Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

The Return of In-Person Networking

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
September 1, 2022
The Return of In-Person Networking

About the Convention Center Index: The Placer.ai Convention Center Index analyzes foot traffic to 100 major convention and conference centers across the country. 

With 79% of Americans reporting that their lives are somewhat or completely back to normal following the COVID disruptions, we dove into the data to understand where in-person business events stand as we move deeper into the second half of 2022. 

The Return of In-Person Events 

With the widespread and enduring increase in remote and hybrid work, the pandemic drove some major shifts in workplace behavior. But COVID didn’t just prevent employees from coming to the office – the pandemic also ruled out business travel and put a halt to almost every form of in-person work event. 

And although the shift to hybrid work appears to have been largely successful, online events have garnered a more mixed reception, as even those who favor the accessibility of digital conferences regretted the lack of face-to-face networking opportunities. And despite the proliferation of technological platforms to facilitate remote networking, the vast majority of people still believe that in-person connections are key for successful long-term business relationships.  

It’s no surprise, then, that in-person events are coming back. Visits to convention centers in January and February 2022 were up 186.9% and 180.4%, respectively, compared to the lows of January and February 2021. And the recovery continued throughout the first seven months of 2021, with year-over-year (YoY) visits in July 2022 up 47.8%.

Convention Center Visits Still Lag Behind Pre-Pandemic Levels 

While foot traffic is up relative to 2021, visits to convention centers have not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. Despite the marked improvement since January 2022, the year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visit gap to convention centers is still hovering at around 20%, with Yo3Y visits down by 17.3% and 21.9% in June and July 2022, respectively. 

Much of the lag in visits is likely due to the pandemic aftermath. But some of the decline can also be attributed to companies looking to cut travel expenses in the current economic environment – which means that the recovery may well speed up once the market improves. 

What’s Next for the Convention Center Recovery? 

Zooming out and looking at the change in monthly convention centers visits since January 2018 reveals a seasonal pattern. Convention foot traffic seems to be highest during the three months between February and April, with a peak in March. Smaller spikes can be seen in June and July and in October and November. And convention attendance is particularly low in May, August, September, and December – even if some big events, such as ICSC’s RECon Convention in Las Vegas, are held annually in May and still succeed in drawing crowds. 

The chart below shows that this seasonality partially returned last year. 2021 convention visits peaked in April – a little later than the usual March peak, as the third COVID wave likely drove many event organizers to schedule their in-person conferences for later in the year. As a result, convention visits stayed relatively steady between April and July before dropping again in August and September 2021, in line with normal seasonality – although the fourth “Delta” wave likely had a significant impact on convention attendance during those months as well. 

But even though seasonality began returning last year, this year’s regular seasonal patterns are much more pronounced – another positive indicator for the in-person convention industry. So far, 2022 convention center foot traffic was strongest in February through April, with the peak once again pushed off to April rather than March – likely due to the uncertainty caused by the Omicron wave of December 2021 to January 2022. And visits fell in May, but picked up again in June and July, as had happened in 2018 and 2019. 

The return of normal convention center seasonality means that in-person conventions are indeed resuming their regular routine – but it also means that we might need to wait until spring 2023 to experience the full impact of the continuing convention center recovery. 

For more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit placer.ai.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Convention Centers
Text Link
Hybrid Work
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Five Below: Q1 2024 Treasure Troves
CAVA Still Going Strong
Driving Success: Auto Parts Chains in 2024
Checking in With DICK’S Sporting Goods
Mother’s Day Shopping and Dining Trends
Placer.ai Mall Index: April 2024 Recap – Retail Resilience Heading into Spring
Dollar Stores Still Gaining Momentum
Off-Price Apparel Chains After Q1 2024: Demographics in the Balance
Walmart, Target, and Wholesale Clubs Continue to Thrive
Home Improvement and Decor Check In
Placer.ai Office Index: April 2024 Recap – Recovery Continues
Movie Theaters in Q1 2024: A Preview of Coming Attractions?
Let’s Get Physical: Fitness In 2024
Where Are Workers Returning to Office in 2024?
2024 Wins: Sweetgreen & First Watch on the Rise
A Full-Service Turnaround: Bloomin’, Dine, and Texas Roadhouse
Wendy’s and Denny’s: Breakfast and Late Night Dining Drives Success
Coffee Chains: Q1 2024 Update and What’s Changed Since COVID
Checking in with RBI and YUM!
Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success
Wingstop & Shake Shack Continue Growing Their Reach 
Strong Start for Sprouts in 2024
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth
Placer.ai Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again
Placer.ai Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024?
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy
Placer.ai Mall Index: February 2024
Placer.ai Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024: Placer.ai’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains
Placer.ai Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top
Placer.ai and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap
Placer.ai Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note
Making It In America: International Chicken Chains Bring The Heat
Domestic Tourism at a Glance: A Q3 2023 Roundup
Five Pizza Chains On The Rise
Jewelry Brands Taking Advantage of the DTC Opportunity
Secondhand News: Kids' Thrift Shops
Recapping 2023’s Dining M&As
MetLife Stadium Kicks Off Football Season
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2023 Recap
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – November 2023
Thanksgiving Travel 2023 Recap