Designing the Model for Modern Exhibit Engagement

HX: The Hotel Experience was previously known as the International Hotel Motel Restaurant Show. While the 100-year-old annual trade show had occupied a position as the premiere event for the hospitality industry, the reputation had taken a hit over the past decade with declining attendance and exhibitor numbers.

The three owners of the industry trade show recognized that, while the past 10 years had been troublesome, the future would be even more challenging without immediate efforts to modernize the show’s offerings, retain loyal participants, and attract an emerging generation of hospitality professionals. In early conversations with MYB, the organizers believed that a refreshed, segmented marketing strategy could provide the key ingredient for turning the show around. However, a one-size-fits-all communications plan was only part of the problem. MYB’s research revealed deeper core challenges that, if addressed, could yield new opportunities.

  • A comprehensive research approach with interviews and surveys of attendees, prospects, and exhibitors to identify reasons for a decline in participation and interest
  • An in-depth analysis of the show’s positioning and marketing strategy to identify key underserved segments (General Managers and Independent Hotel Owners)
  • A completely refreshed and reenergized brand (HX) that announced the show’s transformation for the future
  • A complete redesign of the show floor experience that balanced education sessions and exhibit hall interaction to create a win-win for both buyers and suppliers
  • New hands-on demo areas and enhanced networking areas to energize the show
  • A comprehensive growth strategy with recommendations to place HX on the cutting-edge of the hospitality industry with thought leadership, trend-spotting research, and on-site technology activations

Post-event surveys revealed high levels of satisfaction from attendees with the on-site enhancements after year one of the rebrand, and in year two, key attendance segments grew. Exhibitor satisfaction with quality of attendees, number of leads, and overall energy increased. Due to the success of the growth strategy, the show’s rebrand has served as a lesson for the entire exhibition industry in Francis Friedman’s The Modern Digital Tradeshow.

The client retained MYB to execute a three-year plan for the annual trade show, and the creative strategy has done more than increase satisfaction and revenue at HX. It also revealed that the HX audience was seeking more professional development. In 2018, MYB is helping to elevate the HX brand as a “go to resource” for industry thought leadership with the conception of a new HX Advisory Board, the addition of a stand-alone conference in conjunction with the HX Marketplace, and the launch of a national awards program.