Some ASIS numbers released, analyzed

While we wait for audited numbers, ASIS has released preliminary attendance figures for the recent show in Anaheim: 19,300 attendees. They say that's down "single digits." Here's where you can find their audited numbers going back a few years (pdf warning). Last year it was 21,126. So, my math puts that at 8.6 percent down. Not much room left in the single digits. According to this release, they first broke 19,000 in 2004, which was at the time the most in the event's 50-year history. They also had 842 booths that year, too, however, which is many more than the 715 they're reporting this year. Maybe that's why Cisco's Steve Collen said Cisco had significantly more leads this year from the show than last year: more people for fewer booths? I personally think the far superior venue got people circulating much better, so that more people saw more vendors. In 2002, just a year after Sept. 11, the event drew 17,650, also a record at the time, along with 725 vendors. While a lot of people are focusing on the attendance figure, it's got to be a little scary that ASIS drew fewer vendors than in the first year after Sept. 11. Actually, I think the attendance figure is very good. I think the economy is terrible, more terrible than some people realize, and I think travel and education budgets have been slashed like crazy. You'll also notice that this article about conventions coming to Orange County only even predicted 16,000 for ASIS. So, back in January, optimism was running even lower than September's reality. What will be interesting is to see in the audited numbers how the attendance breaks down. Built in the attendance number is generally some 9,000 or so exhibitors and sponsors. As a percentage, they were 41.4 percent in 2006, 39.6 percent in 2007, and 40.8 percent in 2008. With 23,708 attendees, 2007 is looking like the apex. Where the nadir will be is the question. If it's 2009, ASIS should consider itself lucky. For context, here's how ISC West's audits (pdf alert) have broken down: 2006 - 24,379 attendees, 36.7 percent exhibitors, etc. 2007 - 26,562 attendees, 37.8 percent exhibitors, etc. 2008 - 26,362 attendees, 37.5 percent exhibitors, etc. 2009 - 23,097 attendees, 35.2 percent exhibitors, etc. However, ISC West is a very different show in terms of make-up of the attendee-attendees. The audits break them down into "conference attendees" (those who pay for the education, etc.) and "exhibit-only attendees." While ASIS has been over 4,000 each of the last three years, ISC's high was 1,189 in 2006, and this year had just 674 conference attendees. Ouch. That will be a very interesting number for ASIS when the audit comes out: Did their core people still pay to come? That would validate the "there were less tire-kickers" crowd. Did the core stay away? That would support the slashed-budget crowd.


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