Associations Lead List of Largest Tradeshows

More than half of the events on the Trade Show News Network's list of largest tradeshows are led or organized by associations, with the International CES remaining the biggest of them all.

In the latest edition of a competition where every inch matters, associations are leading the way.

The Trade Show News Network’s (TSNN) annual list of the top 250 tradeshows, based on net square footage, includes the annual meetings for numerous associations, with the Consumer Electronic Association’s high-profile International CES leading the list. But CEA was far from alone—associations made up more than half of the entries on this year’s list, including seven of the top 10 entries. More details:

The market leader: By square footage alone, nobody can touch CES. The 2012 event, hosted in Las Vegas, had nearly 1.9 million square feet of floor space—more than 600,000 more than the Association for Manufacturing Technology’s second-place International Manufacturing Technology Show and 200,000 more than the 2011 edition of CES.

The top locales: If you’re looking to have a big event, look no further than Las Vegas, far and away the leader that drew the largest tradeshows—with 54 of the top 250 events calling Sin City home, including CES. It’s held the top honor for the past 19 years, with its closest competition, Orlando, Florida, hosting 27 events last year. Other top locales for tradeshows include Chicago (20), New York (16), and New Orleans (11). Las Vegas hosted four of the 10 largest shows, while Chicago, Atlanta, and Orlando each hosted two.

Association-run events: With 128 events represented by 136 associations or trade groups, the nonprofit sector dominated the listings, with other heavy hitters including the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s Pack Expo International (fourth), the National Business Aviation Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention (sixth), the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s 2012 show (seventh), SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association’s NPE 2012 (ninth), and the International Council of Shopping Centers’ RECon 2012 (10th). The National Retail Federation had the most events on the list among associations, with three.

Other big tradeshows: Outside the world of associations, four show organizers had equal levels of dominance, with Reed Exhibitions, Nielsen Expositions, and UBM each having 10 of the largest events on the list, and George Little Management representing nine. The largest tradeshow not run by an association was AMC’s January Atlanta International Gift and Home Furnishings Market (third), which took up nearly 1.17 million net square feet of floor space. The July edition of the same event (fifth) took up more than 1.1 million net square feet.

The full list is available on the TSNN website.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!