In what might be seen as promising news for the B2B exhibition industry, second-quarter findings from the Center of Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) show that their Total Index saw a decline of 79.1% over the same quarter in 2019.
This 79.1% decline in the CEIR Total Index — a measurement of exhibition industry performance which takes into account net square feet of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies and total event gross revenue — is an improvement compared to Q2 2020, which saw a year-over-year (y-o-y) decline of 100%. Likewise, it’s a step in the right direction after Q1 2021’s 94.1% decline over the same quarter in 2019.
[Note: Per the report, “All events held in the second quarter of 2020 canceled, making a comparison of Q2 2021 performance results to Q2 2020 results not possible. Thus, completed events in the second quarter of 2021 are compared with those in the second quarter of 2019.”]
Although the pandemic has not ended and the Delta variant continues to hamper economic activities, the US economy has continued to grow and about one-third of scheduled in-person events took place during Q2. This is compared to the 10% of scheduled physical events that occurred in Q1 and the 3% that took place in Q4 2020.
The data also shows that exhibition metrics suffered declines in Q2 across the board. Excluding canceled events, the quarter saw the Total Index drop by 37.6% over Q2 2019. At -48.8%, attendees had the steepest decline, followed by real revenues (-47.3%) and exhibitors (-31.6%). Net square feet saw a smaller decline over Q2 2019, dropping 17.9%.
While there are indications that physical B2B events are slowly on the road to recovery, it doesn’t necessarily mean that B2Bs are abandoning the use of digital events. In fact, they may be leaning on them more. CEIR reports that 82% of the events canceled in Q2 became digital events, up from 75% that did the same in Q1 2021. Furthermore, other research shows that three-quarters of B2B marketers have a hybrid event planned for the next year.
About the Data: The CEIR Total Index is a measure of exhibition industry performance that takes into account the net square feet of exhibit space sold, professional attendance, number of exhibiting companies, and total event gross revenue.