UFI Barometer Deep Dive: U.S. Is Bouncing Back Faster Than Global Industry Overall

August 9, 2022

In July, UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, released the latest edition of its flagship Global Exhibition Barometer research, which takes the pulse of the industry. The results highlight the quickening pace of the industry’s recovery in 2022, after the continuing impact of COVID-19 throughout 2021. The sector is bouncing back quickly, and revenues for H1 2023 are expected to reach 87% of comparable 2019 levels (noting that 2019 has been the industry’s record year to date).

What does the data mean, and how should exhibition organizers and companies use the research? 

“It’s incredibly valuable to have this type of data to help shape and facilitate discussions internally about next year’s budgets to navigate a period of global uncertainty,” said Marty Glynn, CEO of MAD Event Management, which recently formed a strategic partnership with UFI to boost and develop the member services to its North American members. “Anyone who has global constituents can use the Barometer as basis for discussions with executive, sales/marketing and finance teams, especially associations.”

In addition to a global perspective, the UFI Barometer provides a deeper dive into the data for North America. Following are a few key takeaways.

The good news: 

Revenue rebound. In the U.S., 2022 exhibition industry revenues are expected to reach 79% of what they were pre-COVID in 2019—the industry’s record year to date. 

Looking ahead: In H1 2023, U.S. exhibition companies are projecting industry revenues will reach 97% of comparable 2019 levels. The U.S. exhibition industry is bouncing back faster than the global industry overall, which is expected to reach 73% of exhibition industry revenues in 2022 and 87% in H1 2023. 

Public exhibition companies with significant holdings in the U.S. confirm UFI’s findings:

  • On Aug. 4, Informa PLC reported H1 2022 results: 220-plus live events attracting 28,000-plus exhibitors, 1.1 million-plus attendees and £450 million in revenue, representing more than 80% of equivalent revenue in 2019.
  • On July 28, RELX, parent company of RX Global, reported its full-year outlook for exhibitions: “We expect a year of strong underlying revenue growth, driven by reopening of exhibition venues across most geographies. The operating result will continue to benefit from the structurally lower cost base.” In 2021, exhibitions represented 7% of 2021 RELX revenue. In 2022, exhibitions represent 9% of RELX revenue YTD. 

Triple-digit growth YOY. From 2021 to 2022, U.S. exhibition industry revenues are expected to increase 169% year-over-year. But it’s important to remember that U.S. exhibition industry revenues were significantly impacted in 2021 by travel restrictions and venue shutdowns due to the pandemic. 

The biggest challenges: 

Operating profits still below pre-pandemic highs. In 2022, more than half (54%) of North American exhibition organizations are reporting revenues will be reduced by 11% to 50%, compared to 2019. 

  • For example, in Q1 2022, revenue for Emerald events was down $36.6 million, or 37.1%, when compared to their last in-person editions. Keep in mind: A number of exhibition destinations, like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, didn’t reopen fully for events until H2 2021. 
  • In H1 2022, 100% of exhibition organizations report their cities are already open to local and national events, according to the UFI Global Barometer. In its most recent financial statement, Emerald reported it continues to plan for a full slate of events in the U.S. in 2022.

Recruitment and staffing. What’s the most important business issue facing the industry in North America in 2022? The No. 1 issue is internal management challenges, as cited by 19% of North American exhibition organizations. After furloughs and layoffs due to shutdowns and limited activities for more than two years, 70% of North American exhibition organizations are recruiting additional staff following the restart of activities after the COVID-19 pandemic, with 59% of those citing it proves difficult to find the right people. 

  • Staffing is a challenge across most industries in the U.S.: Job growth accelerated at a much faster pace than expected in June, indicating that the main pillar of the U.S. economy remains strong despite pockets of weakness, according to data in June from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate was 3.6%, unchanged from May and in line with estimates. Average hourly earnings increased 0.3% for the month of June and were up 5.1% from a year ago.

What has been your company’s experience? Please share your best practices with the industry in the comments.

In line with UFI’s objective to provide vital data and best practices to the entire exhibition industry, the full results can be downloaded at www.ufi.org/research. The next UFI Global Exhibition Barometer survey will be conducted in December 2022.

UFI Global Exhibition Barometer 2022

Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests.  Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino recently completed a $63M redesign and remodel of its 1,830 guest rooms and 155 suites. Down the street, Bellagio Las Vegas is sporting renovated rooms in the Spa Tower with sunrise-inspired decor and luxurious soaking tubs in Premier King rooms after a $110-million transformation. Reinvented Luxury Experiences The Luxury Meetings District, made up of Bellagio Las Vegas, ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, is now more connected than ever before. A new interior walkway opened this October for a seamless attendee experience – connecting Vdara, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests can now walk from Park MGM to Bellagio in around 15 minutes. New on the scene in the Luxury Meetings District is Cathedrale at ARIA, TAO Group’s upscale establishment specializing in exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine offering elevated private dining experiences that opened in May. Heralded by World’s Best 50 Restaurants, GQ and VOGUE, LPM at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening this fall and will deliver its signature spontaneity and imaginative celebration of France’s Mediterranean cuisine, art, and culture to the unique luxury resort in impeccable fashion.  A “New Wave  for Mandalay Bay A new wave of enhancements and experiences has arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, an 8,445-square-foot restaurant that opened this June, perfect for pre- and post-game eats and drinks. Event planner’s favorite, Chef Michael Mina’s StripSteak, received a full renovation and now includes one of the largest private dining rooms on The Strip. Retro by Voltaggio debuts a one-year residency with a fun take on pop culture of the 80s and 90s with classic American dishes. An exciting addition planned for 2024 is Swingers, a 40,000-square-foot oasis of street food, miniature golf and art at Mandalay Bay. Most exciting for meeting planners, the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center  is undergoing a complete refresh, with lightened space, added eye-catching art, and improved technology infrastructure for even more flexible space. Energy-efficient digital signage now leads the way with faster internet speeds and new AV options. From renovated guest rooms and meeting spaces to celebrated dining options and dedicated teams, MGM Resorts is dedicated to delivering exceptional and innovative meeting experiences.