Resiliency and Optimism Prevail for Global Exhibitions Day 

Jeff Heilman, Senior Editor
kai hattendorf headshot

PARIS — Facilitated by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI, the seventh annual Global Exhibitions Day (GED) coming up June 1, will focus on the value of face-to-face exhibitions and business events in boosting economic growth and recovery, as well as networking and meeting new people.

With 820 member organizations in 86 countries and regions and counting around the world, UFI has unparalleled insight into the global trade show and exhibition market.

In light of GED, Trade Show Executive reached out to UFI Managing Director and CEO Kai Hattendorf and the directors of UFI’s four regional chapters on the state of post-pandemic recovery for the trade show and business events industry and outlook ahead.

Kai Hattendorf, UFI Managing Director and CEO

Around the world, wherever possible, trade shows are back. Our industry’s core business model has been tried and tested, and again, it has prevailed. Now comes the hard work. We need to hire, to produce, to deliver. We have to improve, to excel, to exceed.

And more: We must change, we must adapt, if we want to grow beyond where we have been as an industry. Our foundations are solid, our challenge is to be sustainable, and net-zero carbon. Our potential is the expansion into digital services and offerings. What a time we have ahead!

Mark Cochrane, UFI Regional Director, Asia-Pacific

The move to living with COVID is unfolding very differently across Asia Pacific. Countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand are enjoying essentially open borders with few to no COVID restrictions. However, markets such as Hong Kong and China remain almost entirely closed and business events of all kinds are not happening in a significant way.

The good news is that in the open markets, physical events have come back very strongly. In some cases, even with Chinese exhibitors and visitors completely absent from events across Asia, exhibitions and trade shows are thriving. If there is a silver lining to the pandemic in Asia, it is that the value of physical events was proven to all the stakeholders beyond any doubt.

The rest of 2022 will be a recovery year for Asia (excluding China and Hong Kong). Domestically focused exhibition markets such as Korea and Japan will recover more quickly. Internationally focused markets like Singapore and Bangkok will recover, but the speed depends on travel costs and marketing budgets. China and Hong Kong, representing more than 60 percent of the trade show and business events market in Asia, will not begin recovery until 2023.

Nick Dugdale-Moore, UFI Regional Director, Europe

Europe is roaring back to life, with almost all markets and borders open and exhibitions allowed to take place. The last few remaining COVID restrictions, such as indoor mask mandates, are being relaxed in one country after another.

There is huge pent-up demand to meet face to face again. Unable to conduct business via digital-only methods, exhibitors and visitors alike have a renewed appreciation of the unique value proposition of in-person trade shows and business meetings.

Although revenues are still significantly down on 2019 levels, some European venues and shows have reported a return to 2019 numbers far earlier than anticipated. We are looking forward to a very strong second half of the year.

Ana Maria Arango, UFI Regional Director, Latin America (LATAM)

Latin America´s exhibition industry has proved its recovery in the last few months, delivering strongly on KPIs right across the region. Some exhibitions have experienced growth in size, number of visitors and exhibitors compared to 2019.

Exhibition industry leaders in LATAM are driving the recovery in the region, with a spotlight on customer satisfaction, quality of content, matchmaking efficiency, digital tools and an increasing commitment to sustainability.

While the fundamentals remain strong with some LATAM shows and companies operating at the highest international levels, there remains room for improvement in the region. Addressing these challenges were the main topics for discussion at the recent UFI LATAM Conference in Buenos Aires, which brought together 100 leaders from across the region for two days of networking, learning and sharing best practices.

Naji El Haddad, UFI Regional Director, Middle East-Africa (MEA)

We are now looking forward with much optimism as the trade show and business events industry has recovered in most parts of the region. Of the many lessons learned from this pandemic, most importantly is staying close to our customers, and offering them the value and opportunities they seek.

We are living in a changing world. Hence, agility, adaptability and creativity are key tools for moving onward. Looking ahead, we have a busy agenda in the region with key events including the UFI 89th Global Congress, scheduled for Oman from Nov. 14 to 17, 2022, and the MEA Regional Conference 2023 in Qatar. Plus, industry gatherings in South Africa, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Reach Kai Hattendorf at kh@ufi.org; Mark Cochrane at mark@ufi.org; Nick Dugdale-Moore at nick@ufi.org; Ana Maria Arango at latam@ufi.org; Naji El Haddad at mea@ufi.org

Links:

Global Exhibitions Day 2021 Inspires Advocacy and Awareness

Preparations Underway for the Exhibitions and Trade Show Industry’s Global Day of Advocacy

UFI Publishes Framework and Guidance for Unified Approach to Safely Reopen Trade Shows