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 5,700 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 $3 million annually.

    • The convention and trade show management services industry consists of about 5,700 firms that employ about 53,000 workers and generate about $17 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 8, 2024 - Industry Growth Softens
                                    • The convention and trade show management industry is expected to return to nominal growth after a slowdown in 2024. The industry’s year-over-year growth is projected to drop to 1.8% after posting a rise of 5.8% in 2023, according to Inforum and the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc. Sales growth in the convention and trade show management industry is expected to increase to 4.1% in 2025, then post flat, but steady average annual growth of about 5.1% through 2028, according to Inforum and the Interindustry Economic Research Fund, Inc.
                                    • Convention and trade show attendance took a hit during the pandemic. Still, the airline and hotel industries say that business travel is nearly back to levels seen before the public health crisis began, according to The Wall Street Journal. Business travel has taken a while to recover, even as pandemic conditions improved, partly due to economic uncertainty that tightened travel budgets and workforces that had become more geographically dispersed. However, Alaska Airlines said its business travel sales increased 22% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to Q1 2023 – marking a return to pre-pandemic levels. Southwest Airlines’ corporate travel revenue jumped 25% over the same period. During a recent earnings call, the CEO of Hilton Worldwide Holdings said that business travel demand among small and medium-sized companies was above 2019 levels; travel for large corporate customers wasn’t quite there yet but was close.
                                    • Two large exhibition and experiential marketing firms reported robust first-quarter revenue results, according to the Trade Show News Network. Viad Corp. reported Q1 2024 revenue of $273.5 million, up 4.9% - or $12.7 million – over the same period in 2023. GES Exhibitions, a firm that includes event and exhibit brand Spiro, posted first-quarter sales of $236.3 million, an $8.1 million, or a 3.6% increase over Q1 2023. GES’s CEO expects the company’s full-year sales goals to meet expectations amid growing business activity and strong demand.
                                    • An annual exhibitor event, EXHIBITORLIVE 2024, announced its latest show saw attendance grow by 20% year-over-year, and buyers increased by 40%, according to Trade Show News Network (TSNN). The event, which took place over four days in late February, included educational and networking opportunities, as well as a trade show. EXHIBITORLIVE 2024 featured over 100 industry exhibitors in fields including exhibit builders, freight providers, event marketing agencies, and event technology providers.
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