Seven incredible facts about the events industry


Seven incredible facts about the events industry

With Global Exhibitions Day just around the corner, we celebrate the huge size, scale and impact of the international events sector


The Coronavirus outbreak has severely disrupted the events industry. But the sector will return and when it does, it will continue to gain power and to shape the world of business, as new technologies, trends and innovations emerge. These seven incredible facts prove the huge influence and economic reach the industry holds and that face-to-face interactions will always be key to cultivating and strengthening customer relationships.

1. Exhibitions directly contribute $81.1 billion to global gross domestic product (GDP)

The industry’s direct global GDP contribution is so large that when compared to the size of national GDPs, it would rank an incredible 72nd as a country – bigger than the GDP of Guatemala, Ethiopia and even Kenya. Incorporate the industry’s indirect and induced contribution and the figure jumps $116.4 billion to $197.5 billion. This would rank the sector as high as 56th if it were the economy of a country, larger than those of Hungary, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Ecuador, according to Oxford Economic​s’ 2019 Global Economic Impact of Exhibitions report. What’s more, the global exhibitions sector directly generated more business sales than many large global sectors, including machine tools, and medical and surgical equipment.

2. Globally, there are 32,000 exhibitions each year, attracting more than 303 million visitors

According to Oxford Economics, 32,000 trade and consumer shows are held across the world every year, attracting a remarkable 303 million visitors of all ages, nationalities and industries. These huge statistics underline the popularity and benefit of events. Exhibitions in particular offer a highly effective way of doing business. They facilitate knowledge exchange, provide a platform from which to launch new products and services, and help industries to grow – all under one roof. They also boost economic and infrastructure development and help to attract inward investment.

3. Globally, the exhibitions industry directly supports 1.3 million jobs

Well over one million people worldwide work directly in exhibitions, according to Oxford Economics. From event planning and operations to marketing and security, the industry offers a multitude of career paths in a dynamic, fast-paced environment that embraces digital innovation. In addition, the exhibitions industry encourages promotion and life-long careers. It is truly international and, whether your background is specialised or more general, it provides valuable and fascinating insights into other industries, businesses and markets that you may not otherwise be exposed to.

4. Global exhibitions attract 4.5 million exhibitors across more than 180 countries

Over 4.5 million exhibitors purchased nearly 138 million net square metres of space across more than 180 countries. This shows the huge scale and reach of the international events industry. In terms of sheer numbers, North America ranked first, hosting 1.6 million exhibitors, representing more than 35 per cent of total exhibitors worldwide. The Middle East, which has made remarkable strides in the growth of its MICE industry, welcomed 130,000 exhibitors, representing 2.8 per cent of the global total – a figure that looks set to increase significantly in the years ahead.​

5. 96 per cent of event professionals do not believe virtual events will replace in-person events

To combat the effects of Coronavirus, organisers have in many cases digitalised their events by live streaming presentations, panel discussions and workshops, and gamifying consumer-facing shows via augmented or virtual reality. While this has helped to engage audiences, maintain brand awareness and position organisers as innovative and adaptable, the value of in-person events is so great that, according to event technology platform Bizzabo, almost all industry professionals believe that traditional events are here to stay. There are a number of ways that digitalisation can enhance a show, but the overwhelming consensus is that virtual events will not replace in-person events.

6. 61 per cent of marketers believe that in-person events are the most critical marketing channel

According to Bizzabo, 61 per cent of marketers believe that events are the single-most effective marketing channel over digital advertising, email marketing and content marketing. That’s 20 per cent more than 2019. And, even amid the Coronavirus pandemic, more than half of event marketers believe that in-person events will be back later this year, believing that face-to-face connection and sense of community are so powerful that they will continue to entice attendees as travel restrictions and lockdowns are eased around the world.

7. 54 per cent of B2B event organisers plan to host more events in future

Before the outbreak of Coronavirus, the number of B2B events, including tradeshows, conferences and sales and marketing meetings, were on the rise, according to the American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast. While the event industry pauses, assesses and makes extensive short-term changes, long term, over half of event organisers plan to host more events in the future, implementing highly creative and tactical marketing as budgets and teams remain tight.​


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