The exhibitions industry is on track to accelerate its recovery, driven by more physical exhibitions and business events taking place this year, according to UFI’s latest edition of the Global Barometer research.
In terms of operations, the proportion of companies declaring â€śnormal activityâ€ť has increased from less than two in 10, in July 2021, to around four in 10, between October 2021 and February 2022. This looks set to increase to around six in 10 companies expecting normal activity levels from March 2022. Subsequently, the proportion of companies expecting â€śno activityâ€ť dropped from 34% to 16% during 2H2021, and only 4-5% of companies expect no activity from March 2022.
The results vary depending on location, and are primarily driven by confirmed or expected â€śreopening datesâ€ť for exhibitions.
When asked what elements would most help towards the â€śbounce-backâ€ť of exhibitions, seven in 10 companies selected â€śLifting of current travel restrictionsâ€ť, while five in 10 selected â€śReadiness of exhibiting companies and visitors to participate againâ€ť, â€śMid-term visibility in terms of public policies, including travel restrictionsâ€ť and â€śLifting of current public policies that apply locally to exhibitionsâ€ť.
Overall, 53% of companies received no public financial support, and for the majority of those who did, financial public aid represented less than 10% of their overall costs.
In line with results from the previous edition of the Barometer, released in the summer of 2021, Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business remains the most pressing business issue â€“ although this has dropped to 19% of respondents, from 29%, six months ago. There has also been a shift in the second and third most pressing issues, with â€śInternal management challengesâ€ť (19% of respondents, compared to 9%, six months ago) and â€śImpact of digitalisationâ€ť (16%, compared to 10%, six months ago) forming the top three. â€śCompetition with other mediaâ€ť is now the fourth most pressing issue (14%, compared to 5%, six months ago) while â€śState of the economy in home marketâ€ť drops to fifth spot (12%), from being the second most pressing issue just six months ago (19% of respondents).
The three components of â€śInternal management challengesâ€ť are all almost equally represented within the responses: â€śHuman resourcesâ€ť (56% of respondents), â€śBusiness model adjustmentsâ€ť (54%) and â€śFinanceâ€ť (48%).
In relation to future exhibition formats, the global results indicate that 80% of respondents (up from 78%, six months ago, and 64%, 12 months ago) agree that â€śCOVID-19 confirms the value of face-to-face eventsâ€ť, and anticipate the sector to bounce back quickly (with 38% stating â€śYes, for sureâ€ť and 42% stating â€śMost probablyâ€ť). Meanwhile,13% of respondents are unsure.
â€śThe sun is finally rising at the end of a long, dark pandemic,â€ť says Kai Hattendorf, managing director and CEO at UFI. â€śThe perspectives for 2022 are brighter and continue to improve quickly. As the industry bounces back, the key issues now facing companies are around internal management issues and the impact of digitisation. As the value of physical events is constantly reinforced, we are well on track to achieve pre-pandemic levels of activity.â€ť
This latest edition of UFIâ€™s bi-annual industry survey was concluded in January 2022 and includes data from 401 companies in 53 countries and regions. The full results can be downloaded atÂ www.ufi.org/research.
The next UFI Global Barometer survey will be conducted in June 2022.