By Athan Siah, Consultant, AMR International
For the global events and exhibitions industry, 2021 saw markets starting to recover across many countries, most notably China. AMR expects this renewed optimism across the industry to continue throughout 2022 and beyond.
In the following piece, we outline what to expect as the new year unfolds, using key insights from AMR’s Exhibition Recovery Tracker, an interactive dashboard we developed for use in 2021 to monitor the industry’s post-COVID recovery.
The Tracker looked at exhibition activity across 15 major markets globally and benchmarked it against 2019 levels to track how different countries and organisers were responding to COVID-driven restrictions on F2F exhibitions. It provided industry players with much-needed visibility on the speed and pattern of recovery amidst great uncertainty.
Based on our Tracker’s findings, AMR believes organisers and investors have good reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the market’s recovery path.
Reflecting on 2021
Over the course of the year, exhibition activity gradually picked up worldwide, with 48% as many events taking place in 2021 overall as in 2019. Recovery in H1 2021 was led by China (which attained 74% of 2019 exhibition volume) and Russia (62%); in H2 2021 they were followed by major European markets including France (94%) and the UK (91%) as they eased out of COVID-driven restrictions and saw intense event activity in Q4.
2022 – the year ahead
Banking on high vaccination rates to keep events open
Whilst there are renewed COVID concerns with the emergence of the Omicron variant and episodic lockdowns being introduced in some major exhibition markets like Germany, most governments are banking on high vaccination rates to keep large-scale physical events open. Indeed, this sentiment appears to be shared by organisers; where postponements have been made out of necessity, organisers have opted to delay events by a few months rather than doing away with an edition entirely.
One caveat to this recovery is that there may be some way to go before exhibitor and visitor numbers reach pre-COVID levels as participants have become more selective when choosing which shows to attend. Travel restrictions and entry constraints will also likely apply in many countries for the foreseeable future.
Digital transformation to accelerate
Another reason for optimism is the accelerated digital transformation that has taken place in the industry over the past two years. Many organisers have invested heavily into their capacity to hold virtual and hybrid events.
This is expected to be part of a longer-term trend of leading organisers embracing an omnichannel 365 approach, whereby year-round digital initiatives support organisers’ recovery by improving overall outcomes for participants, therefore strengthening the event brands. We articulate this trend towards a post-COVID vision in our Community Catalyst white paper.
As part of our ongoing Globex reporting, AMR will continue to monitor closely how the global exhibitions and events industry performs throughout 2022.
The AMR Exhibition Recovery Tracker
In January 2021, AMR launched its Exhibition Recovery Tracker, an interactive dashboard providing a dynamic view of the industry’s post-COVID recovery. The Tracker looked at exhibition activity across 15 key markets globally and benchmarked it against 2019 levels to track how different countries and organisers were responding to COVID-driven restrictions. Using publicly available information, first-party data contributed by leading organisers and venues, as well as AMR internal knowledge, a comprehensive proprietary dataset was developed.
AMR International is the world leader in strategy consulting across the events ecosystem. Organisers and investors turn to AMR for the latest in global exhibitions industry research and data to help shape their growth strategies and performance improvement.
Our forward-looking views and unbiased analysis are highly sought out by investors, clients, and the media. Each year AMR publishes Globex – the exhibition industry’s definitive dataset and forecast. We also hold an extensive database, based on 6,000+ events, that provides key performance indicators for the industry – enabling us to deliver deep levels of insight.
Please contact one of our team from AMR’s Events Ecosystem & Technology Practice: