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Message from the UFI CEO

By Kai Hattendorf | June 6th, 2023



Dear UFI members, dear colleagues,


Spending some time at IMEX in Frankfurt a few days back, being involved in various industry initiatives, I once again experienced that we are a “we” industry. An industry that delivers best when people, businesses, and organisations work together. Collaboration happens on every level. Done well, it makes a difference. In a discussion at IMEX, a room full of association and policy leaders was asked to state what is holding our industry back. The results were shown in a cloud of words. One of the biggest terms: “Industry Egos”. A timely reminder from within our global industry leadership that getting things done needs frameworks and structures, but mostly the willingness to walk together, not alone.

We have a famously big and complex “alphabet soup” of associations and organisations across our industry, overlapping in many markets and regions. Post-pandemic, there is a healthy trend to see how these can be organised better, especially on the national level. Australia has taken the lead here, where three specialised event industry associations have agreed to jointly start a new peak body into which they will all integrate, forming a united voice of the business events industry on the national level. Strong national and regional industry associations and networks, working together with UFI as our exhibition industry’s global peak body, certainly has proven to be a successful model – through good times and tough times. Just look through recent editions of UFI Info to see examples for it – from GED to the Economic Impact Studies, from joint events like the Asia CEO Summit to advocacy.

Likewise, if we zoom out on the whole events industry, collaboration is without alternative. Take UFI, ICCA, and AIPC. All three are global trade bodies for their respective segments in our industry. There is only relatively little overlap in our respective memberships, but a lot of shared industry challenges. So, we launched a collaboration in 2018, nicknamed the “G3”. Working together and creating additional value for our respective memberships where they want to reach out and connect to the other communities. And of course, providing shared insights where needed – see the series of global best practice guides released throughout the pandemic.

Zoom out even further, and you get to JMIC – the Joint Meetings Industry Council, our global event industry’s peak body, bringing together the leading global trade associations (like UFI, ICCA, AIPC and others). Jointly, we have worked together to sort out the much-bemoaned fact that, as an industry, we could not tell a unified story, could not describe who we are and how we create benefit. Together, we created the “JMIC Global Industry Manifesto” – a document of a kind that our industry did not have before. At IMEX, we presented the latest version. This will be used by all the associations and partners when speaking to governments and stakeholders.

JMIC also hosts and facilitates the “Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative”. While UFI has been hugely involved in the launch and initial growth of this (we ran the project office for more than one year initially), a global, pan-industrial issue like that needs to be hosted on the highest level an industry has defined if it is to succeed. Of course, as a part of the whole initiative, UFI remains fully engaged – but now as one of many organisations helping this most relevant issue to scale and succeed.

In closing, let me zoom in again to our very core work at UFI – giving you, our members, opportunities to connect and grow your business. In just a few days, the UFI team is looking forward to seeing many of you in person in Maastricht for our European Conference. – it will be our biggest European Conference to date. In parallel, we are also organising our first-ever Event Directors Summit, and two Forums – on Operations & Services as well as on HR. And we will also welcome the first-ever global summit of the Women in Exhibitions network as a collocated event. Altogether, another good example of how the “we” of collaboration drives us forward.





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