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Summary: EXHIBITOR Magazine Economic Outlook Survey


EXHIBITOR Magazine recently surveyed about 300 exhibiting companies. The goal was to find out how companies are rebounding economically since the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as whether they believe that the current upwards trend will stagnate or accelerate.

Some of the most noteworthy highlights from this survey are discussed below.

Trade Show AttendanceThe last time EXHIBITOR Magazine conducted this survey was in 2020, and the results were quite different. For example, the results of the 2020 survey revealed that the average business attended fewer than 10 trade shows. Most of those events also took place during the beginning of the year, before lockdowns and restrictions on gatherings went into effect.

Now, in 2022, the exhibition industry is showing strong signs of recovering.

Many more trade shows are taking place — or are set to take place — with in-person events. This year, businesses anticipate attending an average of 37.4 live events — this includes hybrid events that combine in-person and virtual gatherings.

The survey shows that 70 percent of exhibiting companies have already made a return to live trade shows. Furthermore, another 18 percent plan to make a return when they get halfway through this year.

Trade Show Budget and ExpensesThe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy have certainly impacted the amount businesses can spend on trade shows and live events.

Businesses have certainly made some changes to their trade show budgets in the last couple of years.

In 2020, for example, the average trade show budget was over $1.25 million. In 2022, it’s $805,223 — a slight increase from the 2021 budget of $766,579.

A little less than a quarter of survey respondents said that their exhibiting budgets have returned to what they were pre-pandemic. However, another 28 percent said that they expect this to happen as COVID cases continue to decline.

SpendingBusinesses are starting to spend more on trade shows and other, similar events this year, but this increase in spending might not necessarily yield bigger and better displays.

The supply chain interruptions that have plagued the globe for the last couple of years are having an impact on these companies’ ability to put together quality displays. As a result, they’re having to shell out more money to make a good impression.

Eighteen percent of respondents said that they expect their costs to increase significantly because of supply chain issues. Fifty-seven percent also said that they expect costs to increase somewhat.

A mere 15 percent said they aren’t anticipating their costs to rise, and 10 percent said they don’t know yet what the future will hold.

Cutting CostsTo make up for increased expenses brought on by supply chain issues, many exhibiting businesses are also making plans to cut costs in other areas.

For example, 29 percent of respondents said that they plan to save money by attending fewer shows, and 28 percent said that they plan to reduce the size of their booth.

Twenty-six percent will also save money by sending fewer team members to run their booths, and 22 percent will also cut costs by reducing or eliminating sponsorships.

Trade Show MarketingTrade show marketing spending, naturally, is on track to change in 2022 as well.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said that their marketing budget has increased in 2022, and 42 percent say their budget has remained the same. Only 19 percent of respondents have decreased the size of their marketing budgets, and 5 percent don’t know yet where their budgets stand.

When asked if they plan to increase, maintain, or decrease their spending on certain marketing channels, 12 percent of respondents said they will increase spending on dealer and distributor meetings, whereas 35 percent said they’d maintain and 9 percent said they’d decrease spending.

As for VIP customer events, 15 percent expressed plans to increase spending, 26 percent said they would maintain, and 14 percent said they’d decrease spending.

Virtual events are expected to take one of the biggest hits, with only 7 percent saying they plan to increase spending, 23 percent saying they will maintain spending, and 24 percent saying they will decrease spending.

Feelings About the FutureAlthough the world is facing a lot of uncertainty, between political unrest, economic shifts, and the ongoing presence of COVID-19 and its many variants, the majority of businesses still have positive feelings about the effectiveness of trade shows moving forward.

A whopping 84 percent of respondents said that they feel either “optimistic” or “hopeful,” and just 4 percent are “pessimistic” — 12 percent say they are “cautious.”

What Are Your Plans for 2022?How do your business’s trade show and exhibiting plans match up to the information revealed in EXHIBITOR Magazine’s survey? Do you have plans to increase spending or change up the way you advertise your attendance at various events?

Comment below and let us know what you’re planning in 2022 and beyond!


About the Author

Skyline Exhibits offers trade show display design and event exhibits to match any size and budget, ranging from tabletop displays and portable displays to modular inline exhibits and large-scale island exhibits.

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