by AMR’s Globex co-author Athan Siah
“If you have to forecast, forecast often.” – Edgar Fiedler
Looking back at 2021, exhibition markets worldwide continued to be devastated. The promised return of F2F events was thwarted first by the Delta variant then, to a lesser extent, by Omicron.
As we were editing Globex 2021 in Q3 2021, renewed uncertainty presented us with an unenviable challenge: to forecast how the industry would change again (or not) before the end of the year and beyond.
It’s been six months since we published Globex, so I thought it would be a good time to check in on how our forecasts are holding up by examining the US – the world’s largest market.
Shielded by domestic shows
The US has always had comparatively lower dependence on stand revenue globally, with substantial revenue from attendee (c. 19%) ticketing and digital offerings (c. 9%). Given the negative impact of COVID on exhibitor budgets and stand bookings, these characteristics suggested to us that the US market would recover more quickly than other major markets (excluding China).
In addition, we thought that the domestic nature of most US events would shield the market from the impact of international travel restrictions, as shows would return to their pre-COVID scale more quickly.
Predictions on track
On the back of these assumptions, we predicted in Globex 2021 that the US exhibition market in 2021 would recover to 52% of its pre-COVID size. This placed it solidly in the upper quartile of markets analysed.
Using newly available benchmarks, I’m happy to say we did a pretty good job. The latest update of UFI’s Barometer estimates a recovery to 47% of the 2019 size. So too does the latest data from AMR’s proprietary Exhibition Recovery Tracker, which monitors show postponements and cancellations as an indication of activity worldwide.
Going forward, we expect the US to continue its recovery trajectory, reaching 98% of its 2019 size by 2023, albeit with slightly lower total space booked (net square metres) but greater revenue contribution from digital.
So, what does all this mean?
For the US, things are looking alright; in-person attendance may not have fully recovered (think CES 2022). However, the return of F2F seems to be more permanent this time.
As for the AMR Globex team, the quote by Fiedler serves as a constant reminder that a forecast is only as good as the information available at the time of making it. Naturally, we will keep checking back to see how things are changing.
For more information about Globex 2021, visit: https://www.amrinternational.com/globex2021