Exhibition World | Interview19never had any difficulties doing cross-border business. What are the key challenges that face UFI in thenext 12 months?To demonstrate the value of exhibitions and tradeshows asa communications instrument in a changing world. We liketo say that marketing doesn't get any more direct than atradeshow. There is simply no substitute for face-to-facecontact. And this is borne out by research that shows thatexhibitors believe exhibitions are the most effective form ofcommunication in terms of ROI. Surveys also show thateven non-exhibitors recognise the value of exhibitions. Soour challenge is to get them actually exhibiting. We really want all of our members know to that UFI isfocused on adding value to their businesses. We don't existsimply due to the fact we are 85 years old or because wehave a great culture and heritage. We exist to make ourmembers' businesses more successful. This is the valuewe bring to them. I would like to be able to communicate this more clearlyin the future. Global communications with limited resourcesis a big challenge and all the more so in a multimediaenvironment. While some UFI members want to hear fromus on Twitter, LinkedIn and via their iPads, others arefinding it hard to say goodbye to printed directories andglossy brochures. UFI has also played a leading role in internationalisingthe exhibition industry and I see this work continuing. Formany years the industry was dominated by WesternEurope and North America, but now China is a majorplayer, as are business hubs such as Dubai andSingapore. UFI can help foster good communication,cooperation and the sharing of best practice. The greatthing about new members from developing countries is thatthey tend to be active and enthusiastic. UFI's challenge isto tap into that enthusiasm.Finally, we have to look at the business models ofexhibitions and apply some fresh thinking to move with thetimes. Marketing budgets are tight so the old adage "timeis money" has never been truer. Therefore we have tocreate an even better value proposition and communicateit very effectively. At the same time we have to adapt our business modelto be more sustainable. We should recognise andcelebrate any initiatives among UFI members to beexemplars of sustainable profitability in the exhibitionindustry - because this is now a business basic, not a "niceto have" or a piece of window dressing. Our onlinesustainable development knowledge exchange availableto our members is just the first of many initiatives we havein mind.Will you be focusing on the internationalassociations?Absolutely. UFI really values the relationship we havedeveloped with the 38 UFI member national andinternational exhibition industry associations. UFI is truly a global umbrella for the exhibition community.We bring together these associations on a regular basisand work closely with them as multipliers for ourprogrammes, services and research projects. This is a win-win situation for us all. If we want to maximise our resourcesand avoid duplicative effort, this is certainly the best way forus all to go."We bring together associations on a regular basis and work closely withthem as multipliers for ourprogrammes, services and researchprojects. This is a win-win situationfor us all." THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| Nov/Dec 2010|Eric Everard
Interview| Exhibition World20| Nov/Dec 2010| The 77th UFI Congress is in Singapore. Wheredoes South East Asia sit in the bigger picture ofinternational exhibitions? I don't think anyone doubts we will continue to see strongeconomic growth in the South East Asian countries. Thereis a fantastic opportunity for that region to continue todevelop strongly in the international exhibition industryover the next few years. There is real potential in Vietnamand Indonesia, and Thailand is definitely ahead of thecurve with its professional development of the exhibitionindustry.The venue of this year's UFI conference is a quiteexceptional location. The Marina Bay Sands, one of themost impressive exhibition hall and congress complexesthat I have ever seen, has been beautifully conceived bythe architect Moshe Safdie. What are your views on emerging technologicaltrends in the international exhibition industry? Is social networking of any real benefit and areexhibitors crying out for RFID? I think we are all still struggling a little to understand thebenefits and consequences of social media. Peoplemade similar claims about email and internet and ofcourse both of these - one could argue - also keepexhibitions alive. Social media does help to reinforce thefeeling of community around an event. And it can alsosuccessfully bridge the time between events bymaintaining interest in the exhibition and in its theme. Butsocial media is no substitute for face-to-face contact, anymore than the telephone or email, and social media mustbe controlled or it can become an unproductive drain onpeople's time.To be honest, RFID scares the pants off me! I think thereare some real privacy issues involved and I don't like theidea of humans being tracked in the same way you wouldtrack a manufacturing component. On the other hand it willmake an impact on the exhibition industry as elsewhere.Some say it will enhance the visitor's experience but I haveyet to be convinced and the privacy issues must beaddressed.There's no doubt that technology has become an integralpart of today's communications process. The exhibitionindustry will use it, build upon it, depend upon it, and helpto encourage its good use as best we can. Quite excitingtimes, don't you agree?Should there be another global financial crisistomorrow, what would you advise is the best wayto protect your business? Cloning events abroad orexpanding into other live event formats?It is the same as for every business; You have to createand communicate value. I would not feel compelled todiversify. Rather, I would invest in enhancing myexisting products - which already have a very clearvisitor proposition - with even better content andinnovations that deliver more value for the visitor's time.Plus of course you have to manage costs verycarefully. This is where Easyfairs has a clear competitiveadvantage over some of the larger organisers and halls.So again, if anybody is reading this who isexperiencing difficulties, please get in touch, because wewould be delighted to help out.Has Easyfairs formed any joint ventures or otherpartnerships recently? We have established joint ventures to set up easyFairsoperations in Colombia, Poland and Russia in the pastthree years. We are open to opportunities for furtherpartnerships but we are very keen to preserve ourindependence and the integrity of the Easyfairs brand.Are you now looking to launch an acquisition drive? Our core strategy is to double in size in the countrieswhere we are already doing business within the next fiveyears, and that will be a combination of organic growthand acquisitions. We certainly aim to make further targeted acquisitionsthat fit within our portfolio. This was the case with bothNationwide in the UK and Fairtec, which we recentlyacquired in Belgium. We are currently exploring somevery interesting opportunities in Germany, Spain, theUnited Kingdom and Ireland. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET"The real obstacle to internationalexpansion is protectionism. If theexhibition industry does not take careof protectionism, protectionism willtake care of us."