Organized by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI, the first ever Global Exhibitions Day (GED) will take place on June 8, 2016. GED will bring together the global exhibition industry to raise awareness about the value of exhibitions, as they generate a substantial amount of business and create valuable jobs. Annually, visitors and exhibitors spend more than $100 billion on and around exhibitions. Globally, 700,000 people get their pay checks from working directly with the exhibition industry.
UFI Managing Director Kai Hattendorf recently visited Lebanon and took part in the opening ceremony of Project Lebanon 2016. On this occasion, ifpinfo.com had the following interview with UFI’s Managing Director and mainly discussed issues related to the Global Exhibitions Day (#GED16).
The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI has launched the Global Exhibition Day that will be held on 8 June. It means the exhibition industry will have and celebrate its day like many other popular events. How was the idea of such an international day materialized?
For a long time, many people in the exhibitions industry felt that it would be great to have a day where the exhibition industry celebrates itself and sends a joint message about the importance and the strength of the industry not just in one country but worldwide.
We set up a group of associations from all around the world and we organized a preparatory meeting in Paris at the UFI headquarters early January this year and started working on messaging, the logo and the details of the Day.
We started on January 5 and five months later, on June 8 we will have a Global Exhibitions Day #GED16. Industry leaders from all continents have pledged their participation. A growing list of associations from all parts of the world as well as leading industry players and universities have pledged to join forces to promote the industry and to highlight its achievements.
What are the objectives of this international day? Who’s supporting and who has joined the actions?
Events that we know of will be held in more than 25 countries. The way we structured the Global Exhibitions Day is that everybody in the industry can do something to promote the industry. So, this newsletter, launched by IFP, is IFP’s contribution to the #GED16, and thus promoting the industry in its own way.
In France, for example, the French Meeting Industry Council, UNIMEV will coordinate a “Global Exhibitions Day Run” in Paris around one of the biggest venues in Paris. Also on 8 June, in the US, our colleagues will talk to lawmakers on Capitol Hill together with an alliance of US associations brought together by IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events). So, it’s up to everyone to do something. No central event is needed; hence no global coordination is necessary. It’s simply asking everyone to contribute with a tiny little thing.
Our main objective is to promote the industry and raise awareness about its importance and its values. In a way, in many countries, the exhibition industry has been taken for granted.
Project Lebanon that I’m visiting now, for example, brings together thousands of people from Lebanon and abroad, and there’s a reason for such a crowd to come to Beirut and participate in Project Lebanon. They have come to do business and to promote the industries that they own or serve.
So, exhibitions bring together people. These people bring money and knowledge into the cities where they meet. They go back with more know-how and business connections that help promoting their industries. All this happen because of exhibitions.
Nevertheless, though such a great industry, the exhibition industry has been invisible in many ways. The Global Exhibitions Day will make it visible and people around the world will become more aware of the unlimited potentials of our industry.
What does the Global Day agenda include?
We have a very very long prestigious events’ list. You can check them on www.ufi.org/industry-resources/global-exhibitions-day/
Our colleagues in Australia have changed the date of their annual conference that coincides with the #GED16. There will be a special gala event in Hong Kong. Germany’s Institute for the Trade Fair Industry, part of AUMA, will host a special open house for professors and students. The UFI International Summer University will also kick off in Cologne, bringing together top executives and future leaders of the trade fair industry for three days of learning about the customer journey.
We didn’t plan any major event in one country because having one event in one place will make people in that one place to feel very special but excludes everyone else in other countries. So, we decided to give everyone the chance to feel special. So, if you are a small organizer in Morocco or you run an exhibition in St. Pittsburg, you can do things on that day and that will be the most important event on the #GED16 because it’s your event, and you’re special.
What can you say about the social media’s role in promoting the Global Day?
We included social media in our awareness campaign. We set up a #GED16 Facebook group, Twitter account, LinkedIn group. We are very pleased to see that a simple call for action on social media has met with unexpected response. We asked people around the world to download the #GED16 logo, to print it out and to take a selfie with it. We have literally hundreds of pictures from members of our industry from all around the world showing the logo and showing their personal support. This logo, for example, has been put on a huge construction machine in Russia. There are some bikers going around the Baltic states with huge flags showing the #GED16 logo.
All this have come out of the initial activities on social media, and we are very happy that many members of our industry everywhere are using social media sharing all their activities on the Global Exhibitions Day. So, Twitter and Facebook are great resources to see what’s happening and great resources to connect with people elsewhere joining on the #GED16.
How do you assess the impact of #GED16?
Only after just five months working on it, we succeeded in creating the #GED16. We believe that the fact that GED exists is a great first step. The exhibition industry is uniting behind this initiative.
The next GED will be held on June 7 2017, the first Wednesday of June next year.
I think on June 9 this year, some people will be tired, others will still be awake like in South Africa because of the Sympathy SleepOut organized by The Association of African Exhibition Organizers (AAXO). Hope everyone will feel WOW and will start working on the next GED by promoting and contributing to the exhibition industry’s future.