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AHR Expo organiser buoyant despite visitor downturn

USA: The organiser of last month’s AHR Expo in Atlanta says the show attendance was in line with its projections, despite an apparent steep downturn in visitors compared to recent shows.

The leading US HVACR exhibition was always likely to struggle to match last year’s record-breaking event in Chicago, but the recently announced attendance figures for Atlanta reveal a 46% drop in turn out.

Visitor attendance this year was clocked at 27,047. Adding the 18,031 exhibitor personnel takes the total to 45,078, a significant reduction on last year’s record-breaking total of 72,075 and markedly below all recent attendance figures. Even the last show in Atlanta in 2001 pulled marginally more visitors. And the shows are far bigger now. There were 1,824 exhibitors at this year’s event, down on the 2,155 at last year’s show in Chicago, but nearly 50% more than the 1,297 exhibitors at Atlanta in 2001.

A factor may be that this year for the first time the organiser employed radio frequency identification technology (RFID) to automatically clock all visitors. Previous shows based attendance figures on the total number of pre-registrations – whether or not they actually attended the event – and those who registered on-site at the show.

“This year’s verified tally is a strong number and actually right on target for what our projections were for Atlanta,” said Nicole Bush, the show’s press officer.

“This year we used radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to verify our total attendance. What this means is every single attendee that walked through the show doors was scanned and accounted for. The number – 45,078 – is a true number of everyone that walked into the 2019 AHR Expo. We have been looking to use a verified system for some time, however, until now there wasn’t a system that allowed us to do that without disruption to the attendee experience as older systems required each individual to be manually scanned at the entrance. As you can imagine, this would have created inconvenient wait times and large crowds.

“We also consider outside factors. As you know, when we booked the GWCC [Georgia World Congress Centre] years in advance we had no way to predict Atlanta as the Superbowl selection, or the US government shut down, or even inclement weather in regions that typically don’t experience it. All of these things presented challenges, but even with all of this in the way, we experienced a great turnout and that speaks to the reputation of the AHR Expo and the professionals that come together each year.”

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