The Center for Exhibition Industry Research
second-quarter index results last month, which showed positive growth
for the industry for an eighth consecutive quarter, increasing 2 percent
overall compared with the second quarter of 2011. Attendance jumped by
4.3 percent, revenue (adjusted for inflation) increased by 1.5 percent,
net square footage was up 1.1 percent and the number of exhibitors rose
by 1 percent.
"Seeing that kind of rise in attendance is
especially exciting for us, because it's a leading indicator," said Doug
Ducate, president and CEO of CEIR. "When attendance goes up, the other
three indicators tend to follow." Ducate is very optimistic about the
long-term future for exhibitions, though he said the positive
second-quarter numbers are in no way indicative of industry strength for
the remainder of the year.
The findings were discussed during
CEIR's Predict Conference, held at the Time Warner Center in New York
City on Sept. 13. The event, now in its second year, drew about 120
attendees, including executive-level personnel from Hanley Wood, Reed
Exhibitions and Freeman. "It was valuable for us to hear what was
happening in the industry firsthand from analysts and economists," said
Kathleen Canning, general manager of the Orange County (Fla.) Convention
Center, which was a sponsor of the meeting. "We will be using this
research throughout the year and showing it to our board and any other
stakeholders." The event examined the outlook for exhibitions across
industry sectors, such as government and construction, in addition to
Among topics discussed: "People are being more
specific on where they go and how they spend their money," said Ducate.
"They want to be among their peer groups and meet people who can help
them solve their problems or reach their goals."
That could be
hard to accomplish at a 100,000-attendee health-care convention, which
has to cater to dermatologists as well as heart surgeons. Ducate
believes we might see smaller, more targeted shows, which would be less
expensive for organizers.
Predict's participants also discussed
the potential for a massive shake-up in the industry further down the
road: the possibility that major online players like Google, Amazon or
Facebook could begin purchasing exhibition companies and organizing
their own in-person programs.
"Those online giants already have
the communities and communication channels," Ducate noted. "It would be a
very smart thing for them to get into live face-to-face events. It
would definitely be a game changer."