Medium and large-sized businesses have long allocated a significant part of their B2B marketing budgets to exhibitions. But the exhibition industry witnessed business declines in 2009 along with most other sectors of marketing-related activity. The Center for Exhibition Industry Research reports that the number of exhibitors, the number of attendees and the overall revenue at exhibitions have been in steep decline since 2007. In 2009, the industry saw a 12.5% drop.
A study released by the same organization late last year indicated that B2B marketers allocate up to 33.9% of budgets on exhibitions. In general, spending on activities such as exhibitions has been a lagging indicator. Therefore, many industry analysts do not expect to see significant recovery in the exhibitions sector until well into the second half of 2010.
Spending on exhibitions, which falls into the event marketing category, has long been seen as a way to deepen personal relationships between buyers and sellers. As the economy recovers, marketers will be looking to make exhibition spending more effective. Some of these changes will address better strategies for reaching younger Web-savvy business professionals. As the industry outlook improves during the year, analysts believe that “[e]xhibitions have kept in step by correspondingly evolving into more of an experiential-based marketing format, where personal exchange and prospect involvement methods have become diversified and skillfully refined.”[Source: Final 2009 CEIR Index Results Center for Exhibition Industry Research. 22 Mar. 2010 Web. 1 Apr. 2010; White Paper – Looking Past the Recession. Center for Exhibition Industry Research. 2009. Web. 1 Apr. 2010]