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Record year forecast for exhibitions sector

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Record year forecast for exhibitions sector
The latest Global Exhibition Barometer research for the exhibitions industry predicts record revenue for 2024.

The latest edition of the barometer, released in February by UFI, the global association for the exhibitions industry, suggests the exhibitions sector fully recovered from the pandemic in 2023, with revenues on par with 2019.

In 2024, revenue for exhibition organisers is expected to rise by 15 per cent.

Across the world, 52 per cent of organisers are expecting to increase their staff count over the next six months. Locally, half of the Australian organisers surveyed said they were planning to increase their workforce, while the other half is intending to maintain current staffing.

The twice-yearly survey also asked about the impacts of artificial intelligence on the exhibitions industry. Results showed the vast majority of organisers – 91 per cent – globally believe AI will affect the industry, up four per cent since the last Global Exhibition Barometer in the middle of 2023.

Sales, marketing, customer relations, research and development and event production are the areas organisers feel are most likely to see the impact of generative AI.

Looking at the detailed results for Australia, the uptake of generative AI applications – ChatGPT being arguably the most famous currently – is significantly slower here than globally.

Just 26 per cent of Australian organisers are already using generative AI for sales, marketing and customer relations while 21 per cent are using it for research and development. Globally, these figures are 37 per cent and 35 per cent. The difference between the Australian uptake of AI and that of organisers in the USA is even starker, with half of US organisers using AI for sales, marketing and customer relations. In India, 57 per cent of organisers are using AI for research and development.

The top three business issues from around the world are the state of the local economy, followed by global economic developments, with geopolitical challenges coming in third out of the eleven possible concerns.

“Our report shows that the exhibition industry hasn’t just reached pre-pandemic levels in 2023 but is also planning to grow in 2024 and many new jobs in exhibitions are coming up around the world,” said UFI managing director and CEO, Kai Hattendorf.

“This good news comes in parallel with shifts of business priorities, where economic and environmental considerations show significant progression.”

The Global Barometer drew on information from 419 companies in 61 countries and regions.

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