Exhibitions industry hits a positive note

Latest UFI Global Exhibition Barometer results indicate industry is rebounding.

While exhibitions industry players believe in the value of face-to-face events, majority still believe that hybrid or events with digital elements will be the way forward.
While exhibitions industry players believe in the value of face-to-face events, majority still believe that hybrid or events with digital elements will be the way forward. Photo Credit: GettyImages/Tzido

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has released its July 2022 Global Exhibition Barometer research report, with results pointing to a continued recovery for the global exhibitions industry. 

According to the report, the pace of recovery is speeding up in 2022, with 70% of companies expecting to be operating at normal levels from September onwards. The momentum is expected to continue in 2023. Revenues for the first half of next year are expected to reach 87% of pre-pandemic levels (compared to 2019).

Standing out as markets where the majority of companies returned to normal activity levels as early as March 2022 were Spain, Turkey and the UK in Europe; Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Middle East; and Australia and Brazil. Globally, the majority of markets reached this point in March 2022.

As a region, Asia reached this point in May (with the exception of China and Hong Kong).

For 2022 revenues, many countries are performing well above average, including, in Asia, South Korea (82%) and Japan (80%).

For projected revenues for the first half of 2023, most markets are expecting at least 75% of 2019 levels, with only Hong Kong (58%) China (69%) and South Africa (72%) expecting lower levels.

As far as digitisation, 71% of respondents in the Asia Pacific region said they have added digital services and products (such as apps, digital advertising and digital signage) to their existing exhibition offerings.

Meanwhile, “impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business” remains the top business issue in China (21%) and Hong Kong and Japan (20%),

As for the format of exhibitions moving forward, while 87% of companies are confident that “COVID-19 confirms the value of face-to-face events” the global majority believe that hybrid is the way to go, with 61% believing there is “a push towards hybrid events, more digital elements at events.”

According to Kai Hattendorf, managing director and CEO at UFI, the exhibitions industry rebound has entered its next phase, and pre-COVID levels will be within reach as early as next year in some markets.

“As the industry manages this amazing recovery, it is also dealing with significant staffing challenges and is working to apply key learning from the pandemic around the digitisation of events and services into its business model,” Hattendorf said.



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