EUROPE - The 2011 annual UFI Congress is underway in Valencia, bringing together more than 400 delegates from the international exhibition industry to discuss the future of exhibitions.
The two-day speaker programme is being moderated this year by Hakan Gershagen, senior advisor and board member at Belgian organiser EasyFairs. Key speakers include Stephane Garelli, professor at the Institute of Development Management in Switzerland, who will speak about the impact of the ongoing global economic crisis, and Mercedes Araoz, professor at the Universidad del Pacifico in Peru, who will address Latin America´s opportunity for exhibition organisers.
Feria Valencia’s president Alberto Catala Ruiz de Galarreta welcomed delegates from 25 countries to Valencia. He pointed out the current business, political and economic climate made it difficult to determine in which direction the world is headed.
The UFI Congress is an opportunity for members “to take a time-out in Valencia, share information and strategise on the pitfalls and opportunities ahead for the exhibition industry”, he said.
UFI 2011 president Eric Everard agreed the industry needed to continue to develop ways to promote the benefits of exhibitions to global marketers.
“If we can do our bit to convince business that, when times are tough, exhibitions and events are the place to focus their marketing dollars, then there will have been a silver lining in those storm clouds for our industry,” he told the congress.
A highlight of the UFI Congress programme is a panel discussion on how face-to-face business events will work in the future, with opinion from experts representing various aspects of the business events industry. The panel comprises Rod Cameron from the International Association of Congress Centres (Belgium), Martin Sirk CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association (Netherlands) and Denzil Rankine, founder and chief executive at AMR International (UK).
The event also sees the official handover of the UFI presidency from Everard to Arie Brienen, CEO of Jaarbeurs Holding in the Netherlands. Deputy director of the Shanghai World Expo Coordination Chen Xianjin was recently appointed the 2013 UFI presidency.