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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

8.737.013.017.423.9? An exhibition organiser? A venue operator? A service provider (e.g. standbuilding, catering, promotion)? In a related organisation (e.g. association, media, government, university)? In another enterpriseThis fi rst part of the study describes the development of the industry based on the analysis of the experts' answers. Thought leadership and the digital revolution comprise the two core trends that will have to be supported by strong CRM systems and carefully selected partnerships. Only if exhibition companies are able to realise the thought leadership concept and manage to face and make use of the digital revolution, will they successfully overcome the current challenges and gain competitive advantage. The Delphi report dedicates 30 pages to a detailed description of these two core trends. It provides recommendations on how to handle the trends and turn those opportunities into strengths. The second part of the study takes the reader into the details of the different hypotheses and provides a close look at the perceptions and predictions of the experts consulted. This chapter is enriched with individual comments from the experts, providing their insight and various trains of thought. By looking at trade barriers and protectionism, budget and cost development, new media and technologies, the study addresses the issue of competition within the exhibition industry. Experts were asked which developments they consider most likely to happen and in which areas they would expect to see the most signifi cant change. The study takes a close look at eight different areas and gives insight into the developments of each one. One key area of focus for the UFI Delphi Study's panel of experts is social media. They were asked how they would rank the importance of social media for a variety of purposes. An example of their fi ndings can be seen left. While the study ultimately hopes to help organisers better plan for the future by providing opinion from thought leaders, their opinions are theirs alone. The key to our success as an industry is to use these views and establish our own plans as we head into the brave new world created by the global economic crisis. If you wish to contact UFI about the Delphi report, please contact Jörg Beier or Rowena Arzt at delphi@ufi .org. How to fi nd out moreThis is the fi rst time that a Delphi study of this kind is being done for the exhibition industry. UFI will provide an executive summary of the study at the UFI Congress in Valencia in November. Companies can order the study directly at the congress or via the UFI homepage.UFI members will be able to purchase the study at a reduced price. AcknowledgementsThe Steinbeis Transfer Centre Exhibition, Convention and Event Management at the State University Baden-Wuerttemberg, Ravensburg - Dr Jörg Beier). Special acknowledgement goes to the steering committee for setting up the study, providing their guidance to the development of the hypotheses and reviewing the initial results.WHITE PAPERIssue 8 | 2011 Very important ? Important ? Less important ? Not at all importantTo build excellent customer relationshipsThe right target group exhibitors and visitorsTo communicate in a low-cost wayTo get close to the customersTo recognise opportunities and risks earlyTo intensify salesTo offer customised products and servicesTo actively promote the companyTo improve customer satisfaction68.229.52.345.543.26.84.556.831.86.84.554.531.89.14.534.145.511.49.129.550.020.534.'S EXPERTS TALK SOCIAL MEDIAImagine the industry in 2020. Please rate the importance of social media (eg Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, OpenSocial) for the effi ciency of the following communication functions. Please select a number according to the following:The communication function of social media and Internet services will become:1: Very Important; 2: Important; 3: Less important; 4: Not at all important WHO ARE THE UFI DELPHI STUDY EXPERTS?As you can see below, much of the value of the Delphi report lies in the broad range of professional backgrounds that comprise the panel of experts.