The inaugural Global Exhibitions Day (#GED16) is taking place today. This is organised by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the Global Association of the Exhibitions Industry (UFI). The aim of this initiative is to celebrate the impact the exhibition industry has on business and the global economy.

The IAEE and UFI state there are around 31,000 exhibitions held globally every year that support 680,000 full-time jobs and attract over 260 million visitors to the host countries. We are proud to contribute towards these statistics and pledge our support to #GED16. We have been delivering healthcare exhibits for our clients for over 35 years and it is great to now have a day that recognises the impact of the sector at a global level – after all, it is a global job.

In this month alone our teams have built exhibits at ASCO in Chicago, EULAR in London, ESPGHAN in Athens, ESA in Florida, EAACI in Vienna and EAN and EHA in Copenhagen to name just a few. When installing our exhibits we take the time to assess then review the exhibition halls and analyse the virtual and digital activities the different associations are utilising. It provides some interesting reference points and year-on-year comparisons that lead us to believe the landscape of healthcare exhibits is changing.

With ever-increasing budget constraints, driven by both a shift towards truly multichannel engagement and increased pressures on the perceived spend at these events, pharma companies are seriously reconsidering how they rationalise investment in this area.

In a study of 237 healthcare professionals (HCPs), we identified that the optimal event length was just over two days, with 55% of HCPs saying that the cost of attendance is a challenge for them. It therefore becomes increasingly difficult for companies to justify the investment in building large pieces of exhibit architecture.

Our research demonstrates that the exhibit hall is getting smaller, with fewer of the big players being present, often occupying far less real estate than in previous years. This downward trend is likely to continue; a second study of key decision makers (brand, procurement, medical and congress management) within pharma companies confirms a significant increase in digital versus architectural spend, with 59% of respondents indicating a decrease in booth size.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom. 59% stated a stabilisation or increase in the number of events attended, and perhaps unsurprisingly, these organisations are focusing less on attending the same congresses as previous years, but are instead considering how the delegate profile matches brand objectives.

With a major revolution appearing to be imminent it spells for exciting times and something that collectively, as an industry, we will need to consider for future events.

To gain access to our exhibit annual research please pre-register here. In the meantime if you wanted to discuss your multichannel engagement activity, your exhibition strategy and how we could help forward plan these as integrated communication activities, please get in touch.

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