Trade shows (TSs) are events which bring together, in a single location, a group of suppliers, distributors and related services that set up physical exhibits of their goods and services from a given industry or discipline (Herbig, O'Hara, & Palumbo, 1997). TSs are the second most useful medium of communication between companies and their customers (BIythe, 1999b; Williams, Gopalakrishna, & Cox, 1993). TSs are identified as services and their wide range of benefits (Munuera & Ruiz, 1999) can substantially influence a company's ability to compete and succeed in the rapidly globalising business environment (Seringhaus & Rosson, 1998).
The purpose of the current research is to investigate several areas where the extant literature leaves questions unanswered. Specifically, the existing literature does not appear to adequately explain what constitutes perceived TS effectiveness from a visitor's perspective. The overall objective of the research is to (a) identify indicators of the perception of TS effectiveness from a visitor's point of view and its impact on TS service outcome (b) identify key antecedents of the proposed construct; (c) test the paths of the proposed research model; and (d) test the relationships among TS visitor groups for significant differences.
The project involves three studies. Study one utilises exploratory research to outline the scope of the new construct by identifying indicators of visitors' perceptions of effective TSs. Study two involves an empirical test of the newly developed measure for the proposed "Visitors' Perception of TS Effectiveness" construct. It also examines the relationships between the TS effectiveness construct and its key antecedents. Finally, study three re-tests and refines the scale and employs a large scale structural model test of the research model. In addition, it provides for a multivariate analysis of the differences in perception between TS visitor groups and key constructs in the model.
This research project followed the urgent call for further research in the arena of TS management which has been stated by scholars for years (e.g., Hansen, 2004; Smith, Gopalakrishna, & Smith, 2004). The study discussed above developed a measurement tool with good psychometric properties for the "Visitors' Perception of TS Effectiveness" construct. This construct has been statistically identified in this thesis as having a major impact on purchase intentions at a TS while service quality does not seem to have a significant impact on service outcomes in the context of TSs. Flaws in Brady and Cronin's (2001b) service quality model were demonstrated while "Overall TS Service Quality" and "TS Outcome Quality" were identified as key antecedents of the "Visitors' Perception of TS Effectiveness" construct. Furthermore, the study segmented TS visitors successfully and identified significant differences among TS visitor groups utilising BIythe's (2002a) visitor typology.
This study offers practitioners suggestions on how to best utilise a differentiated approach to target TS visitor groups. The study further strongly indicates that TSs are too complex and versatile to be treated as just one of several tools of the promotion mix. To define the modern operational and strategic position of TSs within the marketing mix, the current paradigm of TSs needs to be challenged and TSs should be viewed as an important part of the entire marketing mix which influences almost all parts of a business organisation. However, until now this multidisciplinary approach has been overlooked by academe and business management.