Attendee numbers to in-person events have officially returned to 2019 levels, reaching 103% of verified attendance when compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest Freeman Trends Report.
The report also shows nearly 80% of exhibitors plan to exhibit at the same number of events or more over the next 12 months.
However, the research identifies a widening satisfaction gap for exhibitors who believe they are 20% less likely to be able to meet their event objectives versus pre-pandemic levels.
“Understanding the key findings of the data, and making even incremental improvements can significantly shrink the gap,” said Ken Holsinger, Freeman’s senior vice president of strategy.
Key findings from the report that indicate that budgets match pre-covid allocations but are not aligned to today’s attendee needs, with spending on important factors like social media or exhibit design not growing.
Nine out of 10 exhibitors plan to use the same amount of space or more compared to 2019 but should plan on activating that space in new ways, while 58% are positive towards exhibiting and sponsoring at in-person events.
“To overcome this divide, exhibitors and sponsors need to reframe their return on investment (ROI) into a return on objective,” said Holsinger.
“And adding innovative and integrated digital approaches will help meet this audience needs.”