Future Looks Bright for the U.S. Exhibitions Market

September 16, 2016

Diana Gineva

Diana  Gineva is the editor of Globex 2016, the global exhibitions organising market: assessment and forecast to 2020. Since joining AMR International five years ago, Diana has developed growth strategies for many global exhibition organisers

Healthy growth

The U.S. remains the world’s biggest exhibition market, valued at $12.8bn in 2015.

In a year when many of the exhibitions markets experienced a slowdown or decline due to macroeconomic difficulties (e.g. Brazil, Russia, Turkey) or security issues (France), the US outperformed the global exhibitions market and registered a healthy 3.5% year-on-year growth in 2014/15, driven by both price and space sold:

-          US booth space prices have increased on par with other mature markets driven by overall macroeconomic recovery and ever increasing labour and venue costs.

-          As the US economy has emerged from the recession, exhibitors are now purchasing larger booths to showcase latest products, as well as to accommodate attendee growth

-          However, this has been somewhat counteracted by stagnation in the number of exhibitors, which can be attributed to the increasing complexity of marketing efforts and the utilisation of alternative channels driving higher exhibitor churn at events.

The attendee is king

As exhibitors become more sophisticated in their marketing efforts, they are demanding a more specific audience, and venue and technological capabilities to engage with them in a targeted fashion.

Industry participants are increasingly working towards facilitating enhanced attendee engagement:

-          Organisers are leveraging mobile app technology to streamline attendee logistics and social media is being used to drive exhibitor and attendee communication

-          Mobile app adoption has room for growth; venue owners’ investment in expanded Wi-Fi bandwidth and more targeted exhibitor messaging may drive this growth

Another busy year of deal activity

A high number of deals took place in the US, though smaller in scale than the three main portfolio acquisitions that occurred in 2014: Advanstar, GLM and Hanley Wood.

Acquisition activity amongst the top players in 2015 focused on buying leading events within specific verticals, in order to expand capabilities within that area.

Notable acquisitions in 2015/16 include Informa’s acquisitions of the medical show FIME, WWETT for the environmental sector and MegaCon Orlando, Reed’s takeover of Card Not Present and the Miami-based JIS, as well as UBM’s acquisition of the BJI portfolio.


Despite the challenges emerging from alternative marketing channels and the proliferation of video conferencing technology, face-to-face will remain an important part of the business culture in the US and the US exhibitions market is expected to remain the fastest growing compared to other mature economies in Europe.

-          In the short term, input cost increases, such as labour, will drive price growth. However, this may be tempered in the long term if organisers are unable to marry price growth with tangible increases in value for exhibitors.

-          Space sold is forecast to grow steadily at 2% year-on-year in the short term, driven by continued US economic growth post-recession. Corporate profit growth and resulting business confidence will boost marketing budgets and demand for trade show space.

These US insights, plus analysis on 13 other mature and emerging markets globally can be found in Globex 2016. 


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