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Digitisation of exhibitions continues to grow

Digitisation of exhibitions through services and products has continued to accelerate, a new UFI survey reveals.

Findings from the latest Global Barometer show 65% of companies worldwide added these features to existing shows – up from 58% in 2019.

Asia-Pacific is leading this change at 71%, followed by Middle East & Africa (67%), North America (63%) and Europe (62%).

A total of 32% of respondents said they had developed a digital transformation strategy for individual exhibitions and products – an increase of 10 percentage points from last time. 

Companies are also innovating and spending more on their digitisation strategies. Of the total respondents surveyed, 22% said they had launched digital products not directly related to existing exhibitions – a sharp rise from 13% in the last survey.  

UFI’s 29th Global Exhibition Barometer polled 366 companies across 57 countries and regions in June 2022. The next survey will be conducted in December 2022.

What’s behind the figures?

Digital transformation of exhibitions became the top priority for companies at the height of the pandemic.

Organisers are digitising their internal processes and workflows and shaping their overall strategies to sync with their customers’ digital expectations.

A key reason behind this rise is the numerous benefits digitisation brings. It has allowed organisers to push new boundaries of personalisation, immersion and interactivity while providing crucial engagement and networking metrics to boost ROI for exhibitors.

Kai Hattendorf, managing director and CEO at UFI said: “The bounce-back of exhibitions around the world has entered its next phase, and pre-Covid levels will be within reach as early as next year in some markets.

“As the industry manages this amazing recovery, it is also dealing with significant staffing challenges, and is working to apply key learning from the pandemic around the digitisation of events and services into its business model.”

What it means for organisers

The UFI survey results broadly reflect how audience expectations have changed since the pandemic.

Digitally-enhanced exhibitions are no longer a value-add but a necessity. Organisers are reinventing their approach not only for specific exhibitions or product offerings but for their entire strategy.

Legacy platforms are being phased out and a more modular, integration-based tech stack is being adopted. This allows organisers to make on-the-fly changes to their user experience without having to risk a critical process.

This evolution of event tech has given rise to Smart Events – where organisers can use digital solutions to create value for both the attendees and exhibitor.

These modular solutions include AI-powered matchmaking, Hosted Buyer Programme, Lead Retrieval, Analytics and others. A modern event organiser is equipped with these tools to create richer, ROI-driven experiences for their audience.

Want to know more about Smart Events? Read how you can make money with them!

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