Physical Events Will Not Return Until 2022: GDS Group

  • GDS predicts the events industry will thrive with digital offerings
  • GDS has seen 30% growth in 2020 by switching entirely to digital events and has increased headcount by 25%
  • GDS’s “Meet the Boss” digital offering saw 300% growth in H2 2020

Spencer Green, founder & chairman, GDS Group (Photo: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--()--GDS Group, the global events, research and technology services company, has claimed that physical events will not return until 2022, but the global events industry is thriving by doubling down on digital offerings.

As coronavirus measures such as lockdowns, social distancing and travel restrictions made physical events largely impossible at the start of 2020, the global events industry was forced to adopt a virtual model overnight. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) the events industry contributed over $101 billion to U.S. GDP last year, yet B2B exhibition organizers were forced to either postpone their events to late 2020/early 2021 or cancel them entirely.

No events in 2021

In 2019, 80% of GDS Group’s revenue originated from 60 physical executive summits around the world, with the remaining 20% derived from digital events and services, including its Meet the Boss virtual roundtables. In 2020, 100% of its revenue will be derived from its digital events programme while it is also expected to achieve growth levels of 30% over the same period in 2019.

At the same time, it has recruited 50 more staff in customer services and product development during the pandemic period (increasing its headcount by 25%) and saw growth of 300% in its Meet the Boss virtual roundtable events during H1 2020.

Spencer Green, founder and chairman of GDS Group comments, “As a business, we planned back in March 2020 for the next 18 months to be disrupted by COVID, so we went all-in on digital events. While we would love to welcome our customers back to physical events again in 2021, we are working on the assumption that all events will remain virtual until at least 2022.”

“As a result of pivoting to digital events, not only we were able to stay in business during the coronavirus period, but we increased revenues by 30%, raised our headcount by 25% and invested in additional products which will underpin our growth in future years when physical events return.”

Digital transformation remains the number 1 CxO topic

GDS delivers summits to a broad range of industries, including financial services, IT, healthcare, HR, manufacturing, marketing, oil and gas, retail and supply chain. Despite the varied nature of these industries, one topic that has been common to all of GDS’s summits over the last few years has been digital transformation.

Green explains: “The overriding topic of our summits - digital transformation – has grown in importance for our customers this year, so they are more driven than ever to understand it.”

As a result, GDS expects to continue its strong growth rate of 30%-40% in 2021 as it broadens its digital portfolio even further with the launch of new digital events and services.

Its new “Showcase” virtual event managed service will be used by major clients as a way of professionally hosting large scale internal company meetings, such as Global All Hands and Sales Kick Offs, and external corporate events such as Partner/Investor Days.


About GDS Group

GDS Group is a global events, research and technology services company dedicated to helping clients meet the challenges posed by a fast-moving, disruptive business environment. Our B2B summits and events bring purchaser and provider communities together to find solutions to real-world business challenges.


George Wright

Release Summary

GDS Group, an international events company, predicts that physical events will not return until at least 2022.

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George Wright