Surveying 1 million+ advanced manufacturing professionals reveals that 93% of the community are open to returning to live events.

Trade shows and conferences are a well-known and significant driver of the global economy – in 2019, the CEIR reported the exhibitions industry stimulated $101 billion in the U.S. alone. When the pandemic hit, the exhibitions industry, like many other industries, was impacted considerably, with many event organizers strategically pivoting to virtual events in order to keep industry connections alive. Now, with the U.S. administering 3.03 million vaccine doses a day lending toward economic recovery, demand for in-person events is on the rise.

This rings true within the advanced manufacturing sector especially, where continued industry connection and education are fundamental to overcoming ever-changing supply chain, regulatory, and design challenges that manufacturers, buyers, and suppliers face. But the question remains, just how many people are interested in returning to the expo floor?

In a survey of nearly 1,000 advanced manufacturing professionals, engineers, and executive management across the EV, automation, medical, design engineering, packaging, processing, and plastics sectors, Informa Markets – Engineering found that 93% of respondents are likely to return to in-person events in the August through December 2021 timeframe.

The survey, uncovering bottled-up anticipation to establish new business opportunities and progress the industry, indicates that the advanced manufacturing community is in dire need of connection; 79% of respondents are comfortable with attending networking offerings at an in-person event, and more than half are comfortable with overnight accommodations with the mode of transportation via either driving or flying.

“The past year has been a rollercoaster, to say the least, but when looking at the silver lining, it was truly inspiring to watch the manufacturing sector rise to the unprecedented challenges at hand,” said John Lewinski, VP/Group Portfolio Leader, Informa Markets – Engineering.

Melissa Magestro, VP/Group Portfolio Leader, Informa Markets – Engineering, expanded: “But in-step with the commendable progress made toward the return to the next normal, such as World of Concrete trading in Las Vegas in June and the rapid rollout of the vaccine, we as event organizers felt it was important to gain a clear understanding of our tight-knit community’s sentiment around the return to live events before we make any strategic decisions. Not only were the results overwhelmingly positive with regard to attending in-person events in the latter half of the year, but they validated the exhibition industry’s essential place in the advanced manufacturing ecosystem.”

Additional data points from the survey are as follows:

  • 93% of respondents are open to attending live events in the August to December 2021 timeframe.
  • 74% said they would “most likely” return to live events in the August or September 2021 timeframe. 
  • Only 7% said they would not be comfortable attending a live event in 2021. 
  • Most of the attendees surveyed (57%) were not concerned about attending a live event. 
  • 79% are comfortable with attending networking offerings at a live event.
  • 71% are comfortable attending two-to-three-day events in an in-person format.
  • 54% are comfortable with overnight accommodations with the mode of transportation either via driving or flying.
2021 ime attendee survey summary