Report: Events Industry Maintains Growth Streak, but Sluggishly

The latest edition of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research's quarterly index reported the 24th straight quarter of growth, but at the slowest rate in two years. The report suggests that the oil industry's troubles affected event attendance and brought down the overall numbers.

The meetings industry is still maintaining its solid track record of growth, though the most recent quarter was perhaps a bit more muted than most.

According to the latest quarterly index report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the overall exhibition industry grew by 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2016. While that represents the 24th straight quarter of growth, it’s also the smallest quarterly increase in two years, something CEIR attributed to a slight 0.2 percent dip in attendees at conferences during the quarter.

But while CEIR dmitted that the decrease was reflective of a sluggish economy, it nonetheless outpaced the economy as a whole.

Weak Oil Affects Overall Growth

The lower price of oil in recent months has been a boon for travelers, but the oil industry has struggled—and it’s something that shows in the sharp decline in attendance at events in the raw materials and science sector.

The sector saw a 9.2 percent decrease in performance during the second quarter, something CEIR attributed to a massive decline in attendees in the sector—year over year, attendance was down by more than 20 percent. Just three other categories saw declines, none by more than 1.8 percent.

CEIR noted that the decline in the oil industry was singlehandedly responsible for much of the decline in the exhibition industry from the prior quarter. If the raw materials and science industry had maintained its attendance numbers, the total index would have shown an increase of 2.2 percent, a number only slightly off from the 2.6 percent gain in the first quarter.

Areas of Growth

More positively, four industry sectors saw growth that topped 5 percent—food (7.1 percent); building, construction, home, and repair (5.4 percent); transportation (5.1 percent); and government (5.1 percent).

The government sector’s performance is particularly surprising, because CEIR had predicted a decline in the sector earlier in the year. But the growth helped to boost the overall index. The research firm suggested that growth in that part of the event space reflects a desire by government agencies to improve.

All in all, CEIR sees the sluggish overall numbers as something that will be overcome in later quarters.

“The slower growth in the second quarter is a temporary setback,” CEIR Economist Allen Shaw, Ph.D., said in a news release. “As oil prices stabilize and consumer spending continues to remain the main driving force, by 2017 macroeconomic growth and subsequently the business exhibition industry will pick up the pace.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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