Face-to-face exhibitions, tradeshows and events are a huge part of business interactions, according to a new report from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR): “How the Exhibit Dollar is Spent.” The data shows that exhibiting companies spend more than $24 billion annually on exhibiting and exhibitions.

Access Intelligence’s Exhibit Designers and Producers Association (EDPA) provided CEIR with supporting data for the survey, in which 233 of 250 exhibitors participated. Access Intelligence is the parent company of EXPO.

“The data in this report is a much needed resource for exhibiting companies to plan and budget the cost of their participation in events,” Doug Ducate, president and CEO of CEIR, says in a release. “It also provides a guide for organizers and service provider on the many different cost centers that comprise the overall cost of exhibiting.”

According to the report, 99 percent of exhibitors find unique value delivered by business-to-business exhibitions, which other marketing channels cannot provide. These exhibitors assign top ranking to the value of face-to-face interactions at exhibitions, which they assign high value to when it comes to achieving priorities with marketing and sales.

Overall, the report says, exhibitions capture the largest share of their marketing dollars among exhibiting companies. Direct exhibit dollars are spent in the following ways:

• Exhibit space: 36 percent
• Show services (material handling, installation and dismantling, electrical, furnishings, Internet, etc.): 17 percent
• Travel and entertainment: 14 percent
• Exhibit design (including graphics): 11 percent
• Shipping: 10 percent
• Promotion (pre-show, on-site and post show activities): 6 percent
• Lead management and measurement (Lead retrieval equipment, post-event follow-up and tracking, etc.): 4 percent
• Exhibit staff training: 1 percent
• Other: 1 percent

Attendees and exhibitors rank exhibitions and sales calls highest in terms of the value of face-to-face interactions, according to a separate report released by CEIR late last month, “Use and Value of Face-to-Face.” For exhibitors, exhibitions (43 percent) and in-person sales calls (44 percent) are statistically tied for first ranking, with no other option ranking close.

While 47 percent of exhibitors say the Great Recession has prompted decreases in exhibiting budgets, 40 percent have reduced the number of exhibitions and 44 percent note the number or budget for private travel has decreased, according to the “Use and Value” report. Looking to the next two years, however, CEIR finds that 54 percent of exhibitors will maintain the same number of exhibitions while 24 percent plan to add events to their schedule.

Source: Center for Exhibition Industry Research

* Show services include material handling, installation and dismantling, electrical, furnishings, Internet, A/V, floral, food and beverage, cleaning service, etc.
** Promotions include pre-show, on-site and post-show activities—collateral, advertising via all channels, sponsorships, giveaways, etc.
*** Lead management and measurement includes lead retrieval equipment, post-event follow-up and tracking, etc.