Having reported an all-time low for exhibition industry performance as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Conference for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) has released the results of a new poll tracking the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the B2B exhibition industry. According to its findings, some 73% of exhibition organizers have canceled at least one exhibition as of June.
Between CEIR’s April and June surveys, the share of organizers canceling events has risen from 62% to 73%. However, postponement remains a viable option, opted for by 41% of respondents in April and 37% in June. However, some 53% of those who said they had canceled an exhibition in June tried to postpone before canceling. In the latest poll, just 17% of organizers had taken no action or had seen their event go ahead/remain scheduled.
What’s more, revenue has continued to take a hit among exhibition organizers, with respondents reporting a 52% average gross revenue loss due to postponements or cancellations. This is up from 39% in April.
Organizers are canceling events primarily due to uncertainty on whether large gatherings or group meetings would be allowed due to state or local lockdown measures (73%). Corporate no-travel policies impacting attendee and exhibitor participation (69%) are also forcing cancelations, along with participants having to fly to events (52%), the potential for participant fear to decrease attendance (51%) and concern over exhibitor ROI (36%).
In response to a shift to digital seen across a number of industries, some respondents indicate having virtual or hybrid alternatives in the works. More than 6 in 10 (63%) who have postponed an event have one or more digital options as a backup plan. Some 44% allow attendees to participate virtually or in-person and an equal share (44%) have a virtual event backup to deploy if they are unable to hold an in-person event.
Notably, just 8% already had a hybrid model of this kind in place before COVID-19, highlighting some of the significant changes that are to be expected as a ‘new normal’ for event organizers.
Read more in the full press release here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a June 2020 survey of 169 B2B exhibition executives in the US.