Update from the UFI President

July 12, 2017


Blogger: Dr Andreas Gruchow, UFI President.

We’ve all sensed the excitement of working on an exhibition as part of a diverse professional team.

Global Exhibitions Day exceeds expectations

When individual skills, enthusiasm and ideas combine to make a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts. For me, on 7 June 2017 – Global Exhibitions Day – this team energy spread to world level. Motivated people came together from across the  exhibitions industry to show their support. It was a fantastic celebration, and I’d like to extend my warmest thanks to every one of you who took part!

Collage GED17!

GED17 exceeded expectations, with activities organised in more countries than ever, and 3.1 million people reached on twitter alone. Global Exhibitions Day is already becoming an established part of our advocacy work, highlighting the positive effects of exhibitions on jobs, businesses, innovation and local investment. Additionally, the growth of many industries and the success of our exhibitors are based on exhibitions as their main marketing channel. The buzz of GED17 reached bright talents far beyond our own sector, and I hope some of them will consider working in exhibitions one day. Thank you for helping show what an exciting industry we work in. I’m looking forward to supporting many more Global Exhibitions Days with you in the future, starting with next year’s, on 6 June 2018.

A year of elections

A number of particularly committed members of our global exhibition industry are those who have stepped forward to take on active roles within UFI! Our ongoing elections are a chance for new ideas and energy to be injected into our organisation, so we’re extremely grateful for your participation. The call for candidates in UFI Chapters closed end of June and it is my pleasure to congratulate my colleagues who will begin their term at the UFI Global Congress in November this year: David ZHONG VNU Exhibitions Asia for the Asia-Pacific Chapter, Gerald BÖSE of Koelnmesse GmbH for the European Chapter, José NAVARRO MENESES of E.J. Krause de Mexico for the Latin America Chapter, and Hossein ESFAHBODI, Iran International Exhibitions Co for the Middle East-Africa Chapter. Now we’re set to elect UFI’s global Board of Directors, in September. Nominations are still possible until 15 July 2017, with the results to be published later this year. These highly important elections decide who will make up one of UFI’s most senior administrative bodies for the next three years. I encourage you to explore ways to get involved in UFI. Whether or not you take up a Board position, there are many opportunities to share your experience, boost international contacts, and have
a place at the heart of the global exhibition industry.

In two UFI Working Committees we have already seen a change in leadership. The Digital Innovation Committee has elected Matthias (Tesi) Baur, Founder and Senior Consultant in International Business, Exhibitions and E-commerce, MBB-Media as Chair. The goal and mission of this Committee is to enhance digital ideas and support concepts in our industry forward that will help our target groups of exhibitors and visitors to get more out of the shows they are participating in. I would also like to congratulate Dr Andreas Winckler, Managing Director of Messe Frankfurt Medien and Service and Vice President Services, Messe Frankfurt GmbH who was elected new Chair of the Operations & Services Committee. Through its efforts, the committee facilitates learnings, specific to venue management and supporting services, through sharing of knowledge and experience with like-minded, knowledgeable professionals.

Join me at the upcoming UFI Global Congress

The next UFI event that I am very much looking forward to is the 84th UFI Global Congress in Johannesburg, on 1-4 November 2017 – UFI’s largest global member meeting of the year. The 2017 theme is “Raising the odds – Pressures and Profits”, and the tone will be set by destination itself. South Africa, “the Rainbow Nation”, birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela, has eleven official languages and is the largest economy of any African country.


With the exhibition industry growing faster than the  global economy, the Congress is a chance to investigate challenges ahead, and consider  the potential benefits of change and perseverance. We have a fascinating keynote  speaker lined up: South African winemaker and surfing champion Johan Reyneke. I’m looking forward to hearing his ideas on overcoming obstacles and using change, key topics that will reappear throughout the programme.

Whether you fly home when the Congress closes, or decide to extend your stay, our hosts have put together some helpful travel tips and local information – and they’re urging us to start planning travel in advance to get the most out of this trip!



July 10, 2017


Interview with Alex Granger 84th UFI Global Congress Moderator (by Stephanie Selesnick part 1 of 2).

“Raising the Odds – Pressures and Profits in the Exhibition Industry”, is the theme of this year’s UFI Global Congress (1-4 November in Johannesburg, South Africa) . With a rich variety of presentations, case studies, research, panel discussions, hot seat interviews and special interest-group discussions, the Global Congress offers you a high-level platform where participants can gain greater knowledge and share their experiences – a mutual exchange that will help to enrich your business and boost that competitive edge!


Alex Granger, author, facilitator and business man, who has recently become landlord and owner of a high-end conference center in Morningside, Sandton, South Africa will be your moderator of the 84th UFI Global Congress.

Stephanie Selesnick: What are you looking forward most to at the upcoming UFI Global Congress this November?

Alex Granger: I have never been to an UFI Congress so this will be my first UFI experience, and first in the capacity as moderator. I am familiar with the exhibition industry, having been the GM for Sales & Marketing at the Sandton Convention Center a number of years ago.

There are three key things I love about conferences (besides all the fun and excitement):

  1. Networking – Meeting with like-minded people, understanding how they are doing things. It’s a great place to learn about an industry.
  2. Latest trends – What are the current goings on in all parts of the world? Are their signs of any disruptions on the horizon?
  3. Global Best Practices – What’s new? What’s normal? How can one mitigate the negative?

Stephanie Selesnick: The Metro Conference Centre recently opened. How is it being a landlord? What would you say is the biggest challenge?

Alex Granger: We opened in February, so it’s still the early days! It is a boutique conference centre and we can host up to 150 people in a homey and spa-like environment. There are 7 meeting rooms. We hold corporate events including conferences, product launches, focus groups, and strategic lessons.

In some ways, it’s similar to competing with hotels in terms of space. Our biggest challenge (which I think a number of UFI Global Congress delegates will understand) is growing the market. The idea is to grow a loyal customer base and get our name out there. Our goal is to get more business through word of mouth.

Above all, customer service is key. We have to stay flexible and nimble for our clients.

Stephanie Selesnick: What made you decide to author your books, FIND KEEP GROW: The Radical Art of Sales”, and “The Possibility of YOU: What Shapes You?”

Alex Granger: I took on writing the first book as a challenge. It took 4 months to write. It’s a sales book and fairly technical in nature. The second book was about personal development and took a year to write. I just started working on another book entitled, “FORCE”. It’s about creating personal effectiveness in the business environment. Lastly, I co-authored a third book released last year, “Expert Mavericks”, a book of 12 chapters, each individually devoted to a maverick who was interviewed.

Meet Alex Granger at the UFI Global Congress, November 1-4, Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa.

A healthy market for an evolving healthcare industry

July 3, 2017


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

Evolving healthcare technologies, a rising middle class increasingly able to afford them, as well as an ageing population that needs them, is taking Southeast Asia’s health and wellness industry into a new era.

And in the centre of the region, Thailand’s healthcare and wellness industry is particularly well positioned for commercialisation, due in part to the Government’s Thailand 4.0 vision. Or so said a panel of experts at a recent event staged by local news organisation The Nation.

Medial experts at a roundtable held by the organisation said they welcomed the government’s inclusion of the medical and health sectors under the Eastern Economic Corridor and Thailand 4.0.

Chief executive officer of public organisation the Thailand Center of Excellence for Life Science, Nares Damrongchai, explained that Thailand is a large enough market for biomedical research, and sits at the centre of ASEAN. The country already operates at a high capacity in the biomedical industry, and it does so while operating at a relatively low cost compared with countries elsewhere in the world.

Thailand is also suited to a role as technology partner for overseas biomedical business, and continuing the Thailand 4.0 theme, has the connections and increasingly the industry to grow into a hub of medical equipment manufacturing, Big Data, and Artificial intelligence.

Average healthcare spending for the four years 2014-18 is expected to be 11 per cent of the ASEAN region’s GDP, which had a healthcare market valued at US$100 billion at the beginning of this year.

The medical technology market in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand alone is valued at US$3.6 billion, while the healthcare wearables market is expected to be worth US$25 billion by 2019.

Health and wellness in Thailand and the ASEAN is big business.

One upcoming Thai event hoping to facilitate these conversations is the Medical Fair Thailand 2017, which takes place on 6-8 September, showcasing products and solutions for the medical and healthcare sector. Others include InterCare on 6-8 July, Thailand LAB on 6-8 September. On a related but different theme, the cosmetic treatment events COSMEX, In-Cosmetics and Beyond Beauty, as well as wellness shows such as Asia Fitness also have a substantial international component.

But the health and wellness sector is broader than just medical products. The 16th edition of the Thailand Travel Mart Plus (TTM+) exhibition, which brought 480 buyers from 64 countries to meet with 354 regional sellers at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC), took place in June. The exhibition’s tagline: ‘Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion’ is a clear reminder that buyers will experience a breadth of health and wellness products that extends beyond Thailand’s northern limits.

Organisers interested in expanding their business to Thailand will find the region’s leading forum for discussion and investment. The country’s health and wellness industry can only continue to grow older, healthier and wiser.

Global trade fairs connect globalized industries worldwide

June 27, 2017

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Blogger: Olaf Schmidt, head of Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt, Germany.

Since the 1980s industries have been growing together worldwide as a result of globalization and digitalization. Value chains have spanned the globe as new production sites and new markets were created that no one could have dared to dream of. At the same time, suppliers and customers alike can obtain information and engage in business online at any time around the world. This development has not least affected the trade fair industry.

Prime examples of the globalization of trade fairs include the leading international trade fair in the automotive industry, Automechanika, which is now represented with 17 events in 15 countries on four continents, or approximately 50 events that Messe Frankfurt organizes for the textile industry including Heimtextil, Intertextile, Techtextil, and Texprocess.


Internationalization and globalization of fairs

In addition to the leading global trade fairs, organizers have established specific “subsidiary events” on every continent, which accommodated for the respective regional differences. At the same time, trade fair companies have developed digital business platforms, which invite the global industry communities to engage in networking and exchange year-round.

Messe Frankfurt launched its successful internationalization in 1987 with the Interstoff trade fair in Hong Kong. Today, Messe Frankfurt organizes a total of 138 trade fairs and exhibitions around the world with approximately 92,300 exhibitors and over 3.5 million visitors. Of these, 87 events take place abroad with over 49,000 exhibitors and over 1.9 million visitors. In terms of turnover, Messe Frankfurt is therefore the world’s largest trade fair organizer with its own trade fair site.

Background and special advantages of internationalizing trade fairs

In the textile industry, globalization of the sourcing started very early and Messe Frankfurt immediately addressed this development in 1987 with its first trade fair abroad, the Interstoff in Hong Kong. Our goals were and continue to consist of supporting the market community from design and production through to sales, therefore including the entire value chain.

We have closely followed market developments at new production sites, in new key markets or with regard to innovative topics like technical textiles or sustainability.


With our leading global trade fairs like Techtextil, Texprocess and Heimtextil  in Frankfurt or Intertextile Apparel in Shanghai, we continue to provide exhibitors and visitors with the central platforms for global exchange. Based on our strong trade fair brands, we have developed subsidiary brand-events tailored to the specific needs of regions or countries. We will be continuing to implement this strategy in the future as well. For example, we will be launching our trade shows Texworld, Apparel Sourcing and Texprocess in Ethiopia during Africa Sourcing & Fashion Week 2017 and thus entering one of the growing production locations for textiles. Via the successful globalization of our events, we can now provide producers and buyers targeted access to textile markets and the relevant industry communities around the world.

New offerings gaining acceptance on the market

Based on our expertise and the market significance of our platforms, we have become the first stop for the textile industry with regard to new event formats, marketing platforms and trade fairs.

The 50 events we are now organizing are used by approximately 20,000 exhibitors around the world to present their offerings. Many exhibitors even use several of our events at various locations. 460,000 visitors gather information at these trade fairs and initiate business transactions. The rising numbers have encouraged us to keep pursuing our strategy. This makes us the absolute No. 1 in the world of textile trade fairs. It is particularly interesting to note that the regional events have also contributed to strengthening our leading trade fairs.

We also benefit from the fact that the textile market involves very emotional products, the quality of which can usually only be experienced in person at a trade fair. Fabric has to be touched and seen in motion to appreciate the details. But you also want to look closely at the process when processing textiles. Furthermore, the number of medium-sized enterprises that dominate this market make trade fairs the most effective way for many manufacturers to market their products. Trade fairs are a central part of the marketing of these companies.

The importance of digitalization in trade fair internationalization

The globalization of entire industries would be unthinkable without digitalization. Of course, digitalization also plays a central role in the exhibition industry. It affects almost all of our business processes, and especially marketing and communication, as well as the increasingly important management of our global textile communities. In times dominated by social media and e-commerce, the direct exchange between exhibitors and visitors is also becoming more important. However, the degree of digitalization In some companies in this industry is still not very high due to the medium-sized company structure of the textile industry.


For us, this development means we not only have to bring together supply and demand during trade fairs, but also provide information and sharing platforms throughout the year using the appropriate online offerings. We are already defining new standards with our multilingual websites, topic blogs, social media offerings or our Texpertise Network. Digital offerings also play a part in the events themselves in the form of trade fair apps for planning the trade fair visit and navigation on site as well as online registration.

And the end of this development is nowhere in sight. We will definitely be remaining on the cutting edge of this development and continue to develop our offering to increase digitalization in the future by way of our blogs and theme park for example; or to provide information for the different target groups in appropriate newsrooms

Last but not least, digitalization also helps us globally align our marketing activities and coordinate our worldwide community.

Upcoming future trends in the trade fair industry

Despite the trend toward digitalization, trade fairs, conventions and other events will remain the central market places and continue to be of primary importance for marketing, especially with regard to B2B. It is all about engagement, communication, touch and experience. Of course, trade fairs have to keep developing with emotional productions, trend presentations and additional programmes for topics such as Smart Fashion and  Wearables or Industry 4.0. New digital services have to accompany and complete the trade fair experience and additional digital offerings for exhibitor marketing or exchange with and within the respective industry community have to be further developed.

Leading trade fairs will remain relevant as platforms for marketing of offers globally, while regional events are relevant for regional market access.


Paving the way to successful business events

June 20, 2017

Jaruwan CEM1

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

According to the recently released World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, the number of foreign tourists to Thailand is expected to double to 60 million in the next 13 years. This figure is great news for both exhibitions and the MICE industry.

So the news that Thailand is well into the process of developing its transportation infrastructure – and in particular its railway system – comes as little surprise.

The government, together with various stakeholders in the private sector, is dedicated to making travel in Thailand easier for the increasing number of visitors to our country.

Several major infrastructure projects are already underway with a focus on both urban areas and those further from central population. Two examples can be seen in the integrated highway linkage development – a four-lane highway with expansion into the outer regions – and a widespread rural road development initiative taking place across the country.

A high-speed rail network is already in place to link our capital Bangkok with the northern city of Chiang Mai, with another high-speed railway bringing the region into close quarters with industrial powerhouse cities in southern China. The country is also well underway on key projects such as the Southern Economic Corridor; one of nine economic corridors being established to connect the six countries that comprise the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Because while the focus is on improving the standard of travel within our borders, our nation’s infrastructure development, as elsewhere in Asia, is built around plans to aid cross-border travellers not using air transport.

Thailand is also improving venues and attractions as part of a greater plan to promote the country as a premium MICE destination; in which exhibitions and events play an integral part.

“MICE travellers spend five times more than average leisure travellers,” Mr Pongpanu Svetarundra, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports told the Bangkok Post in April. He added that the government expects to receive greater support from the private sector, and in particular for its fundamental infrastructure investment projects.

Mr Svetarundra’s ministry is one of the driving forces behind securing business tourism investment in the region; progress that is hoped to lead to greater accommodation of business events in the ASEAN region.

After all, great efforts must be made to ensure the happiness of 60 million visitors. For exhibition organisers as well as traditional tourists, the 2018 edition of the World Economic Forum’s report should make for increasingly interesting reading.

We must treat our exhibitors better!

June 12, 2017


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

At last month’s European Conference (formerly the European Open Seminar) in Cologne, Germany, Mark Brewster, Founder and CEO of Explori, shared the results of a joint UFI-Explori study of European Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for venues, exhibitors and visitors.

One of the more interesting findings, besides the fact visitors rate toilets as the most favorable aspect in a venue – even above WiFi – were satisfaction scores when asked if they would recommend the exhibition to a colleague. We rated a +4 from visitors and a -17 from exhibitors.

That’s out of a possible score of +100 to -100. Fifty percent of shows have an exhibitor NPS of less than -17 and 25% percent have less than -37. Only 26% have scores above zero. This is not good news.

Some other study findings released at the UFI Global Congress last November in Shanghai show scores aren’t that much better in the US, and a bit worse in Asia. Unhappy, angry clients are bad, regardless of whatever your business may be.

What does that mean for the exhibition business? It means we have to begin rethinking the exhibitor experience, or our customers will find another way to market and sell products than our version of face-to-face.

Here are some questions all of us involved in the exhibitor journey should start asking – and quickly addressing:

What can we do to make the exhibitor journey easier and more successful, besides bring in quality buyers?

    1. Do we need all of those pesky rules and regulations?
    2. Are the ways we presently things more about making our jobs easier, rather than making the exhibiting experience better?
    3. Is it about the bottom line versus serving an industry? Can it be both?
  1.  What can we do to save exhibitors money – or show them how to their investment in our exhibitions more wisely? We all know it is far less expensive to retain current exhibitors than to find and recruit new ones.
  1. Query exhibitors about what they think. (Make sure you tell them the price of exhibit space is not negotiable!) Even if it something sounds minor or very picky, it’s enough that they remember it and shared it.

Lastly, remember how great it feels to be genuinely thanked for your business? It’s a good place to start.

Creating evolution in The World’s Kitchen

June 2, 2017

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

Maintaining a reputation as the ‘World’s Kitchen’ does not come easily, but it is a reputation that Thailand can consider well deserved.

Take for example, . Thailand registered US$4.3 billion in food shipments to the US in 2016, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. In the first three months of this year alone, the US received US$873 million of food exports from Thailand, the bulk of which comprised canned and processed fruit, canned and processed seafood, rice and fishery products.

 This is just one result of a huge investment of personnel and resource that sees 40 per cent of the country’s population working in the agricultural sector; and industry represented to the wider world by celebrated events such as Horti Asia, Agritechnica, Thaifex, Food & Hotel Thailand, as well as VIV Asia, SIMA ASEAN, and Food ingredients Asia

Thiraphong Chansiri, adviser to the Commerce Ministry for the US market and chief executive of Thai Union Group Plc, the world’s biggest producer of canned tuna, recently spoke to our national press about the fact the US remains one of the most crucial export markets for Thailand, notably for food.

And this innovation is key to the continued success and expansion of the industry. Not only does it cement Thailand’s appeal for future export to key markets, but it presents opportunity for exhibition organisers to create ancillary, or evolutionary, events that serve the food and agriculture market not just here and in the ASEAN region, but out into the global marketplace.

Thailand Food Innopolis is one such case of pursuing innovation. Located at the Thailand Science Park in Northern Bangkok, it was launched last year as a global food innovation hub to support innovation and R&D for the food industry. Today it is home to 32 companies operating in the food industry, two-thirds of which are Japanese companies but with more from China and Europe planning to join the Food Innopolis project in a near future. Those already involved include many major universities, GIB-Green Innovative Biotechnology, Medifoods (Thailand), The Malee Group, Thai Union, ThaiBev, The National Food Institute, the National Innovation Agency, Bangkok University,

Deputy Secretary-General of the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office, Akkharawit Kanjana-Opas, said at least 100 foreign companies would be attracted to invest in the project in the first five years of the project.

These investors – as with events such as Thaifex or Horti Asia – comprise both large companies and startups looking to make the most of the country, and the ASEAN region’s strength in this arena.

By bringing them to Thailand and giving them a forum to discuss and invest further, they will generate greater employment and increase the value of Thailand’s food industry and agricultural products.

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