Digital Transformation in the Exhibition Industry

Author: Matthias Tesi Baur

Date: May 16, 2017


For some time, the exhibition industry has known that digital can unlock new opportunities for its industry. However, finding the right key, so to speak, has proven problematic.

Our report, Digital Transformation in the Exhibition Industry, examines how the exhibition industry can approach digitalization and outlines the strategic benefits of implementing such an approach. This report provides an analysis of the current B2B events industry, a model of how to strategically approach digital transformation, and a clear plan of action to ensure commercial success.

Furthermore, the report includes a range of industry case studies to demonstrate how various key players have invested in digital and what lessons can be learned from these investments. The report is equally adaptable for small or large event organizers, exhibiting companies, and industry associations.


This report bases its the analysis and the recommendations on a wide range of interviews with event industry executives and journalists, including interviews with more than 10 senior event managers. Outsell’s industry metrics and analytics, and the deep industry experience of Outsell’s analysts form the basis of this report. In total, there are case studies from six global players in the event industry (Reed Exhibitions, Messe Frankfurt, Alibaba, UBM, ITE, and EasyFairs). These companies represent a majority of the global revenue turnover in the event industry and act as thought leaders in the digital development of the industry.

This report also draws on findings from our data assets, including our annual Advertising and Marketing studies, which utilize 3.5 million data points from 8,700 advertisers over an eight-year span. It taps the details of more than 8,000 industry firms that create, aggregate, manipulate, distribute information, and make it commercially available both digitally and offline, inclusive of all business models and content types. Together, these studies and our daily interactions guide our insights into media, information, and technology trends as well as consumption and buyer trends, building a 360-degree picture of all the key money flows that fund the information industry. Finally, this report is based on author Matthias Tesi Baur’s more than 20 years of senior leadership experience in the global exhibition industry.

Outsell Inc. Digital Transformation in the Exhibition Industry

Table of Contents

Why This Topic


The Status Quo in the Event Industry

Changes in the Trading Landscape

The Position of Tradeshows in the Marketing Mix

Why is Digital Transformation Inevitable

Components of Digital Transformation

Different Strategic Levels of Digital Transformation in the Event Industry

Company Internal Digital Transformation Dimensions

Data Gathering and Touchpoints

Phases of Digital Transformation

Cultural Challenges in Digital Transformation Processes

Case Studies

Reed Exhibitions

Messe Frankfurt

Alibaba & UBM



Essential Actions

Related Research

About Outsell



Figure 1 US Spend in B2B Lead Generations

Figure 2 Lead Generation Effectiveness

Figure 3 Brand Building Effectiveness

Figure 4 Different Digital Transformation Levels

Figure 5 Company Digital Ecosystems

Figure 6 Website Traffic for an Annual Event

Figure 7 Defining KPIs


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