UFI and Explori are publishing the first edition of the Global Recovery Insights 2020 report, which presents the findings of a global study conducted by live event research specialists, Explori, in partnership with UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and supported by SISO, the Society for Independent Show Organizers.
The study findings, based on more than 9,000 responses from across 30 countries, show that exhibition visitors and exhibitors overwhelmingly prefer live events, and that there is no evidence of a major shift away from face-to-face meetings. Although the intended frequency of participation has dropped for both groups, this is only marginally the case for exhibitors, indicating a clear desire amongst exhibiting companies to return to on-site show floors.
The social aspect of events remains a critical draw for both groups, who rely on live events to create connections within their communities. Study participants, globally, believe that this aspect of events cannot be served effectively by digital events. There is a clear message from visitors that the quality of exhibitors is paramount, while exhibitors are now also valuing visitor quality, over quantity.
There are signs that budgets will also be restored quickly, with 53% of exhibitors expecting their show investments to return to pre-COVID-19 levels within 12 months, while 28% report that their investments will return as soon as trade shows start running again. Whilst funds allocated to live events have been put on hold, overall marketing budgets were yet to see severe cuts as of late summer.
Both visitors and exhibitors will look at their previous experiences when deciding to return to a show. They will turn to show brands they trust to deliver both robust safety measures, and, perhaps more importantly, a high-quality audience.
“This study delivers important insights and reassurance to organisers and the wider industry, as they plan ahead in these uncertain times. It underlines the clear preference and importance of being able to meet in-person to do business, and the desire for both visitors and exhibitors to again meet face-to-face. It also underlines the negative impact all industries are experiencing as a result of industry events not going ahead,” said Kai Hattendorf, CEO and Managing Director at UFI.
Sophie Holt, Managing Director at Explori, added: “On behalf of Explori, UFI and SISO, I would like to thank all of the organisers and partners who participated in the study, making it the largest and, possibly, most-timely we have ever undertaken. I hope it is of value in shaping thinking over the coming months and in supporting those who advocate for the industry. The results are extremely encouraging, and I look forward to sharing more insights over the coming months as the research progresses.”