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UFI FOCUSwww.exhibition-world.net Issue 8 | 201117he forecast is for stormy weather. With wobbly stock markets and currencies gyrating, the global economy is once again looking at best very uncertain. There is clearly concern around the exhibition industry as to how this will spill over into our business.For many companies in the healthier economies, 2010 was a pretty good year and the fi rst half of 2011 was reported as strong by many leading exhibition businesses. Recent industry conferences would suggest, however, that there is a good deal of nervousness about the prospects for 2012.The optimistic consensus is that the industry can continue to outperform (at least by a little) the economy for a while. That was CEIR's view at its recent predict conference in New York. It was also the mood of a recent UK conference that banned economists from the platform for fear of depressing the delegates too much. But, if economies are barely growing, outperforming them is not very exciting news.UFI's Global Exhibition Barometer research showed revenue, profi t and confi dence indicators, all of which had been steadily rising through 2010 and the fi rst half of 2011, fl attening and in some cases, dipping. Confi dence that the effects of the recession were over took a signifi cant fall in the US for the poll, taken in June. Europe, not yet battered by the summer currency and banking crisis, had not seen it coming. It would be hard to imagine that the Europeans will feel the same when we take the industry's temperature again in December.I am taking two lessons from all this: fi rstly, this is an important time for the industry to come together under the umbrella of its associations to present a united face to the world. As usual, we can fi nd new business opportunities from each other, share experience and best practice and enjoy the networking. In our recent UFI membership survey BENEATH THE LOOMING CLOUDSWITH GLOBAL ECONOMISTS ONCE AGAIN HOLDING THEIR BREATH, UFI MD PAUL WOODWARD URGES SOLIDARITY IN THE FACE OF A WORSENING FINANCIAL CLIMATE(of which more news in Valencia), this is what most of our members told us they were looking to UFI for. That's all well and good but there is more that we can and should be doing, and that brings me onto my second point: promotion. It's a tricky area onto which we have to focus the inevitably limited resources of any association. But it is clear to us that more must be done. The world's business community simply does not recognise that exhibitions and other face to face events represent the most powerful and effective marketing tool available to them. One of the topics that will be discussed at the Valencia meeting of UFI's Associations Committee (now with 52 national and international association members) is how we can pool efforts to take our message out to the world's marketers more effectively. If we can do our bit more effectively 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. THERE IS MORE THAT WE CAN AND SHOULD BE DOING