What impact does the trade show industry have in the world? And what, if anything, does that mean for individual exhibitors? The trade show industry as a whole makes an essential contribution to a huge range of business and industrial sectors. Learn how.
What Is the Economic Impact of the Trade Show Industry?
Economic impact is a measure of success and influence. Those industries with high economic impact attract more investors and more resources in general.
The economic impact of the trade show industry is wide-ranging, and it’s not just about the trade show industry itself, or even the specific industries that hold and attend trade shows. It’s also all the peripheral industries that support those shows. That includes vendors and laborers, as well as service industries such as accommodation and travel.
There are three aspects to the impact of the trade show industry. All these apply at a local level as well as on a national and global scale:
- Direct impact is direct spending on event-related expenses. It also includes employment in roles that are directly involved in planning and producing trade shows.
- Indirect impact is the contribution made by activities and employment in support sectors. For instance, this includes venue service providers such as marketing, cleaning, and tech support, as well as financial and legal services.
- Induced impact refers to spending by people employed directly or indirectly in the trade show sector. For instance, it includes spending by venue staff, hotel staff, and support staff employed or contracted by a venue.
Economic Impact on a Global Scale
The global economic impact of the trade show industry is massive. The 2019 Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions report by The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and Oxford Economics found that in terms of direct impact, the exhibitions sector ranks as the 72nd largest economy in the world.
The total global economic impact of the industry includes:
- 32,000 exhibitions, 303 million visitors, 5 million exhibitors
- Over 180 countries
- $136.9 billion in direct spending by visitors, exhibitors, and related expenditures
- 3 million direct jobs, generating $81.1 billion
- An average of $32,000 in direct spending per exhibitor
Accounting for both direct and indirect impact, the total global economic impact is:
- $325 billion
- 2 million jobs
- $197.5 billion in GDP
An Industry in Recovery
Before 2020, the trade show industry was focused on in-person events. But when the sudden influence of COVID-19 temporarily shut down the live trade show industry, almost all in-person shows were canceled or postponed for several years. Some events quickly pivoted to the virtual format, and many hosted very successful virtual events.
It wasn’t until 2022 that live events started to return. And the industry is coming back stronger than ever. The UFI Global Exhibition Barometer is a twice-annual report that surveys hundreds of exhibiting companies. The results are a snapshot of what the exhibition industry is like at that point in time. In 2022 there are strong indications that the live exhibition industry is well on the way to recovery.
- By mid-June, most markets were open for both national and international shows.
- By September 2022, 70% of companies surveyed said they were back to normal levels of trade show activity, up from 30% in January 2022.
- The number of companies predicting no trade show activity dropped from 29% at the start of 2022 to just 6% by the end of the year.
- 87% of respondents said the impact of COVID-19 on the events industry proves the value of face-to-face events.
- 87% of respondents expected the trade show industry to recover quickly from the impacts of COVID-19.
- 57% said virtual events definitely won’t replace live events.
What Does This Mean for YOU?
The global impact of the trade show industry is massive, no matter how you define and measure it. And while the industry has taken a hit over the past three years, it’s making a cautious but definite comeback, strongly in favor of live events. While current attendance figures for live events are lower than for 2019 and earlier, many people are enthusiastic about attending live events again. But what does that mean for individual exhibitors? What does it mean for you?
Why Shows Are Important
For many companies, trade shows are a major source of customers and revenue, but there are reasons other than the purely financial to exhibit. It’s worthwhile thinking about whether they might apply to your organization. Trade shows are a good place to launch a new startup or product line and raise your brand’s profile. They can also help you get a handle on your competition and network with like-minded people.
Live shows are important because they let you meet your audience face-to-face and develop customer relationships. Many potential customers are more willing to trust and make those big business decisions when they’ve met you in person.
A Less Crowded Playing Field
The global impact of the trade show industry doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on whether exhibiting is the right call for your company. But it’s worth noting how exhibitors’ attitudes to live shows have changed this year.
If you’ve exhibited in the past and have been on hiatus since 2020, now is a good time to start getting back to live shows. Seventy percent of companies surveyed by UFI say they’re back at normal activity levels for live shows, meaning 30% are not. Attending live shows right now means a little less competition and potentially more opportunities for exhibiting companies. By avoiding live shows at this time, what might you be missing out on?
Don’t Miss Your Chance to Make an Impact
The global impact of the trade show industry is huge, but at the other end of the scale, you have a chance to make an impact too. Seize this opportunity to establish yourself in your industry and in front of your customers. Use our Trade Show Calendar to find the perfect fit for you, then contact the experts at ProExhibits to plan, design, and execute an award-winning exhibit.