Going Beyond in Vegas

UFI managing director and CEO Kai Hattendorf explains how he expects this year’s Global Congress to Go Beyond.

EW put the following questions to Kai Hattendorf in the run up to the UFI Annual Congress in Las Vegas, 1-4 November:

Tell us about this year’s Congress theme – why did you choose ‘Go Beyond’?

When we announced that theme early in the year, some people were puzzled, as they saw our industry still very much in recovery mode. But that’s really in our industry’s rearview mirror now, and we are back on the path of growth and ever-faster change than we were on in 2019. As we literally go beyond where we were, the Congress is perfectly timed to drive our industry’s conversation and agenda forward. We are building every session, every element of the Congress with the ambition that it will push everyone’s journey to go beyond!

There are many industry events – especially in the US. Why is the UFI Global Congress different?

It does neither compete nor take anything away from any other event in the US – just the opposite: It adds to them! It simply is our industry’s global gathering, coming to the US for once. It is where the global community meets to network, to do business, and to discuss. Where else can you meet CEOs from more than 50 exhibition markets from all around the world? The connections you can make in just two days, the conversations you can have, and the fresh thoughts and inspirations you can take home – all these are top-rated, year after year, and even more so after the pandemic. And as a plus: A new location in a new market every year – Muscat in 2022, Las Vegas this year, Cologne and Hong Kong in 2024 and 2025.

What is special about being in the US this year?

It’s one of many ‘firsts’ UFI has been doing in the past ten years, as our association continues to grow and evolve. We have been a natural part of the US association’s ecosystem for a long time, as more and more US businesses have joined, looking to partner and expand into other markets. In addition, especially in the last years, ever more organisers are looking to launch and expand show brands into the US. Forging these connections between one market and the global industry is what UFI excels in. So, our leadership selected the bid from Las Vegas to host a UFI Congress to support all of this.

How will the programming reflect that?

Just two examples: We have added new matchmaking sessions right at the very beginning of the Congress, focussing on connecting participants from North America with other regions. Everyone can start into the Congress with new connections right away. We’ll have extra sessions on Friday to go deep into the way the US exhibition industry works and what the best opportunities are right now.

We know you’re a former ‘media’ colleague, having worked for years as a business journalist. Tell us the sessions that you look forward to most, putting your journalist hat on.

Each and every one will be worth its own reporting – but I especially look forward to two formats: We will premiere new, compact, ten-minute talks, titled ‘How I see it’, where one expert will share a specific position on a top industry issue – think of them as op-ed pieces that will spark discussions and conversations. And we are evolving the ‘Exhibition Industry Board Meeting’ that we launched last year: A group of top leaders that we assemble to work together as a fictional Board for our whole industry, discussing and deciding on industry and investment priorities.