ATHENS, Greece — The European Major Exhibition Centres Association (EMECA) celebrated its 30th anniversary at its Autumn General Assembly in Athens last week with many members reporting strong numbers at their respective facilities.
“2022 is a good year in terms of number of exhibitions, that shows a quick recovery for our industry. Most EMECA members will be soon approaching pre-pandemic results,” explains Ricard Zapatero, EMECA President.
A decrease of 75% of exhibitions in 2020 meant hard cost cutting for all members, who were facing a variety of practical and strategic challenges and restructuring. Now, EMECA Members have experienced a launch of an impressive number of new exhibitions in 2022.
Zapatero attributed the rebound to factors such as additional (earlier postponed) shows returning, a good number of trade fairs coming back due to the rhythm of events in the even years or one-time big institutional events. The increased use of digital tools to enhance the real experience as well as an impressive number of new shows hosted or launched both in Europe and around the world were both cited as contributing factors in the comeback of all EMECA Members.
NürnbergMesse, the exhibition company that managed the EMECA event, agrees with Zapatero’s optimistic view of the future. “We expect sales to leap to well above EUR 200 million, and our net loss to shrink substantially from the 2020 and 2021 pandemic years,” NürnbergMesse Group Joint CEO Roland Fleck said. Last year, two out of every three of NürnbergMesse’s trade fairs had to be cancelled or postponed, but this year more than 80% of the scheduled events are expected to take place. “All in all, we expect to be able to hold 136 events around the world this year, which shows impressively that the lights are back on again. People want to get together. We’ve also found that our digital and hybrid formats are being well received,” added Fleck.
In support of the continued development of the merging of virtual and in-person events, guest speaker Fabian Nappenbach, Director of Product Marketing for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at HTC, presented an overview of the state-of-the-art metaverse technology, applications and business opportunities to the EMECA General Assembly. It focused on potential uses for conferences or meetings at this stage, feasibility, acceptance and costs. Members agreed that experimenting and following the developments closely will be of great importance.
EMECA expects a full recovery in Europe in terms of turnover by 2023 for most members. But it is not all good news. Profits will take more time to come back to pre-pandemic levels. EMECA venues and exhibition business are struggling with several challenges, such as remaining restrictions for travel from Asia, potential pandemic measures during the winter, inflation, high costs for staff and materials, energy prices, effects of the Russian war in Ukraine and uncertainty in general. “All these factors also concern the customers, exhibitors and attendees of events,” said Zapatero.[Text Wrapping Break]