World Leaders Assemble At The 84th UFI Global Congress


Exhibition Industry’s largest annual gathering – ‘The UFI Global Congress’ was held at Johannesburg this year. The 84th edition witnessed over 420 event professionals from  56 countries discussing the pressures and opportunities in the industry and how businesses can thrive in today’s fast-changing exhibition industry environment.  

The 2017 UFI Annual General Assembly took place ahead of UFI’s Global Congress, “Raising the Odds – Pressures and Profits”. Chaired by UFI President, Dr Andreas Gruchow, the General Assembly highlighted an array of new initiatives supporting UFI’s 750+ members in 86 countries. Dr Gruchow, who is also a member of the Managing Board at Deutsche Messe, Germany shared: “UFI’s 2017 goals included involving more active members and drawing a broader audience to UFI events. In addition to our ambitious awards programme featuring best practices from within our industry, we continued to support young talents through our Next Generation Leadership Grant (NGL) programme, expanded UFI’s industry research and, together with UFI members around the world, celebrated an extremely successful Global Exhibitions Day.”

The grand event that took place from 1-4 November, saw some eventful seminars, parallel discussions, business networking and rejuvenating day-end entertainment programmes. The session started with thought provoking talk by Johan Reyneke, Founder & Owner, Reyneke Wines (South Africa) who spoke on Commitment and Integrity – A Farmer’s Journey, sharing how he turned his odds into opportunities, followed by Nex-Gen leaders presenting on their findings. This year a lot of emphasis was on the ‘Emerging Markets’ and ‘Uberization’ i.e. digitization & how it will influence the global exhibition industry. There was a parallel session on Digital Disruption where delegates agreed that the industry should be ready to embrace the digital and give it greater importance so that they can ward off any pertinent threat to their businesses.

The much awaited ‘Global Industry Review’ by Jochen Witt, President & CEO, jwc GmbH (Germany) threw some insightful statistics on the trends in Global Exhibition Industry. Some of his findings include:

  • The digital will not disrupt our industry but will support growth
  • German Trade fair business has performed better than other western businesses
  • American industry is under the dark cloud of uncertain political leadership
  • India is on a positive trajectory with strong political will and venue developments
  • Thailand is market leader in ASEAN
  • Emerging Markets are the growth drivers of our industry
  • UBM & Informa were the biggest strategic investors over the last years
  • The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but ‘DATA’
  • Reed & UBM are the global market leaders when looking at cumulative revenue and EBIT
  • Asia will lead with growth of about 5-6% p.a., Europe at around 1% and North America at 2%

Corrado Peraboni, Chair of the Board of Directors of CIPA Fiera Milano Publicações e Eventos Ltda (Brazil) took over the reins as UFI President for 2017-18 at the conclusion of the Congress, on 3 November 2017. He is joined in UFI’s new presidential leadership trio by: Craig Newman, Chief Executive Officer, Johannesburg Expo Centre (South Africa) as Incoming President and Dr Andreas Gruchow as Outgoing President.

There were interesting outings arranged by UFI, including the Dinner under the African Skies at Grass Arena, Johannesburg Expo Centre and the post event Nature tour – The Lion Safari !

The 85th UFI Global Congress is scheduled from 31 October–3 November 2018 at Expoforum, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation.

Watch the Exclusive coverage of the 84th UFI Global Congress below!  



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