Dear colleagues, dear members,

In recent weeks, at various industry events, I have had many conversations with UFI members from around the world and colleagues from other event industry segments. In many cases, we ended up discussing expectations towards UFI and other industry associations. Specifically around the question of what members – be they businesses or individuals – expect to receive in return for their membership fees. What is the “deal,” what are the expectations, and how can associations deliver against these?

At its core – we concluded in many of these talks – successful associations have moved on from a transaction-based relationship between the members and the industry body to being the home – or host – of an industry community. As events are about bringing people together, there is an outstanding focus on this in our industry specifically. While many businesses are just fine with benefiting from the information, data, research, educational offers, and branding an association provides, the more successful associations are evolving faster as they benefit from active community members. These members challenge and support everyone working for the association, which in return shapes the way these associations work – away from static multi-year plans to dynamic strategic frameworks.

“No man is an island”, the saying goes, and various UFI presidents over the past years have put an emphasis on calling out to you – UFI’s members – to be active, join our activities, and help to shape what UFI provides to the industry. UFI today is different from UFI 3 years ago, or 7 or 15 years ago – as we have learned and trained to become ever more agile in balancing both regular activities (like our events or the barometer research) with actions and initiatives that respond to specific needs (most critically during the pandemic).

Everything UFI does today – literally everything – is based on you, our members, having addressed this as a need for yourself to be more successful. True, not everything can happen within weeks… some things take years, given necessary prioritisation and the limited resources every organisation faces, and UFI is no exception here.

The whole UFI team, as it exists today, is focused on working for this industry. I often say that we ourselves are “service providers servicing a service industry”. A year ago, at IMEX in Frankfurt, there was a discussion about how “industry egos” are holding back industry progress. This has resonated with many parts of the events ecosystem and – one year onwards this June – has led to calls for more collaborations, with some people here or there explicitly naming UFI a good example of this. Let me use this observation as an opportunity to thank each and every one of you for being UFI members – and for your input to our ongoing work, big and small.

This UFI Info is again full of updates of the work we do – for you and with you. And to those who will come to Zurich: See you soon, and don’t forget to tell us how we can better support you.

Best regards,

Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO