UFI’s European Conference 2017 in Cologne on drivers for future success in the exhibition industry

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, is bringing together exhibition organisers and venue managers from Europe and beyond to take a peek into the future of exhibitions. Changing event formats, shifting exhibitor and visitor expectations, global competition, and more digital venues – these were the main topics at this year’s UFI European Conference, headlined “It’s time!”, on 10-12 May in Cologne (Germany). With more than five billion euros currently being invested in venues and venue infrastructure in Europe despite continuing geopolitical uncertainty, the conference focused on trends and initiatives shaping the exhibition industry for the future. “This conference will be a chance to look at tomorrow’s success factors: venues ‘going digital’, new formats, changing business models… It’s going to be the sort of event where you come away buzzing with ideas for your own business,” said Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director before the conference got started. “We are proud to host this year’s UFI European Conference at our home base in Cologne. As a company, we ‘promise to energise’ the business of our customers. By hosting UFI’s biggest event in Europe this year, we want to do our part in energizing the discussion and dialogue about what is driving the future of the exhibition industry”, said Gerald Böse, CEO Koelnmesse. With the help of David Boon, conference moderator and General Manager of International Business Development for Brussels Expo, the delegates could swap practical insights with international peers and learn from some of the leading industry experts from Europe, the US, and Asia. Some programme highlights: – Keynote speaker Denzil Rankine, Executive Chairman, AMR International (UK) called on European exhibition businesses to face up to toughening global competition. His advice to organisers was: Focus on corporate structures, digital changes, and global trends. – Dr. Stefan Rief from Fraunhofer Institute, and Matthias Schulze, Managing Director at the German Convention Bureau (GCS), shared their latest ‘Future Meeting Space’ research – and show the changing demands on how to utilize venue space for events. – Singapore’s Arun Madhoc, CEO of Suntec, shared his journey in turning his venue into one of the most advanced digital venues globally, providing guidance in decision-making for organisers and venues. – Mark Brewster, CEO at Explori, highlighted changing expectations from the exhibitors’ and visitor’s perspectives, peppered with current trends and developments – and insights into what makes the best shows. – And with many event trends finding their way into Europe from the North America, Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), led a session on meeting trends from the other side of the Atlantic – and the impact they have. UFI events are appreciated both for their high level content and extensive networking opportunities. The UFI European Conference in Cologne was not different.
Alongside the conference Cologne also hosted a wide array of parallel UFI meetings, ranging from the semi-annual meeting of UFI’s Board of Directors to committee meetings and a workshop for this year’s nominees for the “UFI Next Generation Leaders Grant”. The UFI European Conference is organised every year in May. It has previously been hosted in Basel (2016), Istanbul (2015) and St. Petersburg (2014). It is open to UFI members and non-members. Source: www.ufievent.org/cologne