Dear colleagues, dear members,

April saw a breakthrough in the ongoing advocacy work for our sector. In Brussels, we could hold a one-day “EU Dialogue” event between the events industry and European policymakers. Backed by Belgium, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, this was an official event within their Presidency. Praised by everyone in attendance, I hope this event will only be the starting point for more of this coordinated dialogue with European leaders.

This success did not “fall from the sky”, and UFI and our continuous work on advocacy have played a critical part here. After all, UFI has been one of the driving forces of industry advocacy in Brussels – with the legacy of now 12 years of the “European Exhibition Industry Alliance” (EEIA), our Brussels collaboration between UFI and EMECA. The EEIA, led by Barbara Weizsäcker, has previously hosted smaller events like this, focusing on our exhibition industry and establishing excellent contacts in the political ecosystem.

For almost two years now, the EEIA has also shared an office in Brussels with the “Joint Meetings Industry Council” (JMIC) – the global umbrella organisation for the whole events sector. UFI sits on the board of this supra body (disclaimer: I had the honour to be the chair during their transformation that led to establishing the HQ in Brussels). One of the core purposes of JMIC is global industry advocacy, with the “JMIC Industry Manifesto” providing – for the first time ever – a holistic, joint, positive industry narrative for the whole events sector. (Please take a look at the document here) JMIC and EEIA also worked with CityDNA and Visit Brussels to make the “EU Dialogue” happen.

The point here is that, within and outside of our exhibition industry, patience and persistence pay off, and collaboration and “coalitions of the willing” are key to progress around complex issues like advocacy. For UFI, this means we achieve the most when we are willing to take the lead to develop an issue for our exhibition industry initially and then share our learnings and successes with the wider events industry for everyone’s benefit and progress. To achieve this, mid to long-term thinking holds as much a place in our daily work at UFI as the challenges of the day, the week, or the month.

Let me use this column this month to explicitly celebrate all the colleagues across the industry, in your businesses, as volunteer leaders in UFI, and team members who never lose sight of these longer-term issues! The best way for everyone to do this is – you might have guessed – to support them, which you can do easily by joining in on the activities of this year’s Global Exhibitions Day on June 5! All that you need to know to do so is just a click away at

Best regards,

Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO