The exhibition industry grew 3.2 percent in 2007, buoyed by strong gains in revenues and attendance, according to the fifth annual CEIR Index, published by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, Dallas.
The industry has been in growth mode since 2003; however, the 3.2 increase is the lowest percentage gain in three years. A difficult fourth quarter, where three of the four metrics were negative, tempered the increase. Since 2000, the first year CEIR tracked exhibition data, the overall exhibition industry has had a compound annual growth rate of 2.5 percent.
The annual growth rate is determined by calculating the performance of four key metrics: net square footage of exhibit space, number of exhibitors, attendance, and revenues. Revenues spiked 6.8 percent last year, followed by attendance, up 4.9 percent. Exhibitors jumped 0.9 percent, while net square footage was essentially flat, rising .3 percent. Since 2000, revenue and net square footage have performed the best, up 3.1 percent on a compound annual basis. Attendance is up 2 percent per year since 2000, while the number of exhibitors is up 1.5 percent.
Of the 11 sectors that CEIR tracks, all but the building and construction sector showed gains. Government meetings performed the best, increasing 12.6 percent. Communications and information technology (6.9 percent); science and raw materials (6.6 percent); transportation (6.2 percent); and sports, travel, and entertainment (5.5 percent) were all solid gainers. Building and construction (-2.2 percent), medical and healthcare (0.2 percent), food (0.2 percent), professional business services (0.5 percent), consumer goods (1.6 percent), and industrial (1.9 percent) all lagged.
Looking to 2008, CEIR forecasters expect the economic slowdown to negatively affect exhibitions in the first half of the year, picking up in the second half. Long-term, however, the outlook is good. The construction of new exhibition facilities and the emergence of new destinations should result in strong competition for exhibition business and favorable pricing for exhibition organizers, they say.