Q3 Earnings: Viad Reports Revenue Down YOY While Emerald Records Double-Digit Revenue Growth

November 9, 2023

Two public companies in the trade show industry, Viad and Emerald, reported financial results for the third quarter that ended September 30, 2023. Here are two key highlights:

  • Emerald reported revenues of $72.5 million for Q3 2023, an increase of $10.1 million, or 16.2% over Q3 2022, primarily due to growth in events that staged in both Q3 2023 and Q3 2022, new launches and acquisitions.
  • Total Q3 revenue for GES, a division of Viad, was $179.0 million, a decrease of 18.3% from the Q3 2022, primarily due to the timing of major non-annual shows and the sale of ON Services, which impacted year-over-year revenue by approximately $64 million. Excluding major non-annual shows and ON Services, GES’ revenue in Q3 2023 grew approximately 16% compared with Q3 2022.

Deeper dive: Emerald, which touts itself as a company that connects more than 1.9 million customers across 142 events, reported organic revenues, which takes into account the impact of acquisitions and scheduling adjustments, of $68.5 million for the Q3, an increase of $12.4 million, or 22.1%, from $56.1 million for Q3 2022. In September, Emerald launched the first edition of Cocina Sabrosa, a trade show focused on the Latin food and beverage industry.

Emerald's Hervé Sedky

Hervé Sedky, Emerald’s president and CEO, said, “We are very pleased with the continued double-digit growth we’re seeing in our live events business. Trade shows remain a durable and high-return part of our customers’ marketing budgets, providing exhibitors with an unparalleled opportunity to access a large number of quality buyers at their industry’s must-attend event.”

Among the events that Emerald produced in Q3: ASD Market in August in Las Vegas, NYNow in August at Javits Center in New York, Surf Expo at the Orange County Convention Center in September, and CEDIA Expo and Commercial Integrator Expo at the Colorado Convention Center and Bellco Theatre in September.

“Our focus on delivering increasing value to customers has translated to higher re-bookings along with sustained strength in pricing — trends which are reflected in our sales pacing data as we continue to book reservations for shows up to a year in advance,” Sedky said. “The performance of our content business was somewhat muted in the quarter, driven by cautious ad spending trends within the technology sector, where we have broad exposure.”

He continued, “Nevertheless, we expect content to be a positive contributor to our results over time, offering not only opportunities for profitable growth but also synergies with our broader portfolio as we leverage the data and marketing resources of our media assets to grow our shows.”

surf expo
Emerald's Surf Expo drew 730 exhibitors to the Orange County Convention Center in September.

Looking ahead: Emerald is adjusting its full-year 2023 guidance and now expects to generate revenue in the range of $385 million - $395 million and Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $95 million - $100 million, due to some softness in its content business. 

“In our content business, reduced ad spend in the tech sector put modest downward pressure on our top line,” said Emerald’s CFO David Doft. “Our core trade show segment, which comprises the bulk of our operations, continues to support a strong full-year performance.”

He continued, “Our strong performance drove year-to-date revenue growth of 21% year-over-year, while Adjusted EBITDA increased over 85% versus the prior year. Importantly, we believe that 2024 sales pacing indicates that we can sustain double-digit top-line growth into next year with strong operating leverage, a testament to the strength and durability of our business model and the importance of our brands in their respective end markets.”

Deeper dive: Viad Corp., a provider of experiential leisure travel and live events and marketing experiences, reported total Q3 revenue for Viad was $365.9 million, a decrease of $16.8 million compared with Q3 2022. Review the full earnings release here.

Viad's Steve Moster

Steve Moster, Viad’s president and CEO, said, “We delivered strong third-quarter results in line with our prior guidance ranges. Pursuit posted record results during our peak summer season and benefited from increased international visitation and solid demand. GES’ results were at the high end of our guidance ranges and reflect continued strength in live events.”

Moster continued, “We are thrilled with our year-to-date performance and the continued positive momentum we are experiencing at both Pursuit and GES. We are on track to deliver strong full-year growth in 2023 and are very optimistic about our growth prospects for next year.”

GES results: Total GES adjusted EBITDA of negative $2.0 million decreased by $12.7 million from Q3 2022, primarily due to lower revenue.

In Q3, GES provided contracting services for a wide range of trade shows, including ICSC @FLORIDA at the Orange County Convention Center, MAGIC Las Vegas, PROJECT Las Vegas, and SOURCING at MAGIC at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Black Hat USA 2023 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Convention Center, the Neurocritical Care Society Annual Meeting at the Phoenix Convention Center, ILTACON at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, Dallas Apparel & Accessories Market at the Dallas Market Center, and SuperZoo at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Convention Center.

Regarding GES’ results, Moster commented, “I am very happy with the strong underlying growth we delivered at GES that partially offset the impact of non-annual shows and the sale of ON Services. At Spiro, our existing corporate clients’ spend grew over the prior year, and we continued to win new clients in the large, fragmented experiential marketing sector. GES Exhibitions saw a 14 percent increase in same-show revenue from events produced in the U.S. We are encouraged by the solid momentum, and we remain committed to driving increased profitability and meaningful free cash flow at GES.”

Moster continued, “I am proud of our team’s focus on cost management and execution during this quarter of slower event activity. Our efforts to lower our cost structure and implement margin enhancing lean initiatives have positioned us well to deliver an Adjusted EBITDA margin of about 7 percent for the 2023 full year, which we expect will grow to more than 8 percent in 2024.”

GES provided contracting services for MAGIC Las Vegas in August at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Looking ahead: Viad is estimating that GES revenues in Q4 will come in at $235 to $250 million compared with  $213.9 in Q4 2022. For the full year, revenues are expected to be up in the mid-single digits vs. $828 million in 2022. 

Full-year revenue growth will be driven by stronger demand for exhibition and event services and new Spiro wins, partially offset by impact of non-annual shows ($30M for FY) and the sale of ON Services ($50M for FY). Exhibitions same-show revenue expected to return to 2019 levels while Spiro clients’ marketing spend expected to be similar to 2022, plus new client wins.

Regarding Viad’s outlook, Moster commented, “We are encouraged by our solid performance year-to-date and anticipate continued strong demand for Pursuit’s leisure travel markets and GES’ live events going forward. Based on this, we have raised the bottom end our full year guidance ranges.”


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