Trade Shows Continue to Rebound in 2022

Read on for three key signs that trade shows are bouncing back in 2022!

By Association Forum

trade show attendees

Like so many things, Covid-19 has had an outsized effect on trade shows. In 2020, in-person events came to a complete halt while the world grappled with moving through a pandemic. Last year, some organizations held in-person events, while others remained virtual and most included a hybrid option. As we enter the second half of 2022, trade shows are finally picking back up. Here are three good signs that trade shows are coming back to life:

  1. Cancellations are down. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), “the U.S. business-to-business (B2B) exhibitions industry improved significantly in the first quarter of 2022 from the previous eight quarters. Compared to 2021, cancellation rates for physical in-person events continues to drop with a cancellation rate of 9.2% in Q1 2022, compared to 91.3% in the first quarter of 2021, 66.2% in the second quarter, 20.6% in the third quarter and 12.5% in the fourth quarter. About 98% of exhibitions were cancelled during the second half of 2020.” This means that more events are being completed than since the start of the pandemic. 

  2. Attendance is (slowly) coming back. While trade show attendance isn’t roaring back, it is certainly recovering. Bloomberg reports that “Nationwide, about 11.5 million professionals attended business-to-business trade shows in the U.S. last year, a 55% jump over 2020.” Pre-pandemic attendance (2019) was at 35.3 million, so we still have quite a bit of ground to make up. 

    The same article claims that trade shows are “tiptoeing”, not roaring, back. The last time the sector took this large of a hit was during the Great Recession of 2008. Attendance levels took seven years to recover to 2007 numbers, but experts think today’s issues will resolve quicker.

    Compared to pre-pandemic times: “Among the biggest venues, attendance at the Las Vegas Convention Center was down 41% in January and February this year, compared with the same period in 2019. At Chicago’s McCormick Place, attendance at shows in the second half of last year was down about 35%,” Michael Sasso writes for Bloomberg.

  3. The travel industry is readying for increased trade show attendance. Last month, Marriott brought corporate and association customers to New York City for their annual customer conference, called THE EXCHANGE. “This year’s iteration focused on the optimism surrounding the return of in-person events, and the new ways Marriott is amplifying group business,” according to BizBash

    “We consistently hear from our association and corporate clients how important face-to-face connections are to doing business—and how difficult those connections are to replicate virtually,” said Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano in a statement. “The collaboration, innovation, and energy our customers and hoteliers experienced at this year’s EXCHANGE, while addressing some of today’s most important issues for meeting planners, was as inspiring as it was productive. Working together, we are continuing to refine and shape what tomorrow’s meetings and events will look like.”

Are you looking to get back to trade shows? If you’re a supplier partner, consider exhibiting at Association Forum’s Holiday Showcase on Dec. 1, 2022. Holiday Showcase is the face-to-face event for our association community to meet. We draw more than 560 unique organizations to one central meeting each year. Plus, more than 50% of attendees influence meeting decisions. Find out more and reserve your booth here.

Association Forum

The mission of Association Forum is to advance the professional practice of association management. Founded in 1916, Association Forum serves 4,000 association professionals whose efforts serve more than 27 million members and generate $10 billion in global annual expenditures. Visit www.associationforum.org for more information.

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