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Exhibition World | Opinion29In the few weeks since UFI's members met in recordnumbers in Singapore, I have been able to attendfascinating industry gatherings in Barcelona and NewOrleans. These events have driven home to me that wesee wide diversity across our business events industrybut that we also share a number of common issues.In Barcelona, alongside Reed's vibrant EIBTM fair, theJoint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) came together todiscuss how best we can progress the interests of themultiple forms of business events. JMIC gathers togethera real 'alphabet soup' of industry associations includingUFI, ICCA, AIPC, IAPCO, MPI and seven others. The businesses that each represents work in quite differentways, but we do share common concerns. Top of the list, andthe topic of some lengthy discussion in Barcelona, was howwe can more effectively communicate the value of businessevents to our stakeholders. Whether it is our customers, ourlocal communities or governments, there is a feeling that wecould and should be doing a better job of measuring andcommunicating the value that we represent.The importance of this was driven home in New Orleanswhere the IAEE annual meeting kicked off with a stirringspeech from Roger Dow, the president and CEO of the USTravel Association. The American business events andmeetings industry has been under fire since the bankingcrisis first erupted in 2008. The industry has come togetherto try to explain to politicians just how important it is. Theyface multiple issues including challenging visa applicationprocedures from key source countries like China and Indiaand, most recently, a crackdown on government travel in acombined cost-saving and environmental initiative. The business events industry, especially exhibitions,adds value in a variety of ways. We bring visitors intocommunities who spend money in hotels, restaurants,shops, local airports and so on, supporting jobs andbusinesses. This is quite readily measured in many placesand forms the basis of most of the economic impactstudies already undertaken. What is much harder tomeasure, but really important, is the actual businessgenerated as a result of our events.Professor Michael Enright told the UFI Congress inSingapore that the exhibition industry is under-selling itselfbecause we don't properly measure the impact we haveon our customers' businesses. It's not easy to do andeconomists may well wish to debate ad infinitum about thebest way to do it. But, industry associations such as UFIand our partner associations in JMIC are determined topush this agenda forward. Watch for news from theassociations on a planned forum to discuss these issues.Other topics discussed by JMIC and at the IAEE meetingin New Orleans seem remarkably similar to the agendaoutlined by UFI president Eric Everard in his speech to themembers in Singapore. Sustainability is on the agenda ofevery meeting I attend. We all want to be doing the right thingand in a way which benefits our clients and to ourbusinesses. We are all also aware of the new internationalstandards being developed and of the need for ourassociations to be involved in that development to ensurethat the industry voice is properly heard.Of course, the future role of technology in our businesstakes a large part of the agenda of these industrymeetings. "Hybrid" meetings are the focus of the moment.How will we all combine the unquestionable benefits offace-to-face interaction with the opportunity for people toparticipate in events from all over the world and withouttravelling? The industry is full of exciting ideas and it will befascinating to see which ones really take root.Finally, there is the issue of globalisation, the continuedevolution of international business into new markets. Veteranindustry pundit Bob Dallmeyer led a discussion in NewOrleans at one of IAEE's sessions on internationalopportunities. Sandy Angus told delegates he "never feltthere were more opportunities to run events outside yourhome country than there are today", while Cancun Messe'sPatricia Farias-Barlow gave the delegates a call to armssaying "now is the time for Americans to go offshore". Don'twait for the business to come to you, go after it! Shared interests acrossthe global industryTHE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| January 2011|UFI MD Paul Woodwardreports on developments in Barcelona, New Orleans and Singapore, EIBTM, Expo! Expo! and the 2010 UFI Annual Congress.Paul Woodward, Arie Brienen, Eric Everard and John Shaw