According to the results of EXHIBITOR Magazine's 2017 Economic Outlook Survey, which gauged the opinions, expectations, and experiences of more than 400 exhibit and event professionals, 2017 is likely to be at least marginally better than last year in terms of show schedules and budget allocations. Plus, with half of respondents considering new builds in the next 12 months – and 87 percent anticipating larger returns – it appears that 2017 is off to a decent start. By Travis Stanton
Near the end of last year, economic forecasters made optimistic, albeit tepid, predictions about 2017: With consumer spending up 3.8 percent and take-home pay up 3.6 percent over the past 12 months, Forbes.com's Bill Connerly predicted a "mild cyclical rebound" in 2017 as consumers continue to up their spending in line with their incomes.
But apparently that optimism isn't shared by everyone in the exhibit- and event-marketing industry. In fact, the more than 400 face-to-face marketing professionals who responded to EXHIBITOR Magazine's 2017 Economic Outlook Survey reported a level of optimism that can only be described as cautious. Just four out of 10 exhibit and event professionals are optimistic about the effectiveness of trade shows in 2017, a number that is identical to 2016 results. Slightly more promising, however, is the fact that 79 percent describe their feelings about the economy as "optimistic" or "hopeful," marking an increase of 9 percent compared to last year.
Forty-eight percent of respondents are maintaining their 2016 trade show budgets, while 29 percent report they are receiving increases averaging 19.7 percent. Granted, 23 percent are experiencing budgetary reductions, but with three-fourths letting their face-to-face marketing investments ride or anteing up, the data bodes well for the year ahead.
There are additional reasons to remain optimistic. One-half of respondents have at least tentative plans to purchase a new exhibit in 2017, with 26 percent reporting definite plans to do so. And nearly nine out of 10 survey participants are confident that their trade show programs will achieve better results this year than last, citing everything from better execution and redesigned exhibits to enhanced lead tracking and fulfillment capabilities as justification for their heightened optimism.
The following pages feature data from the 2017 Economic Outlook Survey, along with participants' answers to questions regarding the future of our industry. To share your thoughts on the results, visit the EXHIBITOR Facebook page or LinkedIn group and join the discussion.