Mexico – Land of opportunity

September 26, 2016

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Blogger: Nick Dugdale-Moore, Business Development Manager at UFI

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Mexico is the best place in Latin America to be working or investing right now.  The following chart says it all.  Mexico recorded an incredible 10% growth in real GDP last year, second globally only to Indonesia, with 13%.

mexico-blogSource: Globex Report, AMR International. (UFI members receive 20% discount)

When you compare that to the modest growth in Europe or the States, and the other neighbourhood powerhouse Brazil (whose GDP contracted 7% in real terms), it looks even more impressive.

That is reflected in the responses from Mexican exhibition companies who took part in our latest Global Exhibition Barometer (July 2016) survey.  One result showed an increase in companies expecting their turnover to increase in the first half of 2017, up from 67% to 80%.

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Secondly, we asked companies to rate what issues keep them awake at night.  Globally the top answer was the state of the local economy, with 27%, however in Mexico this was only the fourth most important concern.

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Finally back to AMR’s Globex.  Despite Mexico’s net square space sold growing by 8% from 2014-2015 (the largest growth in the world) the leading international players combined control only 12% of the revenue by market, the lowest of any major developing market, and compared with 32% in nearby Brazil.

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Against this backdrop we joined the Mexican exhibition industry association – AMPROFEC – at their annual Congress in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, in August.  I joined the UFI President Sergey Alexeev and Managing Director Kai Hattendorf.

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The Mexican exhibition industry has every reason to feel good about itself at the moment.  This November sees the launch of their Certificación programme, a comprehensive exhibition training programme developed with and run through the Panamerican University in Mexico City. Two years in the making, this has been devised with the full backing and support of the entire Mexican industry, from organizers and venues through to suppliers, and will certainly help to train the next generation of exhibition professionals.  If you also take into account some well established local organising companies and well developed venue infrastructure including the largest venue in Latin America, the future looks bright.

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The largest of the international organisers, Reed, EJ Krause and UBM are now being joined by many more players; earlier this year Fira Barcelona partnered with ANTAD to bring Alimentaria to the country, and most recently Deutsche Messe has entered the Mexican market with a majority stake in Magna ExpoMueblera, whose show runs in January in Centro Banamex, Mexico City.  However the local organisers need to be afraid of this “foreign invasion,” Mexico is a large market with several cities with well established exhibition cultures outside of Mexico City including Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla and Merida, and there are many shows which are still association-owned.

So I believe that all sides stand to benefit here – that the introduction of international players running shows to international standards will help local organisers to up their game too, while of course offering a better experience and results for the visitors and exhibitors.

How can UFI help this process?  We can continue the work we are doing through our Latin American chapter; spreading the word and growing our membership, providing robust data in regular research papers, promoting international best practices for both organisers and venues.  But most importantly – by mainlining the dialogue, continuing to make friends and build relationships.

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We will continue the discussion at the Latin American Chapter meeting on Friday 11th November at our annual Congress in Shanghai.   The topics will include :

  1. An update on UFI’s activities and plans in the region
  2. A presentation of AMPROFEC’s Certicación programme
  3. Denzil Rankine will present findings from the latest Globex report on Mexico and Brazil

So I hope you can join us in Shanghai.  If not, watch this space.  But more importantly, keep an eye on Mexico.


Social media & trade fairs – a perfect match

September 22, 2016

Heimtextil 2016

Blogger: Thimo Schwenzfeier, Head of Marketing Communication for Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH’s textiles and textile technology events*.

* like the Heimtextil trade fair, or the relatively young projects like the ethical fashion show and the Greenshowroom during the Fashion Week in Berlin.

Online communication and social media have become an integral part of major events and trade fairs. But how do trade fair organizers conduct their own online marketing and their own social media engagement? What do visitors and especially exhibitors do? Where is further development heading?

Mandatory: Strategies for online marketing and social media engagement

About four years ago, we began strategically expanding our social media activities for Heimtextil. The first hurdle consisted of breaking down the internal scepticism toward Facebook activities for a B2B event, while at the same time developing internal know-how using external support. Since then, our community has grown – largely organically – to almost 40,000 people.

We are witnessing increasing dialogue with visitors and exhibitors pertaining to service issues or even specific exhibitor inquiries with regard to participation in events. Leading up to the trade fairs, the primary queries pertain to tickets, appointments, hotels, packages, tourist information or possible hindrances due to strikes. At events like the ethical fashion show with its social-savvy clients, the digital exchange is much more lively.

We are therefore on a good path toward achieving the objectives of our long-term social media strategy. Social media implementation contributes sustainably to branding, serves as a service infrastructure, makes it easier for us to make contacts, provides us a way to engage in more intensive dialogue with our target groups, leads to actual sales requests and provides us with whole new ways to mobilize and work together with exhibitors and visitors.

Select the right platforms to reach your audiences

We run a very content-driven strategy. This is not least due to the fact that our trade fairs in the textile environment primarily provide subject matter with very good image and video material and of course also address a wide audience beyond just the professional world. This allows us to more easily gain attractive content that is easy to share. The core element of our engagement for Heimtextil is our blog. It includes articles from leading specialist media (via media partnerships), contributions from our own editorial team, and to a limited extent also curated content from exhibitors.

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Our guiding principle in developing the blog was to establish an individual media channel relevant to the market, which provides for a broad range of content – even contributed by third parties – which extends beyond the scope of the official trade fair website and a visual design that speaks specifically to our target groups. The blog also contributes considerably to the SEO of the topics we deal with, serves as a social media hub and thus as an interface to the social web. Not only the number of visitors and the feedback we have received from visitors prove that we have taken the right approach.

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We primarily rely on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Xing und LinkedIn to market our content and for dialogue with the community. We also use our Pinterest and Google+ channels, albeit to a more limited extent. For video, we not only use Youtube, but also Messe Frankfurt´s media library and, with increasing success, Facebook Video.

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We selectively invest smaller budgets in Facebook advertising and are currently also testing Instagram for visitor advertising. We can largely do without AdWords due to the good search ranking of our blog. Otherwise, we closely synchronize our social activities with our classic online offerings on the website, in our newsletter, or with our trade fair apps. In addition to this, we are currently intensifying our engagement in the business networks XING and LinkedIn with regard to both content and dialogue. We are also gradually starting to personalize our social activities. Selected colleagues will be increasingly active in the networks and in dialogue as experts for specific topics.

Solid integration of social media in the organisation

We don’t have social media managers, but our PR team oversees all channels with external support. Continuous monitoring, dialogue, and of course content management are an integral part of the colleagues’ daily tasks. This makes it easier for us to manage our activities in a fully integrated and well orchestrated way across all channels and communication disciplines.

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We also control the overarching content strategies centrally for our various events at the national and international level. After all, 50 of our events take place abroad, besides Frankfurt and Berlin for example in Buenos Aires, New York, Moskau or Shanghai. Of course the teams of the individual trade fairs or even our international colleagues have a high degree of freedom with regard to the specific design of their channels. But we define the strategic guidelines from Frankfurt.

When it comes to content management, monitoring and determining the success of our activities, we use tools made by Hootsuite, 247grad-connect, Webtrekk and Brandwatch.

Extraordinary social media experiences and cooperation with exhibitors

Of course everyone hopes for the viral hit, but ultimately, the secret to success is sustainable continuity. However, we have had some nice one-offs. After posting a weather picture in connection with a flood in 2013 we all sat amazed in front of the monitor: 13,000 retweets! Sometimes viral miracles also arise in cooperation with exhibitors. For example, a Facebook post about a trade fair project of the fashion brand Desigual generated 250,000 likes. This particular post was about cases for Motorola phones. Of course, we also had campaigns that weren’t so successful or even trumped by our random photo of a family of ducks who waddled through the Techtextil/Texprocess construction site.

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Cooperation with the exhibitors has intensified significantly in recent years, even though only about a third of them are active in the social web. Some companies including Desigual, Jeanologia and Möwe are even very successful on the social web. Meanwhile, our exhibitors together with the visitors and our own activities are providing good buzz around our events. And content produced by exhibitors plays a central role in particular. After all, one-third of the exhibitors actively provide us with text, images or videos for the channels we curate. However, we can only use about 10 percent of the material, selected by relevance and quality, in our limited editorial space. In addition to this, we are making an effort to bring together the entire value chain of the industry from manufacturers to retailers and consumers with initiatives like TextileRäume, for example.

Otherwise, we are working with exhibitors towards increasingly digital networking of the industry not only via likes, shares, etc. on the social web, but also via Messe Frankfurt’s platforms, which are heavily used by exhibitors. These range from the digital directory of exhibitors to the sophisticated product search and the B2B provider portal productpilot.com. Many people not only search for opening times during the trade fairs, but for products or business contacts throughout the year.

Next steps within the Digital Transformation

We will further expand our blog as an independent platform along with the associated media partnerships, because this is seen in the market as an independent and relevant source of information.

We are currently testing the use of messenger groups to provide selected partners with information in advance. However, we are faced with the unresolved issue of data protection here. We are keeping an eye on Snapchat, the shooting star among the networks, but not yet planning further activity.

Depending on the importance for specific markets and our events on location, we will also be increasing our engagement in regional social networks like the Russian VK.com or the very big networks in China.

We will be placing special emphasis on business communities like LinkedIn and Xing. Due to the increasing scope of these platforms, we see an opportunity to make even closer contact with our core target group with content, communities and dialogue.

Last but not least, the digitalization of all processes and the communication surrounding the trade fairs will continue. The integral networking that this involves will confront everyone involved with new challenges and new opportunities. In this way, we will actively support our exhibitors and visitors with our expertise and modern digital offerings.

For further information on the Digital Business Transformation watch our Connected Blog.


The MICE Industry in Indonesia

September 19, 2016

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Blogger: Aage Hansen, President Director Deutsche Messe Venue Operations, Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE)

The overall tourism industry has emerged as one of the key drivers of the country’s growth. Its contribution towards the economic and employment has significantly increased over the past numbers of years. In Asia Pacific especially Indonesia, the tourism sector has proven to give a significant contribution to the country’s economic growth.

The MICE industry (meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition) is one of the biggest growth platforms of the Tourism sector. The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism is accelerating and working hard to expand the tourism sector to reach the target of 20 million tourist by 2019.

The Indonesian government has set a numbers of strategic initiatives for the improvement and promotion of MICE destination including continuous supports in the development of new MICE venues. The Ministry of tourism is aiming on bringing in more international events into Indonesia. Just recently, Indonesia has been chosen as the host for the 39 th PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Travel Mart event. This event was held at Indonesia Convention Exhibition (ICE) and being attended by more than 1000 delegates from 60 countries. We believe that this type of event will created economic spin off for the region, both in short and long term.


Social Media – A lonely profession?

September 16, 2016

UFI - Angela Herberholz - Marketing and Communications Manager

Blogger: Angela Herberholz Marketing and Communications Manager (UFI)

I recently attended Quadriga University’s 9th Conference Social Media – Social Media as a Mindset in Berlin where professional social media users met and exchanged! The paradox is, while we live and breathe social media every day to connect virtually with friends and peers around the world, working within social media can actually be a lonely profession. Most companies do not have the luxury to employ multiple community managers and so often have just one dedicated staff member to drive the company’s activities and engage with clients on social media. Responsible for our online community, I sometimes end up listening and talking with hundreds of people, sharing valuable content, engaging in discussions, liking videos, and sharing pictures without “meeting” them in person.  But working in the exhibition industry it‘s natural that one of my biggest professional hobbies is face-to-face exchange with peers through networking. So it was an incredible experience to meet and mingle with professionals working with, and living for, social media in Berlin. In this blog I want to share some insights that I have carried back to my desk in Paris.

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What is the ROI of Social Media?

Who has not heard that question? I am sure everyone has been challenged with this the moment you tried to develop your company’s or association’s activities on social media. But what was your answer? Although today there is no secret about the power of social media and its benefits, everyone I spoke with in Berlin agreed that measuring the return on investment of social media is not optional, but that it’s a difficult task. How do your social media efforts contribute to the company’s broader business goals? People seem to forget that social media is NOT a separate exercise but it is part of the overall digital strategy. Here is how AXA in Switzerland measures its added value generated through activities on social media: Web 2.0 + Enterprise 2.0 = 4x ROI. Maybe this gives you an idea on how to reply next time you are asked why your work matters.

3 trends not to ignore in the next 6 months

A panel of experts, together with massive experience and knowhow from among the delegates, allowed us at the end of the conference to identify the three big trends for social media that will keep us busy within the next six months.

User-to-User: (UGC)

Netzwerk mit Sprechblasen, Gefllt mir - Button

What is more effective than you, or someone you pay for, talking about your brand, your products and services? Yes of course: your end-users, consumers, opinion leaders sharing their own experience, their own stories with and around your company and what you do. User Generated Content (UGC) is already big today, but in the next six months you should try to engage your target group even more, listening to their stories and re-sharing them. Give your exhibition not one face but many, listen to your customers and engage them. After all we are all happy if our blog post is picked up by someone else or being talked about, and if it’s used well by someone else that’s even more exciting. One successful example of UGC I’m lucky to have been involved in was the campaign around Global Exhibitions Day #GED16, when people worldwide shared their support (videos, pictures, articles, interviews, etc.) for the exhibition industry.

Are your followers real?

Cute blue robot with message board 'Follow me'

Did you know more and more twitter accounts are not managed by “real” people? The number of bots in social media networks is set to increase in the next six months. If you are not that familiar with bots let me help you: Bots are algorithms acting in social media networks on your behalf. But to the outside world, they look like a real user, they can like articles and suggest services and products that match your needs, and they interact with you without you noticing that you’re actually “interacting” with a programmed system. They come in all shapes and sizes and are borderline perfect. So do you know if you are engaging with human beings or chatting with robots? Although I see the value of bots for some companies, UFI will not follow this trend. We represent the face-to-face industry, and when we go online we still  represent human-to-human. There is no intention to change that!

Live Streaming

Filming at a Pop Concert

Continuing the trend from 2015, we can expect 2016 to be characterised by a huge expansion of live streaming on social media. If you work with Facebook, you will have noticed some weeks back that the biggest social network in the world has put in place an easy way to share live videos though their platform. Facebook demonstrates that the ranking of live video is much higher in user’s News Feeds than saved video content. I expect the cutting-edge feeling and interactive nature of live streaming will and should shape the way we report from exhibitions and events. With the falling cost and increasing speed and battery life of mobile devices, I believe this trend to continue. The predictions for end 2016 show that up to 70% of internet traffic and a similar proportion of video viewing will go through mobile devices.


Pre-UFI Congress Interview with Jimé Essink, UBM Asia

September 14, 2016

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Blogger: Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc.

Digitize is a verb. According to dictionary.com, it means: 1. to convert (data) to digital form for use in a computer; 2. to convert (analogous physical measurements) to digital form.

In this case, the digitalization we’re talking about is the unlikely pairing of one of the top two exhibition companies in the world with the largest online retailer in China. In other words, it’s taking analog (face-to-face events) and extending it’s reach to an online platform (converting to digital).

Discussion about this affiliation is one of the featured sessions at the upcoming UFI Congress in Shanghai, China November 9-12. As part of the Strategy Track, “Online 2 Offline 2 Online O2O2O – success?” Jimé Essink, President & CEO, UBM Asia Ltd. (Hong Kong) is going to discuss the partnership and it’s results so far.

I had the chance to ask Jimé a few questions about the groundbreaking O2O2O program.

SS: What made UBM decide to partner with Alibaba in the first place? One would think at first glance that partnering with an online organization would weaken your exhibitions. It seems counterintuitive for growing the Sign China and LED China expos. (Both exhibitions take place September 19-22 at the SNIEC.)

JE: We (the events industry) were very concerned that on-line would eat our events business 10 years ago. We realise now that people need face to face contact, especially in B2B, and that on-line can not replace events. However we also know that the right application of technology will make the difference between successful and not successful events in the future. Combining the strength of an on-line company with an events company is the way to go. On-line companies have big and valuable databases and sophisticated digital solutions, event companies have brands and experience to organise superior live events.

Combining these two different capabilities makes it possible to develop a successful O2O2O solution (on-line, to off-line to on-line), where sophisticated data and search lead to on-line matches (first O), consequently to pre-planned meetings at events (second O) and consequently to conducting business on-line as a result of the successful meet, using Alibaba services to make trade easier and more efficient (third O).

SS: What does Alibaba receive for its end of the partnership? In other words, what is in it for them?

JE: They get access to trade conducted at or as a result of face-to-face events. This will provide a wider basis for Alibaba services and more (transaction) data.

SS: How does it work for exhibitors? Do all exhibitors have access? What happens if they have a service versus equipment or other products to sell?

JE: Yes, all exhibitors will get access, but the third “O” will not be relevant for all, for example, those companies who only provide services. Also the Alibaba trade support function is developed for Chinese exhibitors to start. Sophisticated search, matchmaking and meets at the show can be organised for all exhibitors (and visitors).

SS: What kind of feedback are you receiving from exhibitors about the O2O2O in advance of the exhibitions later this month?

JE: Come to the UFI Congress!

SS: Anything you want to share about the visitor experience with O2O2O before the shows?

JE: Come to the UFI Congress!

SS: Alibaba, as a digital company must track a lot of information. What kind of analytics will UBM receive from Alibaba? How do you plan to use them?

JE: Alibaba and UBM will share all the data, which is generated by the solution, including transaction data. This data should give us better insight in trade conducted during and after events (what, who, volumes etc.) and deeper insight in customer behaviour, which we can use for developing better products/concepts and marketing purposes.

SS: Looking forward to hearing the results! Thank you Jimé.


It is always great to see developing markets in our industry!

September 12, 2016

Sergey Alexeev_February 2016

Blogger: Sergey Alexeev, UFI President

I am just back from Monterrey, Mexico, where I attended the 19th AMPROFEC Conference, and saw the Mexican exhibition industry upbeat about its future. With more and more international attention on Mexico as an exhibition business opportunity, a number of our industry’s global players are working together with national businesses, while established regional players are expanding as well.

am1 UFI will help our members to get even better access to Mexico, while also making it easier for Mexican exhibition players to connect with their international peers. On stage in Monterrey, AMPROFEC President Edward Kelley and I signed a collaboration agreement between our two associations. We are already working together very well on research and mutual support. And we can build on this to do more.

It is good to see how our friends from AMPROFEC are working on expanding their offerings, with a structured, systematic approach. Among other things, they are beginning to roll out a certification programme for future leaders in the Mexican exhibition industry, drawing on knowledge and expertise from senior Mexican industry experts to deliver a programme tailored to the country’s needs. Congratulations!

During my year as your president, I have already seen similar energy and enthusiasm in a number of other developing markets, as well as in big markets like the US and Germany. Wherever I go, it is great to see that this combination of dedicated national associations together with UFI’s global reach and perspective leads to so much value for the respective market players. As UFI, we benefit from the insights into separate markets to build an international and global view of our industry. Likewise, the national associations benefit from the global reach they can have through UFI, including access to research, educational content, and a network of exhibition industry professionals around the world.

I see this cooperation as a natural “win-win” for all involved. So today I would like to call on all the 56 national and international associations who we work with as members and partners: Keep up the great work you’re doing in collaboration. It makes our industry better!


The Value Of Global Exhibition Industry Research

September 7, 2016

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Blogger: Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director

Vacation time has ended, and the global trade show calendar shows the beginning of another busy season. Despite difficult times in a number of markets, our industry is growing globally, proving the resilience of the trade show business model.

But UFI’s latest Global Barometer also proves once more one of the most common sayings in our industry – that trade show performance follows the developments of the markets they serve.

If we’re looking for growth, the US reports an optimistic outlook for the remainder of 2016. And there is Asia as a whole, still with China in the lead. Over the past weeks, we also published our annual report on the trade show industry in Asia-Pacific, showing that total exhibition space sold at Asian trade fairs increased by another 5.6% in 2015. With a 7.8% year-on-year growth rate of space sold India is showing the fastest growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region.

Data from hundreds of shows goes into these reports. The latest Global Barometer alone includes data from 56 countries, gathered from the UFI membership together with a number of leading regional and national associations who collaborate with us on delivering the best possible data.

Trends and megatrends take shape in the data

With regular research like this, we are able to support the global exhibition industry with vital trends and statistics that you, our members, can use when you plot your business strategies. And as we stay on course with research projects, we can also provide you with comparisons over the years, allowing for trends and megatrends to take shape in the data. For example, Asia’s venue capacity is set to exceed 7.8 million sqm by the end of 2016, and the number of venues operating in Asia this year will reach 207 – that is more than double the 100 venues that were in operation in 2004 when the rst edition of this report was published. In 2016, China will be home to 108 venues and more than 5.5 million sqm of gross indoor capacity. That represents more than 70% of total capacity available in the region.

Focus On Security

At the same time, we are constantly working on improving UFI’s research offers. For the Barometer, we have added a segment where we focus on what is keeping our industry awake at night. This time, we zoomed in on additional security measuresintroduced at exhibitions and in venues after the recent waves of terror attacks. A large majority of companies polled for the Barometer reports an increase in security-related activities. These vary from additional screening of visitors and exhibitors to additional information for attendees, controls onsite during events and occasionally checking lists of pre-registered participants in liaison with government institutions. It is particularly interesting to see the regional differences that the data shows here, revealing the different needs of organisers and attendees in different exhibition markets around the world. I recommend you take a look at it, I am sure that you’ll find valuable insights from a global view – as well as from the 12 core exhibition markets that we can now cover in detail.


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