Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

The Return of In-Person Networking

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

About the Convention Center Index: The 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

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 Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree
Lipstick Effect Boosts Ulta’s Growth