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From Russia with love

This year, IFES (International Federation of Exposition Services) conducted its annual meeting of members in Moscow, June 6-8, 2012. The meeting was held in conjunction with the 5pExpo- Russian tradeshow dedicated to the exposition industry. The event was held at the ExpoCentre located in the heart of Moscow. This ‘West meets East’ conference was conducted in cooperation with IFES and UFI to foster business links between Russia and foreign exhibition stand builders and conference organizers.


Bruno Meissner addresses the crowd at the IFES annual meeting. At the meeting, it was decided that Meissner will remain the president of IFES for two more years.

“We fully recognize that exhibitions and conferences enhance the implementation of government policy for modernizing the Russian economy with innovative technologies and equipment” said Sergey Bednov, general director of the ExpoCentre.

In 2011, Russia held 1,500 tradeshows and events in 44 cities. Seventy percent of the exhibitors were small to medium size companies looking to grow.

As tradeshow marketing continues to grow in Russia, it is critical to be aware of the differences regarding the rules, regulations and customs to achieve success in this region as a foreign company.

“The 5pExpo conference sessions we attended, and the tradeshow exhibitors we met, offered excellent insight to many cultural differences, and to many similarities in our tradeshow methods,” said Peter Theodorides, IFES chairman of marketing/PR, Vision Ltd in Greece. “We thank our Russian hosts for their wonderful hospitality.”

The first two days of the IFES conference were dedicated to 5pExpo activities and sessions. The brief walk from the hotel along the Moskva River to the ExpoCentre provided a refreshing scenic view to start each day. The next three days of the meeting was dedicated to IFES issues at the AGM. International differences would not be complete without watching the Euro Cup in a bar where country pride gets pretty heated at times.

After the business portion of the meeting, attendees visited an IFES member facility, and then a tour of Moscow and the Kremlin, concluding with a trip to the city of St. Petersburg.

In all, there were 81 IFES guests from 25 countries in attendance. Of the 81, 71 were visiting Moscow for the first time, including five from the U.S. This trip provided a powerful learning experience.

IFES at Kremlin

Attendees at the IFES annual meeting visited the Kremlin after work was done for the day.

“During the past four IFES meetings I have attended, I must say that the greatest benefit is building relationships with fellow attendees, regardless what country we are in,” said Michael Boone, Coastal International, U.S.

During the one-day IFES annual general meeting, it was agreed by all that Bruno Meissner-Germany, will continue to serve two more years as IFES president, and that Voicu Sferdianu-Romania, be elected the new vice president to begin in January, 2013.

Presentations were made by each committee chair to share their activities and progress during the past year. It was also decided that next year, AGM will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from June 26-29, 2013. Justin Hawes-Scan Display/South Africa presented an outline on South African sites and plans for this event.

Two other upcoming events to be considered for international networking and learning are the annual EDPA ACCESS meeting, November 28-30 in Palm Springs, Calif., and ExpoSystems in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from December 3-6, 2012.

“As countries and cultures unite, we find more similarities than differences,” said “Voicu Sferdianu – Romania. “Our common IFES focus is to share our knowledge on tradeshow marketing. In the process, we not only learn about tradeshow topics but build trusted friendships. This surely is best achieved through face-to-face contact.”

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