Convention and Trade Show Management

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 5,600 convention and trade show management services in the US charge fees to plan, organize, promote, and manage a variety of events, including business shows, trade shows, conventions, conferences, and meetings. General Service Contractors (GSC), which coordinate the set-up and tear-down of trade shows, generate the majority of revenue and profits from material handling fees charged to exhibitors.

Competition from Digital Communications

Conventions and trade shows compete with alternative and more flexible forms of communication, such as video conferences, webinars, and other digital vehicles.

Uneven Cash Flow

Demand for convention and trade show organization services varies throughout the year, and depends on the frequency, timing, and location of events.

Industry size & Structure

The average convention and trade show management services provider works out of a single location, employs fewer than 5 workers, and generates $2 million annually.

    • The convention and trade show management services industry consists of about 5,600 firms that employ about 50,000 workers and generate about $11.7 billion annually.
    • The industry is concentrated at the top and fragmented at the bottom; the top 50 companies account for about 48% of industry revenue.
    • Large companies include Freeman and Viad Corporation. Large firms may have international operations.
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Convention and Trade Show Management Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Recent Developments

                                    May 1, 2023 - Trade Show Recovery Continues
                                    • The B2B exhibitions industry continued its robust comeback in the fourth quarter of 2022, but headwinds could present challenges in 2023, according to a late-March report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR). By all major metrics, exhibitions are still well below pre-pandemic levels. Compared to 2019, net square feet of exhibitions was down 16.5% in Q4 2022. The number of exhibitors was off 18.9%, and attendees were 19.7% lower. Fourth-quarter exhibition revenue was 16.6% below the 2019 pre-pandemic baseline. High inflation, rising interest rates, banking industry jitters, and recession concerns may weigh on exhibitions in 2023, but cancellations remain very low. Of the 14 industries tracked by the CEIR, exhibitions in the government and consumer goods and services sectors are expected to outperform IT and construction. The B2B exhibitions industry is projected to fully recover in 2024.
                                    • The fees charged by event keynote speakers are outpacing event planners’ budgets for hiring speakers, according to AAR Speakers Bureau’s 2023 Speaking Industry Benchmark report. Over a quarter of event planners surveyed said they have more funding for hiring speakers this year than in 2022. However, more than 53% of speakers surveyed said they are charging higher fees in 2023 than they charged last year. Event organizers’ average budget for speakers in 2023 is almost $26,600. Nearly 45% of organizers reported that their average budget for speakers was less than $10,000.
                                    • A majority of US corporate travel buyers expect business travel levels to reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, according to a recent report by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). Nearly three-quarters of travel managers surveyed said they expect domestic business travel to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, and 76% had the same view for conference/group travel. Citing inflation, 10% of travel managers do not expect business travel demand to fully recover until 2025 or later. More than two-thirds of companies surveyed said they were unlikely to limit business travel.
                                    • In a February survey by Trade Show News Network (TSNN), 98% of show organizers said that participants are registering later. While late registration has been a persistent challenge for years, it became more pronounced during the pandemic. Even as conditions have greatly improved regarding the health crisis, late registration remains an issue. As part of the survey, TSNN asked respondents to share what tactics they’re using to get attendees to sign up earlier. Some organizers are limiting emails to keep unsubscribes low while using thoughtful subject lines and strong calls to action. Countdowns in the email remind potential attendees that the time for deciding is drawing close. Show organizers are also leveraging the social campaigns of speakers, exhibitors, and thought leaders to attract interest sooner. Other strategies include group discounts, bundling with hotel deals and/or trade group memberships, and early-bird pricing.
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