Event organizers expect 2017 to be the exhibition industry’s best year yet on the road to recovery after the Recession, a recently released survey found, with the greatest expectations placed on the number of exhibiting companies participating in shows going forward. The study, conducted by Exhibit Surveys and Lippman Connects (in meeting at right), asked 233 show organizers for their opinions on attendee, space, sponsorship sales, and exhibitor trends heading into the future. The majority of respondents, the results suggest, are optimistic that tides have turned for the industry.
Sixty-eight percent said they believe the number of exhibiting companies will grow, while just 58 percent said they expect the same growth for attendees. In fact, organizers cited attracting attendees as their greatest challenge, with many noting that enticing millennials to attend trade shows was of particular concern. To confront attendance concerns, 53 percent said they had increased their marketing budgets for future show sales, while just 2 percent said they had decreased those budgets.
Though not quite as robustly as their expectations for the number of exhibiting companies, a majority of show organizers expect growth in both the number of square feet (64 percent) and the amount garnered through sponsorship sales (62 percent). In addition, 40 percent say they plan to launch a new event in the coming year, and half said they plan to amp up their educational programs with additional budgeting and staff.
Researchers say that virtual events appear to be on the decline according to this study, as only 20 percent reported having a digital component this year, and just 9 percent say they plan to do the same next year. But overall they say the findings suggest the industry is stabilizing, as even respondents who do not anticipate growth suggest that they expect them to be stable rather than shrinking instead. The complete report is available at www.lippmanconnects.com.