UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas “goes beyond”

Pooja Sharma
10 Min Read

  • The 90th edition of the event welcomed approximately 500 participants from more than 50 countries and regions, as well as more than 60 speakers
  • Content, business exchanges, networking during the very first US edition of the event
  • Geoff Dickinson takes over as UFI President for the year 2023-2024
  • New North America Chapter established as a legacy of Congress to serve the region

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, welcomed approximately 500 participants from more than 50 countries and regions to its 90th UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas, USA from November 1 to 4, for four days of business exchange, content and networking. With approximately 40 percent of attendees attending the conference for the first time, many from North America, the event succeeded in introducing many new industry colleagues to the global community.

Held annually, the UFI Global Congress is the largest and most international gathering of exhibition industry leaders and is exclusively open to UFI members and members of AIPC, ICCA and SISO associations. The 90th edition was hosted by the Las Vegas Conventions and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) at the ARIA Resort & Casino.

Summarizing the event, Kai Hattendorf, CEO of UFI, said: “Despite challenges around the world, the global trade show and corporate events industry is growing to reach new record levels. As we literally move beyond the old boundaries, the conference was perfectly timed to advance the conversation and agenda of our industry. The energy of the event was felt by everyone.”

Commenting on this year’s destination, Hattendorf added: “Holding the event in the US was one of many ‘firsts’ for UFI over the past decade, as our association continues to grow and evolve, and as more and more American companies have joined , looking to collaborate and expand into other markets. Moreover, more and more organizers are looking to launch and expand show brands into the US. Forging these connections between one market and the global industry is where UFI excels. By working with the LVCVA as our host, we were able to deliver a memorable and successful conference.”

Speakers & substantive programme
The conference offered a broad mix of programs, sessions and exchanges. On the main stage, the first sessions zoomed in on the state of play in the industry as a whole, before covering the five most relevant industry trends in special strategic sessions in different formats. From the ‘Exhibition Industry Board Meeting’, to a conversation with top leaders and to the recently launched ‘How I See It’ conversations, delegates were able to gain a range of perspectives from top industry leaders.

On Friday, parallel “spotlight sessions” provided hours of operational insight into best practices from across the industry, as well as updates on AI applications or advocacy. This year’s group of UFI Next Generation Leaders also took to the main stage to present their vision for a new blueprint for the design and development of our industry’s core product: the show floor and its environment.

The main stage also featured hours of special programming focused on the U.S. exhibition market, welcoming State Senator Julie Pazina who spoke about how to build public and private coalitions to create meaningful impact. The Xchange stage allowed event technology companies and destinations to showcase their products and offers. All conference sessions will be made available on request for UFI members and conference participants to view again via the UFI website in the coming days.

Net Zero Carbon Events initiative
During many of the sessions, the topic of sustainability emerged as a central challenge for our sector. UFI continues to lead the ‘Net Zero Carbon Events’ initiative organized and facilitated by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC). JMIC ED Alexander Alles provided a status update on the initiative during the Congress.

Special moments and unforgettable experiences
Because the conference took place in Las Vegas, and thanks to conference host LVCVA and the teams from MGM Resorts and the ARIA Resort & Casino, there was no shortage of special experiences for conference participants. A rooftop welcome reception with memories of ‘old’ Vegas set the mood, while a spectacular ‘Grand Night Out’ on Thursday saw attendees take advantage of Drai’s, the city’s most prominent club spot, overlooking the Las Vegas strip . On the closing Saturday, many delegates took advantage of a number of excursions and experiences on offer to combine relaxed networking and discovery. From a hike in nearby Red Rock Canyon to a visit to an old gold mine at Eldorado Canyon, or from a speedcar experience to an excursion to Hoover Dam, there were plenty of options. Many delegates also took advantage of a special concierge service for individual packages to explore even more options.

Matchmaking sessions involve hundreds of one-on-one meetings to foster new industry connections
Special matchmaking sessions were organized before the conference to ensure that participants could start their time at the event with new connections straight away. About 550 such meetings were organized in collaboration with mdg (a Freeman company) and Grip.

Welcome to the 2023/24 UFI President
At the end of the conference, Geoff Dickinson, CEO of dmg events, formally took over as UFI president for the coming year. Addressing the global UFI community, Dickinson said: “We must position ourselves as an industry that always strives to be better and an industry that creates platforms for our customers to positively develop and enhance their opportunities for a better future. enlarge. Together we can use our events to continue to be a catalyst for change for a better, sustainable, inclusive world – this is our purpose as it has been for thousands of years and I am sure it will continue for thousands of years to come.”

Dickinson succeeds Michael Duck, Executive VP Commercial Development, Informa Markets. In 2024, both will serve as part of UFI’s Trio, which includes the association’s new, current and immediate past presidents, along with new president Hugh Jones, CEO of RX Global.

A new term and a new chapter as Congress’s legacy
The conference week also included meetings of the UFI’s governing bodies. Following the regular elections for the leaders of the chapters, committees and working groups and the elections for the UFI Board of Directors, the week respectively marked the start of their new three-year terms. Reflecting the growing number of UFI members in North America, the association has established a North America Chapter to better serve these members. UFI now has five chapters around the world: Asia Pacific, Central and South America, Europe, Middle East and Africa and North America. The new chapter was founded under the leadership of Michael Duck as UFI president. He has long been a supporter of the chapter idea and was already involved when UFI opened its first regional chapter – called the ‘Asia/Pacific and Middle East and Africa Chapter’ – more than twenty years ago.

The UFI Global Congress – context and prospects
The UFI Global Congress is open to more than 50,000 industry professionals worldwide who work for UFI member companies. Held every November, it is known as the exhibition industry’s largest global meeting of the year, combining international networking with unique content and experiences.

In 2024, the UFI Global Congress will take place between November 20 and 23 in Cologne, Germany, organized by Koelnmesse. Hong Kong has been selected as a host destination for 2025.
Recent hosts have included Muscat, Sultanate of Oman (2022); Rotterdam, Netherlands (2021); and Bangkok, Thailand (2019). In 2020, due to COVID-19 related global travel restrictions, the conference was held digitally, with programming from Hong Kong, Dubai, London and Bogota.

Sponsors and partners
UFI is grateful to the many sponsors and partners who helped make the conference a success, primarily the Diamond Sponsors of UFI, TCEB and Visit Qatar, and the Congress Gold Sponsors Asia World Expo, Freeman and Hong Kong Tourism Board . The full list of Congress sponsors and partners is available here: https://www.uficongress.org/en/sponsorship

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