The 2018 Global Exhibition Facts and Figures3 min read

The UFI recently released its 2018 Global Exhibition Barometer! Led by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and supported by all the major regional trade fairs and shows associations, the UFI every year, contacts hundreds of event organisers and professionals from 52 countries to ask them about the performance of their events and current issues facing their sectors.


We all know that getting accurate data about the exhibition industry is a tough task. So when we have serious and accurate data, this will be invaluable. The UFI Global Exhibition Barometer gives us the most complete and reliable overview of our industry. Let’s take a closer look for 2018…



An industry that has never been that optimistic


% of companies declaring an increase in turnover when compared to their projections for the same period the year before (regardless of possible biennial effects)


The Global Exhibition industry has never been that enthusiastic. Event organisers are more optimistic than ever about their business activity. When we look at the 2018 first semester forecasts, this is particularly true in Europe and Americas where 80% to 90% of organisers report an increase of their turnover.


In the long run, we observe a significative growth of the business forecast for the second semester of 2018 in every major region. Even in Middle-East and Africa, which has been pretty pessimistic in recent years (less than half of the organisers were predicting growth in 2017), the situation seems to improve on a large scale, reaching 85% of event managers that forecast an increase of their turnover end of 2018. Americas and Asia also bet on a solid growth for the month to come but the second surprise is for Europe with almost 95% of organisers who claims their business activity will grow in 2018. Such predictions hasn’t been recorded for more than 10 years in the history of the UFI Barometer! If we dig deeper in the details by country, we clearly see that the situation in Europe is due to very positive forecasts in Germany and in the UK.



Most important business issues doesn’t change much


Just like previous years, organisers seems to prioritise 4 main issues affecting their business. The results are very similar to last year:


  • “The state of the economy in home market”: 25% of participants claim it’s a major issue
  • “Competition within the industry”: 21%
  • “Global economic development”: 16%
  • “Internal challenges”: 16%


It’s interesting to see that digitisation still has a poor impact on the exhibition industry regarding to organisers. Only 9% mentioned it as a major issue affecting their business. Moreover, 5% of them consider “other media competition” as a threat which confirm the fact that trade shows and fairs are still irreplaceable for companies all around the world.



When we look at it at a regional scale, we see that results are quite similar everywhere except for Middle East and Africa where the state of the economy in home market is weighted above average, and for Europe where digitisation is considered by 14% of respondents as a major issue. This might mean that it has had a bigger impact there.


The Global Barometer survey has been measuring the pulse of the exhibition industry since 2008. Forecasts for 2018 anticipates an outstanding year for the global exhibition industry with more than 80% of events organisers expecting an increase in every major region of the world. In another article, we analyse another part of the report that shows how organisers are looking to grow their business through new alternative business model. Feel free to have a look.


For those interested in gathering insights on the exhibition industry, Tradefest is a free dedicated global events discovery platform. Tradefest is a digital space where exhibitors and attendees can choose their next events based on trustable and unbiased reviews left by the community.


Visit our website and see for yourself 🙂