Positive outlook for global exhibition industry

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently announced the release of the CEIR Index Report, an Analysis of the 2011 Exhibition Industry and Future Outlook today, and the outlook is positive. Despite a sluggish macro economy, the overall exhibition industry posted a relatively strong rebound of 2.7 per cent, outpacing real GDP growth by 1 percentage point in 2011. The gain in the exhibition industry was reflected in all four metrics of measurement. This marks an end of three consecutive years of declines. The relatively strong rebound was better than expectations, finishing 15 per cent higher than forecast.

CEIR Chairman of the Board, Chris Brown, Executive Vice President of Conventions and Business Operations, National Association of Broadcasters, said, “Knowing that the CEIR Index serves as the barometer for the exhibition industry, I am excited by the 2011 overall results and even more so by the future outlook. The definitive results from our economists confirm their predictions from last year, and the three-year forecast is very encouraging.”

Each metric measured by The Index saw positive growth. Net Square Feet (NSF) grew 2.7 per cent, the number of Exhibitors increased 2.3 per cent, the number of Attendees increased 3.4 per cent, and Real Revenues grew 2.3 per cent. Since the number of attendees tends to be a leading indicator, strong growth in that area bodes well for the industry going forward.

CEIR Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry

CEIR Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry (% change)

There was varied growth across the sectors. Government (GV) (7.0 per cent) and business process-related exhibitions, including Machinery and Finished Business Outputs (ID) (11.2 per cent), Communication and Information Technology (IT) (8.1 per cent), and Transportation (TX) (5.7 per cent), grew the fastest. The growth of those sectors was stronger than anticipated. In contrast, Building, Construction, Home and Repair (HM) (-5.3 per cent), Sporting Goods, Travel, and Amusement (ST) (-0.8 per cent), and Medical and Health Care (MD) (0.2 per cent) experienced negative or negligible growth. For those industries, the underlying macroeconomic indicators over the recession and the recovery turned out to be weaker than the original government data indicated. The macroeconomic drivers in 2011 were also more anemic than the Index forecast. Thus, the growth of those exhibition sectors was weaker than anticipated.

“The predictive feature that was added last year has been very revealing,” said CEIR President and CEO, Doug Ducate, CEM, CMP. “CEIR’s economists, Dr. Allen Shaw of GECA and Dr. Jeff Werling of Inforum, were on point with their predictions for 2011, and they have done an excellent job of analyzing and reporting the data that exhibition organizers and corporations with an event portfolio can use to gauge results against the entire industry and events within a specific sector.”

“The results seen in 2011 are very promising and serve as a strong platform for the next three years,” said Dr. Shaw. “With a decade of data and observing the resilience of the exhibition industry through recession and a fragile global economy, the outlook is positive.” The U.S. economy finished 2011 with upward momentum and employment growth also accelerated in the second half of 2011 and into 2012, adding 1.2 million jobs. The coming year should see continued recovery in all metrics and across all sectors covered by the Index, in line with a moderate expansion of the macro economy.

As an objective measure of the annual performance of the exhibition industry, the CEIR Index measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics to determine overall performance: Net Square Feet of Exhibit Space Sold; Professional Attendance; Number of Exhibiting Companies; and Gross Revenue. The CEIR Index provides exhibition industry performance across 14 key industry sectors: Business Services; Consumer Goods; Discretionary Consumer Services; Education; Food; Financial, Legal and Real Estate; Government; Building, Construction, Home and Repair; Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs; Communications and Information Technology; Medical and Health Care; Raw Materials and Science; Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment; and Transportation.

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