It took our face-to-face industry only two years to essentially recover from the most serious pandemic in more than a century. In addition, the industry has managed to deal with global inflationary pressures not seen in a generation. On top of that, we have faced new wars and growing geopolitical tensions. Despite all of those challenges, our industry has recovered and returned to growth mode. And as investor fantasies around the metaverse and virtual events imploded, there is no lack of investors willing to put their money into our industry and our core business model.
I am writing this as the UFI team is wrapping up work on this year’s Global Congress. From your initial feedback, it was one for the history books. With around 500 colleagues from all over the world coming to Vegas, it is one of the biggest Congresses in UFI’s history. With 65 speakers, we had more voices on the stages than ever before. With the launch of the North America Chapter, it leaves a very special legacy. And with you, our members, voting in favour of our new membership fee scheme without a single “no” vote, you have agreed to a major change that makes the fee structure much simpler and fair for everyone. Thank you for that. Let me expand here a little about why we have opened a 5th regional chapter.
Dear members, dear colleagues, Ahead of our Global Congress in Las Vegas, I have had the opportunity to connect with our members and community in Asia, Europe, and North America in recent weeks – having been in Bangkok, Düsseldorf, New York. And when you read this, we will be in Singapore with a team, jointly producing the Asia CEO Summit, a collaboration between AEO, SACEOS, SISO, and UFI.
The whole Paris team is back in the office after having used the past two months to take some time off respectively. Recharged and energised, we are working now to prepare our Global Congress in Las Vegas. We will have a unique event for all of you, and with colleagues from more than 50 countries around the world signed up already, we may see our most international event ever this November. Check out this UFI Info for more updates, and don’t forget to register.
In our latest UFI Global Barometer we are – for the first time – sharing data tracking the adoption of the use of Generative AI in the exhibition industry. We discussed how to interpret the data – and we decided to ask ChatGPT to analyse the numbers
In life as in business, closure is important. It marks a moment in time when something truly comes to an end. A few days ago, I felt a sense of closure, attending an industry summit in Shanghai. Again, for one more time and for one last time, I was at a major meeting where colleagues from our industry were meeting again for the first time after the pandemic break in their region.
Spending some time at IMEX in Frankfurt a few days back, being involved in various industry initiatives, I once again experienced that we are a “we” industry. An industry that delivers best when people, businesses, and organisations work together. Collaboration happens on every level. Done well, it makes a difference. In a discussion at IMEX, a room full of association and policy leaders was asked to state what is holding our industry back. The results were shown in a cloud of words. One of the biggest terms: “Industry Egos”. A timely reminder from within our global industry leadership that getting things done needs frameworks and structures, but mostly the willingness to walk together, not alone.
Our spring conferences season is in full swing. Last month, we welcomed more than 220 colleagues at our Asia-Pacific Conference in Kuala Lumpur. Later this month, our members from Latin America and beyond will meet in San José, Costa Rica, for the LatAm Conference. Then it’s over to Doha, Qatar, for the MEA Conference in May, and we’ll wrap up in June with a whole events week in Maastricht, co-locating the European Conference with two Forums on HR and Operations – and premiering the new, already sold out, “Event Directors Summit”.
It’s certainly a busy time again for our industry – and for the UFI team, which is active literally all around the world again these past weeks. In China, at the CEFCO conference. In Turkiye, meeting government officials and members. In Doha/Qatar, with our MEA Conference. In San José/Costa Rica, with our LatAm Conference. In Washington, DC/USA, with a joint event with mdg and SISO alongside the ECEF Conference.
Every year, March means the beginning of spring in the Northern hemisphere. A time filled with the promise of things to come, with new beginnings and ideas blossoming. That’s pretty much what is happening right now at UFI, with things taking shape for the coming months.