International Summer University

Cologne 2018 will take place from 4 -6 July 2018

The International Summer University (ISU) provides an interactive educational platform for the exchange of strategic and operational knowledge. More than 350 exhibition professionals from 43 different countries participated in the ISU in the past eight editions.

Participation at the annual ISU affords you the opportunity to:

1. Gain an overview of present market trends in the trade fair industry: ISU focus on new ideas for services provided by exhibition organizers.

2. Understand the value of exhibition services to a greater extent: Lectures, workshops and case studies, moderated by top executives and recognized university professors, help you take the customer’s point of view and gain inspiration for better services.

3. Think outside the box: Visionary sessions with lateral thinkers allow discussions of unconventional ideas along new paths.

4. Enrich your business network and prove your professional value: Social get-togethers and excursions provide opportunities for networking activities.

5. Prove your competence: You will receive a personal certificate signed by the responsible university professors and by the UFI President.

“ISU delivers a unique and compact three-day learning experience. It’s a big room full of exhibition industry professionals forming a learning community for a joint excursion into a different topic each year, that is critical for success in our industry.” – Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director, UFI – The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry


2017 Edition

9th International Summer University for Trade Fair Management (2017)
“Cutting-Edge Services – Tipping the Scale for Exhibition Success”


The 9th year of the ISU at the Koelnmesse ended on Friday 2nd June. With energy levels still on a high, participants bid farewell to newly formed friends and contacts, leaving with greater insight and knowledge from the intense, high quality lectures presented across the three days.

Prof. Dr Werner Delfmann, University of Cologne opened this year’s ISU, an initiative by the Institute of Trade Fair Management University of Cologne, Koelnmesse and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

The theme for this year was: Cutting-edge services – tipping the scale for exhibition success. Lectures and workshops were focused on the importance of exhibition services.

Up until the final session, participants remained, passionate and energised. Carrie De Souza, Conference Manager, Koelnmesse Singapore said of this year’s programme: “The programme was done up well with relevant speakers from various industries. As a Project Manager it helped me understand how one could improve the show and to see it from the customers point of view. The group workshops were great for thinking outside the box. The “Design Thinking” workshop in particular was a great eye-opener”.

Arthur Tolentino, Head of Sponsorship, Messe Frankfurt Middle East commented: “ISU is one of the most intra-personal and interactive training I’ve attended so far. It is an excellent platform to learn, interact and network with industry colleagues. The organiser put a great job in putting together such an amazing programme and expert speakers from different industries. Highly recommended. Hope to attend again next year for the 10 Year Anniversary”.

Heike Helmrath, Business Development, Kuhne + Nagel, a repeat participant: “Always a nice mix of participants from venues, organisers and exhibition related people at ISU. The speakers range from professors to practising professionals, gives a good overview and keeps it lively. Koelnmesse is the perfect host venue, providing a lovely location for effective networking. A good opportunity to meet and discuss the newest trends of the exhibition industry.

Targeted at middle and upper management, each year ISU researches the hot topics being discussed and debated upon within the industry, using this as the basis for selecting the main theme for the programme. This ensures that the latest trends and challenges are explored and unpacked during the sessions. Academics and industry professionals specific to the theme are also carefully selected to ensure the participants are exposed to invaluable knowledge and case study discussions.

Keep a look out for next year’s topic and register for ISU 2018, to join the many participants who have given their career a boost by learning, sharing experiences and networking within this elite group of passionate professionals.

Read more on the post event Press Release


Pictures from 2017 ISU


2016 Edition

8th International Summer University for Trade Fair Management (2016)
“Customer Journey – Touring the Trade Fair Touchpoints”


This year’s International Summer School (ISU) provided, as always, a very high quality programme. The participants from 10 countries were enthusiastic about the event’s varied format, lively programme and networking opportunities.

The 8th ISU started with lectures by industry experts and university faculty members, giving an insight into the topic of the customer journey. It concluded with interactive workshops to combine perspectives of organisers, exhibitors, associations and communications experts. ISU attendees were challenged to create a complete customer journey from the point of view of a visitor and to find more targeted measures to satisfy their customers. In addition, the participants had the opportunity to enjoy a range of networking events including a dinner and a guided tour.

Pictures from 2016 ISU

ISU on Social Media

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The topics we discussed at the ISU 2016 truly changed my attitude towards customer management. The event was well organised and I had the chance to make use of fabulous networking opportunities.

— Okay Basbug, Foreign Affairs Deputy Manager, World Trade Center Istanbul (Tutrkey)

For me the most convincing aspect about the 2016 ISU, was the combination of networking opportunities, content-related lectures and workshops. In particular, the group dynamics’ and open mindedness of the other participants, as well as the speakers inspired me.

— Oscar Prat van Thiel, Commercial & Marketing Director, Nanjing Stuttgart Joint Exhibition Ltd.(Germany)

I highly appreciated the variety of subjects dealt with at ISU 2013. It was a great opportunity to look at the innovation process from different angles.

Didier Peier, MCH Group (Switzerland)

I received several stimulating ideas for my work at home.

Wu Xiao Feng, Professor Department of Commerce Management (Guilin Institute of Tourism, China)


Pictures from 2015 ISU