(Pictured L-R: Anbu Varathan, CEO, IMTMA; Mary Larkin, UFI 2020 incoming president; and Craig Newman, UFI 2019 outgoing president)
UFI members from more than 50 countries met Nov. 6 in Bangkok, Thailand, to review UFI’s work throughout 2019 and confirm plans for the year ahead. The 2019 UFI General Assembly preceded UFI’s Global Congress, “Platforms of Trust.”
With more than 550 registered participants from 50 countries, this year’s event in Bangkok is the largest in UFI’s history, matching the record number of attendees at the Shanghai (China) Congress in 2016.
Chaired by UFI’s 2019 President Craig Newman, the General Assembly highlighted an array of new initiatives supporting UFI’s global membership in around 90 countries. Once more, membership has grown steadily this year and—for the first time in the association’s 95-year history—exceeds 800 member companies.
“Reviewing the past 12 months, I feel proud—proud of the achievements and developments UFI has seen,” Newman says. “For me, three things stand out from all the work around the world: UFI’s focus on collaboration, the development in UFI’s smaller chapters in Middle East/Africa and Latin America, and UFI’s research work.”
Growth in UFI Events
Around 1,400 industry professionals attended the broad array of UFI events held around the globe, from the “Global CEO Summit” in London to the “UFl Global Congress” in Bangkok. The number of delegates rose by about 8 percent compared to 2018, which was also a record year.
UFI’s Global CEO Summit, the exhibition industry’s annual curtain-raiser event, kick-started a year that saw two global events, three regional conferences and two topical meetings worldwide, with many informal meetings and gatherings as well.
Following plans to promote activities in the Middle East and Latin America, UFI’s Middle East-Africa Conference became the largest ever designated regional exhibition industry conference in MEA, taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Strong educational offerings
Education and diversity in leadership are both strategic priorities for the association. After two sold-out editions of the UFI-VMA Venue Management School program in Shanghai, a third edition will take place in Shanghai in December, and the program will expand into South East Asia in 2020.
This year saw another edition of the International Summer University in association with Kölnmesse and the University of Cologne. Along with the ISU, several UFI-EMD program courses were held around the world.
Global research reports
UFI delivers regular research insights on global, regional and topical themes, and the association’s activities in this area continue to evolve. The size and scope of UFI’s research available to members have grown significantly in recent years and is now considered world-leading. To facilitate access to research, the association has relaunched their research portal at ufi.org/research.
UFI and Explori published a third report about in-depth reviews on participant expectations with regards to show organizers and venues. Including data from some 13,000 trade show visitors globally, this is the most extensive study of its kind.
UFI released the Global Economic Impact study. Produced with Oxford Economics and supported by The Society of Independent Show Organizers, the report provides both global and regional data on the total economic impact of the exhibition industry, most notably in terms of economic output, GDP (gross domestic product) and jobs.
On the amplifying issue of sustainable development, UFI released a report titled “The Exhibition Industry and the UN SDGs”, aggregating 20 case studies on projects in the exhibition industry which pay into the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Furthermore, UFI will see the release of the first-ever comprehensive overview of the trade show industry in Latin America, covering all the markets in this fast-growing region. Again in the context of supporting new markets, work on this groundbreaking overview has been a core project for the UFI staff in the regional office in Bogota, Colombia.
UFI 2019 summary
“We are pleased to report another year where we have been able to support our members around the world,” says Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director and CEO. “Their success is our reward, and we are happy to see that, globally, the exhibition industry continues to grow at a steady pace despite political and economic headwinds. With our global portfolio of events, research, education, and advocacy activities, we do our part to help our community of more than 50,000 industry professionals to make the connections, get the data, and have the knowledge and recognition they need to navigate successfully through tougher times.”
Sonia Thomas, UFI director of operations and COO, adds: “For the first time in UFI’s 95-year history, we count more than 800 member companies. This makes us proud, and serves as motivation to the UFI team in Paris and around the world to work even harder for the industry.”
Outlook for 2020
Over the next 12 months, UFI is set to continue with its current strategic initiatives, focusing on events, research, education and advocacy globally.
The annual Global CEO Summit will take place Feb. 5-7 in Rome. Three regional conferences are scheduled to take place in Macau (March 4-6), Buenos Aires (April 20-21) and Gothenburg, Sweden (June 3-5). The Global Congress will return to the MEA region, in Oman (Nov. 9-12). In addition, several UFI Forums will take place: the digital innovation forum in Macau; forum on sustainable development in Paris; and an HR management horum in Gothenborg, Sweden.
The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) is the leading global trade association of the world’s trade show organizers and exhibition center operators, as well as the major national and international exhibition associations, and selected partners of the exhibition industry. UFI’s main goal is to represent, promote and support the business interests of its members and the exhibition industry. For more info, visit www.ufi.org.