90th UFI anniversary celebrations and ”The World in 2030” – 82. UFI Congress in Milan

Some 400 industry professionals from around the world were celebrating UFI’s 90th birthday and looking forward to the next 15 years in the exhibition industry, during the 82. UFI Congress in Milan, Italy. Many believe that the changes we will see in this period could exceed those which have transformed our industry since our 20 founding members came together in Milan back in 1925. The Congress keynote speech, other presentations and panel discussions were devoted to the issues in this area that are now in the center of interest of the exhibition industry professionals. Official Opening of the 82nd Congress took place on Novemeber, 5th, with speeches by Andrés López-Valderrama Corferias Executive President, UFI President 2015, Paul Woodward UFI ManagingDirector and Marck Cochrane, UFI Asia-Pacific Regional Chapter Manager and the Congress moderator. The Congress key note speaker, renowned innovation designer to the Milan Expo and futurist, prof. Vito di Bari, drew the professionals’ attention to the world’s changes coming in the next few years. The companies have to innovate their way to future success and take advantage of the opportunities now coming. Among the most interesting topics for discussions during the conference were innovative startegies in the field of workforce management. As we operate in an increasingly complex, competitive and challenging global market, companies will rely ever more on a smart, diverse and flexible workforce. Consistently, the CEOs of UFI’s largest member companies have identified the recruitment, development and retention of the best quality people as one of their highest priorities. The skills they are now looking for and how these might differ from what we have seen before was the topic of the first panel discussion. Innovating for the future – this was the topic of another discussion. Some organisers are already pushing the boundaries of traditional events with concepts that are at once innovative and business-like. Our speaker, using his experience of both the events and tech sectors who discuss how we can successfully attract younger audiences to our events, take advantage of the opportunities that technology presents and generate profitable new businesses. Other examples will then be drawn by our moderator from discussion with selected members of the audience. Is the Internet the answer? Andrew Keen, entrepreneur and author, tried to find the answer. Much of the Congress time was dedicated to the impact of digital transformation on the exhibition industry. But, is the Internet really the key to our future success? The final speaker, the author of The Internet is Not the Answer, challenged some of the comfortable and uncomfortable assumptions many are now making about how their world is changing. 2015 Global Industry Review by JOCHEN WITT is the annual UFI Congress highlight. The presentation has been scheduled in advance of UFI’s four regional Chapter Meetings (Asia-Pacific Chapter, European Chapter, Latin America Chapter, Middle East-Africa Chapter) so that members can discuss the impact of his predictions on their regions. He gave his much anticipated review of global economic developments and how they are likely to impact on our industry. The UFI regional Chapters are an important opportunity for members to discuss the latest developments in the region.
The UFI European Chapter Meeting in Milan was dedicated to the digitisation processes in Europe, and the consequences for our industry. In his inaugural speech last year in Bogota, Gerald Böse, CEO of Koelnmesse and Chair of the UFI European Chapter, emphasised the need to adapt fast. He said: “Of course we are not questioning the effectiveness of trade fairs as a communication tool. However, in view of the increasing digitalisation of our private lives and work environments, we must face certain questions – and preferably answer them as well. How will we communicate with exhibitors in the future? How can we use digital solutions to support our customers’ trade fair preparations and follow-up activities? How should exhibition grounds be structured in order to reflect digital reality? We have to answer these questions, because the one approach that will definitely not work is to simply go on doing what we’ve done before.” The UFI European Chapter gathered important questions from its members and then work on elaborating answers together with a panel of experts. “Among others, we will address the legal aspects of digitalisation within the EU as well as share best practices from member companies. Especially for the legal developments in the field of EU data protection laws, we are happy to work efficiently through the EEIA (European Exhibition Industry Alliance) in Brussels”, said Rowena Arzt, Business Development Director of UFI. “We hope to welcome many of our members in Milan to start this important discussion.” Traditionally, during the 82. UFI Congress in Milan, the UFI Executive Committee and the UFI Board of Directors meetings took place. Also numerous dedicated meetings were on the Congress agenda. On the first day the Researchers’ meeting and the Associations’ Committee meeting were organized. The agenda of the Researchers’ meeting included two presentations related to the impact of exhibitions: The first refered to the role of exhibitions in the “Globalising Knowledge Economy” and it was presented by Professor Francesca Golfetto from the Bocconi University of Milan and Diego Rinallo, affiliated member of CERMES Bocconi’s Business Communication Events Lab. They described the book they recently contributed to on this topic. The second presentation tackled the key issue of the business generated by exhibitors. Thierry Hesse, President and Mathieu Rosy, Managing Director of UNIMEV (French Meeting Industry Council) presented the results of a recent study conducted in France. Source: UFI – the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry; www.ufi.org