Exhibition Showcase talks to Corrado Peraboni, President – UFI

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ES – What is the role of UFI in the global exhibition industry? What has UFI been able to achieve for the global exhibition industry since its inception?
Corrado It’s not easy for an association to represent an industry on a truly global scale. UFI was founded in 1925 as a non-profit, non-partisan international association, and it has grown into the role of global association for the exhibitions and events industry over time. Today, it has four regional offices in addition to the headquarters in Paris and members in almost 90 countries around the world. Globally, we are currently seeing fast growth in Latin America, where we recently opened a regional office, and we are still welcoming many new members every year in Asia as well. The majority of our members in the Indian market joined us in the early 2000s. Since then, we have received regular requests for affiliation. I personally think that the exhibition industry is more influenced by its time and reflects changes within our society more closely than any other industry. Throughout its long history, UFI has shown that it knows how to adapt, how to overcome various challenges, and what measures to propose to its members to stay relevant. Today, we have over 750 members. To them, UFI offers valuable networking opportunities, excellent education and high potential for mutually beneficial collaboration. We are very proud of what we have achieved since our organisation was founded.

ES – How do you view the relevance of exhibitions in today’s era? How can they become even more relevant?
Corrado This might sound strange but the more digital the world becomes,the more people seek out physical events in the exhibition industry.Physical events are in good health across all sectors from B2B to B2C shows, both in mature and emerging markets. However, today,
all industries are going digital, and to ensure the success of their events, exhibitors need to integrate digitisation into their business models.

ES– How can the exhibition industry appeal to millennials as a lucrative career option? What do you feel this industry has in store for young professionals?
Corrado Our industry is a place where markets meet, and it has its own principles that are very much aligned with”millennial principles”. Exhibitions are flexible, international events that bring together people with similar values. You work in diverse teams, you can travel, meet new people from all over the world, and use the latest digital tools. And on the top of that, you can be very well paid. I don’t really see any other industry offering more “millennial principles” on a daily basis.

ES – What are the upcoming trends that will influence the exhibition industry?
Corrado We already mentioned the influence of digitisation: how we as an industry adapt and evolve digitally will shape the future of exhibitions and events. Secondly, exhibition formats are evolving: I call this “influence, interference and merging”. CeBIT in Hannover, iSaloni in Milan and other events show us that B2B and B2C exhibitions are influencing each other, that their formats and audiences are mixing and that sometimes, they even merge together. Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region, Pet Fair Asia in Shanghai, a leading professional exhibition, opens its doors not only to the professionals during the week, but also to the public over the weekend. And around the world, many B2C shows are creating professional, protected areas inside pavilions, such as Salon du Chocolat in Paris. In Milan, we have EICMA, the leading exhibition for the motorcycle industry, which offers separate days for consumers and professionals within the same week. Finally, to ensure the success of our industry in the future, we need to attract bright people to work in exhibitions, who will bring their talents and their dreams to our industry, and who will ultimately shape its future.

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