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Main Participants in Conventions and Meetings

An organized body that promotes and enhances a common interest activity or purpose.
The roots of associations came from Roman and Oriental craftsmen in ancient times who formed it for the improvement of their trade.

In the Middle Ages, associations were in the form of guilds which were organized to obtain proper wages and to maintain work standards.

Two Categories of Association

Trade Associations non-profit organizations whose aim is to meet the needs of for-profit businesses.
Professional Associations are non-profit organizations that are not involved with business firms.

Convention Centers
A comprehensive convention center is a public assembly facility which is designed to host meetings and exhibits under one roof.

It has also provision for banquet, food and beverage and concession service. Most convention centers are owned by city, country or state government and are operated by a designated board or authority.

Historically, Convention Centers were established to service the community but recent trends show that there is increasing pressure for convention centers to be profit centers.
Majority of these centers generate revenue through rental fees of exhibition and meeting room space. Other revenue sources include food and beverage catering, concessions and vending.

The most common income generating services are electrical, telephone, stage construction, lighting, plumbing, air and sound.

Conference Centers
A specialized hospitality operation which aims to facilitate and support small to medium size meetings of 20 to 50 people.
Majority of the conference centers provide overnight accommodations for their participants. The conference center was established to meet the growing demand for specialized meetings.



A unique characteristic of a conference center is that it provides continuous refreshment throughout the meeting thus allowing the attendees to take a break whenever they feel like doing so. Another is that it charges only one price that includes meals, room rates, meeting rooms, audiovisual equipment, coffee breaks, and paper supplies needed by the participants.

Tour Operator
Tour operators play an important role in the convention and meetings industry. They work with meeting planners in arranging tours and activities for meeting attendees and their families who combine business with pleasure.

Tour operators often create tour packages for the spouse, guest, or children of the attendees.

Trade Shows and Expositions

Trade shows, exhibitions and scientific/ technical conferences are terms that are used interchangeably in the conference and meeting industry. Exhibition was historically a European term, as we become global, Americans have adopted the term to refer to travelling shows such as art exhibitions.

According to CLC glossary, expositions are public shows. Historically, trade shows are private shows which are open only to those involved in the industry. Although some trade shows open themselves to the public only on their final days, majority are still private.
All these terms describe an activity which aims to represent a major industry marketing event.

Trade shows provide a venue in which individuals associated with a particular industry can bring their products and exhibit them together. The forum allows the attendees and exhibitors to exchange information about their products.

History of Trade Shows

According to Evan St. Lifer, trade shows or expositions started when caravans crossing the dessert would meet and exchange products. In the United States of America, the history of trade shows dates back to 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell showed his telephone at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, a show celebrating Americas first 100 years.

With the advent of the industrial era, marketing of products became very important. Salesmen spent most of their time on the roads selling their products. Since it was impractical to call on customers individually, salesmen began to rent hotel rooms to display their wares. They invited their customers to look at their display. This practice was beneficial to individual companies.

By the mid 1920s, hardworking individuals develop an exhibit hall in which large groups of exhibitors who shared a common product, showcase their wares together. This gave the trade show a new look. In exhibit halls, clients were allowed to roam freely from one booth to another.
At present, the trade show industry is the most exciting, dynamic and economical needs for marketing individuals to achieve their sales goals.

Key Players within the Trade Show Industry

Trade show sponsors are trade or professional associations to use the trade show as an important part of their meetings or conventions to generate revenue. Exposition / Show Managers is responsible for all aspects of the trade show. Service Contractors are individuals responsible for providing all the services needed to run the facilities for a trained show.

Hotels provide comfortable overnight accommodation for out of town guests for a meeting, convention, or trade show.
In addition, many hotels provide meeting rooms, convention facilities and small exposition halls for meetings and convention.

The most important person in a hotel is the Convention Service Manager.

He acts as a liaison between the meeting planner and the hotel.

Convention and Visitors Bureau

A non profitable organization designed to solicit visitors and conventions to a community. They coordinate all activities of meetings and conventions. These include:
marketing the destination providing information about possible host facilities coordinating familiarization tours for meeting planners acting as liaison between the group and several suppliers.

Incentive Travel
Many companies provide some form incentives to their sales and marketing personnel. The incentive programs consists of prize or reward designed to increase sales, improve morale, increase productivity, and enhance quality service.
Prizes may consist of money, merchandise, or travel.

Travel awards are the most beneficial to a company. Incentives groups represent the corporations elite who have a great influence on other corporate business. More than 11 million people world wide are involve in incentive travel every year.