Trade Show Industry Sees 1.8-percent Growth Uptick in Third Quarter

December 16, 2014

After last quarter, which saw slowing growth in the trade show industry, the third quarter bounced back with the 17th consecutive positive quarter showing, a 1.8-percent year-on-year increase overall, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research’s Index Report.

Even so, the growth of the exhibition industry index lagged a bit behind GDP growth for the second straight quarter, in contrast to the previous two quarters (2014Q1 and 2013Q4), where exhibitions grew slightly faster than GDP.

"We are very pleased by the third quarter results and confirm our forecast that the exhibition industry will gain momentum," said CEIR's economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates.

The growth of the CEIR Total Index averaged 1.9 percent during the first three quarters of 2014, just 0.1 percent point shy of the 2.0 percent forecasted for 2014 the year as a whole, as published in the 2014 CEIR Predict Report.

The only metric of the four measured by CEIR that did not see year-on-year growth in the third quarter was real revenues.

The strongest performer was the number of exhibitors, which rose 3.7 percent. Net square feet increased 2.1 percent, whereas professional attendance was up 1.9 percent.

Nominal revenues increased just 1.2 percent year-on-year, weighted down by a moderate decline in consumer goods and retail trade exhibitions. Adjusted for inflation, real revenues declined by 0.5 percent year-on-year, according to CEIR.

The trade show industry saw another big boost last week when more than 2,000 trade show organizers and suppliers were in Los Angeles to take part in three days of networking, education sessions and a bustling showfloor at the 2014 International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ Expo! Expo!

The exact number of attendees, 2,104, was a significant jump, compared with 2013, with also more than 1,000 show organizers on hand this year.

Putting a spotlight on the state of the industry right now, IAEE also held a media forum with several trade show industry executives who talked about current challenges.

David DuBois, president and CEO of IAEE, said the overall industry is seeing growth, with more and more interest coming from international attendees and exhibitors.  

Bradley Kent, who heads sales at the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the recession caused a lot of consolidation in the industry. “Customers have more voice and more choice,” he added.

Megan Tanel, from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, said, “We are questioning a lot of antiquated models,” adding that they are especially looking at rising costs that are not tied to receiving the same value.

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