How 3 Conferences Boosted Attendance by Opening to the Public

By Stephanie Davis Smith, September 19, 2016

More and more associations are opening to the public their events, trade shows and resources. As association membership declines across the industry, planners are rethinking their approach to keeping conference attendance up. Three case studies prove our point. 

Case No. 1

For the first time in its 21-year history, Entertainment Software Association’s Electronic Entertainment Expo—nicknamed E3—opened part of its event to the public this year.

The annual video game industry trade show made this decision when one of its top exhibitors, Electronic Arts, announced it was holding its own competing event for the masses. Soon after, other competing expos began cropping up too. In June, E3 Live, held at L.A. Live, ran concurrently with the industry-only event a few blocks away at Los Angeles Convention Center.

It was a move that made sense for E3: Because the show highlights the latest in video games, nonindustry gamers have always had interest in the conference. While the move held off competitors momentarily, it makes us wonder: Will CES be open to the public next?

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