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February 28, 2014
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CEIR Report: Exhibition Industry Performance Up in 2013




Good news for the convention industry this week: The Center for Exhibition Industry Research released a study indicating that the overall performance of the exhibition industry significantly improved during the fourth quarter of 2013, with a year-on-year increase of 3.0 percent compared to just 0.4 percent increase in the third quarter of the same year. 

“This was a pleasant surprise,”CEIR President & CEO Brian Casey told International Meetings Review, “but overall, it didn’t surprise us.” 

The results, he explained, were in line with the Center’s predictions—in fact, they were within a 10th of a percentage points from where the team had expected. The Total Index increased by 1.0 percent for 2013 for the year as a whole, just below the 1.1 percent forecasted growth. “The third quarter [of 2013] saw some softness,” Casey said, “but it improved in the fourth.” 

Quarterly CEIR Total Index for the Overall Exhibition Industry, Year-on-Year % Change, 2011Q1 – 2013Q4

In sharing the news of the findings, the Center called the results “exciting” and “promising,” considering there was only a 0.7 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2012. This marks the fourteenth consecutive quarter of year-on-year growth, and the highest increase since the first quarter of 2012 which reported 3.2 percent at that time. Additionally, the exhibition industry outperformed the macro economy as real GDP gained 2.7 percent year-on-year during the same period. 

Some fundamentals of the improvements, Casey said, are a result of various private sector industries boding well, leading to increased spending in other sectors—including conferences and business travel. “Improved household finances combined with lower interest rates and pent-up demands improved the real estate and auto industries,” Casey said about the impetus behind the growth. “Look at consumer spending. That’s one of the strongest leading components to delivery of an improved GDP.” 

 

CEIR Total Index by Sector, Year-on-Year % Change, 2013

The top-performing sector was Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs, where the index increased by 6.9 percent. The weakest sector was government, where the index declined. Casey noted budget cuts, scandals and the sequestration as contributing factors to reduced government conferences and business travel, but singled out initiatives like Meetings Mean Business as a strong step in the right direction. “Tradeshows and events are a significant contributor to a stronger economy” he said. “It’s a matter of educating politicians on the value of meetings. It’s just not been on their radar—and that’s about to change.”  

Behind the Scenes

The CEIR Index measures year-over-year changes in four key metrics to determine overall performance: Net Square Feet of Exhibit Space Sold; Professional Attendance; Number of Exhibiting Companies; and Gross Revenue. The strongest metric in the fourth quarter was Professional Attendance, which jumped 5.8 percent year-on-year, the biggest gain since the third quarter of 2007. Exhibitors and Real Revenues rose 3.0 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. Net Square Feet was the only metric that suffered a year-on-year decline, dropping by 0.5 percent.

Quarterly CEIR Metrics for the Overall Exhibition Industry Year-on-Year % Change, 2009 – 2013Q4

The CEIR Index provides exhibition industry performance across 14 key industry sectors: Business Services; Consumer Goods; Discretionary Consumer Goods and Services; Education; Food; Financial, Legal and Real Estate; Government; Building, Construction, Home and Repair; Industrial/Heavy Machinery and Finished Business Inputs; Communications and Information Technology; Medical and Health Care; Raw Materials and Science; Sporting Goods, Travel and Entertainment; and Transportation. 

The full 2013 CEIR Index with three-year projection will be released in April. 


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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox


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