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Chart of the week: trade show bookings way behind 2019

The recovery of UK trade shows is continuing however new figures reveal a massive drop in exhibitor bookings compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Analysis of 16 exhibitions held in the UK during September reveals weak performance with the comparable shows in 2019.

Findings from the Events Intelligence research shows total bookings were 43% down, an average of 60% of these were held over from the previous show, while 75% were from the UK, 8% from the US and 4% from Germany.

These figures do also show 40% of bookings were new money rather than rolled-over deposits.

The analysis, published by Flash and Flames, also highlights a drop in distance travelled of more than a third to take part in these shows.

It estimates pre-pandemic international exhibitors travelled an average of 3,070km, while the current distance is of 1,914km.

What’s behind the figures?

The report highlights three areas which are holding back event performance:

  • Restrictions on travel, transport and public gathering
  • Personal fears over attending
  • Financial situation of participating companies

However, this all hinges on how governments and industries handle the uncertainty brought by coronavirus. 

The threat of the highly contagious Delta variant may increase hesitancy of people to again attend big events. 

These could be eased by implementing stringent safety measures that demand proof of vaccinations and mask use for attendance. 

What does it mean for event organisers?

Organisers are looking to reshape their strategies to prepare for all outcomes as uncertainty over lockdown restrictions continues.

It means digital can no longer be a small addition to an event planner’s strategy – it should now form a critical part of future plans.

These proposals can include adopting emerging technologies to connect people in all formats – live, virtual and hybrid.

Hybrid models could define the new industry landscape and will remain a mainstay of events and exhibitions for years to come. Here’s why:

Monetisation: The hybrid model offers new untapped opportunities to monetise an event and create additional revenue streams. Investment in digital events is expected to rise from 2% before the pandemic to 25% post-2021. These components could include sponsor branding, ads and banners, giveaways, access to training and communities and more.   

Security: Hybrid solutions offer a backup when restrictions are re-imposed or potential exhibitors remain offput. This gives organisers flexibility and confidence to run a large-scale event without having to pause or alter their schedules. 

Accessibility: Hybrid events offer both in-person and online attendance options. This makes them way more accessible compared to traditional events. Attendees can log in from a remote location anywhere around the world with just a computer and internet connection. Features such as hybrid booths also allow exhibitors to take part even when they can’t attend in person.

To unlock the full potential of hybrid events, read ExpoPlatform’s Hybrid Blueprint now.