The visitor revolution

Posted by
Barry Siskind
UFI’s Community Manager

It’s June and time for the must anticipated annual International Summer University. The education program will be held from June 4 – 6 in Cologne. This year’s theme is “Visitor Revolution – Targeting, Motivating and Satisfying the 21st Century Visitor.

The opening address is by UFI’s Managing Director, Paul Woodward. His presentation is titled, “A Global Perspective on the Exhibition Industry.”

I asked Paul to answer a few questions to give our followers a flavour of the information he will be presenting.

What is your prediction for the health of the global exhibition industry in the near future?
Overall, I think this will be a pretty good year for global exhibitions. The impacts of the economic crisis are now pretty much behind us in most countries and organisers are learning to work with a ’new normal’. We’ve seen some slowdown in the emerging markets which had been driving growth but this has been counter-balanced by quite strong performances in the more developed markets which were flat or declining when economic times were tougher. Most organisers’ focus now seems to have moved away from the underlying economic/trade environment towards competing for marketing dollars with other media and other events. Overall, there seems to be an increasingly clear understanding that we need to offer the participants at our fairs a much richer experience. That’s why we’re focusing on how we can greatly enhance the visitor experience as the main topic of this year’s International Summer University. Satisfying those giving up their time and money to attend our events, is a critical focus for organisers, venues and exhibitors if our industry is to be successful in the future.
Is the economic recovery complete?
I can’t ever remember a time in the more than 30 years that I’ve been working that some executive didn’t stand up at a conference and say “In these tough economic times”. Nobody ever really recognises the times they’re working in as a boom. It always seems challenging for some reason. So, yes, I do think, despite what some economists will tell you that this is ‘normal’ economic growth. We have to work out how to make money with what we’ve got. There are great new technologies out there, new products and new designs, all produced by companies who are looking for new customers. We’ve had trade fairs for almost 1,000 years and they’ve survived everything from bubonic plague to world wars. So, I think we should be looking out for good business opportunities and focusing on delighting our clients rather than worrying too much whether we are in good times or not.

There is a great line-up and speakers who will be focused on the theme of the visitor revolution. To see the entire agenda, click here:

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