Exhibition destination attractiveness – organizers' and visitors' perspectives
Purpose – The purpose of this study was to provide a holistic view of exhibition destination attractiveness by examining perceptions of two of the three key stakeholders (exhibition organizers and visitors) and contrasting them with those of exhibitors. Design/methodology/approach – This research used a mixed method approach, collecting 535 responses from visitors attending nine business-to-business exhibitions in four major cities in China via structured surveys. In addition, eight in-depth interviews with CEOs/owners of leading global and Chinese exhibition companies were conducted. Findings – The findings revealed that exhibitors may go almost anywhere where there is potential for successful business. In contrast, visitors prefer exhibition destinations with good accessibility to minimize travel time and an attractive leisure environment that offers a degree of enjoyment in addition to taking care of business. A destination’s “economic environment” and “cluster effects” were comparatively less important to them. Organizers were cognizant of these differences, contributing to their reluctance in taking large-scale, branded exhibitions to second-tier destinations, despite considerable efforts by these cities to improve their infrastructure. Practical implications – This study offers practical guidelines for destination administrators and exhibition organizers with regard to evaluating destination resources for long-term exhibition development. Originality/value – In contrast to prior studies, this research identifies significant differences in perceptions of exhibition destination attractiveness among all three key industry stakeholders. It also presents a persuasive case for the need to clearly differentiate between the attractiveness of a destination for attracting/hosting exhibitions versus conventions, rather than approaching the subject from a more generic meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) segment/business events perspective.
International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management