Exhibit Economic Outlook 2021
2020 was a year of drastic, unpredictable, and devastating change–and the exhibit business community wasn’t unaffected. In fact, experts have estimated that compared to 2020–when marketers believed that they’d be attending 54 events that year–marketers are now anticipating attending only 21 events–that’s less than half the number we were at a little over a year ago, and it’s with virtual, hybrid events.
So, people are left wondering, is there any hope for the coming year’s exhibit economy? Expert predictions are surprisingly hopeful–but still moderate and painfully aware of 2020’s long-term consequences.
The Overall Market
Before this last year, the tradeshow market had been steadily on the rise. In 2015, the market was at $13.1 billion, and by 2019 that number had grown to $15.58 billion. This number showed that the trade show market was one of the fastest-growing B2B markets in the economy. However, 2020 happened, and now that market is worth just $5.56 billion–a 64.3% hit.
After the inception of COVID-19’s social distancing and stay-at-home regulations, many businesses were forced to permanently shut their doors, while others did their best to minimize their budgets and stay afloat. The piece of the budget that most frequently got the ax? Exhibit budgets.
While in January of 2020, the budget for live marketing events was at $1.25 million, that number has dipped on average almost 40%–to $766,579. This smaller budget has affected plans to buy new booths, as well as plans to travel for exhibit shows.
Regardless of the trade show market’s post-COVID numbers, experts are reporting optimistic predictions for the next few years. Many believe that 2021 will produce better results than 2020–not as good as the years before 2020, but a step in the right direction. This positivity is mostly because most marketers are convinced that they’ll be back doing in-person exhibits by the 3rd quarter of this year. This is because of several factors:
- Corporate travel bans are being lifted.
- Facilities hosting in-person shows are procuring every safety measure possible.
- Actual proof that in-person trade shows can be safe.
These occurrences have convinced marketers to prod their bosses for higher budgets and plan for more events than they have in months. However, while forecasts do show a jump in trade shows, experts believe they won’t fully recover until around 2024.
While experts are ready to believe that the coming months will show an improvement in exhibit shows, we must stay aware that improvement will take many years. The disasters of 2020 were not small, and many giants in the business are no longer around because of last year’s financial difficulty. With hope and safety, we can move towards a brighter future.