PARIS — Trade show industry insiders finally have some positive news to cheer about, with the release of the third installation of the Global Recovery Insights 2021 report, conducted by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and research firm Explori, and supported by the Society for Independent Show Organizers.
The impact of the pandemic on spend has been far less severe than feared, the survey concluded. Almost half of exhibitor respondents (45%) expect budgets to return to normal within the next year, and 62% plan to attend shows with the same or increased frequency as before the pandemic. On the attendee side, 72% of respondents expressed the same intention.
The survey results also back up a trend being witnessed by both show organizers and exhibitors in recent months toward fewer, but higher-quality, attendees. While visitor numbers have traditionally been used as a deciding factor in show participation, 86% of exhibitors responding to this survey said visitor quality is a big influence on their decision to invest in a show.
Another key finding: Digital events have not succeeded in replacing live ones, and face-to-face remains the preferred channel for networking and overall experience. However, senior marketing decision-makers in the U.S. and U.K. who were included in this research said they expect digital events to remain part of their marketing mix, even while they intend to exhibit at live events.
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This latest installation in the Global Recovery Insights series was carried out in the summer of 2021 and included 15,000 responses from exhibitors and attendees in more than 30 countries.
“This report gives plenty of reasons for optimism, including quelling doubts about a possible shift away from live events,” Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO, said. “At a time where physical trade shows are restarting around the world, we hope that these findings will help the industry to a fast recovery and beyond.”