This Just In

UFI’s GED2020 Draws Record Crowds Worldwide; In U.S., SISO Zeros in on New Normal

TSE Staff

PARIS —UFI-led Global Exhibitions Day 2020 had unprecedented participation this year with representation from 114 countries and regions across the globe. This year marked the largest day of awareness and advocacy for the exhibition industry in the annual event’s history. The key message of GED2020 was “exhibitions are key to rebuilding economies.”

UFI tracked more than 8,000 unique posts that potentially reached more than 715m people. The organization reported that thousands participated in at least 21 live webinars and hybrid events during the GED2020 campaign on June 3.

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

In the United States, events were held in conjunction with the worldwide effort. Of note, partner association International Association of Exhibitions & Events (IAEE) Exhibitions Day drew more than 600 people, and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) held a virtual town hall with industry leaders to discuss the industry’s new normal.

During its 1.5 hour discussion, SISO’s Board of Director, which includes Douglas Emslie, CEO, Tarsus Group; Hervé Sedky, President, Reed Americas; Cassandra Farrington, Co-founder, Chair of the Board, MJBizCon; and Greg Topalian, CEO, Clarion UX, discussed the “new normal” for the industry. David Audrain, CEO/Partner, ExpoDevCo and the Executive Director of SISO, served as moderator.

Several of the panelists reported they would produce events in Asia during the summer; however, things are tentatively scheduled for late summer and are somewhat more certain for the fall and winter in the United States. All the panelists were looking at new measures of success, especially when it comes to attendance.

Here are some top quotes from SISO’s panel discussion:

  • “It’s critical we stop thinking about the numbers, and focus on the quality,” said Sedky. “Show formats will be different, not just for this year but forever. Quality will be significant and will definitely surpass quantity in the future.”
  • “I’m focused on delivering a high-quality show that delivers what it needs to the audience so this event remains the engine for the industry,” said Farrington. “How do we deliver those quality elements through a hybrid virtual environment and how do we manage the system on site for that?”
  • “It’s going to be about convincing people that the quality and the interaction of the show are going to be higher,” Emslie said. “We’re reshaping all of our communications and managing the expectation that it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the quality, and we’re working with each individual industry in establishing that so people won’t be disappointed. It’s about meeting expectations, whether that’s products sold, contacts made or follow-up RFPs.”
  • “Social distance planning is extra challenging because our events are very much community events. They’re very crowded, typically,” Topalian said. “We’re thinking about things such as moving outdoors. Do we actually consider a totally different venue option as a way to deliver that kind of fandom experience?”

    The entire panel expressed that the industry needs to speak with one voice to governmental leaders, and the Go LIVE Together coalition is the key to achieve that goal.


“We have to move quickly as an industry and in a unified way. One of the problems for the industry is that there’s a lot of enthusiasm and bodies out there but not necessary a lot of coordination,” Emslie said. “[Go LIVE Together] has been a huge positive for the industry and we’re moving forward very quickly. There are key initiatives to get everyone focused on the critical things to get our industry open. Once we get open we can deal with all of the other issues. But if we’re not going to be open, then we have a big problem.”

Throughout the day, social media posts and engagement flooded platforms with data and statistics, shining a light on the industry as a power-driver for businesses and innovation. UFI members and other partner associations held smaller meetings and virtual discussions, and shared videos.

Demonstrating creativity within the UFI ranks, TSE pulled a few gems from UFI’s recently published wrap up. To see their full list of wrap up reports and videos from the global day of advocacy, visit:

A thoughtful video from Informa Markets Asia

A song from 73 Media

From industry colleagues in Italy

Reach Kai Hattendorf at (33) 1 46 39 75 00 or; David Audrain at (404) 334-4585 or

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