Centralized Technology Helps National Retail Federation Grow the Industry’s Biggest Shows

NRF LogoAdvocates for the world’s retail industry
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association. The organization represents American and international discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers. They hold some of North America’s biggest conferences and trade shows throughout the year, including Retail’s BIG Show that draws about 34,000 attendees and 600 exhibiting companies in approximately 225,000 net square feet of exhibit space. NRF uses a2zShow’s global administration capabilities across its multi-event portfolio to help manage its data and grow its shows.

The search for synchronization
Before NRF began using a2zShow in 2006, the group used a variety of tools, including manual spreadsheets, to manage the online floor plan, conference content and calls for presentations. They were unable to leverage consolidated information with logistics being managed across multiple applications. Staff was required to export and import data from one software platform to another and manual tools made it difficult to manage multiple levels of access to information. “We wanted to find a single system to make operations easier,” says Mark Bogdansky, Vice President Exhibit Operations at National Retail Federation.

One unified solution for multiple events
Nearly a decade ago, NRF selected a2zShow with its unified global administration capabilities, to eliminate redundancies, and provide real-time management and reporting capabilities. At present, Bogdansky’s team uses the platform to securely manage an average of ten events per year—a portfolio that represents more than 325,000 net square feet and over $25 million in transactions. a2zShow processes approximately 1,000 NRF speaker proposals annually and provides show management with a broad selection of real-time and historical reports.

Instant snapshots
The global administration system made it possible for NRF to consolidate data from all of its events into one database, which is accessible through a single dashboard. Maintaining one central system makes it easier to transfer data to outside applications, such as a mobile app, and monitor logins so that individuals—contractors or other software developers, for example—can only access the information they are authorized to obtain.
“With a2z’s Global Admin, it’s very easy to access exhibitor information from past years. For each show, we can get a really good snapshot of how much space we have left to sell, who the largest exhibitors are and how close we are to our goal without having to dig into the system,” Bogdansky explains.

Compatibility as a qualification
a2z’s technology has contributed significantly to NRF’s success in expanding their event portfolio and landing multiple times on the major lists for the fastest growing shows. Mark Bogdansky believes that a2z has been a vital component to NRF’s success. “We are constantly looking at the technology landscape and trying to stay ahead of the curve. Because a2z is such an important partner for us, one of the first questions we ask any new vendor is whether they have worked with a2z, whether they can work with a2z or if their API works with a2z’s platform,” he says.