CEIR Q1 Index Shows B2B Event Industry Rebound Is in Full Swing

Frances Ferrante, Senior Editor
B2B exhibition cancellation rates are a fraction of what they were a year ago, and among those shows that cancel, far fewer are offering a virtual option.

DALLAS – A rebound is underway in U.S. B2B exhibition industry, according to the new Q1 report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). Even better news for trade shows and events, the recovery is only expected to strengthen, CEIR reported.

Not only did the U.S. B2B exhibitions industry improve significantly in the first quarter of 2022 from the previous eight quarters, but compared to 2021, event cancellation rates continue to drop, with a cancellation rate of 9.2% in Q1 2022, compared to a staggering 91.3% in the first quarter of 2021.

Of the trade shows originally scheduled for the first quarter that did not take place, 1.6% were postponed to a later date. Also notable, just half of the canceled events offered a digital event instead, a significant decrease from 78.5% of canceled events doing so in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The CEIR Total Index, which measures overall exhibition performance, remains 37.9% below 2019 levels. At the peak of the pandemic in Q1 2021, it had declined to 94% of 2019 numbers. When comparing Q1 2022 performance to Q1 2019, “Results speak to a continued, choppy and uneven recovery that is underway, though the direction is positive, with the industry slowly improving overall,” the report concluded.

Other CEIR research backs up this report’s conclusion that there continues to be pent-up demand for face-to-face events. CEIR’s January 2022 COVID-19 Impact and Recovery survey reported that an overwhelming percentage of event organizers and trade show management plan to run their 2022 events – despite the fact that there was an Omicron wave happening when the survey was fielded.

“Despite Omicron at the outset of 2022, our industry pressed on; many have held their events and have done so successfully and safely,” CEIR CEO Cathy Breden, CMP-F, CAE, CEM, said. “While it will take time to get back to 2019 performance levels, we are on our way. With vaccine mandates and safety measures implemented at large gatherings, and with a majority of the population vaccinated, the recovery of B2B exhibitions should continue in 2022.”

Reach Cathy Breden at (972) 687-9201 or cbredent@iaee.com

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