Kai Hattendorf, UFI managing director/CEO
There is a lot happening in our industry that deserves to be shared and discussed at any time. But right now, the number of issues and topics we are addressing and dealing with as an industry is well above average. So, let me address the need to balance priorities today, and what UFI is doing to support you on this.
Our latest UFI Global Barometer (https://www.ufi.org/archive-research/the-global-exhibition-barometer-ju…) spells it out: Today’s most relevant issues globally are internal management challenges (mainly around staffing and changing business models), the impact of digitisation (mostly driven by customer needs), competition with other media (especially digital), and the economy at home and globally. In addition, sustainability continues to rise through the ranks.
But we also need to look beyond the short-term challenges to identify the mid-term trends and transformations we are dealing with. Again, we have used the UFI Global Barometer to identify the topics that will drive our agenda in the next three to five years. These are, in the order of priority: Changing customer expectations, Staffing, Digitisation, Climate-related regulations, (De)Globalisation, and DEI-related regulations.
It is worth looking at the differences in short and mid-term priorities, especially as we prioritise going forward. Right now, I am spending a lot of time discussing these with some of the speakers and participants of our upcoming UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas. What do we need to do today to keep up with the recovery of our shows and businesses, which are still short-staffed in most instances? Which contingencies do we need in view of the current inflation rates and sluggish economic growth, or even recessions, in markets?
At the same time – how do we build digital capabilities to stay abreast of the changing exhibitor expectations? And how do we reduce our carbon footprints quarter by quarter, show by show, raising the bar on tackling climate change?
That’s a lot to deal with and, as your global association, we’re here to provide support and insights, especially on the issues where we as an industry are all facing the same challenge – which tend to be the mid-to long-term issues.
Let me share two examples: Talent acquisition and retention, and decarbonisation. Both are as urgent as they are important, and UFI has set up projects and structures to support them. On the talent side, our NGL Class of 2022 presented a new, compelling industry narrative we can all use when we advertise what a great place to work we are ( https://www.ufi.org/news-media/ufi-connects/ufi-connects-revisited-a-new-talent-narrative-next-generation-leaders/ ).
Building on that, a special task force has written a UFI White Paper on talent challenges (https://www.ufi.org/archive-research/attracting-community-builders/ ), full of useful guidance and suggestions for everyone’s employee value propositions.
And on decarbonisation – the success of the Net Zero Carbon Events initiative (https://www.netzerocarbonevents.org) continues to exceed expectations. With more than 600 businesses as supporters and/or signatories to the pledge, the initiative is producing guidance and best practice examples for successful industry decarbonisation and – at the same time – is acting and liaising for our sector on the implementation with UN bodies for everyone’s benefit.
To me, these are examples of what associations can do – help you to focus on the most important issues of the day while providing input that moves you (and all of us) forward on mid-term issues.
As you might (and will) expect, we will address all of the above issues on and off stage at this year’s Global Congress – we will be in the USA for the first time, in Las Vegas, 1–4 November.