Dear colleagues, dear friends,

When following all the dynamic developments around our industry in recent months, the phrase “from zero to hero” comes to my mind. The speed with which we have raced out of the pandemic slump… our business model confirmed, our purpose revigorated, our colleagues giving it all to serve our customers… what a pace. What an experience to live through.

Our industry is more relevant than ever, and many say more valuable than ever as well. Witness the interest to invest into our sector – with private equity buying Cvent and Hyve, or with my own employer, Informa, bringing in Tarsus from its private equity owners. A personal note of admiration here from me to Doug Emslie – what you have built over 25 years is a testament to the opportunities our industry provides to those who are committed. Congratulations to you and your team.

There is more growth ahead – and surely more M&A activity as well.

At the same time, our industry in China is racing through its re-opening phase. I have spent most of my time in the past weeks across that country, attending shows and leading the UFI delegation to the CEFCO Conference, where UFI has been a co-organiser right from the beginning of this annual meeting. This was indeed important as China started to open up post covid only recently. So, the CCPIT, China’s preeminent organization for Trade put on a showcase event in the beautiful old city of Shaoxing, a one hour drive from Hangzhou. It was wonderful to meet many old friends after such a long time. Not everything is back to normal, but the congress addressed many issues that will, with determination bring back our industry to a new ‘normal’. I have also been attending several shows in Chengdu and Shenzhen, all of which were very busy with active exhibitors and plenty of buyers. I know in Shanghai and other cities the business has also been good.

At the same time, we need to look into the future of our industry, in many ways. Thank you to all of you who are standing as candidates in this month’s elections for the leadership of our chapters, working groups and committees at UFI. And – congratulations to our five recipients of this year’s Next Generation Leadership Grant. I look forward to meeting you in person next month in Maastricht, at our UFI European Conference. And – in just a few days – I hope to speak with many of you who will be joining us for the MEA Conference in Doha, Qatar!