Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director, reflects on the 2018 UFI Global Congress in St Petersburg.
UFI concluded our Global Congress in St Petersburg at the end of last year, where we welcomed 450 delegates from 54 countries and regions. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect, network and learn, and it was also an amazing experience for the whole UFI team to deliver the event.
I’d like to thank our hosts from Expoforum once again, as well as their supporters, for pulling out all the stops to make it a truly memorable week. I don’t think anybody who attended the Gala Night at Catherine’s Palace will be forgetting it any time soon!
In 2019, the Global Congress will be in Bangkok, Thailand and I am sure that we will have another wonderful event there.
Besides the content, the networking and the entertainment, we also took stock of the development of UFI as an association. I would like to focus today on three aspects – all of which demonstrate the sustainable nature of UFI in numbers.
Our association has grown again in membership by around 5% net – and that’s in spite of the more challenging circumstances globally. Over the past three years, we have seen a net rise of 17% in companies signing up to join, while keeping the focus of UFI membership on organisers. This growth reflects the ongoing globalisation of our industry as well as the rising number of companies active on an international scale.
As we did in St Petersburg, allow me to also give a special welcome to all our new members here – for many of them, it was the first time they had attended the Congress, traditionally the last UFI event of the year.
More industry professionals than ever before have attended one of our events around the world this year. We have organised and hosted two global events (the Congress and the Global CEO Summit), three regional conferences (in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and – for the first time ever – Latin America), three topical forums (on HR Management, Digital Innovation, and Sustainable Development), and a special advocacy day in Brussels with the EU.
It is wonderful that interest in attending these events keeps growing. It’s also good to receive all the feedback about the networking opportunities, as well as the high-quality content of events. We are organising these events around the world for all of you in the industry, to help you grow and develop your business.
The 2019 event line-up will see us return to the Middle East with a regional conference in April, among other destinations. If you are planning for 2019, do check the UFI calendar of events here.
Finally, I want to highlight another development, as it symbolises our industry’s continuous drive for quality and reliability. In recent months, the number of accredited UFI Approved Events around the world has grown to over 1,000.
There are many labels, certificates, and accreditations around. But what makes the UFI Approved Event status unique and valuable is that it is based on an independent audit of the key show demographics.
An exhibitor who chooses a show with this certification has peace of mind that the numbers of exhibitors and visitors, and the share of international companies and attendees, are verified. It’s one of UFI’s oldest services, and rightfully demonstrates the value your association continuously provides. (Find the full list of approved events on the UFI website.)
In closing, allow me to wish all of you, Happy Holidays. All the best for what will hopefully be a good year 2019 for our industry, and for your businesses.