UFI Poll: Most Organizers See Revenue Drop of 10% or Less

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Paris, France – Business was down at the end of last year for the majority of trade show organizers that responded to the first Economic Crisis Barometer survey conducted by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

The results of the poll released March 2 found 62% of the 200 companies worldwide that responded, including 48 from the U.S. and two from Canada, reported a drop in gross revenues at the end of 2008. Around 68% of companies expected the revenue slump to continue into the first half of 2009 while 80% predicted an economic recover would not start until 2010.

A positive note was that only 38% of the respondents said their revenue declines were greater than 10%. “This is probably a reflection of the cyclical nature of the exhibition business which requires exhibitors to confirm their event participation an average of six months prior to an event,” UFI said in its report.

There was also a strong effort to control costs underway, particularly in the Americas where nearly 90% of respondent organizers said they had made “meaningful cost reductions” in operations due to actual or anticipated revenue declines. The worldwide figure was 75%.

UFI said the reductions included hiring freezes and launch postponements, but not layoffs or show cancellations. “The cancellations of traditionally successful exhibitions and reductions in staff have not yet been added to the agendas of most organizations,” the report stated.

More than half of companies worldwide said they had initiated discounts or other incentives in response to the economy – about 69% of North American companies said they had offered their customers discounts or incentives.

The survey otherwise indicated a continued lack of certainty over how the global economic slump will play out. A particularly tricky factor was that the performance of a particular trade show relies heavily on how well a specific industry sector is doing.

The next Economic Crisis Barometer survey will be conducted in April.

Reach UFI Managing Director Vincent Gerard at (33) 1 4267 9912 or v.gerard@ufi.org