From 6 to 9 November the 86th UFI Global Congress will take place in the Thai capital. Its focus will be on a topic that is intrinsic to trade fairs and has many facets.
Trust: The overarching leitmotif of the annual congress of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry was an obvious choice: Especially in times of fake news and ways to manipulate digital communication, trustworthiness is a valuable asset. “Trust is established through personal contact in communication” points out the UFI’s managing director Kai Hattendorf. “Trade fairs are important platforms of trust in general.” This trust even starts before the event. The exhibitor already shows great confidence in the organiser by registering for the event. The visitor also trusts to find relevant market offerings at the fair. In the same way, entire industries can already score necessary points in advance. “In the markets, everything is based on trust,” says Hattendorf. “It is the very basis of business relationships.”
As in previous years, the UFI has deliberately chosen a speaker who is not from the industry to kick off the lecture programme. In Bangkok the British conductor Charles Hazlewood will bring the conference topic “Trust” to life in a way that is both hands-on and easy to understand. He will be followed by further speakers who will address the congress motto “Platforms of Trust” and demonstrate the various dimensions of trust - such as its significance for corporate development, for the marketing of events and for sustainability. The latter aspect will certainly play a role at the event’s Next Generation Leadership Grant Conversation. “The topic of trust will unobtrusively shape the entire congress,” explains Kai Hattendorf.
Attendees can look forward to two dynamic moderators: Caitlin Read of Comexposium and Stephan Forseilles of Easyfairs will lead them through the event. The passing of the baton from the current UFI president Craig Newman to the new president, Mary Larkin, will certainly be a historic moment. This will be the first time a woman is at the helm of the UFI. Plus: The upcoming congress will again have a popular (trade fair) focus on its host country. “Thailand has seen an excellent development,” says Kai Hattendorf. “Also and especially beyond Bangkok.” The fact that the capital has now won the bid for the second time after 2004 was due to its “extremely powerful proposal,” says the UFI managing director. “Overall, the level of all candidates was particularly high.” Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing exhibition region in the world - and markets outside China also contribute to this, says Hattendorf. For example, a lot has been happening with event centres in Malaysia and Indonesia recently. The congress in Bangkok will give the ASEAN region, with its 600 million people, the attention it deserves.
Other Asian trade fair markets such as Japan and India will also receive a boost from additional event capacities. Japan looks forward to the opening of an exhibition centre in Aichi in August and more space at Tokyo Big Sight after the Olympic Games. In India, the IICC near Delhi, which is currently under construction, will make a major contribution to the national capacity expansion by 50 per cent - which is forecast for the next few years. “International organisers have been waiting for this for a long time,” says Kai Hattendorf. “Now they are well prepared and raring to go,” he expects significant growth on the subcontinent. In general, there are three areas that are ultimately crucial for success in the trade fair industry there and everywhere: “Market accessibility, infrastructure and training,” lists the UFI’s managing director.
Especially the educational aspect is of huge importance, because a centre can only be run successfully with qualified personnel. “Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau invests a lot in training,” Kai Hattendorf points out examples of the efforts in the host country of this year's UFI Congress. But in other Asian trade fair countries the offers of the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry - such as the Exhibition Management Degree and the Venue Management School cooperation project - also meet with great acceptance (www.ufi.org).
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