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The 90th UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas Marks Its First Time in U.S.

Maddy Ryley, Managing Editor
The 90th UFI Global Congress took place in Las Vegas Nov. 1-4,

LAS VEGAS — The 90th UFI Global Congress took place in Las Vegas Nov. 1-4, marking the first-ever time the event for trade show organizers, exhibition center operators, exhibition associations and selected partners of the exhibition industry was held in the U.S. Hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, more than 400 industry professionals registered to attend the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry’s event at the ARIA Resort & Casino.

Event programming included updates from top destinations, discussions about meeting customers’ changing expectations, digitalization, the future of AI in events and decarbonization, as well as a U.S.-focused part of the event.

Value-based business and pricing were discussed, and a panel comprising of top exhibition industry leaders dug into what they see as the top challenges, changes and opportunities for the events industry. As exhibitors demand more data to prove their ROI at trade shows and events, show organizers should carefully consider their tech stack and engage in meaningful conversations to find out how to best serve, and therefore retain and attract, exhibitors.

Sustainability and decarbonization were common themes throughout the Global Congress. Trade show organizers, venues and suppliers discussed the ways they are championing sustainability and finding innovative ways to lessen their environmental impact, including sourcing recycled materials, repurposing materials from shows and participating in waste diversion and food donation programs, as well as the importance of sharing effective practices with the entire industry to help everyone move toward net zero.

Related. RX CEO Hugh Jones Elected UFI President for 2024-2025

During the U.S.-focused sessions, a panel focused on venues discussed different revenue models, attracting new business and exclusives. The venue representatives all agreed that major sporting and entertainment events were good for business but emphasized that convention and event bookings remain high priority. The group also explained that while their venues did have some exclusives in place, like electric and F&B, giving the show organizers options and flexibility to build the show how and with who they want is important for innovation and overall satisfaction of all stakeholders.

Another portion of the event focused on the customer experience and data on industry trends. With more exhibit managers being new to their roles since the pandemic, show organizers could consider having a first-time exhibitor and exhibit manager program in place to better support them. Organizations should also be aware of the consumer mindset shift in B2B events and focus on creating more experiences that facilitate natural-feeling connections.

UFI members also voted to launch a North America chapter during the event. Michael Duck, UFI’s 2023 President and Executive Vice President, Commercial Development at Informa Markets said, “Around 7% of UFI’s global membership are headquartered in this region, and more than a quarter are active here. UFI’s leadership has decided to set up a North America chapter that will comprise Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, as a legacy of this year’s Global Congress taking place in the U.S.”

The 2023 UFI Awards were announced at the Global Congress, and the winners were:

At the end of the event, Duck passed the torch to Geoff Dickinson, CEO of dmg events, who will serve as UFI President for the 2024 term and will work with Duck and 2025 President-elect Hugh Jones, CEO of RX, throughout the next year.

“I am delighted and honored to be joining the UFI presidential team this November. It’s an exciting time for the exhibitions industry, with so much innovation in all corners of the world, and UFI has a front row seat to it all,” Jones said. “I can’t wait to get started and to support the team as we make the magic happen.”

The 91st UFI Global Congress will take place Nov. 20-23, 2024, in Cologne, Germany, hosted by Koelnmesse.

Reach Michael Duck at

Photo Credit: UFI

Full coverage of the UFI 90th Global Congress will be featured in the January 2024 edition of Trade Show Executive Magazine. Subscribe to receive your copy here.

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