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UFI European Conference examines the future of the exhibition industry from a European perspective

– 221 delegates from 32 countries participated
– 38 speakers shared their expertise and vision for the future of the industry

Paris, 15 June 2021: Taking place over two afternoons, the 2021 UFI European Conference put a spotlight on European excellence and thought leadership in the global context. Led by Nick Dugdale-Moore, UFI’s Regional Director for Europe, the digital event offered participants a blend of keynote sessions and expert content, as well as networking, matchmaking and business development opportunities.

Several speakers focused on the new reality organisers must adapt to in the digital event space. Philippe Brocart, from Maison & Objet, shared experiences from six years of running a digital marketplace alongside a face-to-face show. “We are not selling square metres; we are offering business opportunities on the platform,” he says.

Olivier Ferraton, CEO of GL events, focused on lessons learned from organising and servicing sports events. “Hybrid solutions are a part of life; they are nothing to be scared about,” he says.

Sophie Holt, Managing Director at Explori, presented figures from the third edition of the Global Recovery Insights report, which captures the mood of trade show visitors and exhibitors around the world. Conducted by Explori in partnership with UFI, and with the support of SISO, the Society for Independent Show Organisers, the study shows that 70% of those who have attended digital editions of tradeshows now want to attend upcoming live, on-site events.

The conference provided updates on the reopening of the region, with some countries already up and running, and others struggling to get a “go date”. Exhibitions are the fastest of fast tracks to economic recovery, and government recognition and support are essential. Rita Marques, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism, confirms: “exhibitions and business events have a huge role to play in our economic recovery (after COVID)”.

UFI worked with technology partner Grip to deliver enhanced networking and interactive capabilities for delegates, including speed networking and roundtable sessions. The opening session included a performance by violinist Andrew Bernardi, accompanied by a piano trio, live from Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Greenwich, London.

The event also hosted the European Footvolley Challenge, where Europe’s top footvolley players went head-to-head live from eight UFI member venues: ExCeL London, Messe Frankfurt GmbH, RAI Amsterdam, Fira Barcelona, Fiera Roma, MCH Group, Palais des Festivals et des Congrès de Cannes and Messe Wien.

UFI’s Dugdale-Moore says: “Of course, we would have preferred to meet in person, but this year’s digital conference offered positive outcomes in terms of lessons learned and a view to what’s coming next. On behalf of the UFI team, I want to thank the speakers and panellists for delivering such compelling and valuable content. UFI members can catch up on all the sessions in the member section of the website, once the event platform closes. I am already looking forward to the next European Conference which will take place in Poznan, Poland in May 2022, hosted by our friends at Grupa MTP.”

During the final session, Jolanda Jansen, CEO of Rotterdam Ahoy, and host of the upcoming UFI Global Congress 2021, formally invited the global UFI member community to Rotterdam this November. “Rotterdam is a harbour city, and harbour cities are international cities – diverse and welcoming,” she says. Rotterdam Ahoy will host the 88th UFI Global Congress this year from 3-6 November, and UFI is looking forward to welcoming members from around the world as they come together once again.
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Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO and Managing Director, adds: “From the data debate to M&A, from reopenings to hybrid strategies, we were able to cover a lot of ground during these two days. At the same time, we were able to deliver some hybrid live experiences and networking – to the extent that digital platforms allow. We look forward to meeting everyone face to face again, in Rotterdam!”

The UFI European Conference typically takes place in May-June each year. It has previously been hosted in Birmingham (2019), Verona (2018), Cologne (2017), Basel (2016) and Istanbul (2015), and is open to UFI members and non-members. The event attracts over 200 industry leaders, including organisers, venues and service providers.

– UFI European Conference Visual

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Michael Duck to lead UFI as President in 2022-23

Paris – 8 June 2021: UFI’s Board of Directors has today elected Michael Duck as future President of UFI for the 2022-23 period.

The UFI Presidential Trio for the 2021-22 term will, therefore, be:

  • Michael Duck (EVP – Commercial Development, Informa Markets, and EVP – Commercial Development, Group at Informa Group), Incoming President 2022-23
  • Monica Lee-Müller (Managing Director of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited (HML), Hong Kong), President 2021-22
  • Anbu Varathan (Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association – IMTMA, India), Outgoing President 2020-21

This decision will become effective at the conclusion of the 88th UFI Global Congress, which runs from 3-6 November 2021, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Michael Duck is currently EVP Commercial Development for both Informa Markets and Informa Group. Informa Markets is the world’s largest exhibition organiser, and Michael Duck has been active in UFI for 25 years, serving in various functions within the association. More than 20 years ago, he was the founding Chairperson of UFI’s Asia-Pacific Chapter, and, following that, was the founding Chairperson of the Sustainability Committee. He has also spent many years as the association’s Treasurer, a mandate he will now pass on.

Anbu Varathan, UFI’s current President, says: “I am pleased to welcome Michael to the UFI leadership team, alongside Monica Lee-Müller. Michael has supported the association’s mission for many years, driving developments especially in the Asia-Pacific region. I look forward to working with him, as he takes on the role of Incoming President. I wish him every success in performing all the important duties that are required of this position. I know he will be a wonderful leader for all aspects of our industry.”

Michael Duck says: “I am delighted and honoured to have been chosen by the UFI Board of Directors as Incoming President for 2022-23. There hasn’t been a more challenging time for our industry, as we work together to revitalise and restart post-COVID-19. UFI has worked tirelessly to support the trade fair industry across the globe, and to support our members – both large and small. Informa Markets has given me their full support to take on this important role.”

As UFI’s Incoming President, Michael Duck will work closely with the President and Outgoing President as part of the Presidential Trio, managing UFI at the highest level, and helping UFI to continue its global mission to connect, support and promote the exhibition industry around the world.

UFI was founded in 1925 as a non-profit, non-partisan, international association, and today is the global association for the exhibition industry, directly representing more than 50,000 exhibition industry professionals, in almost 90 countries around the world. UFI operates from four regional offices, in addition to its headquarters in Paris.

UFI’s recent presidents have been from the USA (Mary Larkin 2019-20), South Africa (Craig Newman 2018-19), Italy (Corrado Peraboni 2017-18), Germany (Andreas Gruchow 2016-17), Russia (Sergey Alexeev 2015-16), Colombia (Andrés López-Valderrama 2014-15) and France (Renaud Hamaide, 2013-14).


Michael Duck‘s biography

– Michael Duck‘s photo

– Photo of UFI’s Presidential Trio for 2022-23

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