The results of a global study on live exhibitions, which gathered more than 9 000 responses from exhibitors and exhibition visitors in 30 countries, reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has not caused a shift away from live events. In fact, both groups of respondents are eager to return to live shows and believe that face-to-face engagement cannot be replicated digitally.

Both visitors and exhibitors will likely turn to brands they know and trust, to deliver a safe experience as well as high quality leads.

Additionally, just over half of all exhibitors (53%) indicated that their show investments will return to pre-COVID levels with 12 months, while over a quarter (28%) said their investments will return as soon as exhibitions resume.

When considering which exhibitions to attend, both visitors and exhibitors will likely turn to brands they know and trust, to deliver a safe experience as well as high quality leads.

“It underlines the clear preference and importance of being able to meet in-person to do business, and the desire for both visitors and exhibitors to again meet face-to-face.”

The study was carried out by Explori, live event research specialists, in partnership with UFI (the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) and supported by SISO (the Society for Independent Show Organizers).

Kai Hattendorf, CEO and Managing Director at UFI, commented, “This study delivers important insights and reassurance to organisers and the wider industry, as they plan ahead in these uncertain times. It underlines the clear preference and importance of being able to meet in-person to do business, and the desire for both visitors and exhibitors to again meet face-to-face. It also underlines the negative impact all industries are experiencing as a result of industry events not going ahead.”

“The results are extremely encouraging.”

Sophie Holt, Global Strategy Director at Explori, added: “On behalf of Explori, UFI and SISO, I would like to thank all of the organisers and partners who participated in the study, making it the largest and, possibly, most-timely we have ever undertaken. I hope it is of value in shaping thinking over the coming months and in supporting those who advocate for the industry. The results are extremely encouraging, and I look forward to sharing more insights over the coming months as the research progresses.”

The full report will be shared with UFI and SISO members in the coming days.

In the meantime, you can gain more insights into the research from the UFI Connects ‘Global Recovery Project: Next steps for exhibitions‘ session which was held on 08 September: