The exhibition industry is looking at a positive year ahead in terms of turnover growth following strong results in 2017, according to the 20th edition of UFI’s Global More than 70 per cent of companies anticipate revenue growth for 2018 The top business issues remain the state of the economy in home markets and global economic development, with the former rising in importance and the latter one’s importance declining.

Results also indicate that a very large majority of companies are looking to develop new activities, while a significant proportion are also considering investments in new geographical markets. Revenue generated from new business models is expected to grow considerably in the coming years as the exhibition industry embraces evolving business models.

Nearly three quarters (70 per cent) of companies around the world declared an increase in turnover for the second half of 2017 while 72 per cent anticipate an increase for the first half of 2018 and 77 per cent for the second half. In terms of operating profit, most markets maintained or improved a good level of performance in 2017 with 44 per cent declaring an increase and 43 per cent a stable profit. A majority of companies declared an increase their operating profit in 2017 in nine of the markets analysed – Brazil, China, Germany, Indonesia, Macau, Mexico, the Middle East, the UK and the US.

When asked about the revenue share expected from new business models (such as different event formats, digital revenues or marketing services), a majority of participants responded that they expect this revenue to represent between 5 per cent and 10 per cent of total revenue in five years’ time, and more than 10 per cent in ten years’ time.

One quarter of the companies is expecting these new business models to generate a share of more than 25 per cent of their revenues in ten years’ time. Most notably, an above-average share is expected in the markets of Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Macau, Mexico, Thailand, the UK, and the US. In terms of the range of revenue-generating activities, a large majority of companies intend to develop new activities in either the classic range of exhibition industry activities (venue/ organiser/services), other events (live or virtual), or in both of these areas.

“Globally, the exhibition industry is growing at a healthy rate,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI’s managing director and CEO. “Companies around the world are looking into expanding their activities within and beyond their present activities and geographic borders. In parallel, new business models are under development, and many players in the industry expect them to deliver a relevant share of their company’s revenues in the coming years.” The 20th edition of the barometer added three new partners to UFI’s semi-annual industry research – The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia), IECA (Indonesia Exhibition Companies Association) and MFTA (Macau Fair Trade Association).