Exhibitions DayThere’s no overstating the value of business-to-business (B2B) exhibitions in impacting AEM, its member companies, and the markets they serve.

As an organization tasked with managing and producing world-class trade shows, AEM recognizes the value of exhibitions and events as key contributors to equipment manufacturing, agriculture and construction, as well as the global economy as a whole.

With that fact in mind, raising awareness of significant issues affecting the B2B exhibitions industry and its impact on the economy and tourism are among the priorities of the Annual Exhibitions Day gathering held in Washington, D.C.

Held June 4-5 this year, Exhibitions Day offered industry professionals a unique opportunity to network with one another and voice their opinions to federal legislators regarding topics of note associated with exhibitions and events.

To help commemorate this year’s gathering, AEM asked its sector leaders – Senior Vice President of Construction, Mining and Utility Al Cervero and Senior Vice President of Agriculture and Forestry Curt Blades – to answer a few questions about the value of trade shows and events, AEM’s role in ag and construction exhibitions, and how member company representatives can make sure their voices are heard when it comes to driving change associated with AEM-owned trade shows.

AEM: Why are exhibitions and events so valuable and important to AEM members?

Curt Blades, AEM Senior Vice President of Ag Services – Exhibitions and trade shows provide the perfect gathering place for knowledge transfer to happen. Whether it’s opportunities for exhibitors to explain to current and prospective customers what’s new and interesting, answer questions, or highlight new products and services, these events provide a uniquely valuable way for AEM members to make direct contact with customers and shed light on their company and what it has to offer.

Al Cervero, AEM Senior Vice President of Construction, Mining and Utility – The most effective way for a manufacturer to get its competitors’ customers is frankly to go somewhere that offers an opportunity to see everything in front of you, compare products, and speak to customers who aren’t 100-percent committed to a certain product offering. That’s what exhibitions and events offer; an opportunity for a manufacturer to reach past an existing customer base.


Curt Blades


AEM is committed to helping our members improve their return on investment in their trade show experiences, and we see it as our responsibility to equip them with the tools necessary to do so, said Curt Blades, AEM Senior Vice President of Agriculture and Forestry. 


 AEM: What industry issues, challenges and opportunities are bringing people together at exhibitions, events and other collaborative settings in an effort to learn from one another and eventually drive change?

Blades – New and emerging technology is fundamentally changing the way business is being conducted, so there’s a wealth of interest in those particular areas in ag today. We’re seeing a growing market for conferences and education opportunities to specifically address new technology, how farmers can better understand it, how it can be implemented on the farm, and also how it can be leveraged to reduce costs and drive revenue growth. These events take a bit of a different form than what most people think of as a traditional trade show, because the focus is more on education, as opposed to new products.

Cervero – Technology is on everyone’s mind today, and every instance of new and emerging technology raises a couple of key questions: What is the return on investment (ROI)? What does it allow to be done better? A trade show like CONEXPO-CON/AGG can help answer those questions – and more. Anyone who goes to CONEXPO-CON/AGG is going to see a ton of new technology – robotics, autonomous equipment, electric-powered equipment – it’s all be in Las Vegas in March of next year. Of course, technology capable of being implemented on existing products will also be at CONEXPO-CON/AGG, and attendees can make purchases right on the show floor. Ultimately, trade shows offer a venue for seeing a lot of different technologies, and attendees can take everything in, weigh the value proposition and decide what to prioritize in the near term. And AEM is committed to bringing people together at CONEXPO-CON/AGG, because it allows us an opportunity to convince people to make decisions, move their businesses forward, and develop a sound knowledge of what tomorrow will bring.

Blades– AEM’s Ag Customer Connections Taskforce recognizes the blurring of policy and customer connections in our industry today. If an equipment manufacturer sheds light on an issue and brings it to the consuming public because it affects their lives, and if that company displays a willingness to make a difference, it delivers a whole lot of goodwill – and also hopefully leads to more equipment sold.


 Al Cervero

 “(Through exhibitions and events) we're investing in helping our members and their fellow exhibitors drive down costs, increase productivity and – most importantly – see the future of our industry.," said Al Cervero, AEM Senior Vice President of Construction, Mining and Utility. 


AEM: Why is it so important that AEM is involved in exhibitions and events?

Cervero – No matter where you go or what industry you’re in, the primary people spending the money to put a trade show on are the exhibitors. In AEM’s case, and in the equipment manufacturing industry, it’s the manufacturer. That’s why it’s so important for AEM to be involved, because our members are the exhibitors, and we want to make sure they receive a considerable return on their investment in time, effort and resources into exhibitions and events. Perhaps more importantly, though, the money AEM makes on its trade shows is reinvested back into the industry. Take CONEXPO-CON/AGG, for example. No other show does more to help exhibitors understand who they are trying to reach. AEM prides itself on facilitating knowledge transfer to ensure both exhibitors and attendees get the most from their time spent on the show floor.

Blades – Because AEM represents manufacturers, when we’re in the process of planning a show, we take their needs into consideration first. Of primary concern are factors that could make a very significant difference in the cost or effectiveness of an exhibition or event. We’re not just concerned about making money, we want to make sure manufacturers have a worthwhile experience. AEM is committed to helping our members improve their return on investment in their trade show experiences, and we see it as our responsibility to equip them with the tools necessary to do so. And when you consider trade show ROI, the key is to not just look at the “R.” You have to think about the “I.” The “R” – or return – is often assessed based on how many leads are obtained or sales are generated, but that’s really only part of it. If you alter your investment to focus on things like education and staffing your booth appropriately, that changes your level of investment, but it also changes the level of your return for the better.

AEM: Lastly, how can AEM members make sure their voices are heard regarding exhibitions and events?

Blades – AEM is always looking for volunteers to assist with association activities. You get out of it what you put into it. It’s really that simple.

Cervero – We’re not an organization that says “This is our trade show. We’re going to run it how we want, and we don’t really care about the rest of the industry.” AEM has so many partners in the industry, and the trade show education we provide is run by a group of associations. Yes, we manage it, and yes, we make the decisions. But we have more people involved in our trade shows and partners to help build a bigger platform for our industry than anybody else. Our shows are a platform for our other activities, all of which serve make our industry more efficient. It takes everyone to be connected. And therefore, because we have that platform, we are investing in helping our members and their fellow exhibitors drive down costs, increase productivity and – most importantly – see the future of our industry.

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