What if WE, as an industry disrupt ourselves?

September 18, 2017


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

Disruption for business is defined as a radical change in an industry, business strategy, etc., especially involving the introduction of a new product or service that creates a new market. We know change is coming and that exhibitions have to evolve now, or go away. For example, look what digitalization has done. Can you imagine an exhibition without a website, LinkedIn group and some kind of social media presence?

What if WE, as an industry disrupt ourselves? Liven the experience up?

A recent Event Manager Blog listed 25 ideas to “Step Up Your Trade Show Game”. It triggered a thought. We call exhibitions “Show Business”, but what are we doing to make it so? What kinds of emotion and excitement can we bring to the experience of our Trade Shows?

Here’s something all show organizers should try: gather your team around (not just the executive or leadership team) and hold a brainstorming session on what kinds of new, fun and interactive activities you can add to your exhibit floor. The ideas should focus on one question, “How can we make our exhibition a better experience for attendees, exhibitors and sponsors?” Try a couple of ideas out the next show. See how they fare. Take notes to improve and add more to the next show.

In a timely development, the upcoming UFI Global Congress Nov 1-4 in South Africa features a couple of sessions on just this subject. The first is one of the Special Interest Group (SIG) sessions on best practices featuring NEC Birmingham, the winner of the UFI Award for Operations and Services. They will share the successful creation of a perfect customer journey through an “emotional, sense-igniting campaign”. The other is a panel discussion focused on the success UFI members have had with changing up traditional exhibition formats. #ufijoburg


Disruption does not have to be a negative. Add some unexpected, engaging and fun experiences to your shows – and you may even find a new revenue stream.

Eastern development poses fresh opportunity for tradeshow organisers

September 5, 2017


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

The Eastern Economic Corridor, or EEC, is a pivotal initiative for Thailand as we progress towards our socio-economic goal of Thailand 4.0. It will be the most complete and specialised economic zone in Thailand, perhaps even in the ASEAN, containing commercial metropolises built around future industries and providing an investor’s gateway to Asia.

blog TCEB

*Source: ASEAN Briefing, Business Intelligence from Dezan Shira & Associates

For more than 30 years Thailand’s eastern seaboard has been the centrepiece of Thailand’s economy, linking trade and investment with the rest of the world, as well as being one of the region’s major industrial areas. Petrochemical investments rank it among the top five in Asia, but it is home to a wealth of energy sources and rich materials for manufacturing, as well as an important source of professionals and high-skilled labour.

It is also a major global production base for motor vehicles and electronics, supplied via integrated deep sea ports and modern facilities. As such it holds great appeal for companies hoping to enter the regional market through trade events.

Combined Public and Private Investments at least 1.5 Trillion baht ($43Billion USD) in the first 5 years

TCEB sep

*Source: Thailand Board of Investment

So which industries should event organisers be considering in Thailand? Well, as part of the 4.0 initiative Thailand will upgrade five existing industries with ‘immense potential resulting from the injection of technology’ such as:

  • Next generation automotive
  • Smart electronics
  • Advanced Agriculture and Biotechnology
  • Food processing for the future
  • Digital tourism tools

In addition to these, five new industries will be promoted:

  • Robotics and mechatronics for both industrial and daily life
  • Integrated aviation industry comprising repair centre and spare parts, as well as an aviation training centre, which will be located in the area of the U-Tapao national airport.
  • Medical hub and integrated wellness centre.
  • Bio economy. Particularly bio-chemical
  • Bio-fuel

The upshot of this is that the EEC now offers ten new or revitalised markets for international exhibition organisers to cater for with their events. The Government’s flagship Thailand 4.0 project is an investment-led transformation tool for Thailand, and the EEC is the foremost area in which it can be seen making wholesale industrial transformation.

In the words of Dr Cholachit Vorawangso Virakul, speaking at the recent TCEB International Media Familiarisation Trip conference: “The Eastern Economic Corridor is an initiative featuring wide-ranging reform, economic as well as social. It’s about achieving sustainable growth and development. Industrial upgrading of target industries, of the environment, creating eco-cities at international standards, all fitted out to accommodate expat communities.”

The education and skills gap will be narrowed as part of this process, another important factor in a progressive exhibitions ecosystem. As Dr Virakul said, the people aspect of Thailand 4.0 is the most crucial, “because even when we talk about transformation, industrial or otherwise, we also always end up at people”.

Sharks, biodynamic vineyards and the exhibition industry (part2)

August 15, 2017


Interview with UFI Global Congress 2017’s Keynote Speaker, Johan Reyneke, Founder & Owner of Reyneke Wines in South Africa (Part 2 of 2).

Stephanie Selesnick: Please share your Cornerstone program encouraging home ownership and education for the winery’s workers and their families. How did it come about and where do you see it being in five years from now?

Johan Reyneke: This ties in with biodynamics (part 1). We have to look after nature, profitability and people (who comprise the 3rd leg of the chair of our endeavors). What prompted the program was my involvement with this industry. As a farm laborer initially, I saw how hard the people work, how crucial they are to the business, and how little recognition was received. What can we do? Recognize it their important contributions and say thank you? Do you stop at thank your or do you do more?

We decided to ask our workers what they wanted – did they prefer something transactional or something empowering? The decision was made to be transactional and focus on housing & education for their families. Unfortunately, we had a disappointing 50% success rate.

With time comes better insight. The farm has grown significantly in size as has the winery and number of workers. The view now is that a trade (empowerment) is often more sustainable than aid. I’ll share what we did to renovate the program and where we are now.

Stephanie Selesnick: What are your favorite exhibitions and trade fairs to attend, and why?

south africa wine expo

Johan Reyneke: I go to a few, but not many. I work with a distribution company in South Africa and for each Province; they have an annual trade fair. It’s a quick way to meet with potential clients and existing clients. In the US, we work with Vineyard Brands and they have an annual conference.

Stephanie Selesnick: What is the philosophy behind selling Reyneke wines around the world?

Johan Reyneke: Reyneke Wines are sold in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. If you look at nature, you get stability through diversity. The more diverse the plants, animals and insects, etc., the more stable and thriving the ecosystem. It’s the same thing for business. Managing risk is key. But not having all of our wines sold in just one country or region, we mitigate risk in case there are issues in one region or another that would negatively impact sales.


See Johan Reyneke give the Keynote on Thursday, November 2, 2017 from 09:15-10:00 at the UFI Global Congress.

Click here to view part 1 of this interview: “Sharks, biodynamic vineyards and the exhibition industry”.

Sharks, biodynamic vineyards and the exhibition industry

August 8, 2017


Interview with UFI Global Congress 2017’s Keynote Speaker, Johan Reyneke, Founder & Owner of Reyneke Wines in South Africa (Part 1 of 2).

Johan will share his story of overcoming obstacles and leading change within the winemaking industry in South Africa – and how to apply some of the lessons he has learned to our businesses.

Since many of us don’t know anything about you past your bio, we’d like to know a bit more about Johan.

Stephanie Selesnick: How long have you been surfing? How many close calls with sharks – and has it been a deterrent for getting back in the water?

Johan Reyneke: I’ve been surfing since I was 13 or 14, averaging a couple of times a week. The close call was an isolated incident after 30+ years of surfing, I was surfing and 2 sharks got close. However, I was back in the water the next day. Days after the incident, I met with a South African wine journalist and shared the story as it was still in my mind. To be clear, I love surfing dearly and plan to keep doing it as long as possible. It’s more than a sport, and offers great physical and spiritual benefits.

Stephanie Selesnick: 3.What is a Biodynamic vineyard and winery, and why do you believe it’s the wave of the future? (The idea of sustainability is something many UFI members are passionate about.)


Johan Reyneke: Biodynamics is one of the oldest forms of organic agriculture and comes from a time when our ancestors had farms with complete ecosystems and not just one-crop farms. It is quite a complex concept that I plan to break down into bite-sized bits during my Keynote.

Basically, it comes from a time when our ancestors had a spiritual understanding of farming and were self-sufficient versus self-sustaining. There is a real difference! With today’s scientific agricultural mindset, this type of farming may come across as “new age”, but it works! There are environmental, economic and social benefits to biodynamics, which I look forward to sharing with UFI Members.

It’s an attempt to address issues we face today. If you live in a 3rd world environment, a lot of agricultural inputs (chemicals) have to be sourced from 1st world countries. Pesticides and the like have to be bought with weak currency from multinationals, which forces tight margins. Biodynamic farming helps the smaller farmers.

Waste is a cultural concept – not a natural one. Humans are the only ones who have waste. It may also be an asset, not a liability – and is an important component of biodynamics.


Join us at the UFI Global Congress 1–4 November at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information and to register visit:  www.ufi.org

Follow us on Twitter: #ufijoburg

TCEB’s new President sets out vision for targeted growth

August 3, 2017

Mr.Talun Theng, TEA President

Blogger: Mr. Talun Theng, President, Thai Exhibition Association (TEA)

It was wonderful to witness TCEB’s newly-appointed president Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya officially commence his tenure by highlighting the impact international business events have on domestic growth and stability.

It is expected that in the 2017 budget year, there will be a total of 27.1 million MICE travellers in Thailand, generating revenue of approximately 4.4 billion USD. And it is the role of those international visitors on overall industry turnover that speaks to the significance the global events industry has on national economies around the world.

While the majority of those 27.1 million MICE travellers (26 million) are domestic, generating approximately 4.4 billion USD, the international visitors – at just four per cent of the total (1.1 million) – generate double that figure; approximately 2.9 billion USD.

Thailand has recognized the need to accommodate this audience, targeting key overseas audiences with progressive campaigns such as its ‘Exhibiz in Market’ and ‘Bleisure’ initiatives.

Total revenue from MICE business is expected to rise from approximately 5 billion to 5.7 billion USD this fiscal year according to local media reports, due to increased average spend per capita, per trip, as well as a robust performance in the domestic MICE market.

Mr Chiruit also used his platform to address the impact a successful exhibition industry can have on domestic development. Both TCEB and the TEA (Thailand Exhibition Authority) have made a commitment to focus on the domestic exhibition market in addition to catering for the highly valuable international events market.

But there is more to a blossoming national events industry than visitor numbers. According to Chiruit, ASEAN countries face economic challenges that include high household debt, an aging society and reduction in working-age population. The current evolution of Thailand’s economy towards what our government calls Thailand 4.0 aims to counter these obstacles by setting targets in the 10 shortlisted industries the country expects will generate growth, industries typically built around value-added services and high-tech innovation. These include those in ICT and software development, as well as the robotics and automotive manufacturing industries.

“The MICE industry should take more part in developing the country,” he explained. “I still believe it will remain a key driver in distributing income to the regions and creating economic prosperity and sustainability.” This can be seen in the north of the country in the formation of the special economic zones and specifically the connection between Thailand and its Greater Mekong Subregion neighbours.

Internally, Thailand currently champions five specific locations optimized for MICE business that it refers to as the MICE Cities. These currently comprise Bangkok, Phuket, Khon Kaen, Pattaya and Chiang Mai; but more cities will be added to this list.

In time, Thailand will host several important international exhibitions, including IT&CM Asia & CTW Asia Pacific 2017, a trade show that Thailand will be hosting for the 16th time, and computer graphics and animation show SIGGRAPH Asia 2017, which sits at the heart of our Thailand 4.0 initiative.

We look forward to a long and fruitful chapter for TCEB under Mr Chiruit’s vision and guidance.


August 1, 2017



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

South Africa, “the Rainbow Nation”, with eleven official languages, the largest economy of any African country and global recgnition as the birthplace of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela, this is the country that has been selected to host UFI’s 84th Global Congress. The Congress will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 1-4 November 2017.


Learn more about Alex Granger, your moderator of the 84th UFI Global Congress.

Stephanie Selesnick: There are a good number of attendees who are coming to South Africa for the first time. Please share some things unique to your country and recommend some places to visit.

Alex Granger: Africa is very rich in culture and tradition – not only the urban side of South Africa.

Johannesburg is upmarket and has great roads and infrastructure. There are lots of curios available for purchase and fun things to go see and do. Maboneng is walking street in the City that is a hotspot for food & entertainment. It’s very popular with locals on weekends.Go to the Township, Soweto. Nelson Mandela’s home is very humbling.

Soweto has different energy than Johannesburg that should be experienced! While there, make sure to visit the Hector Peterson Museum. It chronicles the struggle of apartheid. Be sure to try some of South Africa’s traditional food PAP (maize meal) or Wors, which is BBQ. We eat these foods with our hands – no forks!

Visit some of the iconic places in our Country:


  1. Capetown has been designated as a world heritage city. It’s got great beaches too.
  2. See Table Mountain.
  3. Venture over to Robin Island where prisoners were held.
  4. Visit the Wine Lands. South Africa is famous for its excellent wines.
  5. KwaZulu-Ntal is very rich in tradition. It’s on the Indian Ocean and is home to the biggest African tribe, the Zulus. Durban, on the coast is a great place to go and has “Blue Flag” beaches.
  6. Lastly go on a Safari and discover the game areas. There are 3 large game reserves: Kruger National, Pilansberg (2-hour drive) and Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in the Zulu Kingdom.

Most of all, spend time!

Stephanie Selesnick Note: Our hosts in South Africa have put together some great pre-and post-Congress tours. They may be found here.


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!


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