UFI in Las Vegas: Back among the winners

The 90th UFI Global Congress is taking place in Nevada’s gambling metropolis from 1 to 4 November. It’s looking like the industry will get back to its pre-pandemic levels again in 2023.

Delegates of the UFI Congress can look forward to Las Vegas’ world-famous night life. (Photo: zzim780 auf Pixabay)
Delegates of the UFI Congress can look forward to Las Vegas’ world-famous night life. (Photo: zzim780 auf Pixabay)

Viva Las Vegas, sang Elvis Presley, although by that stage, his best years were behind him. When the international trade fair community gets together in Las Vegas for the annual UFI Global Congress, however, a new dawn feels likely. That’s clear from the results of the Global Exhibition Barometer, which takes the industry’s pulse. Most of the world’s trade fair venues are seeing a clear recovery in 2023, with revenues set to reach around 97 percent of the levels of 2019. Only 2 percent of the respondents from around the world are expecting revenues to decrease this year. “After China’s reopening early this year, the pandemic is now completely in our industry’s rear-view mirror,” declares Kai Hattendorf, the UFI’s CEO. “The trade fair industry is creating a new normal and making progress both in terms of digital products and services and of sustainability,” observes Hattendorf.

Hattendorf reports that new technologies such as generative AI (artificial intelligence) applications are being trialled. Data from 351 companies in 61 countries was analysed in the UFI survey, which was completed in July. A number of future trends and developments emerged from it: 68 percent of the companies surveyed view “changing customer expectations” as the most impactful factor for the development of their business in the next five years. This is followed by “staffing”, which was mentioned by 54 percent of the companies. Staffing thus continues to be a key concern. It is expected that many business functions will be affected by the development of AI. The main ones are “sales, marketing and customer relationships” (62 percent of respondents), “research and development” (58 percent) and “event production” (45 percent) – three areas in which generative AI applications are already being used more frequently than in other areas.

“The exhibition industry continues to evolve in the field of digital products and services as well as sustainability,” observes UFI managing director/CEO Kai Hattendorf. (Photo: UFI)
“The exhibition industry continues to evolve in the field of digital products and services as well as sustainability,” observes UFI managing director/CEO Kai Hattendorf. (Photo: UFI)

The USA, the host country of the 90th UFI Congress, is among the countries with the most positive expectations, just behind Australia and the United Kingdom. Around 94 percent of US companies surveyed expect “normal levels of activity” in the second six months of 2023. US focus sessions will be held on the third day for congress delegates who are interested in the US market. As usual, the programme of the UFI Congress will offer a balanced mix of content and networking activities. The event is being hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which is the official marketing organisation of this destination in southern Nevada and promotes tourism, conventions, conferences and special events. The results of the latest Global Exhibition Barometer and the programme of the 90th UFI Congress are available online (www.ufi.org). There is one experience that delegates should on no account miss out on when visiting Las Vegas: the chance to emerge from a casino as a winner – or, failing that, at least watch others try their luck. What’s certainly clear from the latest data is that the international trade fair industry is back among the winners.

Author: Peter Borstel

This article was published in TFI issue 3/2023

 
 

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