Despite Global Uncertainty, UFI Report Indicates Trade Show Industry Thriving in Most Areas

July 19, 2016

Even in the current tumultuous times in several countries worldwide, the overall worldwide exhibition industry expects continued growth in turnover for the coming year, according to the recently released 17th Global Exhibition Barometer.

However, a significant level of uncertainty is forecast for the first half of 2017 in Asia, Middle East and Africa. In addition, with the heightened level of random violent incidents, 60 percent of companies surveyed said they have introduced additional security measures at their events in the past months.

“As pleasing as it is to see that globally the exhibition industry continues to grow, we also see a separation between regions with strong growth and those with challenges and uncertainties,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director.

He added, “The present change in the global business climate will also affect the future development of exhibitions globally.”

In North America, the outlook is very positive: more than eight companies out of 10 said they expect an increase in turnover for 2016 and the first half of 2017, and more than 50 percent of those polled declare an increase of more than 10 percent in annual profits for 2015 and 2016.

Likewise, the U.K -. at the time of the survey, before the EU referendum - was expecting to perform in a positive way similar to North America and good perspectives also appeared in several other European markets.

In Germany, however, less than half of the survey participants anticipate a growth for the first half of 2017 compared with a cyclically strong 2016.

In Turkey, which also was surveyed before the recent coup attempt, significantly fewer companies report growing profits than in earlier UFI barometer surveys. The situation in Russia remains flat.

In Central and South America, a majority of companies anticipate turnover decreases in 2016, but are more confident for the first half of 2017. Profits there also are expected to rise, with the notable exception of Brazil.

In Asia, as well as in the Middle East and Africa, 30-50 percent of survey participants on average declare an increase of more than 10 percent in annual profits for 2015 and 2016.

The level is lower in China, where 20-30 percent of participants report such increases in annual profits. Twenty percent to 40 percent of those polled in Asia/Pacific, the Middle East or Africa report uncertainty regarding their turnover for the first half of 2017.

In addition to questions on market development, the UFI also tracks the relevance of key business issues globally.

As in the previous survey, top of the list are concerns related to the general economic situation in companies’ respective home markets. Global economic development uncertainty, competition from within the industry, and internal challenges are also frequently named.

Following the surge of terrorist activities around the world, a large majority of companies polled for the UFI Global Exhibition Barometer reports an increase in security-related activities.

These vary from additional screening of visitors and exhibitors to additional information for attendees, controls onsite during events and occasionally checking lists of pre-registered participants in liaison with government institutions.

UFI’s flagship industry survey was conducted in June 2016 and includes data from 262 companies in 56 countries.

Based on this data, the study delivers outlooks and analysis on twelve major national markets, among them, for the first time, Iran, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

They join the ranks of countries covered in previous UFI reports: Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey and the US. In addition, four aggregated regional zones have been analyzed.

Commenting on the expansion of the UFI Global Exhibition Barometer to include more country profiles, Hattendorf added: “As our industry shows a more mixed picture, a closer look matters more than ever. Thanks to our new partners AEO in the UK and TEA in Thailand, the global reach of our survey continues to grow – and this allows us to deliver specific results for more countries than ever before.”

The complete results of the 17th UFI Global Exhibition Barometer can be downloaded at

The next UFI Global Exhibition Barometer survey will be conducted in December 2016 and published in January 2017

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Partner Voices

Sporting events are no longer the most preferred target for terrorists, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Outdoor events, conferences, festivals, and other events featuring public figures are all vulnerable. And with over a thousand different-level attacks since 2015, it’s no surprise that safety and security are among the top concerns for event professionals.