CEIR Case Study: An Interview with D. Bradley Kent of VisitDallas

CEIR Case Study: An Interview with D. Bradley Kent of VisitDallas

If you would like to participate in the CEIR Case Study or have insights on how CEIR has helped your organization, please reach out to Jannat Choudhury at jchoudhury@iaee.com.

Growing a show’s attendance isn’t just on the show organizer. It’s a team effort that involves internal and external organizations. In this case study, D. Bradley Kent, Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer of VisitDallas shares his takeaways from the How to Grow Attendance series and how destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can contribute to the event marketing efforts of their customers.


1) Please describe your role at VisitDallas. What responsibilities do you have?

As the Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer, my role is to develop our team, serve as the face of relationships with our customers and partners to help them achieve their goals and develop strategies to achieve the financial objectives of the city.

 2) Describe a few reasons why you and your organization use CEIR research.

CEIR research is important to us for a couple of reasons:  The first reason is to educate us on trends in the trade show industry, and within vertical segments of that industry, to help our convention center and hotel partners. The second reason is that we utilize CEIR and the data to identify ways to improve our product offerings, as well as with developers considering new projects in our city.

3) How did you first hear about CEIR research? How long have you been using CEIR research?

I was first introduced to, what is now CEIR, from Felix Niespodziewanski of American College of Surgeons when it debuted as “The Trade Show Bureau”.

4) What were your key takeaways from the How to Grow Attendance series?

My big takeaway is that none of us has the answer. For each show, the organization and target audiences are different. Mass marketing that used to work in growing attendance doesn’t work well anymore, and it is now about personas and hitting the right attendee, with the right message, at the right time.

How to Grow Attendance Series Small Graphic

5) How do you plan to implement those takeaways within your organization?

It is important to track our customers’ trends in the years prior to coming to Dallas, in terms of the following:

  • What worked and didn’t work well at past events?
  • How did attendees’ and exhibitors’ participation trend year over year?
  • What are the different persona groupings within the various organizations the event is serving?
  • Attend the previous year’s event to engage both attendees and exhibitors and promote the event coming to Dallas the following year.

From there, we can identify opportunities for our community members in their industry (city and state levels) to engage with and promote the event, be resources for speakers and volunteers, and to be resources for the planner to develop marketing plans with our resources. The conversations can’t just be over once the group commits. It’s a shared responsibility.

6) How has the How to Grow Attendance series changed your outlook on your organization’s marketing efforts?

How to Grow Attendance Series Small Graphic 2There is only so much that a destination can do to help a customer organization grow attendance; there is only so much that a customer organization can do as well.  However, the outlook I have now is a clear understanding of who the customer organization is targeting. Seeing a copy of their marketing plan and then providing them marketing tools and resources to use in print and digital helps create a cohesive effort. Additionally, as we understand their social media plan, this allows us to follow them across the various channels and echo their message with images, videos or content that would connect with their different persona targets.

7) What is your overall feedback for CEIR regarding the How to Grow Attendance series? 

The series has provided clarity on the vast mix of marketing channels that organizers use to grow attendance. In my opinion, it can’t be a “one and done” series as marketing tactics and strategies evolve over time.  As our customers’ target audience change each year, in terms of channels, relevance and resonance, so the industry must continue to have an ongoing dialogue to share best practices and new success stories.

8) Would you recommend the How to Grow Attendance series to others? 

Definitely. I would share these insights with the marketing team from the show organizer community, as well as destination marketing organizations (DMOs) along with younger staff and even attendee representatives to share what they are seeing and hearing that perhaps those in leadership positions are not always connected to.

D Bradley Kent at Expo Expo

9) Are there any content or research you would like CEIR to work on and share? 

Attendance and “official hotel block” issues often go hand in hand. Getting attendees to come is one part of the plan, but we must also understand how they book reservations, the role of the sharing economy, and trends in attendance inside and outside the block. It would be interesting to know the future of housing companies if commission levels continue to change and affect “revenue sharing”; and how convention center and show funding from cities will work as “official hotel block” usage continues to change.

Other comments (if any):

The labor market trends are a concern. Within our industry, improved immigration policy is necessary for labor pool training and improvement, as well as attendance.  I think this is affecting all businesses, in some way, in our industry.


If you would like to participate in the CEIR Case Study or have insights on how CEIR has helped your organization, please reach out to Jannat Choudhury at jchoudhury@iaee.com.

Share this:


Understanding Business Sustainability in the Context of Environmental Thresholds

Technology Disruptors Transforming B2B Events

Elevating B2B Interactions: The Role of Entertaining in Professional Events