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ASSOCIATION WATCHIssue 8 | 2011 www.70exhibition-world.nethat big issues are affecting SISO members today?Three main topics are affecting SISO today: technology, globalisation and entrepreneurship.Technology has been at the forefront for the last few years. Initially our members were frightened it would replace face-to-face activity but that is not the case. We've not been able to assess how it's going to happen. There have been only a handful of companies that have made any money from it. UBM is one, with its online expos. We are confi dent that face-to-face events won't be replaced by online companies.But the big theme we're seeing over here is globalisation. When I was chairman of SISO 10 years ago, the broad majority would say they were not interested in expanding internationally. Since then we've started relationships with UFI and Amprofec and the number of our members considering globalisation has soared. We've seen a quantum leap. Attendance at our annual CEO Summit is up 70 per cent and 20 per cent of these delegates are international. How about international expansion?What we are also fi nding is that international organisers are coming to the US to fi nd out how they can get a footprint in North America. Many fi nd it's easier to buy than it is to start. The same applies to US companies looking to go abroad. A lot of large businesses won't have the patience to go and start looking. Mergers and acquisitions activity in 2007 was huge. Then the recession hit. What we're fi nding is that mergers and acquisition activity is making a comeback. Private equity players say there's more activity now. Multiples have become more sensible. While I can't get 14 as I did in 2007, at least now I'm getting offered eight. The market's equalised and multiples are not ridiculously low, as they have been recently.In the US it's common for entrepreneurial families to get together to start businesses. They did so because they were passionate about staging shows, or the subject, but they rarely had an exit strategy. The experts at SISO can help them to form their exit strategy. By understanding there are rules and regulations, they will be able to make a presentation to buyers that someone will understand.What is the next phase?Not long ago our focus was on 'break on through'. Things were stabilising. Now our theme is going forward. People are now looking at positive cashfl ows. Attendance usually drives revenues. There appears to be an uptick but people are fearing another dip. It is affecting mergers and acquisitions. Equity isn't there so people aren't investing. It's like buying a house: sellers know what the place is worth, but because rates are so poor they are holding onto them. So in turn you hold on to your money in anticipation of the market returning to strength.How about venues?Venues in the US have various fi nancial options depending on whether they are private or funded by the state. State-funded venues are propped up by bonds so bureaus are going out looking for business. At SISO we're trying to get all the venues together to share ideas and information. With a summit for the venues hopefully we can get a better idea of how to work together. Take Chicago's McCormick Place. Four companies have come together to appeal the ruling that went in favour of the Teamsters and the carpenters, who said no to changes in the way the venue operates with the unions. Chicago is an absolute bellwether for the US industry. TALKING SISO SISO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR LEW SHOMER TALKS ABOUT THE NORTH AMERICAN ASSOCIATION'S NEW DIRECTION AS US ORGANISERS ONCE AGAIN LOOK TO INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION TO GROW THEIR BUSINESS LEW SHOMER3500 The number of events run by SISO's 135 member companies