Making the most of our partnership with Myanmar

December 2, 2016

Jaruwan CEM1

Blogger: Mrs. Jaruwan Suwannasat Director, Exhibition and Events Department of TCEB

Myanmar’s growing appetite for products such as premium food and beverages, machinery and luxury items is making our neighbour to the north-west, without doubt, an important market for exhibition organisers in Thailand.

Fuelled by the fact that more than a fifth of Myanmar’s population will be middle class by the year 2020, the country’s impact on trade shows – certainly in terms of visitors – in Thailand has risen steadily since 2011.

Exhibitors too, though proportionately fewer in number than visitors, attended Thai events particularly in the Food and Agriculture (45.84% of the total), Automotive (17.29%) and Health and Wellness (10.13%) sectors. These sectors are well represented in Thailand by events such as UBM’s Food Ingredients Asia, Reed Tradex’s Automotive Manufacturing and Informa’s Beyond Beauty ASEAN.

However, these are not the only shows that are set to benefit from Thailand’s closer ties with Myanmar. In news that will be of interest to organisers of seafood and related exhibitions, both nations have committed to intensify their cooperation on fisheries development, through joint investment in fishing fleet activity in select areas currently short on fishing resources.

This is good news for leading Thai events such as Food Ingredients Asia and Viv Asia, and crucially, Koelnmesse’s Thaifex-World of Seafood, which takes place at the Impact exhibition centre in Bangkok on 31 May to 4 June, 2017. The 13th edition of this event, held this year, was the largest and most impactful show yet, attracting a total of 42,528 trade visitors – a 21 per cent increase from 35,205 in 2015 – and 1,919 exhibitors from 40 countries. Knowing Myanmar and Thailand are working together to increase their output creates even more opportunity for international companies.

On the ground, infrastructure developments such as the Dawei special economic zone, which aims to facilitate trade between the two countries, as well as Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as the ‘Discovering Thainess’ campaign of last year; Myanmar’s attendance at Thai exhibitions can only grow stronger.

Myanmar’s ministry of commerce is upgrading the trading facilities of its customs and excise offices on the border with Thailand as a result of trade promotions standards dictated by ASEAN membership. And following the advent of the ASEAN Economic Community, together with the freedom of labour it created, Thailand has requested that Myanmar expedites its labour nationality verification process.

Thailand’s trade shows are just a border away – and with it Myanmar’s access the global trading community.


Evolving business models in the event and exhibition industry

November 30, 2016


Blogger: Manish Chandak, President & CEO, Ungerboeck Software International

This fall I had the privilege to attend two key conferences of the global meetings & exhibitions industry: the UFI Congress in Shanghai, China, and the ICCA Congress in Kuching, Malaysia.

The annual conferences of ICCA and UFI are unique opportunities to exchange and get a better understanding of what moves venues, destinations and event and meeting planners. Both conferences are prime examples of valuable face-to-face meetings while at the same time they emphasize the importance of industry associations, not only in the event world.

New event models emerging

At the ICCA Congress in Kuching, I had the unique opportunity to attend a great session led by Kai Hattendorf, CEO UFI, David DuBois, CEO IAEE and Walter Yeh, President AFECA where the topic of a unison between trade shows and association meetings was discussed. The session discussed the question why trade shows and international association meetings are often treated as separate species. The idea behind the discussion: bringing knowledge and content from associations into trade shows to create synergies and combine benefits into one successful event with shared commercial interest.

As attendee preferences evolve and as the reasons people attend congresses and exhibitions change, classic event formats need to be redesigned. In today’s world, events compete with free knowledge sharing and networking enabled by the internet. This changes the business rules significantly.

This is where new event models need to emerge. One example is the “ConFex” model which merges the trade show and the conference, as discussed by Kai Hattendorf.


Innovative business models in the event and exhibition industry

Exhibitions used to be all about selling goods or services to attendees and generating business. But as the industry undergoes a change, exhibitions are evolving from enabling sales to generating brand awareness to imparting knowledge. Attendees come for “newness” and innovation, and not just for buying goods and services. Association conferences have the primary purpose to impart knowledge and network.


If we look at the triangle of trade, branding and content that Kai Hattendorf presented at the Asian MICE Forum, the role of associations with their subject matter expertise becomes even clearer in the context of trade shows. This is also the case for media companies as they become increasingly active as trade show organizers for professional expos and shows.

Merging a trade fair and a conference may significantly increase the value of a company’s investment in a show by creating additional sponsorship and marketing opportunities. This event model also adds to the delegate experience; exhibitions tend to engage visitors in a much more emotional way than breakout sessions at regular conferences do (although classic conference presentations are more and more being replaced by interactive formats and workshops).

For organizers, the creation of a combined conference with an exhibition works very much in favor of the perceived value of visitors and exhibitors. This, of course, can be of great help when it comes to selling tickets, trade show booths and sponsorships. Furthermore, this model guarantees a very targeted set of attendees, which can be beneficial for marketing and sponsorship purposes.

Events like IAEE’s ExpoExpo or the marketing event dmexco successfully combine educational conference elements with an exciting show floor.

The ConFex model: Some tips

If you are considering evolving your business model to the ConFex style, here are a few things and questions to consider:

  1. Can the exhibition bring additional value and experience rather than a typical sales oriented exhibition?
  2. Can the exhibition floor time be weaved into the conference agenda seamlessly?
  3. Can the venue provide the right experience for attendee flow from conference to exhibition and provide the right experience for both?
  4. Is there an amicable revenue sharing between the conference and the exhibition?

Another idea is the rotating conference, so companies may partner with various tradeshows in different geographies that are organized by the same association. This can bring variety and cost benefits to the conference and association.

At the end of the day, the most important consideration is whether or not the format of the event will deliver value to attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, and for many organizations the ConFex model is an option that may prove to do just that.

Why I Like Hybrid Events

November 15, 2016


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

IMEX America was recently held in Las Vegas. It was the sixth edition and, by all accounts, was a huge success with 12,227 attendees, of which 3,216 from 60 countries were hosted buyers. There were over 60,000 appointments pre-scheduled with 3,250 exhibiting organizations and companies.

Hosted buyers were required to hold between 8-10 pre-scheduled appointments daily (about one per half hour). They chose exhibitors they wanted to see and were able to share with them the kind of information they were looking for prior meeting in person (I.E.: RFP’s, size and type of meetings, etc.).

Exhibitors were also able to reach out to attendees that fit the profile they were searching for. This matchmaking process guarantees exhibitors some qualified traffic during the show – regardless of booth location and size, and assures hosted buyer attendees their time will not be wasted.

Hosted buyer programs take a bit more work than normal attendee acquisition, but done correctly, can be cost-effective – and good for your show. By having strict criteria to enroll in the program, qualified attendees are guaranteed to sign up early, which is great for selling more exhibit space.

Welcoming regular attendees to the show provides the serendipity of an attendee walking down the aisle and liking an exhibitor’s product or service. There may be a decision maker an exhibitor’s company has tried to communicate with, but never returned emails or phone calls, that walks up to their booth and strikes up a conversation. Or someone who is not in an exhibitor’s client database may become a customer, again by virtue of walking down an aisle or seeking out new suppliers in specific categories.

Having both types of attendees on the show floor at the same time helps ensure happy exhibitors, and exhausted but satisfied attendees. Think about trying out the hybrid model for your show.

Charging Thailand’s energy trade with Asia’s battery: Lao

November 3, 2016

Jaruwan CEM1

Blogger: Mrs. Jaruwan Suwannasat, Director, Exhibition and Events Department of TCEB

Lao PDR is a country experiencing remarkable and stable economic growth, a fact that increases its stock as a trading partner for businesses seeking to find Laotian partnerships at exhibitions in Thailand and the ASEAN. In fact this year the Asian Development Bank predicted that Lao’s economy will grow 7.3 per cent.

This economic growth makes the fact more than 28,000 Laotians visited Thailand in 2015; a figure up 26 per cent on 2014, all the more substantial. Lao has become a considerable trading partner for Thailand.

So it will come as little surprise that our governments are working together to promote core shared industries, and exhibitions are a major access point for people around the world to get involved.

Key to this collaboration is Lao positioning itself as ‘Asia’s Battery’, a fact that brings it into logical coalition with industry in Thailand. Energy production and storage is one of the five sectors that Thailand, and specific to our industry – TCEB – is working to develop.

Rising demand for energy, offset against depleting fossil fuels is pushing the market not just in ASEAN but worldwide, towards non-conventional sources of energy. Energy demand is expected to increase by 70 per cent between 2012 and 2035.

On 21-22 September Thailand’s General Anantaporn Kanjanarat revealed that Thailand has signed an MoU for a Power Integration Project with Lao PDR and Malaysia, which it hopes will contribute towards energy security in the region.

In March next year, the Sustainable Energy & Technology Asia 2017 event (SETA 2017) takes place at BITEC in Bangkok. It will be followed by the Asean Sustainable Energy Week 2017 in June, events that cover the storage and distribution of energy from renewable sources.

We hope to attract the likes of key industry players such as General Electric, NEC Corporation and NRG Energy, which lead the way in the global energy storage device market. And this year, we expect to see a greater discussion between such firms and providers across the border in our neighbour, Lao.

With the market accelerating towards non-conventional sources of energy, the future seems promising for exhibitions and events in the energy storage devices market. And while geographically, ASEAN, North America, and Europe are the three most lucrative markets for storage devices, the ASEAN market is the most diverse, with a large population base and robust economic growth.

Partnerships such as the one blossoming between Thailand and Lao are powering the spotlight on South East with more energy than ever.

UFI President’s update

October 17, 2016

Sergey Alexeev_February 2016

Blogger: Sergey Alexeev, UFI President

In September, I had the pleasure to welcome UFI’s Executive Committee to my home town, St. Petersburg.

There, we discussed all the major activities UFI is pursuing, in the area of research, on education programmes and events, on industry advocacy efforts like Global Exhibition Day, and many others. I am proud of the many achievements and activities I have reported to you over recent months. And I want to share one more success with you today: The EEIA, UFI’s collaboration with EMECA, has won a tender to run an EU project that will directly benefit ten trade shows with a total of more than one million euros. This is the first time that we have achieved direct EU funding for our industry, so I want to congratulate Barbara Weizsäcker and everyone involved!

One of the main points of our St. Petersburg meeting was the update from our Managing Director/CEO Kai Hattendorf on our upcoming Global Congress in Shanghai. Already now, delegates from more than 50 countries have signed up. Our teams in Paris and Hong Kong are working at full speed, together with our hosts in Shanghai, led by former UFI President Xianjin Chen. I am fascinated by the great content we are preparing! I am especially looking forward to two features of this year’s Congress: First, there is the “Next Generation Leaders“ session, where UFI’s five grant-winners will shine light on how our industry will change in the years ahead. Normally, we older members of the industry do our best to teach the younger ones. But here we’ll have the chance to listen and learn. My second recommendation for you is the session on “What visitors want – and hate“. In the past months, UFI and our official research partner Explori have been shifting through global data to filter out what makes – and keeps – visitors happy, and just as importantly, how organisers can retain and bring back unhappy visitors to their shows. I believe that this will be an exciting addition to UFI’s growing research portfolio!

Personally, I was in Shanghai at the beginning of this year, and I have been amazed by the changes the city has gone through and by its new venues. So, in my opinion, this city  currently is the place where every leader of our industry must have spant at least a few days, to understand some future developments of our industry.

So if you haven’t signed up yet, because you’ve been as busy as most of us – make sure not to wait too long. It only takes five minutes, and you can have your space secured.

I look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks in Shanghai!

5 Reasons Badges We Are Using Don’t Work

October 12, 2016


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

Badges are one of the standard things in all exhibitions and events. We require them for entrance to our events, and they also help people with introductions. Here are five reasons what we presently use on our badges is bad, and what should be changed for the future.

  1. Lanyards. Why do we use these? To make money! What a terrible sponsorship. Aren’t we as an industry beyond that kind of wasted marketing? Lanyards force us to gaze at everyone’s navels, or chests instead of people’s faces. When sitting down, badges are usually somewhere below the label of the table. Not so helpful if you’re trying to network. If you insist on using lanyards, please make badges double-sided because they always turn around to the unprinted size. Always.
  2. Most adults are not able read badges because print size is tiny. Why do most badges which measure 3×5 inch badges (76×127 mm) have a font size of 3? Or maybe 12? How far away can the average adult see that size font? (Not far!) Why do I need a magnifying glass to read your name and/or company on your badge, and you are standing right in front of me? Why all the empty space? You have a huge canvas. Use it!
  3. Information shared on badges is either useless for starting a conversation or way too much. What should we share? Names. Titles. Company. Where the badge holder is from. That’s it.
  4. Logos taking up most of the badge space. We all know the name of the event we are attending or exhibiting in. I’m all for branding, but what’s the point of the badge? To see your show logo, or to see the name and important information about the people wearing them? While we’re at it, please don’t sell sponsorships with company logos on badges. Is it your show or one of your sponsors? Use your event logo. Just keep it small.
  5. Color-coded badges. If your expo is using colors to differentiate job titles/sectors, keep it super simple. Most show organizers share this information on a sheet of paper or in an email, but no one remembers what is what, i.e.: green for exhibitors, yellow for non-exhibiting suppliers, red for press, blue for buyers, purple for VIP buyers, brown for …

If the purpose of badges is to facilitate communication within our communities, then let’s use them do just that.

Sharing knowledge across platforms for the exhibition industry

October 5, 2016


Blogger: Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director

When we meet at the UFI Global Congress in Shanghai, we will discuss the trends and developments that create ripples of change in our industry. One of these is the way that digital media and marketing channels impact the way we reach out and interact with our customers and business prospects.

The same is true, in many ways, for the way we at UFI are reaching out to you, our members. Technically a company, or an association, is signed up as a UFI member. But this membership also extends to employees from these companies, at the discretion of their leaders, opening up a wealth of UFI services to all staff members.

And, in the age where content is more important than ever, of course we make sure all UFI news and updates are easily accessible for everyone. To achieve this, over the past year we have reviewed, refined, and reshaped UFI’s communication channels – improving access for all of you, the more than 50,000 industry professionals directly employed by our members worldwide.

While you are reading this column here on the UFI Blog, its traditional home is UFI’s monthly newsletter “UFI Info“. And if you are reading this text in Portuguese, Mandarin, or another language that is not English, you may be with one of our media partners worldwide.

As a global association, we strive to make our content available everywhere where we serve the industry. You most likely receive “UFI Info“ every month (if not, you can sign up here). You can sign up to receive your personal copy of “Exhibition World“ magazine . And you can make sure you receive the exclusive weekly “m+a / UFI Exhibition Newsletter“, giving a rundown of developments in our industry from all around the world.

But beyond these there is much, much more: We are active on Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn, and of course on Twitter as well. Last month, as an example, we premiered a new global interactive format, a “UFI Twitter Chat“, a 45 minutes long real-time conversation among industry professionals. I joined the session at nine pm local time from Taipei, and found people on there from California (where it was six o’clock in the morning), and from Europe, where it was the middle of the day. If you want to see for yourself, the next chat is on 13 October 2016.

Also, this month, in the run-up to our Shanghai Congress, we are proud to share that we have now also added WeChat, Asia’s dominant digital mobile platform, to UFI’s communication outlets. There we share UFI news in Mandarin and English.

We are investing increasingly in these digital communication channels, as they allow you to get in touch very easily with the whole UFI team, and they allow us to share news and developments quickly with all of you. So I invite you to follow us, to connect and to “like“ us, to share, to be part of our industry’s global UFI community online – so that your job and your business can benefit from valuable news and exchanges.

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