There is nothing more promising than a blank page.

Every first day of January, we unwrap our brand-new planners, ready to start organising. Focus, purpose, objectives: there is something magical about the positive energy of a new year. It is with this constructive drive that we can brainstorm, discuss and innovate.

But first, let us introduce ourselves.

Hello, Cinzia from Italy and Alexis from Mexico here. We are UFI Next Generation Leadership Grant winners from 2019 and 2020, and we know what our goal is for 2022: to continue building, together with UFI, a strong community of next-gen exhibition professionals. Our page is not blank. We started to develop this project in 2021, by meeting our NGL colleagues every month and learning from each other. Here is how we came up with an idea: what if we shared with the exhibition community our thoughts? We will deep dive into three trends for the next 12 months. With a twist. We will not share theory but practical suggestions that can be implemented by everyone, regardless of the position in your company.

In this post, we give an overview of the trends and sharing our first, very practical, to do list of the year.

  1. Talent retention & HR

Attracting and keeping talents has been an issue even before the pandemic. However, we need to understand that talent retention is not just an HR problem. Regaining trust inside and outside is the main goal of the whole industry. Due to budget cuts, the playbook strategies to keep an employee seem a demanding challenge. So here is your first task for the do to list: involve your talents.

You do not need a big budget to add purpose to a new hire or an employee that has worked in the industry for many years. Provide an incentive and bring them to a strategic meeting, ask them to keep notes and exchange opinions (about work, news, articles). Little by little, you will create a safe and fertile ground to share ideas. And if you want to take a step further, take your talents to events, web meetings and other exhibition industry gatherings.

  1. Phygital experience

The serendipity of F2F will always be at the core of the exhibition industry, but in the last two years, we learned many valuable lessons. We should not forget them. In the next 5 years, focusing on the customer needs and acquiring an innovative mindset to provide a seamless experience for the user will be crucial to achieve competitive advantage. To better understand which services we could develop in the future, we need to approach digital with an open mind. So here is your second task: play a videogame.

Did you know that Nintendo was founded in 1889 and originally produced handmade playing cards? There is no other sector that has changed in complexity and grown in demographics market as much as the gaming industry. Our suggestion is to try a game like Final Fantasy XIV: today it has a community of 25 million users that play, interact, and help each other online. It is a positive example of a videogame that started unsuccessfully and was able to change and grow by listening to its user base.

  1. Customer relations

The pandemic has made us reflect upon how to improve the value proposition of the entire industry. Trading is traditionally the main goal of exhibitions, but these last two years made us realize that it is equally important to re-design and grow relations with sponsors, partners, investors, associations and clients. So here is your last task: build partnerships with atypical players.

Recently, we saw a global surge of cooperation: alliances with brands for new content, alliances with NGOs for altruism and public health but also alliances with competitors (a very cool way to say: “together we are stronger”). This is a new practice that we should continue in order to grow stronger and overcome future challenges. Not as single companies, but as an industry. It is time for exhibition players to unite and work together as Clarion Events, Informa Markets and Tarsus did in 2021 for their fashion trade shows.

With this last task, we come to the end of our post. Please share this post with your community, comment, and share your experience by using the hashtag #NGLtodolist.

Stay safe and healthy!

Cinzia & Alexis


Cinzia Zanin                               J. Alexis Zamudio 
UFI NGL Grant Winner                UFI NGL Grant Winner
2019                                            2020