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Chart of the Week: exhibition performances improve as cancellations decline

The US exhibitions industry has rebounded sharply after a major drop in cancellation rates of in-person events, a new study shows.

Findings from the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research’s (CEIR) annual Index Report show only 19% of physical events were cancelled in the third quarter.

This is significantly lower compared to 90.4% in Q1 2021 and 66.5% in Q2 2021.

These falling cancellation rates led to an improvement in the CEIR Total Index, a measure of exhibition industry performance.

The index – though still in the red – stood at a decline of 56% from 2019 in Q3 – markedly better than a decline of 95.7% in Q1 and 79.6% in Q2.

Industry benchmarks were made against 2019 to get a more accurate picture as most exhibitions and trade shows were cancelled in 2020.

The 2021 CEIR Index Report provides in-depth insights into the performance of exhibitions over the past year along with an industry outlook for the next three years. 

What’s behind the figures?

The decline in cancellations of physical events are mainly due to a higher number of people getting vaccinated. 

As of November 28, the US population with at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine stood at 70% – which is likely to increase in the coming months.

CEIR economist Allen Shaw said: “Rising vaccination rates and continued robust economic activities bode well for the B2B exhibition industry. The B2B exhibition cancellation rate should decline further.”

Another notable factor is the reduced preference for digital events in case of cancellations.

According to the report, 69.4% of cancelled events pivoted to digital shows in Q3 2021 – down from 80.6% in Q2 2021.

In fact, most trade shows that did not feature conferences were cancelled entirely than replaced with a digital alternative.

What does it mean for event organisers?

Trends indicate cancellations could further decline in the coming year.

The vaccination eligibility in the US was recently extended to children ages 5 to 11.

This would give attendees more confidence to participate at in-person shows due to a less likelihood of the spread of infection.

“With more vaccine mandates and safety measures implemented at large gatherings, and with a majority of the population vaccinated, the recovery of B2B exhibitions should continue in 2022, unless the omicron variant causes a severe fifth wave of COVID-19 infections,” said CEIR CEO Cathy Brede.

Event organisers should continue planning for physical events and also have hybrid options in hand.

This is especially important if Omicron cases rise and governments reimpose lockdowns and restrictions – as we have seen in the UK, Austria, Germany and other nations.

Here’s a list of resources to help you plan ahead:

The Hybrid Blueprint: mixing physical and digital experiences effortlessly is easier said than done. This guide provides detailed advice from experts on how to prepare a hybrid framework for your events. Download the ebook now.

365 Community Solutions: learn how to create an ‘always online’ community to help your audience stay connected throughout the year. A must-have option that insures a business against any kind of lockdown! Contact us to start today.

The Monetisation Blueprint: events have become more reliant on digital technologies more than ever. Download this ebook to understand how you can monetise this medium and increase business revenue.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful. At ExpoPlatform, we want to help you build better events and communities. Please get in touch and ask for a demo here. Thank you.