UFI in Basel: The challenge of change

This year’s UFI Open Seminar in Europe is taking place from 20 to 22 June in Basel, Switzerland’s leading trade fair city. Attendees can look forward to three different themes. 

Congress Center Basel is the venue of the UFI Seminar. (Photo: MCH Messe Basel / Congress Center Basel)
Congress Center Basel is the venue of the UFI Seminar. (Photo: MCH Messe Basel / Congress Center Basel)

Digitisation, the changes that are transforming how business is done and security will be the subject of intense debate at this get-together of the global association of the exhibition industry in Basel. These are pressing issues that are impossible to ignore, according to many in the industry. The UFI describes digitisation as a “megatrend that forces every company to become more digital”. On the one hand, digitisation presents trade fair companies with a range of possibilities. On the other, it means that organisers and venue operators are faced with new questions: Will the trade fair industry be able to incorporate digital solutions? If so, what will these models look like? What will be the consequences for live marketing? And what are other industries doing about it? Stephan Peyer, chief development officer at host company MCH, will be giving an insight into this with a presentation on trade fairs in the age of digitisation. Product marketing has reached an entirely new level of complexity, believes Peyer.

Closely associated with this is the transformation of business models. What the market demands in the future also depends very much on the expectations of the next generation of decision-makers. The UFI Seminar in Basel will therefore be examining the needs of millennials, generally considered to be those who were teenagers at the turn of the millennium. They’ve been in the starting blocks for some time now, ready to make their way to the top of company hierarchies. What do these millennials expect from the trade fair industry? What kinds of messages can tempt them to come to events, and what are the no-nos when addressing them? Dutch social scientist and behavioural researcher Tessa van Asselt will be providing answers. Sometimes referred to as Generation Y, they are big users of social media. Huib van Bockel will be explaining how social media can be used successfully for marketing purposes, using Red Bull as an example of how modern forms of communication can extend reach.

The Networking Dinner will take place on Tuesday evening. (Photo: MCH Group)
The Networking Dinner will take place on Tuesday evening. (Photo: MCH Group)

In these turbulent times of terrorist threats and attacks, security is also becoming an increasingly important issue. Security levels have been raised, greatly in some cases, following recent events. Giacomo Lucchini, chief operating officer at Fiera Milano, will be examining security measures at major events, taking the activities at last year’s World Expo in Milan by way of example. The challenge there was to carry out all the necessary checks while at the same time allowing a total of 21 million visitors to gain admission to the Expo site easily. After his presentation, Lucchini will be discussing how to reconcile these conflicting priorities with Patric Sjöbert of Stockholmsmässan and David Boon of Bruxelles Expo. The two trade fair bosses will be revealing how they handle security at their venues without affecting logistic processes.

In addition to the specialist programme at the UFI event, there will again be plenty of opportunities for networking, both during the day and in the evening. On the first evening there will be an informal welcome reception with a typical local buffet at Volkshaus Basel. MCH’s centenary celebrations will come to the fore at the event on the second evening. Jonas Ridderstrale, a visiting professor at Ashridge Business School in the UK, will be making a speech at the dinner. He will reflect on the slogan of the UFI Seminar at Congress Center Basel: “The challenges of change”. After the event itself, the attendees will have another opportunity to make new contacts and cultivate existing relationships. On the afternoon of 22 June there will be a tour of this city of art on the Rhine, the home of the renowned Art Basel art show (www.ufi.org).  

Author: Peter Borstel

This article was published in TFI issue 3-4/2016


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