Exhibition visitor numbers top 9 million in ‘solid’ year for industry, report finds

Last year saw an increase in exhibition visitor numbers to more than nine million in another “solid” year for the industry, according to a report by the Association of Event Venues (AEV).

The AEV’s fifth annual Size and Scale Index for Events (SASiE) report shows that in 2018, there were an estimated 1,077 exhibitions hosted by the UK’s main exhibition venues. Trade exhibitions accounted for 43 per cent of these, with a slightly higher proportion of consumer events (48 per cent). Exhibitions attracted an estimated 9.06m visitors in 2018. Consumer exhibitions accounted for 70 per cent of visitors, while trade exhibitions accounted for 26 per cent.

Nigel Nathan, MD Olympia London and chair of the AEV Research Group, which coordinates the compilation and production of the report, said: “This report shows that 2018 was another solid year for the event industry, with an encouraging but modest increase in visitor numbers across the board, despite lingering Brexit uncertainty and challenges in the property and retail sectors. With five years of data now compiled, SASiE has become a leading source of event industry research, and an essential part of any planning toolkit.

“Visitor numbers, the industry’s heartbeat, not only remained solid but increased with venues and organisers reporting approximately 9.06 million visitors, a healthy rise from 8.66 million in the previous year.”

The data in the report covers UK exhibitions of 500 sqm plus staged in 2018. The data was sourced from the membership of the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Association of Event Organisers (AEO).

Rachel Parker, AEV director, added: “We are proud to announce the publication of this, the fifth SASiE report, and grateful to Nigel and the AEV Research Group for their outstanding work in producing it. I would also like to thank all the participating AEV and AEO members and for committing their time and resources to collect and collate all the data needed to produce the report.”

The SASiE report is compiled every year for the AEV by RJS Associates and Tony Rogers Conference & Event Services, taking the submissions from participating members through the online portal, weighing and analysing the resulting data to produce the report.

The newly published SASiE report for 2018 is distributed free of charge to all AEV, AEO and ESSA members and is also available to non-members from the AEV for £349 + VAT.