by Matt Alderton | August 15, 2018
Attendance at trade shows has been rising for the past decade -- and it will continue rising for at least the foreseeable future, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), which yesterday published the fourth installment in its "Attendee ROI Playbook" research series.
Titled "Attendance Today and 2019-2020 Outlook," the six-page fact sheet contains: average and median number of B2B exhibitions attended in the past two years; anticipated volume of attendance in the next two years; reasons for anticipated volume of attendance in the next two years; and suggestions on how to address gaps to enhance the value of attending a B2B exhibition.

"Findings from the Attendee ROI Playbook series is in line with 2018 CEIR Index results forecasting continued attendee growth through 2020," reported CEIR Senior Research Director Nancy Drapeau, who said most attendees (54 percent) plan to maintain the same level of attendance, while over a quarter (26 percent) plan to attend more exhibitions in the next two years.

Among business professionals surveyed, the average number of exhibitions attended in the past two years is four, according to CEIR, which said 20 percent of business professionals identified gaps in existing trade show offerings -- the most common of which were the sales approach and product mix on the exhibit floor.

"These results signal the continued strength of the B2B exhibitions channel," said CEIR CEO Cathy Breden. "In addition to profiling attendance levels, this report summarizes explanations for their future attendance plans. Attendees also offer suggestions on what they'd like organizers to address to make the attendee experience even better. This report is brief, though packed, with a lot of content for organizers and exhibitors to consider."

CEIR launched the "Attendee ROI Playbook" series -- comprising short fact sheets related to trade show attendance and behavior -- last month with financial support from the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Education Foundation. The first fact sheet in the series was about how attendees evaluate the ROI/value of attending and which metrics drive value. The second was about the range of sources that attendees rely upon to meet their business information and purchasing decision needs. And the third was about the positive effects that pre-event planning and tracking activities have on attendees' opinion of trade shows and exhibitions.

Said Drapeau, "CEIR has conducted extensive research on what drives repeat attendance and motivations for attending exhibitions in general. Prior to this new study series, research has not addressed the process of how attendees evaluate the outcome of attending or the metrics most commonly used to determine whether the trip was worthwhile."

Concluded Breden, "The Attendee ROI Playbook series furnishes this information in short, information-packed fact sheets."