Trade Show Industry Onboard With Growing Support of Sustainable Travel

Vincent Alonzo, Contributing Editor
Trade show attendance is rebounding, with increased expectations of eco-friendly, sustainable events.

Most Americans believe sustainable travel is important, according to an Earth Day 2022 survey conducted by The VacationerMost Americans believe sustainable travel is important, according to an Earth Day 2022 survey conducted by The Vacationer, a company that provides news and guides to help with travel planning for both personal and business travelers.

The poll surveyed 1,096 subscribers on March 1 and found that 87% said sustainable travel is either somewhat important or very important. Nearly 82% said they will make more eco-friendly decisions when planning travel in the future, while more than 78% said they would pay more to lower their carbon footprint.

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Many trade show organizers have gotten the message and are increasing their commitment to creating greener events.

“One of the biggest trends to come out of the pandemic is a shift towards kindness, ethics and wholesome living,” Elizabeth B. Armstrong, President Association & Society Management International, said. “Putting more emphasis on our obligations to the planet and society at large when we plan our events is a big part of that.”

Sustainable Trade Show Rebounds

research done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that the U.S. B2B exhibitions industry improved significantly in the fourth quarter of 2021This attitude toward sustainability, comes at a time when the trade show industry is starting to rebound. Recent research done by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reports that the U.S. B2B exhibitions industry improved significantly in the fourth quarter of 2021 from the previous seven quarters. Cancellation rates for physical in-person events dropped from 91.3% in the first quarter of 2021 to 66.2% in the second quarter, 20.6 percent in the third quarter to 12.5% in the fourth quarter.

“Rising vaccination rates and continued robust economic activities bode well for the B2B exhibition industry,” CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw, Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc., said. “The B2B exhibition cancellation rate should decline further.”

Trade show organizers can also expect many of the returning show participants to have an increased expectation of attending more eco-friendly events.

“Climate change is at the forefront of importance as exhibitions begin being held again, Cathy Breden, CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research, said. “While the topic of producing environmentally friendly events has been discussed for years, the natural disasters that have occurred over the past two years have emphasized that climate change is evident and a reality. We are overdue to stop ‘talking’ about it and move to creating actionable change to correct the amount of waste being generated because we know that exhibitions have been a large producer of waste.”

The pandemic has also played a role in causing a shift in values. “The scale of the COVID-19 public health crisis is a sobering example of the urgent need for worldwide cooperation to find and advance solutions to our greatest global challenges, including the climate crisis,” Ken Berlin, President and CEO of the Climate Reality Project, said.

Reach Cathy Breden at cbreden@ceir.org; Elizabeth B. Armstrong at barmstrong@asmii.net; Ken Berlin at saberlin77@comcast.com; Allen Shaw at ashaw4811@yahoo.com