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IBTM Research Breaks Down the Pandemic’s Far-Reaching Impact on the Industry

Frances Ferrante
Alistair Turner delivers the Trends Watch Report at last year’s IBTM.

LONDON — IBTM’s extensive Trends Watch Report called on over 60 sources to reach its conclusions about the global impact of COVID-19 and the future of exhibitions and events in 2021.

The 67-page analysis cut across the industry in several ways: by segment (incentives vs. exhibitions); geographic region; and industry sector (pharmaceutical vs. banking). Rather than citing straight statistics, it delivers a thoughtful analysis of research that has already been done in each area, along with case studies, to paint a holistic picture of the impact of the pandemic on events.

By segment, the report was most positive about the growth of smaller (100 or fewer attendees) in-person corporate meetings, citing a confidence score of 6.25 on a scale of 1 to 10 among planners who expect to organize an increasing number of local and regional events in 2021.

Geographically, the impact of COVID-19 varies across the globe, with the hardest-hit regions being Western Europe and Africa. Though this same report just last year identified Africa as an up-and-coming star in the meetings industry, it noted this year that “the pandemic has wiped out much of the societal progress made over the continent over the last two decades.” Hope lies with the continent’s fast-growing association sector, with numerous conventions on the books in the next couple of years in industries ranging from ornithology to pediatric dentistry.

By industry, the clear winner is pharmaceutical, which, according to one industry-specific study, is estimating growth in 2021 of as much as 6%.

The report’s author, Alistair Turner, Managing Director of EIGHT PR & Marketing, described COVID-19 as having ”decimated the industry in 2020, causing wide-ranging disruption on an economic, political and often deeply personal level,” but also called on the industry to “reset itself and reimagine what its ‘new normal’ will look like, addressing major trends such as sustainability, technology, security and diversity as areas where the industry can use tragedy to change its trajectory and do things better in the future.”

The complete IBTM Trends Watch Report can be downloaded here. 

Reach Alistair Turner at +44 (0)20 3637 4818 or




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