Logistics: facing up to the challenges

The International Exhibition Logistics Association (IELA) discusses some of the key issues facing a sector of the industry that is often overlooked, yet plays a vital part in making exhibitions successful:


Supply chain disruptions

In our post-Covid ‘new normal’ world, costs have begun to reduce but remain higher than pre-Covid and we are all evolving with the requirements and processes of this new atmosphere.

The geopolitical influences in certain areas of the world are having an effect on our business.  Disruptions in the Suez Canal and the re-routing of vessels via the Cape of Good Hope is making sea shipping to and through the Middle East a challenge. This has caused our industry to pivot and adapt to provide the services our clients require. Longer shipping times and higher costs have resulted from the situation.

In Eastern Europe, the climate has stabilised somewhat as, sadly, the environment there has become ‘normal’. The adjustments made two years ago have become standard operating procedure.

The equipment and driver shortage in the European arena have settled down. Airlines and ocean operators have increased their frequency and schedules, but we are still not back to the levels experienced in 2020 and earlier.


Regional challenges

Sustainability and net carbon zero are a major challenge to our industry. There are so many players and aspects to the service we provide. To complicate that, our association is comprised of multi-national and small to medium sized businesses. Resources to meet this demand are a big challenge for some. Political support for sustainable projects in some countries is minimal and the resources to become sustainable can be a heavy burden for some in our sector.

IELA’s involvement in the UFI/JMIC Net Carbon Zero Events initiative is something we are very proud of and consider to be a critical project for our industry. Our focus is on assisting and guiding our members in the process.

Mergers and acquisitions have recently played a large part in our world. Larger entities have acquired smaller enterprises, reducing competition in some parts of the globe, although the long-term effects remain to be seen.



The acquisition and retention of qualified, competent staff is still a struggle for many. Most attempts to lure back pre-Covid staff were unsuccessful as there is still a slight perception that our industry is unstable in terms of job security. Various solutions to remedy this situation are to provide good work life balance to which our business is not always conducive. Education and training are a vital component to staff retention and growth and advancement opportunities.

In this vein, IELA’s new education programme for members – the ‘IELA Academy’ is launching its first session in May in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Academy’s in-person curriculum provides core knowledge of all aspects of our business. Transport and Logistics, Industry Stakeholders, as well as Management and Personal skills development are all topics to be examined in depth.

The goal is to have the graduates of the IELA Academy emerge with a more comprehensive understanding of the industry.

Equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace are paramount. Openness to diversity widens access to the best talent. Inclusion allows engagement with talent effectively. Equality enables delivery of fair outcomes.