The health care sector of the tradeshow industry will grow over the next two years, recovering gradually from the recession that hit its deepest trough in 2009. However, according to the CEIR Index on the annual performance of the tradeshow industry, its growth will not parallel that of the overall tradeshow industry. In fact, according to the CEIR report, tradeshows in the health care sector will grow at about half the rate of the rest of the industry as a whole.
Economists who prepared the report for the Center for Exhibition Industry Research late last year noted the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA). The reforms that, in large part, begin to take effect next year, will have an obvious impact on the health care industry and the conferences and events that serve it. Despite an expected moderation in health care expenditures in 2013 and 2014, changes anticipated in the industry could stir up interest in forums and meetings.
In fact, the CEIR Index indicates the most substantial growth for health care industry shows will be in the number of exhibitors and attendance, perhaps because industry-related firms will be anxious to report on changes the ACA has had on their operations. Likewise, attendees—physicians and other health care professionals—will be anxious to learn how they are being affected.
The CEIR Index indicates the overall number of exhibitors at health care shows will increase 3.1 percent in 2013 and 4.2 percent in 2014. Growth in attendance will be less robust, according to the report.
While the ACA will drive interest, there will continue to be restraints on industry revenue growth, given limits on travel budgets and slow growth in the medical equipment industry. Attendance is expected to grow about 2 percent this year and 3.1 percent in 2014.
Although the CEIR Index draws general conclusions on each sector, as with any industry, shows of different sizes will feel the impacts differently.
Randy Bauler, corporate relations and exhibits director for the American Association of Critical-care Nurses, tells CEIR: “Niche and larger health care events are growing, while small to medium-sized events are expecting flat attendance and, in some cases, decreased attendance from professionals dependent on employer support for event registration and travel expenses.”
Steve Drew, assistant executive director of the Radiological Society of North America, which mounts one of the largest annual health care-related shows in the industry, says: “In the current global economic climate, professional attendance at the RSNA Annual Meeting and Scientific Assembly continues to increase.”
The slowest growth is expected in the average size of health care-related showfloors. The CEIR Index indicates growth in net square footage will be about 1 percent (which has been the average growth rate for the sector since 2000) and perhaps 1.6 percent in 2014. The total projected net square footage for all health care shows in the United States will reach 54.8 million net sq. ft. in 2014, significantly below the high of 60.3 million net sq. ft. in 2007.
All this will lead, at best, to relatively flat performance in revenue growth for the health care sector by 2014. This will be preceded by a slight decline of 0.5 percent this year.