Explore trade show attendance trends for the past few years from industry leading research organization. Get trending information on attendance, exhibiting companies, net exhibit space, and much more.
Trade Show Attendance Statistics 2013-2015
Arguably, the most important trend in the trade show industry is attendance. The number of people traveling and participating in conventions is paramount to the continued viability of events as a communication and marketing channel. Many have begun to wonder whether widespread technological advancement has made tradeshows obsolete: with the easy availability of information and communication, is there any need for face to face events. According to the CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Research, trade shows are still growing:
- For 9 quarters in a row, trade shows have seen attendance growth ( as of Q4 2012)
- Attendance is forecasted to continue to increase from 2013 to 2015
- CEIR estimates that the government sequester on travel could impact attendance in certain industries
- The sectors that saw the most convention growth last year were:
- Finance/Legal/Real Estate
- Communication/Information Technology
Let’s break down some of the numbers. The chart below is CEIR’s index of several important factors metrics: exhibiting companies (EXH), attendance (ATT), gross revenue (REV), net square feet (NSF)
As the graph clearly displays, the 2008 economic downturn hit trade shows especially hard as travel and marketing expenses were dramatically reduced. This trend continued until 2010/2011, when all metrics started to see increases. Interestingly enough, it was attendance that recovered first and has outpaced the growth of net square feet and the number of exhibits.
In 2013/2014, all metrics are forecasted to grow at an increasingly large rate. The forecast model is based on historic trending along with estimates of general US GDP growth and economic recovery. It should be noted that the US government sequestration of 2012 will have an impact on trade show attendance, as government employees often attend conferences nationwide. The sequester has put stringent travel limitations that will most likely preclude attendance.
CEIR Chairman of the Board, Greg Ortale, states that “There is no question that the economy hit the exhibition industry hard, and the CEIR Index accurately identifies the specific impact on the 14 sectors. We have recognized this, and we know that there are economic cycles, and while some are longer than others, over time we will recover and so will the convention and exhibition market.”
When comparing 2012 to the prior year, specific trending emerges for the various industry sectors. The sectors that saw the most growth were Finance/Legal/Real Estate, Transportation, Communication/Technology and Food. Conversely, Government, Education , and Building/Construction all saw decreases.
For 2013/2014 the expectation is that the sectors that saw growth in 2012 will continue to see net gains. For last year’s net decrease sectors, losses will continue for some while reversals will be seen for others: government should see a bigger loss moving forward, while Building/Construction should see positive movement (given the improving housing marketplace).