“exhibitions are key to rebuilding economies”
More than 100 member companies present from 40 countries and regions met today online to review UFI’s activities throughout 2020 and to confirm plans for the year ahead.
The 2020 UFI General Assembly preceded UFI’s first digital Global Congress, which will take place online from 16-19 November. Chaired by UFI’s 2020 President, Mary Larkin, the General Assembly highlighted an array of new initiatives to support UFI’s global membership in around 83 countries.
Since the start of the year, the COVID-19 outbreaks and pandemic have dominated UFI’s activities. Throughout the year, the vast majority of UFI’s resources have focused on COVID-19 related work, generating and distributing original research and advocacy messaging. At the same time, UFI has supported the work of global, regional and national institutions who are dealing with the outbreaks.
Early in 2020, a sold-out Global CEO Summit took place in Rome, Italy, that included a special session at the Vatican. There, industry leaders met with Pope Francis, who stated: “it has been shown that fairs and exhibitions not only have positive effects on regional economies and labour markets but also offer significant opportunities for showcasing to the wider world the rich diversity and beauty of local cultures and ecosystems.”
Then, COVID-19 hit, and UFI had to postpone, then cancel, many regular face-to-face events and educational offers. As a response, in March, UFI launched “UFI connects”, a series of regular talks, sessions and panels that take place online. Every “UFI connects” session focuses on a specific theme, and time is always allocated for dialogue between the speakers, panellists and session participants. Currently, more than 40 sessions are available, on-demand – and free of charge – on the “UFI connects” area of the UFI website.
A range of COVID-19 resources for UFI members:
— Global Framework for re-opening exhibitions and B2B trade events
This global framework sets out how our industry will run events in COVID-19 conditions. It includes measures and advocacy messages for dialogue with politicians and health authorities and provides global industry guidance.
— Good Practice Guide: addressing COVID-19 requirements for re-opening business events
Building on the global framework, this guidance, jointly launched by AIPC, ICCA and UFI, highlights good industry practices and emerging standards for the implementation of the framework measures from around the world.
— Exhibition Industry Market Status Tracker
Around the world, many authorities are allowing exhibitions and business events to take place again, as long as certain pre-conditions and protective measures are in place. UFI is tracking the current state of markets in this designated document.
— Exhibition & Events Industry Advocacy
The COVID-19 pandemic puts many businesses in our industry at risk. With our partners, UFI is working to advocate globally for specific support programmes from governments tailored to the needs of our sector. Jointly, we have already achieved success in many countries, and continue to work on this.
Covid-19 Global Economic Impact
UFI delivers regular research insights on global, regional and topical themes, and the association’s activities in this area continue to evolve. In line with UFI’s mission to develop and support the industry worldwide, UFI released year-long reports on how COVID-19 impacts on the industry:
– Global Assessments Damage
In March, UFI released the first global assessment of the economic impact that COVID-19 is having on trade shows and exhibitions. Then, in July, UFI released updated figures (covering the full year 2020) showing the global hit on exhibitions and trade shows due to COVID-19.
– Global Barometer
In July, UFI released the latest edition of its flagship Global Barometer research, which takes the pulse of the industry. The report highlights the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the exhibition industry worldwide.
– Report on the Trade Fair Industry in Asia: 16th Edition
UFI released the 16th edition of its Trade Fair Industry in Asia report, capturing an industry in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis. The report, compiled in Hong Kong by BSG, covers the actual performance of the industry in 2019, as well as forecasts for the years 2020 and 2021. Overall, BSG estimates that Asia will record an unprecedented 75% drop in net space sold in 2020, compared to 2019, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means net space sold is expected to fall from the 24.5 million m2 recorded in 2019, down to just 6.8 million m2 in 2020.
– Global Recovery Insights
Published on 20 October, findings from the Global Recovery Insights 2020 report, which are based on more than 9,000 responses from across 30 countries, show that exhibition visitors and exhibitors overwhelmingly prefer live events and that there is no evidence of a major shift away from face-to-face meetings. The majority of exhibiting companies expect a fast return to pre-COVID-19 levels of investment into the marketing channel.
– Waste Management Report in the Exhibitions Industry
This report derived from several UFI actions, including the set-up of dedicated regional task forces around the world and the selection of best practices through the 2020 UFI Award competition on “Best Waste Management”. Contributions from 40 companies covering 22 countries led to this consolidated report of findings. Compiled by Greenview, a member of the UFI Sustainable Development Working Group, the report covers conclusions that emerged from the regulatory landscape, common challenges in waste management and solutions, and examples of best practices from around the world. The size and scope of UFI’s research available to members have grown significantly in recent years and is now considered world-leading.
UFI-Exhibition Management School: A New Industry Education Programme
Based on the excellent reception of UFI’s Venue Management School programme, the association launched a new industry education programme for exhibition organisers: the UFI-Exhibition Management School (UFI-EMS). The UFI-EMS replaces the UFI-Exhibition Management Degree. The sold-out premiere of the UFI-EMS was organised online and ran over a period of four weeks. The programme offered its international group of participants an unmatched learning environment and networking opportunities. The curriculum was delivered by experienced senior-level managers from leading organisers, with a special focus on the Asia-Pacific region.
Following this success, and the strong demand from our members, UFI announced dates for the next UFI-EMS edition, which will take place from 24 January to 18 February 2021. It will combine both global insights and regional expertise for the Middle East and Africa region.
A New Member Benefit: Exhibition Think Tank Club
One of the challenges of the pandemic is that many industry professionals find themselves furloughed or in between jobs. True to UFI’s mission to empower networking and industry connections, the association has joined forces with the Exhibition Think Tank Club platform, originally launched by MBBConsulting Group. Together, UFI and MBB will widen the reach of the platform to enable more industry professionals to network, debate and participate in ETTC projects. As part of this collaboration, UFI member companies can register colleagues as ETTC Gold Members, as an additional member benefit.
The Exhibition Think Tank Club is a global exhibition industry e-platform, to network, discuss and continue to help the industry to move forward. It brings together industry peers from different sectors and countries to share their expertise, vision and insights.
UFI’s outlook for the year ahead
The months ahead will see UFI maintaining a focus on COVID-19 related developments, while continuing to drive industry advocacy efforts, provide regular research and expand its educational offerings, including the recently launched Exhibition Management School, both online and on-site.
There will be two focal points to keep the industry connected and updated. The “UFI connects” series of digital sessions and events will continue to evolve, and, in parallel, the Exhibition Think Tank Club, which UFI member companies can access as a new member benefit, will grow as an international platform for exhibition industry professionals. The Global CEO Summit is planned to take place on-site in Hamburg (Germany) from 3-5 February.