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.

Delivering on trade promises with trade shows

October 3, 2016

Jaruwan CEM1

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

The second Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat took place in Bangkok in August, an event that saw Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen sign several accords aimed at increasing trade, security and tourism, in addition to cooperation in agriculture and labour.

The two leaders are now working to boost bilateral trade to a level three times beyond its current position; or US$15 billion by 2020. But while news that Cambodian exports to Thailand are increasing, there is a need for his country to process its own products, instead of relying on raw material exports. After all, these will lead to higher margins and help to evolve Cambodia’s export profile. “If Cambodia only relies on exporting raw materials, we lose out on potential profits from our resources,” explained Sou Dara, deputy director general of the trade promotion department at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce.

The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) will certainly play its part, having identified great opportunity for Cambodian visitors at Thailand’s exhibitions and business events. Visitors grew 155 per cent in 2015 from 2014 in terms of total visitors, a number that rises to 355 per cent growth if considering the food and agriculture industry alone; currently the greatest area of interest for Cambodian buyers. Fifty-three per cent of Cambodia’s total visitors attended shows in this industry, followed by automotive (10.74%) and health and wellness (7.88%).

In terms of attendance at specific exhibitions, the top five Thai shows for the Cambodian market are the food and agriculture events VIV Asia, Food Ingredients Asia, Food & Hotel Thailand, as well as RetailEx and FranchisEx ASEAN, TFBO and TRAFS, which when combined welcomed 55 per cent of Cambodia’s total visitors to Thailand in 2015.

We should expect to see more Cambodia visitors at food and agriculture trade shows in 2017, as VIV Asia will be joined by two co-located events Agritechnica Asia and Horti Asia, effectively expanding the event’s spectrum from feed to food producers.

Cambodia is looking to increase its global profile using Thai exhibitions. As Sou Dara, deputy director general of the trade promotion department at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, explained following the recent edition of the Thailand Exhibition Trade show: “The presence of Cambodian businesspeople in [trade] exhibitions will help boost the trade volume of both countries.”

And with its connections to trade associations around the world, a successful exhibition partnership with TCEB is poised to take Cambodia further still.

Mexico – Land of opportunity

September 26, 2016


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


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%.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

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