It has been six weeks since we held our Internet Retailer 2005 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago, enough time to carefully review the 250 responses we collected from our online evaluation survey of paid conference attendees and read the many unsolicited kudos that were e-mailed from attendees, speakers and exhibitors alike. This post-show analysis leads to an inescapable conclusion: IR2005 was a huge hit!
We knew on the eve of the conference that it was going to be successful in terms of attendance. It drew 1,150 paid attendees, exhibitors and speakers-more than double our initial goal. It was such a big draw that regrettably we ran out of space and were forced to stop taking new registrations three weeks before the conference.
But drawing a crowd is not the only measurement of conference success. Just as we are passionate about the editorial quality of our magazine, newsletter and directory publications, we care deeply about whether the informational content of our conference met attendee needs. Measured by the responses we got from attendees who completed the 15-minute evaluation survey we sent them, IR2005 delivered the information e-retailers were looking to get. Fully 95% rated the conference content as excellent, very good or good. Only 5% rated it fair, and no one rated it as poor. Such marks are a tribute to my partner, Kurt Peters, who as editor-in-chief of Internet Retailer was responsible for the content of the conference. And while this was our first Internet Retailer show, dozens of attendees told us it seemed like an event organized by pros. Indeed, 98% of attendees surveyed rated overall show management as excellent, very good or good (again, not a single poor). For that, we thank Eileen O’Neill, our talented and very experienced conference coordinator. Equally gratifying is the fact that 90% of those surveyed say they are likely to attend Internet Retailer 2006, which will be held June 5-7 in Chicago.
As gratifying as they are, however, the positive evaluation survey results do not mean we have no room for improvement. IR2005 was a great first step in our mission to build the biggest and best show in the online retailing business. Still, more than 40% of 2005 attendees told us that next year they want to see a bigger exhibit hall, a cybercafé where attendees can exchange web retailing tips, a workshop devoted to marketing retail sites and a CD to accompany the two-inch thick notebook containing every speaker’s presentation.
We have already begun work on expanding and improving next year’s Internet Retailer Conference, which will have three times as much space as this year. IR2006 will also include each of the most popular suggestions from this year’s attendees: an extra day for a web marketing workshop, an ample cybercafé for attendee networking, a CD to accompany the printed notebook, and the largest exhibit hall ever assembled in the e-retailing trade with well over 200 booths. And we’ll have more conference surprises to announce before this year is out.
While we believe the survey report that 90% of this year’s attendees are likely to attend next year, we are intent on giving them-and hundreds more who didn’t make it to the 2005 event-even more reason to come to the largest conference in the e-retailing industry. We thank all speakers, attendees, and exhibitors who put Internet Retailer 2005 on the retailing industry’s conference map. And we promise do to our part to insure that come next June 5 through 7, all roads on that map lead to Chicago-and to Internet Retailer 2006 Conference & Exhibition.
Jack Love, Publisher