CEIR Index Justifies Continued Optimism for Exhibition Industry

RENEE DIIULIO, SENIOR EDITOR
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Charlotte, NC – For most sectors of the exhibition industry, 2005 was a good year. Despite the challenges that continue to exist — corporate consolidation, rising energy prices, concerns about increases in inflation or slow downs in the housing market — the third and latest edition of the CEIR Exhibition Industry Index Report (CEIR Index) suggests that continued optimism is in order. The Index was released at the Society of Independent Organizers (SISO) CEO Summit held in April at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte, NC.

The CEIR Index objectively measures the performance of the exhibition industry as a whole and broken down into 11 sectors using four metrics: net square feet (NSF), exhibiting companies, attendance and revenue. Additionally, a fifth metric, total, represents the average of the others.

In 2005, all metrics for the overall exhibition industry increased over 2004, with revenue rising above 2000 levels, the base year for the analysis, for the first time. Indeed, revenue was the highest performing metric, rising 9.1 percent over 2004 compared to the total increase of 5.8 percent. NSF grew 8.5 percent, exhibitors increased 4.6 percent and attendance rose 1.0 percent. From 2000 to 2005, the industry has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.8 percent.

In a presentation to SISO attendees, Doug Ducate, president and CEO of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), used graphs to clearly illustrate the growth of the industry and rebut the controversial 2005 Brookings Reports that declared the overall convention market was declining and unlikely to have a turnaround.

Adam Gross, vp of marketing for the Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. (JEGI), shared a positive forecast for mergers and acquisitions activity in 2006. “We foresee the market continuing to grow at this strength for at least the next 12 to 18 months,” he says. He cites figures that indicate 2006 growth will surpass that of 2005.

More good news comes from American Business Media (ABM), a sponsor of the index. A recent study by the organization found that for the first time in its history, business-to-business marketing expenditures on exhibitions surpassed those spent on print advertising.

Sector Specifics

The biggest benefactors included shows in sectors that exhibited the most growth: construction, raw materials and science, and sports and entertainment (see table). However, not all industry sectors are popping champagne.

While the majority performed well, three sectors saw performance slow: industrial/heavy machinery’s total declined 4.9 percent despite a 16.2 percent increase in attendance; government, which typically lags behind the general economy by one to two years, declined 6.1 percent; and food, facing pressure from consolidation and competition, dropped 10.9 percent.

While the demands on these industries will continue to exist, particularly in the food sector, the CEIR Index forecasts better days ahead for government and industrial/heavy machinery trade shows.