Business News

Trade Show Recovery Picks Up Pace: New Research

Skift Take

New data predicts a steady recovery for trade shows globally with almost all markets reaching two-thirds of 2019 revenue by the first half of 2023. Face-to-face meetings remain a priority as we overcome the direct impact of the Covid pandemic.

Two newly released research reports from UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and RX (Reed Exhibitions) predict a steady recovery of the trade show sector. The results highlight the quickening pace of the industry’s recovery this year after the continuing impact of the Covid pandemic.

Tracking Global Trade Show Performance

Global revenues for 2022 are expected to reach 73 percent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, and 87 percent in 2023, according to UFI Global Exhibition Barometer research. Some shows are already tracking above 2019 numbers.

Breaking down the expected revenues for 2022 by country we find the UK at 89 percent, Italy at 86 percent, Saudi Arabia at 85 percent, Turkey and South Korea at 82 percent, and Japan at 80 percent of 2019 levels. Most markets expect to reach at least 75 percent of 2019 levels in the first half of 2023, with only Hong Kong (58 percent), China (69 percent), and South Africa (72 percent) forecasting lower levels.

The lifting of travel restrictions and the readiness of exhibiting companies and visitors to participate are cited most often as top reasons for the bounce back. Financial incentive packages that help reduce costs for exhibitors also made the list.

Interestingly, the impact of Covid has dropped from being the most pressing business issue to the sixth-most critical issue compared to the previous edition of the study. Now, business issues include internal management challenges, staffing, the impact of digitization, and competition with other media.

The barometer is helpful to planners. “Event executives are putting together their first iteration of next year’s budgets. So it’s incredibly valuable to have this type of data to help shape and facilitate discussions internally to navigate a period of global uncertainty,” said Marty Glynn, CEO of MAD Event Management, which recently formed a strategic partnership with UFI to boost and develop the member services to its Norther American members.

The Power of Meeting In-Person 

The RX Customer Mindset Tracker developed by the RX Global Digital Insights team focused on the power of meeting face to face to conduct business. The study reveals that in-person events remain essential for learning, networking, sourcing, and sales even as new technology is adopted.

Face-to-face remains a key priority for survey respondents, with 78 percent of businesses stating that trade shows offer them something unique that cannot be created elsewhere. This is up from 68 percent in 2021.

The top challenges for exhibitors and attendees post-pandemic include reduced sales, meeting new customers, and keeping on top of market trends – problems that trade shows are uniquely equipped to address.

When asked to reveal the biggest opportunity for growth this year, 64 percent of exhibitors and 61 percent of attendees said meeting new buyers or clients. Sourcing new products remains the second most important priority.