Global Trade Show Industry Indicates Strength in North America, Europe – Challenges with Millennial Staffing

February 2, 2016

UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry’s Global Barometer Survey, which takes the pulse of the trade show industry worldwide, indicated that North America and Europe, with the exception of Russia, are predicting positive revenue results in 2016.

On the other hand, in the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa, the situations remain generally positive, but with a certain level of uncertainty.

 In Central and South America half of the surveyed companies are expecting decreases of turnover, but an improvement is expected in Brazil for the second half of 2016.

“Despite limited global economy growth prospects, the exhibition industry appears dynamic and confident for 2016, with turnover increases expected in most regions and new activities planned for most companies,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director.

In this year’s survey, companies were asked whether they were seeing higher HR acquisition costs because of increasing turnover among young staff.

Every third company surveyed globally reported higher acquisition costs, with the highest share coming from Asia/Pacific region (55 percent) and the lowest reported in Europe (14 percent).

Hattendorf added, “ … as an industry, we have to make sure to be visible and attractive for young, talented staff – the growing costs of hiring talent shows that we will have to work at it.”

In terms of operating profits, around three to four companies out of 10 on average, declared an increase of more than 10 percent in their annual profits for 2015; the U.S. and the Middle East outperform these results, but lower levels are identified in Brazil and Russia.

The most important business issues to show organizers who were surveyed continue to be related to the general economic situation.

The ‘state of the economy’ in the respective home market, and uncertainty about ‘global economic development’ consistently have been selected as among the most important business issues for the last five years.

‘Competition from within the industry’ and ‘Internal challenges’ also rank highly. Of growing global importance is the ‘impact of digitalization’, being rated fifth globally, and fourth in Europe.

In terms of strategy, a large majority of companies intend to develop new activities, in either the classic range of exhibition industry activities (venue/organizer/services), or in live events or virtual events, or in both: 75 percent in the Middle East & Africa, 86 percent in Asia/Pacific, 87 percent in Europe and 93 percent in the Americas.

In terms of expanding into new markets around the world, only one to two of the surveyed companies out of 10 on average, in all regions, declared an intention to develop operations in new countries.

The survey was conducted in December 2015 and includes data from 240 companies in 58 countries.

In the new, expanded format of the report, its results are detailed for 12 global core markets of the industry, including the following eight major national markets: Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and U.S.

Full results of the 16th Global Barometer Survey can be freely downloaded at The next UFI Global Barometer Survey will be conducted in June 2016.

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