UFI Global Congress' Special Interest Groups Will Focus on Range of Topics

August 29, 2017

True to its theme on “Pressures & Profits”, the program for this year’s UFI Global Congress is filled with sessions focused on overcoming obstacles and adapting to change.

The sessions will feature a number of knowledgeable industry professionals sharing case studies of successes and failures, unpacking research results and discussing the latest trends within the exhibition industry.

The UFI Global Congress, titled “Raising the Odds - Pressures and Profits in the Exhibition Industry”, will take place Nov. 1-4 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg (South Africa).

UFI’s Global Congress is the most international annual gathering in the exhibition industry, open to UFI members from around the world.

Each year it brings together hundreds of organizers, venue operators, service providers and industry associations from more than 50 countries.

On Nov. 2, the afternoon program offers participants the opportunity to attend one of three parallel sessions respectively in two separate time slots.

These Special Interest Group (SIG) discussions allow participants to select a topic that is of most interest to them, where the dialogues will be specific to the particular focus area.

The Large Venue SIG is one of these special sessions. Moderated by the current UFI President and Member of the Managing Board, Deutsche Messe AG Hannover, Dr. Andreas Gruchow, this group will focus on event security and safety in turbulent times.

Security remains a crucial factor within the exhibition and events industry when considering aspects such as crowd control, surveillance and security threats.

Discussions during this SIG will revolve around the participants’ different agendas and what venues and organisers are doing to ensure the safety of participants.

How are security threats and the additional safety measures implemented impacting different businesses? What will the future hold for venue and event management - will it be business as usual or will industry players be forced to rethink the way they do business, trying to maintain a secure establishment while remaining hospitable and inviting to the public?

Security is a delicate topic, often pushed aside as the “elephant in the room”, one which many do not wish to discuss openly.

However, the world is changing and demanding that we consider how security impacts our venues, our clients and the effect it has on the industry as a whole. This will be a meeting worth attending for anyone involved in venue and event management.

Meanwhile, the Digital Innovation Committee will host the Digital Disruption SIG. The focus here will be on The Internet of Things (IoT).

What does the internet of things mean for the exhibition industry? What are the effects that can be expected short and medium term? Who are the main actors? What are the possible applications and business models in our industry? Join the group for an interactive debate during which members of the audience will direct and influence interesting and engaging discussions on what the future digital world holds for our industry.

The Large Venue and Digital Disruption SIG are only two of six topics participants at this year’s Congress can select from individually.

Other SIG meetings include Best Industry Practices from Marketing to Sustainability, and sessions on Government Pavilions, Human Resources and the challenges of Family Businesses. So register now, select the topics that are most relevant to you and take an active role in discussions about trends and/or challenges within our industry, discussions where together we may find solutions or develop innovating ideas that will ignite solutions for the benefit of our businesses and industry.

For more information on the Special Interest Groups and Congress Programme, please visit www.ufi.org/joburg2017.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.