COVID-19’s Impact on U.S. B2B Exhibitions Is Accelerating, Says CEIR Survey
During its June 30 webinar, “June 2020 Update on Impact of COVID-19 on U.S. B2B Exhibition Organizations,” the Center for Exhibition Industry Research released the results of its latest poll that tracks the coronavirus’s effect on the U.S. B2B exhibition industry.
Fielded June 9-21, the survey invited U.S. B2B exhibition executives who oversee events that are run or managed by their organizations to respond. A total of 169 executives participated, similar to the participation level in CEIR’s April survey, which included a sample of 164 executives. Qualified members of IAEE and SISO, as well as TSNN subscribers, participated in the June poll.
According to the survey, show organizers are doing all that they can to defend the health of their organizations while serving their communities’ needs in the midst of this crisis. However, the persistence of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of whether events can take place in their scheduled destinations are forcing more and more organizers to either postpone their events to late 2020/early 2021 or cancel them entirely.
“This trend is devastating to an industry that contributed over $101 billion to the U.S. GDP last year,” said Cathy Breden, CEO of CEIR.
Rate of Cancellations and Postponements
According to CEIR Vice President of Research Nancy Drapeau, the top two reasons for these postponements and cancellations speak to the chaos of the current situation in the U.S.
“Seventy-four percent of those forced to cancel say the lack of clarity in knowing whether large group meetings will be allowed to take place at the scheduled time due to state and local lockdown orders prompted them to this decision,” she explained. IMTS, which was scheduled to take place in Chicago, is a prime example of this.
Sixty-nine percent of organizers attribute the persistence of corporate no-travel policies and the impact they might have on participation levels as a reason for foregoing a 2020 in-person event, Drapeau said.
The Big Shift to Digital Continues
How show organizers are transforming their face-to-face events to either virtual or hybrid options was a big point of focus explored during the webinar. According to show organizers surveyed:
- 63 percent of organizers who have postponed events are adding a hybrid or virtual component to their future events
- 44 percent are giving attendees the option to attend in-person or virtually
- 44 percent have a virtual event backup plan in case they are forced to cancel a face-to-face event at the last minute
- Among organizers forced to cancel their 2020 events, 81 percent have shifted to digital versus 69 percent in CEIR’s April survey. Since that time, the shift to virtual trade shows has increased from 15 percent to 41 percent.
The June survey also profiled data on gross revenues retained and gained through efforts to move participants of cancelled events to digital options or other face-to-face events offered by a given organizer. Additionally, it explored the revenue outlook for virtual events, including whether organizers were charging fees to attend and seeking revenues via sponsorship and virtual booth sales. Lastly, tactics and strategies that show executives are planning to undertake moving forward in a post-COVID world were covered.
To download the full webinar presentation and survey results, go here.
CEIR’s next COVID-19-related webinar will take place July 15. During this free event, which will be moderated by Breden, CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw will update his perspective on COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. economy and B2B exhibition industry. Click here to register.
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