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UFI: 5 Industry Trends to Watch in 2020

2019 is drawing to a close, and the second decade of the century will soon be behind us. So get ready to enter the 2020s!

As we enter this new decade, the world seems to have become less stable and more disrupted in many aspects of life—in politics, in tech, in societies and in business.

Every year, UFI tracks developments in the exhibition and event industry worldwide, at UFI events, in numerous conversations and through many other channels. Here are five trends that leaders in exhibitions and events in 2020 should all be watching out for:

Peaking globalization

The global economy’s growth is slowing. The US-China trade conflict is leaving its mark on the economy of both countries as well as on the rest of the world. In addition, political uncertainty is prevalent in many countries, marking a general trend towards protectionism. Some analysts predict that we are on the verge of reaching the peak of globalization, and with it the re-emergence of more regional trading patterns. The message for our globally connected industry is clear: balancing portfolios across regions and industries is fundamental to remaining successful in the years ahead.

Serious about sustainability

The discussion around sustainable development will continue to heat up, with every industry striving to prove their tangible contribution to a more sustainable way of doing business. In 2019, we already saw weather-related show cancellations and delays in venue projects as temperatures became too hot for workers.

Related challenges for the industry are rooted in the big issues as well as in smaller actions. The good news is that, while we can all do our best to implement best practices at every event we organize, on the whole, exhibitions are and remain the most sustainable way of bringing industry players together.

Customer trust

Driven by the trends of recent years, there is an ever-increasing focus on customer-centricity, i.e. to create more unique visitor experiences at events. This comes in many shapes and forms, but at its core, there is a need for the industry to remain a trusted partner for its customers.

A lot of this evolves around data and transparency at all customer touchpoints—from pricing policies to visitor numbers to ROI data. If indeed “data is the new oil,” then the data used to attract exhibitors and visitors, and the data that is generated for them, must be trustworthy and stand up to scrutiny. There are elements in face-to-face business models that are very hard to translate into data fields, where we are reliant on narratives and customer success stories. It is what keeps businesses resilient when the industries around us are experiencing digital disruption.

Evolving business models

Tradeshows have become a blend of formats. They combine elements of the tradeshow floor with theaters for exhibitor presentations, with conference stages, with experiential programs. The evolution of the business model is progressing and old “silos” of competencies between tradeshow and conference managers are disappearing.

A new, more diverse mix of industry leaders and hands-on teams are in the process of redefining the tradeshow experience. This is also leading to an ongoing review of business and pricing models. In addition to the traditional “space sold” approach, new revenue streams are emerging.

Staying unique and diverse

As an industry, we are unique. Our daily task is to build platforms for entire industries to meet. Many new arrivals to our industry find it hugely valuable that we are an industry open to sharing, exchanging ideas, and collaborating. As new challenges arise, it is encouraging to see that this also drives the number of productive exchanges and collaborations. More diversity in leadership for companies within our sector will help the continued success of our industry as a whole.

UFI’s role is to support association members by providing a platform for industry collaboration. UFI is proud to be the global trade association of the exhibition industry—and by that, we mean the global association for you, and for the exhibition industry.

UFI brings together those who build, maintain, and support the world’s market places: tradeshow organizers, venue owners and operators, service providers, and national as well as international associations of our industry. For more info, visit https://www.ufi.org/

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