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n 2009 the global economy passed a tipping point. After two decades of continuous growth, the opening up of new and emerging markets and the unprecedented expansion of global trade, the fi nancial markets and the 'real economy' have come to terms with the strong downturn in worldwide fi nancial performance. The global economy and, caught up in its maelstrom, the exhibition industry face a fundamental change. We all became aware of structural distortion in the industry. Today, the industry urgently needs to gain insight into the reasons for the change and its greater economic repercussions.In November UFI publishes the UFI Delphi Study, a report on the new age of international exhibitions and the association's latest effort to accurately project the future of the international exhibition industry.PREDICTING THE ODDSEW LOOKS AT THE NEW UFI DELPHI SEW STUDY BEING UNVEILED AT THIS YEAR'S UFI CONGRESS IN VALENCIAWHITE PAPER72Issue 8 | 2011

In the business environment created by the global economic crisis, consumer confi dence is low and companies are understandably reluctant to invest. This in turn lowers demand for B2B and B2C events. Instead these companies cut costs and search for fl exible alternative solutions. Trade takes a hit which has an impact on the respective markets.We can forecast with relative confi dence that the reverberation of the current crisis will lead to severe structural changes. Enterprises will concentrate on their core businesses and restore their distinctive propositions. This strategic development will be accompanied by operational re-engineering and with luck, will lead to expanded networking.New revenue streamThe crisis has also exposed the vulnerabilities of each economic region depending on its own specifi c circumstances. The different reactions to the crisis and the economic policies will lead to a re-balancing of the structural forces that have emerged across the globe in recent years. The streams of commerce will be diverted.The grave defi cit situation in the US and the huge foreign reserves in China means that we might reasonably expect a long-term strategic re-orientation of the global economies. Europe, Russia, India, Brazil and the Middle East need to fi nd their positions within this powerful economic framework. Such development will no doubt affect the exhibition industry. Certain questions need urgent answers. Will the exhibition industry get back to 'business as usual' with a few minor amendments, or will these changes create a fundamental shift in the structure, distribution and growth of the exhibition industries? How will the exhibition industries be affected by the slow down? Which regions will win? Which will lose? Which sectors will suffer most and which will stride through the economic crisis with minor harm? What factors will infl uence the exhibition industry in the future; how and to what extent? Will Internet and special events replace or supplement the exhibition medium? How will the division of work within the exhibition industry look in 2020?The answers to these questions are signifi cant for pending strategic decisions. However they are also connected with high uncertainty. Conducting a Delphi analysis on these matters is a logical step. The essential purpose of such a study is to reduce this uncertainty about future events, considering relevant developments to paint a picture of the agents affecting international exhibitions.KEY FACTORS TO CONSIDER FOR 2020The UFI Delphi panel discussed several topics for the study, none more important than those outlined below. Thought leadership, emerging technology and the digital revolution and supporting trends are key to the new world of exhibitions.WHITE Issue 8 | 201173Theoretical backgroundThe Delphi technique, developed predominantly by Daley and Helmet (1963) at the Rand Corporation in the 1950s, is a commonly used and accepted method for collecting data from respondents within their domain of expertise. The technique is designed as a group communication process that aims to achieve a convergence of opinion on a specifi c real-world issue. The technique is well suited as a method for building consensus by using a series of questionnaires delivered using multiple iterations to collect data from a panel of selected subjects.By using the Delphi research model, UFI hopes to achieve the following objectives:. Identifi cation of the infl uencing factors on the development of the international exhibition industry as a consequence of the crisis of the global economy. . The consequences resulting from the infl uencing factors shall be quantifi ed and qualifi ed up to the year 2020. . Identifi cation of future opportunities and threats.. Drawing up recommendations for the management of the exhibition industry. The UFI Delphi Study is a 120-page report that provides the views of a panel of experts predicting the shape and major trends of the international exhibition industry in 2020. In the USA, exhibition companies Freeman, Gaylord Entertainment, the ASAE Foundation, Exhibition Industry Foundation and PCMA Education Foundation have come together to fund their own project looking at the plan for the future of exhibitions and trade events.The Future Meet project, being conducted in collaboration with Insight Labs and Manifest Digital, is built around the premise that the initial exhibition model was conceived before the Internet and social media created a culture of instant gratifi cation.UFI IS NOT ALONE IN PLANNING FOR 2020