Global exhibitions market could recover 78% of value in 2022

02 December 2020 3 min. read
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The global exhibitions market has taken a huge hit from the coronavirus pandemic, losing billions thanks to the international lockdown. However, with a vaccine now finally on the horizon, a new study anticipates that the industry could recover as much as 78% of that value by the end of 2022.

Exhibitions – often known as 'expos' or 'shows' – are a form of experiential marketing, which look to engage an active and highly motivated audience in a face-to-face environment. The people who attend exhibitions choose to be there and want to connect with the products or services on show – making them a particularly potent marketing tool.

As of 2019, there were approximately 32,000 exhibitions each year, featuring companies from automotive producers to defence, and attracting over 303 million visitors. Due to the lucrative nature of the industries participating in the global exhibitions industry then, exhibitors and visitors combined spend billions every year on the process, making exhibitions themselves a significant global industry – one linked directly and indirectly to roughly 3.2 million total jobs worldwide.

Overall market projections 2020-2022

Initially, the new decade looked to be a period of booming revenues for the exhibition market, with one analysis suggesting that the global exhibition market size would grow at a CAGR of over 3% up to 2025. However, with many of the world’s largest corporate exhibitions having been cancelled due to the coronavirus, earlier this year, the global exhibition industry was predicted to see 69-70% of its value wiped out by the end of 2020, making it one of the worst effected sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In late September, AMR International released a study stating it expected that the industry will be worth approximately $8.9 billion by the end of the year, having previously been worth $29.7 billion. While the situation remains grim, however, AMR has now released an updated Globex 2020 report, predicting that the exhibitions market should rebound swiftly if the Covid-19 pandemic is finally brought under control in the following months.

AMR Senior Consultant Carole Boletti said, “Given the ever-changing COVID crisis, we have not projected figures for 2021. However, looking ahead to 2022, we expect the market globally will rebound to 78% of its 2019 size. Although recovery rates will vary by country and will depend on many factors, such as GDP growth and international participation at events.”

While each country will respond to the pandemic differently, AMR’s Globex 2020 report identified markets that are expected to exhibit broadly similar recovery trajectories. The quickest market to rebound is China, which is expected to benefit from the nation’s swift and robust response to the virus, and recover 86% of its relative 2019 size by 2022. Meanwhile, with the roll-out of a vaccine through 2021 expected to put an end to the pandemic, despite struggling to bring the outbreak under control in their countries, the UK, US and Mexican exhibition markets are projected to rebound to 80% of their 2019 size by 2022, and Germany will similarly rebound to 79% of its 2019 size by 2022.

In the meantime, according to AMR, the priority for organisers will be surviving 2021 with reduced revenues, while developing a post-pandemic vision that addresses a radically changed market. Boletti added that exhibitions could best position themselves for this by not just thinking themselves “as pure event organisers,” but rather as “community catalysts,” helping facilitate business, connections, education and advocacy as markets look to get back on track.

“Events will no longer be one-off experiences,” Boletti explained. “Instead, we see events becoming integral to building communities and customer relationships throughout the year, with the use of event technology a crucial element to success. It will require something akin to the omni-channel revolution the retail sector has undergone.”