UFI Barometer Sees Revenue Decline in Last Two Quarters of 2009 as Industry Awaits Recovery

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Paris, France – The worldwide recession continues to weigh on the trade show industry without much hope for a letup until next year.

The third quarterly Global Economic Crisis Barometer Survey of the Exhibition Industry,released September 2 by UFI – The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, indicated the industry could see some light at the end of a rather long tunnel.

The survey found that 83% of the respondents expected a decrease in gross revenues for the second half of 2009. “And the first half of 2010 doesn’t promise to be much better,” the report said.

But UFI analysts found some signs that the industry was beginning to bottom out, specifically, 45% of respondents said they did not anticipate their gross revenues in the first half of 2010 to be lower than they were in the first half of 2009. Another 24% said they expected their revenues in the coming first half to be positive or at least stable.

There was also a level of confidence that better days were ahead. About 53% of the industry executives surveyed predict a recovery would come some time next year. Another 47%, however, feared things would not turn around until 2011 or thereafter.

“Is this belief in recovery purely a reflection of the resilience and optimism of the face-to-face marketing medium?” asked UFI President John Shaw. “Or is it a solid indication that the exhibition industry has turned the corner?”

A more hopeful and concrete example of optimism was a leveling-off of cutbacks within the industry. The percentage of companies with cost-cutting programs in place remained flat at 86% in August compared to 85% in the Spring.

Discounts Come into Play

The use of discounts by trade show organizers worldwide increased this Summer. The survey stated that 55% of the companies surveyed in July said they had offered discounts to their customers, compared to 47% of the firms polled in April and May for the second edition of the report.

The discounts averaged 10% or more for 23% of the companies compared to 17% of the companies in the previous survey for Q2.

Discounts are seen by many trade show organizers as a slippery slope that can derail an event’s entire pricing structure and are something to be avoided. Critics point out that cutting the price for some cash-strapped exhibitors will invariably lead to requests for similar deals from other exhibitors. In addition, prices will have to go up in small increments once the economy improves.

The Crisis Barometer was compiled from 179 replies to the survey from 53 nations. UFI noted the responses from the Middle East/Africa region were low.

Reach UFI President John Shaw at +33 (0) 1 4267 9912 or jshaw@comexpo-paris.com