UFI research has found that, despite an on-going slowdown in global economic growth and a decline in open trade promoters on the international stage, the exhibition industry remains geared for continued growth in 2017.
Results of the 18th UFI Global Barometer survey indicate turnover increases for a majority of companies in 2017, following two years of relatively stable levels of operating profit.
- Positive mood dampened by political developments around the world as half of those polled expect significant or limited economic impact for exhibitions and events
- Among the most important business issues, rising competition within the exhibition industry gains in importance
- Large majority of companies globally intend to develop new activities to create growth
This latest edition of UFI’s biannual industry survey was concluded in January 2017 and includes data from 240 companies in 54 countries.
The study delivers outlooks and analysis on ten major markets: Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, the UK and the US. In addition, four aggregated regional zones have been analysed.
The US, Mexico, China and the UK performed above average. Brazil and Russia also indicate a positive trend in turnover, but for 2017 only. In Germany and Italy however, 2017 appears at this stage weaker than 2016.
When asked about the possible impact of recent major political developments (such as the Brexit vote in the UK, the failed coup in Turkey, and the US presidential elections) on international trade and the exhibition industry, 45 per cent of participants globally anticipate a limited or significant negative impact on business. At country level, Mexico (60 per cent) and the US (54 per cent) report the highest degrees of concern.
By comparison an average of only one in ten respondents expects recent political developments to have a positive impact on business. On average, 20 per cent anticipate no impact, and 20-30 per cent are unsure. A core question of UFI’s Global Barometer asks for the “most important business issues” companies are currently facing. As has been the case in recent years “State of the national/regional economy” and “Global economic uncertainty” retain their top positions, yet both items receive slightly less attention than six months ago. In contrast, “Competition from within the industry” has seen a measurable rise in importance, closing the previous gap with the other two top issues. “Impact of digitalisation” receives high relevance in Germany (21 per cent) and most countries in Central and South America (20 per cent).
Covering the strategic outlook of the global exhibition industry, the barometer shows an ongoing expansion in the industry’s business activities globally, both at companies’ home bases and in new geographical markets. A large majority of companies from all regions intend to develop new activities, either in the classic range of exhibition industry activities (venue/organiser/services), or in other live or virtual events, or in both. An average of four out of 10 companies also declare an intention to develop operations in new countries. This figure is particularly high for companies based in the UK (70 per cent), the US (67 per cent) and the Middle East (57 per cent).
Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director, said: “Some economists are predicting that the exhibition industry will outperform the global economy in its growth rate in 2017. The UFI Global Barometer shows that indeed there is cause for optimism on the global scale. At the same time, political developments in key markets for our industry are causing concern, and negative impacts are expected by many. The data in this research underlines the need for organisers, venues and service providers to remain flexible and alert.”
The 18th Global Barometer survey, conducted in December 2016, covers insights given by 240 companies from 54 countries. It is conducted in collaboration with AAXO (The Association of African Exhibition Organizers) and EXSA (Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa) in South Africa, AEO (Association of Event Organisers) in the UK, AFIDA (Asociación Internacional de Ferias de América) for Central and South America, AMPROFEC (Asociación Mexicana de Profesionales de Ferias y Exposiciones y Convenciones) in Mexico, SISO (Society of Independent Show Organizers) in the USA, TEA (Thai Exhibition Association) in Thailand and UBRAFE (União Brasileira dos Promotores Feiras) in Brazil.
The next UFI Global Barometer Survey will be conducted in June 2017.