UFI Congress 2015
This year's program of the UFI Congress covered many future-related topics and scenarios about what the exhibition industry will look like in 10-15 years. With over 480 delegates from 53 countries, not only was it the largest UFI congress in history, but it also was a true birthday party: The exhibition industry association celebrated their 90th anniversary in Milan, Italy.
Some of the most prestigious speakers in the exhibition industry weighed in to give their outlook on the trends that will shape trade shows and exhibitions in the next 15 years.
Have no fear of digital
Everyone seems to be talking about the digitization of the exhibition industry. One of the most important takeaways of 2015 certainly is the awareness that exhibitions are transforming and changing, but their physical existence will not be harmed by the digital age. As always, trade show organizers will need to adapt to the changing needs and requirements of their clients. This will affect the physical layout of exhibitions, but also the interaction between visitors, exhibitors and other event participants.
While selling booth space will still be important, there will be other aspects adding to the classic idea of exhibitions, for example digital offerings that improve the attendee's experience and ROI. Flexible exhibition venues that are open to new technologies will be the winners of the digital age.
During his inspirational keynote speech at the UFI Congress, futurist and innovation designer Vito Di Bari pointed out an encouraging core message to the exhibition industry as he strongly emphasized the importance of the "human touch" that no digital offering can ever replace.
Data and analytics will heavily influence the exhibition industry
So how does the exhibition industry respond to the digital age? Jochen Witt's highly anticipated presentation about the exhibition industry revealed an interesting outlook on what to expect in the next 15 years. His vision shows a clear focus on new event-technologies, matchmaking capabilities as well as targeted messages and content.
Looking at all the possibilities that event technology is already offering today, it comes as no surprise that the masses of collected data are constantly growing. With more exhibition venues using technology such as RFID, the need for good analytics is becoming even more important. According to Jochen Witt, the increased usage of technology and data will create (and is already creating) a need for skilled people with regards to data management and analytics. After all, data is nothing without analytics.
Content and exhibitions – the future dream team!
Vito Di Bari demonstrated that many exhibition organizers are already collecting data, particularly about attendees. Still, not many of them use analytics to go one step further and create valuable pre-show content for their audiences. There is indeed a huge potential for exhibition organizers (and content providers) to offer relevant content throughout the year.