Independent Study Reveals Challenges Facing Utility Trade Conferences

Survey ranks relevant peer-information exchange as most coveted event takeaway

Atlanta, GA, November 04, 2011 --( Results issued today from a study by The McDonnell Group measuring North American utility professionals’ attitudes on the value of industry conferences and exhibitions indicate possible contraction of conference schedules in the years ahead.

The McDonnell Group was commissioned by leading conference organizers to survey veteran utility professionals about the conferences they attended each year and what influenced their choice to attend those conferences.

Utility personnel in the U.S. and Canada from independent system operators (ISO), investor-owned utilities (IOU), municipals, and cooperatives were encouraged to participate in an online survey. Survey questions asked them to identify which utility conferences they had attended in the past 24 months, what value they derived from these events, and any recommended improvements to conference agendas.

Some of the summary key findings of the study include:

- A small majority of events are perceived as offering a value of Very Good or Excellent.
- As a result, only a little more than half of respondents would probably or definitely return to an event they have attended.
- An obvious impact on travel by the current economic climate, as most organizations project budgets to attend conferences and events to remain unchanged and nearly a third expect a decline in 2012.

“Our intention for this study was to better understand the factors that matter most in deciding which event to attend,” said Alain Récaborde, senior vice president research of The McDonnell Group. “Ultimately, this study confirmed the inherent risk of an ever growing number of events in light of shrinking budgets. It also emphasized utility professionals’ desire to share best practices and learn from each other.”

Overall, the report summarizes the attendees’ perceived value of the events, the most important benefits for event attendees, and the likelihood that they would revisit events in the future based on value and upcoming budgets. Roughly fifty percent of the sample was comprised of utility staff that influences overall decisions for its utility investment decisions for trade conference and events. These groups attend tradeshows, conferences and events principally to learn lessons and hear case studies from industry peers.

A summary of the findings are available for download at The full findings report is available only to study survey participants and sponsors including Clasma, Energy Central, Smart Grid Roadshow, Spintelligent, and Utilimetrics. To read more about the study and to request an executive summary of the findings report, contact The McDonnell Group. The McDonnell Group completed this research study at cost to support the needs of its utility research program participants and its industry partner sponsors.

About The McDonnell Group, Inc.

The McDonnell Group delivers a unique trilogy of energy and technology focused marketing services: Research, Strategy, and Public Relations. We provide expert insight and specialized knowledge of the people, the trends, and the technologies unique to the utility and enterprise software markets. With our Focus on Practical Methods™, we work closely with your executive team to deliver strategy and advisory services, research-based marketing, and public relations to help you grow and guide your business in a way few can match.

Marc Marton

The McDonnell Group
Marc Marton