Exhibition industry banking on quick recovery in 2021

The exhibition industry is looking for a quick recovery this year with revenues expected to double in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the latest UFI Global Barometer.

The doubling of revenues expected in this year comes off a low base, with the 2020 figure representing just 28 per cent of 2019 revenues.

But 64 per cent of all surveyed say they are confident that Covid-19 has reinforced the value of face-to-face events, and that the sector will recover quickly.

The Barometer showed the damage caused by the pandemic on the sector with more than half (54 per cent) of all companies surveyed saying they have had to reduce their workforce over the period, while half of them said the cut was more than 25 per cent.

The Barometer shows that globally, between April and August 2020, more than half of all companies reported no activity. This situation changed from September, where the majority of companies declared some operations, at reduced levels for most. The survey found that 37 per cent of companies are expecting activity to be ‘normal’ in June.

In all 29 regions, most companies expect both local and national exhibitions to re-open by the end of June, with international exhibitions resuming in the second half of the year.

While 44 per cent of companies benefitted from some level of public financial support, one in 10 say they will have to consider permanently ceasing operations if there are no events for the next six months.

The report also highlighted two significant regional differences in relation to possible trends driving the future format of exhibitions:

The claim ‘Covid-19 confirms the value of face-to-face events’ was more widely agreed with in the Middle East and Africa (70 per cent of companies), the Asia-Pacific region (69 per cent) and Europe (67 per cent), than in North America (55 per cent) and Central and South America (53 per cent).

While, there were stronger opposing views for the claim ‘virtual events are replacing physical events’, with 74 per cent of companies in Europe disagreeing, compared to just 57 per cent of companies from North America.

The full results can be downloaded at www.ufi.org/research.