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U.S. B2B Exhibition Industry Continues Strong Rebound in Q2

DALLAS— The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) recently released its second quarter 2022 index results that show the U.S. business-to-business (B2B) exhibition industry improved significantly in Q2 2022 from the previous nine quarters. Cancellation rates for physical in-person events continue to drop, improving to only 2% in Q2 2022 from 66.2% in Q2 2021 and from 100% in Q2 2020.

The drop in cancellations and the improvement in completed events boosted the Q2 2022 Index result. However, as expected, the CEIR Total Index – a measure of overall exhibition performance – remains in recovery, still falling below 2019 levels, with a result 25.5% lower than 2019. Nonetheless, this is a significant improvement compared to the past two years: a decline of 100% from 2019 in Q2 2020, 75.1% from 2019 in Q2 2021, and recently, 37.9% from 2019 in Q1 2022.

Of all shows originally scheduled to be held in the second quarter of 2022, 0.6% were postponed, 1.9% were canceled, and 97.5% were completed as scheduled. Excluding postponed events, the cancellation rate reached 2%, as indicated previously.

Q2 2022 results speak to a continuing but choppy and uneven recovery that is underway. Still, the direction is positive, with the overall index and specific metrics improving for the past five quarters. For the first time, attendees are one of the strongest performing metrics. A good sign for the industry, as attendees is a leading indicator. Among completed events, 10.5% have surpassed their pre-pandemic levels of the CEIR Total Index. Some organizers launched new shows, expanded existing shows to new locations or held them at a different time of the year.

“Easing inflation and moderate economic growth ahead should lay a firm foundation of support to the B2B exhibition industry,” said CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw, Chief Economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc. “The B2B exhibition cancellation rate should remain extremely low, and the performance of completed events will continue to improve.”

CEIR survey research and Index results indicate recovery of the industry will accelerate. CEIR Omnichannel Study results indicate strong intent to return in 2022, particularly on the exhibitor side but with slightly softer intent to return among attendees. The core values of the B2B exhibition channel motivate a return to participating, as COVID-19 ebbs.

“Despite Omicron at the outset of 2022 and variants that have followed, our industry presses on; many have held their events and have done so successfully and safely,” added CEIR CEO Cathy Breden. “CEIR research has documented an intent to return to face-to-face engagement at B2B exhibitions, and CEIR Index quarterly results show recovery is happening. With the safety measures implemented at large gatherings that have been held, and with a majority of the population vaccinated and boosted, the recovery of B2B exhibitions should continue in 2022.”

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