A total of 1,391,000 visitors and 11,700 direct exhibitors participated in the events held by AFE members in 2020, of which 54% were professional fairs.
In a year marked by the pandemic, the sector held about 37% of the initially programmed events, in physical, hybrid or digital format.
Covid-19 has confirmed the value of face-to-face meetings as a first-rate economic lever, which allows us to foresee a significant recovery of the fair industry over the next few months.
Currently, the application of very strict security protocols is proving key for the development of the activity in the facilities of AFE associates.
Madrid, May 13, 2021.- The Association of Spanish Fairs (AFE), as usual in these first months of the year, has carried out the audit of the 2020 statistical data corresponding to its partners. Likewise, it has carried out a survey among them to analyze both the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the different trade fair organizations, as well as their recovery perspectives for the coming months. The analysis shared by the 28 associates highlights the role that the fairs play in terms of generating business for companies and a first-rate lever to help economic and social recovery.
This has been confirmed by the President of the Association, Xabier Basañez: “the fairs are great allies of companies and the fact that they can be held again will undoubtedly help the recovery of multiple sectors and the economy as a whole. I believe that the fair organizers have reacted with great doses of flexibility and commitment in a difficult year, which has allowed us to mitigate the impact of this crisis and gives us strength to face the next challenges, relying on all the companies and strategic partners that form the value chain of the fair activity ”.
AFE closed 2020 with the celebration of a total of 100 fairs, in which 1,391,000 visitors and 11,700 direct exhibitors participated, spread over a net area of ??885,000 m2. Most of these events, specifically 54%, were of a professional nature, while 38% were aimed at the general public and the remaining 8% responded to the mixed formula. In addition, it should be noted that of the set of fairs initially scheduled, AFE held 37% of its events; 23% were conducted in person and 14% switched to hybrid or digital formats. The fact that the beginning of the year was especially positive, together with the rapid adaptation to the new meeting models, allowed AFE to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the strong social-health and mobility restrictions that characterized last year.
Regarding the perspectives for 2021 and 2022 raised by the AFE partners in the latest survey, the degree of consensus on the revaluation of face-to-face events after the experience generated by the Covid pandemic stands out. Thus, a large majority of the members consulted have agreed that the fair sector will recover significantly in 2022, after a few months of gradual reactivation that are especially intense in the second half of this year.
In the current context and according to the analysis of the associates for 2021, 63% of the fairs will be held exclusively in person format, 13% in hybrid format and 5% in digital, while 19% have had to be postponed or canceled. In this time of transition there will be more digital elements in the events to expand their scope and the calls will see their external projection and volume of participation in general reduced. Undoubtedly, the pandemic continues to have a direct impact on the business, making it one of the main causes of concern for trade fair organizers, in addition to the global evolution of the economy and the state of the domestic market.
To face this situation and according to AFE's partners, the main measures that will help to improve, strengthen and accelerate the recovery of the fair sector in the coming months are fundamentally based on the ability to apply criteria of flexibility, support and commitment to clients, adequately manage new business models and adapt them to current needs and guarantee health security to generate trust. The fairgrounds are already working at these points and have equipped themselves with the necessary means and protocols to turn their facilities into safe spaces. This roadmap, together with the evolution of vaccination in Spain and in other countries, and the generalization of health certificates, will make it possible to advance in the defense of the fair calendar, so necessary to activate alliances, innovation, business, knowledge and, in Ultimately, new opportunities on the road to recovery.
The Association of Spanish Fairs, a non-profit organization that was established in 1964, currently has 28 associate members and represents 90% of the fair activity. Spain is among the main countries in Europe in terms of fairs, along with Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.