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Looking back and moving forward

Charlie McCurdy, President & CEO of Informa Markets, offers a New Year outlook for the global exhibitions industry, as it continues its path of growth.


With another year gone by, we look back at the exhibitions industry’s 2019 highlights and offer our thoughts on how it will continue to support buyers and sellers in conducting business year-round throughout the coming year.

The tradeshow industry sustained growth in 2019, demonstrated resilience through various economic cycles, and continued to support global connections between companies to enhance collaboration and contribute to their bottom lines. Key 2019 trends include the following:

  • the investment in digitalisation to enhance the customer experience
  • geo-adaptation of events in emerging markets        
  • the implementation of more sustainable solutions to improve the carbon footprint


Investment in digitalisation

Understanding customer needs and behaviour in a more data-driven way has been a key focus for the industry over the past few years, but for many companies, driving digital transformation and investing in data has been a challenge. Throughout 2019, however, more companies implemented solutions such as marketing automation and CRM tools and are now reaping the benefits of better customer engagement before, during and after their events. The implementation of digital solutions helps businesses improve the customer journey and provide customers with more targeted, personalised solutions, which drives more quality leads, increasing opportunities for organisations to extend their services to more relevant and wide-reaching partners across the global marketplace.

Digitalisation will continue to be a growth driver for the exhibitions industry and in order to remain effective, companies will need to invest in solutions that connect buyers and sellers in new and powerful ways.   


Geo-adaptation of events

We are strong believers in broadening the scope of our events by expanding our existing verticals into emerging markets to help create markets in high growth areas and extend our global reach in those key sectors. Over the past year we have increasingly seen a focus of established events expanding to new regions such as the Middle East and Africa, and we anticipate this trend will continue into 2020. The success of event geo-adaptation is dependent on the expertise of organisers in these regions to effectively market the events to attendees, which requires a deep understanding of regional cultures and the support of internal networks in the respective vertical.   


Developing sustainable events

Over the last year, we’ve taken a leading position in helping answer the question: what does sustainability mean for the exhibitions industry? We’ve also worked to set industry standards through Informa Markets’ Sustainable Fundamentals, which help define how we eliminate waste at our events as well as industry partnerships. 

As exhibition organisers we not only believe in implementing sustainable practices at our events, but also offer companies who attend our shows sustainable solutions to improve their carbon footprints for a better future.       


In summary, the exhibition industry has shown a great deal of resilience in the face of economic challenges and is continuing to help create more collaborations that add value to a company’s bottom line. Investing in digitalisation, geo-adapting events, and improving our carbon footprint are just a few ways the industry can continue its growth path and enhance the tradeshow experience, providing greater return on investment for buyers and sellers who attend our shows.

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