CEIR Updates “How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent”

February 9th, 2015 by Interex Exhibits



In December 2014, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) released an update to its study, “How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent.” The results help answer some pertinent questions—how much money do exhibitors spend at trade shows, and how is that total divided among different spending categories? Examining data such as this can help exhibitors compare their spending to general industry trends.

Prior to 2014, the study was last updated in 2012. At that time, the results showed that $24 billion was spent annually on exhibiting, and the breakdown of spending was as follows:

-       Exhibit space: 36 percent

-       Show services: 17 percent

-       Travel and entertainment: 14 percent

-       Exhibit design: 11 percent

-       Shipping: 10 percent

-       Promotion: 6 percent

-       Lead management and measurement services: 4 percent

-       Exhibit staff training: 1 percent

-       Other: 1 percent

In the updated 2014 report, 641 exhibitors were polled online. The lists of exhibitors were provided by Freeman, GES and Shepard Exposition Services.

According to Hil Anderson of Trade Show Executive, results showed that overall spending was at $25 billion. Up to 68 percent of survey respondents indicated relative consistency across their budgets from 2013. However, 29 percent did report increased spending on exhibit space. This was generally a result of one of two things: increased cost from show organizers or the exhibitor’s choice to purchase additional space. Exhibit space was again the highest category with companies spending a reported 39 cents on each dollar.

Results in other categories were as follows, according to Sarah J.F. Braley of Meetings and Conventions:

-       Travel and entertainment: 14 percent

-       Show services: 11 percent

-       Exhibit design: 11 percent

-       Promotion: 13 percent

-       Shipping: 9 percent

-       Lead management and measurement services: 2 percent

-       Exhibit staff training: 1 percent

According to CEIR press materials, President & CEO Brian Casey said, “The data in this report is a hotly sought-after resource tool for exhibitors who need an understanding of whether their spending allocations are balanced with general exhibitor spending practices. It also provides an important planning tool for organizers and suppliers alike, to determine what portion of the budget they capture, as well as an estimate of how much spending that means dollar-wise.”

This information is valuable for many companies, whether they are currently engaged in trade show marketing or simply considering it as a new endeavor. In the 2012 CEIR survey, 99 percent of respondents felt that B2B trade shows offered value not available via other marketing channels.

Whether you’re a trade show veteran or a rookie, spending data is a valuable tool. Veterans can use it as a thermometer with which to take their spending temperatures. If you are spending more on exhibit design than actual space, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your design services. And rookies can use it as a set of guidelines for building initial budgets.

The entire 2014 report is available for download and purchase here.

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