talk about community. Join a group discussion about the important role that community plays in today's evolving event landscape. Discussion topics include: 

  • How successful shows are building community around their events 
  • What new communication and marketing strategies are being used to engage community year-round 
  • Community as lead generation, audience mining, monetization, goodwill, etc. 
  • Subscription services, membership platforms and more 

Join us at 12 p.m. ET on Thurs., April 28. The session is free, but you must register to attend.  


On May 19, the SISO Marketing SIG will host a webinar titled “The importance of experiences at live events.”

Developing meaningful connections with customers not only enables deeper personalization, but it also translates to increased loyalty and higher satisfaction with our events. What is clear as customers come back to live events: They are craving unique and personalized experiences that are not only meaningful but also are shareable. Join us to hear how you can plan, create and get engagement with your at-show experiences. We will discuss:

  • Generating a buzz
  • Marketing to motivate registration 
  • Networking opportunities
  • Sponsorship opportunities 
  • The history of experiences at live events: from happy hours to interactive photo ops…how we've grown! 

The session is free, but you must register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the meeting. 

Global Exhibitions Day

The 7th annual #GED will take place on June 1. SISO encourages our members to check out the toolkit and get ready to share your success stories. The new #GED2022 web site launched last week.

Advocacy Alliances

Exhibitions and Conferences Alliance (ECA)

For more than two years, SISO has been at the forefront of industry advocacy and lobbying efforts in Washington, DC. Last week, that hard work paid off with the U.S. House of Representatives advancing a bill that would provide grants to qualifying small businesses in our sector still impacted by the pandemic. Read on for details about that huge win on Capitol Hill and more from the ECA.  

Small business relief 

On April 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022. Along with financial support for restaurants, this bill would establish a $13 billion Hard Hit Industries Award Program that would give grants of up to $1 million to qualifying small businesses, including those in the business events industry who did not qualify for grant programs such as the Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) program. Small businesses meeting the following criteria would be eligible:

  • Have fewer than 200 employees
  • Lost more than an average of 40% of 2019 revenue in 2020 and 2021
  • Did not receive a grant from the SVOG program or Restaurant Relief Fund
  • Company is not publicly traded or owned and operated by a private-equity fund.

Going forward, ECA will be going all in to get the U.S. Senate to take up and pass this bill as soon as possible to help provide much-needed financial relief to our industry's small businesses. You can learn more about ECA's support for the legislation here.  

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) Restoration Act

ECA is also supporting the industry's recovery by working to bring back the Q4 2021 ERTC tax benefit that Congress took away for employers last fall. ECA and more than 60 trade associations are behind a bipartisan bill in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate called the ERTC Restoration Actthat would retroactively restore the ERTC benefit that helped many small businesses retain their employees in 2020 and 2021. For small businesses with fewer than 500 employees that were taking advantage of the benefit, restoration of the Q4 2021 ERTC could be worth up to $7,000 per employee.

Save the date: ECA Legislative Action Week

ECA invites all SISO members to register for ECA Legislative Action Week, which will take place virtually from June 6-10. This year, industry leaders and advocates will have the opportunity to virtually meet with Capitol Hill lawmakers on priority issues including the Relief for Restaurants and other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022, ERTC Restoration Act, Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, international travel policies and more. On June 6, ECA will host a preview session with an issues overview and interviews with key policymakers and industry leaders. Virtual Congressional meetings will take place from June 7-10.

Please register today to join us for ECA Legislative Action Week here!  

Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)

As the exhibitions industry continues the trajectory of recovery, objective, quality market-level data tracking the performance of the industry can help organizers better understand the evolving marketplace. Data cuts through subjectivity and can help organizers focus where it counts. There is a lot of talk about whether exhibitors will return, and if so, when. What about attendees? We know from CEIR research that 2019 was a peak performance year – B2B exhibitions in the U.S. contributed about $101 Billion to U.S. GDP in direct, indirect and induced contributions. 2020 was a year of nothing. In 2021, shows struggled to move forward and many either outright cancelled, rescheduled, or went fully digital or hybrid. The CEIR Index Report measures the performance of U.S. B2B exhibitions, overall and across 14 industry sectors. The Index is a geometric average of four metrics: Net Square Feet of paid space (NSF), number of exhibiting companies, number of professional attendees, and inflation-adjusted organizer gross revenues. CEIR has been measuring performance for 20 years, collecting data directly from the organizers (the information is held in strict confidence). CEIR's economist, Dr. Allen Shaw, builds his forecasts based on the information provided. Why is this important? Show organizers can measure the performance of their shows against others in their sector, their competitive peer set and the industry overall. Consider providing your show's data to CEIR. You will receive your market sector information, along with the overall industry information as provided in the CEIR Index Sector report, at no cost. For more information, contact CEIR VP of Research Nancy Drapeau.  

U.S. Travel

Key findings from a new survey reveal that 84% of business travelers expect to take at least one trip to attend conferences, conventions or trade shows in the next six months. The Quarterly Business Travel Tracker also revealed that, while less than one in 10 U.S. business travelers are uncertain if they would travel in the next six months, the top reason for uncertainty was that meetings and events are not occurring. Corporate policies restricting business travel was the second-highest reason for uncertainty. Read the full press release with a summary of the survey results.

Moving Forward Updates

According to the CDC's data, as of April 11, a total of 218 million Americans, or 65% of the U.S. population, had been fully vaccinated. In total, 256 million Americans have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, or 77% of the U.S. population. Worldwide, 11.4 billion doses have been administered across 184 countries, as of April 11, according to Bloomberg. In addition to the encouraging news about Covid restrictions lifting around the globe, we're happy to share a few links of recent news and positive moves for our industry.


SISO offers the following links to assist members as the return to live ramps up. Additional guidance and updates on Covid-19 remain available on our site.



  • “Without a doubt the most valuable three days of the year for networking, learning, and meeting colleagues.”
    Tony Calanca, Calanca & Associates LLC
  • “Two of the best acquisitions Access Intelligence had executed came directly from contacts and discussions held at the SISO CEO Summit. Beyond that important networking for transactions, I learn best practices from the best in the industry. The ROI for membership is immeasurable.”
    Don Pazour, CEO, Access Intelligence
  • “The impact of SISO is so much bigger than its size. It feels more like a global council of important tribes than a traditional trade association.”
    David Adler, CEO & Founder, Bizbash Media
  • “Our industry thrives on the personal relationships that face-to-face builds, and the CEO Summit is the ultimate place to build YOUR network!”
    Tom Mitchell, President, Messe Dusseldorf North America
  • “As busy, independent, for-profit organizer, SISO keeps our company connected to all the key players working in this industry and allows great relationships and ongoing learning of best practices from the best in the business. All invaluable assets to help move our business forward."
    Howard Hauben, CEO, H2 Events
  • “The SISO membership represents the entire for-profit tradeshow community and the annual SISO conferences are must-attend events for their educational and networking value.”
    Joel A. Davis, Founder & CEO, JD Events
  • Being a member of SISO has allowed me to navigate the dynamic landscape of our industry in the most effective way possible. Personally, it’s been a journey of continuous learning, networking, and collaboration that fosters deep relationships with industry leaders. Professionally, the insights I’ve gained, the resources I have accessed, and the collaborative initiatives and advocacy work have helped to take my organization to new heights. SISO, to me, is an indispensable asset for my career and business.
    Liz Irving, President, Clarion Events