How do exhibitors develop exhibition attachment? Evidence from China

Jing Li, Jingna Wang*, Jingjing Qi, Yulong (David) Liu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Existing studies on exhibition attachment employ the concept of place attachment and use quantitative methods to explore its influencing factors and outcomes on the premise that exhibition attachment has been formed. However, the theoretical issue of how exhibition attachment is formed has rarely been explored. This study proposed a theoretical framework of the formation mechanism of exhibitors' exhibition attachment through the liminal state. We conducted field observations and in-depth semi-structured interviews of exhibitors attending the Guangzhou (China) International Professional Light and Sound Exhibitions for three years to collect data and employed grounded theory to explore these exhibitors' various changes during the entire exhibition liminal process. Our findings reveal that the formation of exhibition attachment is a complex process, involving four-dimensional changes in time, space, subject behavior, and psychology. In time, exhibitors are in pre-liminal (before the exhibition), liminal (during the exhibition), and post-liminal (after the exhibition) phases. Accordingly, the spatial perception of the exhibition evolved from a physical to an interactive space, and thereafter to an emotional space. By integrating the network platform constructed by the organizers and acquiring experience value, exhibitors can identify with and ultimately develop their attachment to the exhibition. Their psychological perception of the exhibition gradually changed from a functional business place to an important event that stimulates their personal and corporate growth. This study provides empirical evidence for the nature of liminality and expands our understanding of exhibition attachment. In addition, the transformation of brand identity before exhibition into exhibition identity after exhibition provides theoretical reference and practical guidance for the exhibition's organization and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-213
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Brand attachment
  • Exhibition attachment
  • Exhibitors
  • Grounded theory
  • Liminality theory


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