Data Points to a Recovering B2B Event Industry

February 15, 2023 |

By Jan Davis, M&A Media Content Creator; Interviewed: Grimes, McGovern & Associates, John McGovern, CEO/Owner

The U.S. B2B exhibition industry is coming back, and there is plenty of data to prove it. Event attendance is nearing 2019 levels and continues to increase. According to a survey of meeting planners conducted by Knowland and ConferenceDirect, more than 70% of 2022 events had attendance at or above 80% of 2019 levels.  

According to Trade Show News Network (TSNN), several events in 2022 saw record attendance:

  • More than 44,000 attendees and 2,200 exhibitors attended PACK EXPO International in Chicago.
  • Attendance at the PRINTING United Expo in Las Vegas was 7% higher than the 2019 show, with close to 30,000 people in attendance. 
  • 25,000 attendees and exhibitors attended Equip Exposition 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky—the largest participation in 40 years.

Statista reports that in 2022 the industry’s estimated market value registered $10.2 billion, compared with $3.9 billion in 2020. In December, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reported that its 2022 Third Quarter Index—a measure of overall exhibition performance—has recorded steady improvement in Q3 2022 from the previous 10 quarters.  The in-person event cancellation rate remains low at 3.1% in Q3 2022, compared with 21.9 % in the first quarter of 2020. 

While the B2B event industry is bouncing back, political and economic pressures will cause challenges, such as increased costs. The American Express Global Business Travel survey reveals that 12% of North anticipate their budgets will go up by at least 11% in 2023.  

However, opinions as to when the industry will make a full recovery vary:

  • Nancy Drapeau, Vice President of Research, CEIR, reports the organization expects the B2B event industry will continue to improve, but will probably be 10% less than in 2019.
  • CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw, chief economist for Global Economic Consulting Associates, Inc., expects a full recovery for the industry in 2024.  
  • PwC forecasts the B2B trade show market will grow by 54.7% in 2022 over 2021 but won’t fully rebound from its pre-pandemic levels until after 2026. 
  • The AMEX survey shows 87% of respondents are planning in-person components to their meetings in the coming year, and more than two-thirds of respondents believe the larger events will reach 2019 levels by 2024.  
  • The Knowland and ConferenceDirect Survey shows that 75% of planners do not expect the number of events and meetings to drop in 2023, and more than 70% of planners believe meeting length will not decrease. 
  • Knowland expect the overall meetings industry will increase by 10.2% in 2023 and 33.3% in 2024 over the baseline year of 2019.


Media/PR Contact: Contact John McGovern at Grimes, McGovern & Associates or email: [email protected]

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