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UFI European Conference brought 300 exhibition industry leaders to Zurich

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Event Directors Summit attendee group photo.

The UFI European Conference in Zurich attracted 300 delegates from 41 countries, focusing on key industry trends including AI and climate crisis.

PARIS / ZUURICH – The UFI European Conference attracted 300 delegates from 41 countries and regions to Zurich from 11-13 June. Held at Messe Zürich and hosted by MCH Group, the conference united top executives as well as show directors and senior-to-mid-level executives from Europe and beyond.

The content for this year’s UFI European Conference was centred around the 5 trends that UFI highlighted at the start of the year as being the most pertinent to our industry: focus on the customer, reinforcing our identity, industry consolidation & new players, AI and climate crisis. Each of the trends had a main stage session including a speaker from outside the industry, and a break-out session where delegates had the chance to discuss the trends amongst themselves. The programme was introduced by a keynote presentation of the global economic perspective from renowned economist and former managing director of the World Economic Forum Stephane Garelli.

The Event Director Summit returned for the second year and took place immediately before the main conference.  It brought Exhibition Directors & Portfolio Directors from some of Europe’s leading show brands together for an intensive day of networking and learning, with delegates travelling to Basel for an exclusive tour of Art Basel.

The 2024 Next Generation Leadership (NGL) Grant winners also had the opportunity to meet in person for the first time in Zurich, providing an excellent kick-off point for their 7-month-long project on the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the exhibition industry. The five grantees were able to interview industry leaders and gather insights for their research, which will be presented at the UFI Global Congress in November.

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UFI’s leadership bodies traditionally use the event as the backdrop for their summer strategy meetings. Both the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors were in session. Among other decisions, Panittha Buri was selected to become UFI President for the 2025/26 term. She will join the UFI Trio next November after the UFI Global Congress in Cologne, Germany. In the meeting of the European Chapter, Thessaloniki, Greece was announced as the host for next year’s European meetings, which will be rebranded and expanded into the “UFI European Events Week”, taking place from 4-6 June 2025.

Alongside the conference, sports and social activities provided delegates with opportunities to network and explore the host city. The UFI Sports Club featured running and footvolley with the Swiss National Footvolley team, while post-conference tours took delegates through Zurich and to the Lindt Home of Chocolate. This tradition at UFI events worldwide offers delegates the perfect way to forge deeper connections and immerse themselves in the unique culture of each host city.

“I am really pleased with the overall results from the conference. As always, it is the people who make it, and we had a very strong turnout again, not just from Europe but the rest of the world, too. I hope the delegates appreciated the format of the content including bringing in more voices from outside our industry, and I hope we gave some valuable learnings and takeaways. We also included three new technologies which I think all worked really well, so full credit to the teams on both sides for their efforts to integrate them so seamlessly. Final thanks to MCH for being such a great host and helping us deliver another high-quality UFI event,” commented Nick Dugdale-Moore, UFI Regional Director Europe.

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Roman Imgrüth, CEO of MCH Exhibitions & Events, added: “The UFI European Conference is aimed at an interesting community. It was a pleasure to welcome them to Zurich and show them our compact venue and beautiful city”, he explains. “I would particularly like to highlight the Event Directors Summit – as a leading host in Switzerland, the attendees of this summit are naturally of great interest to us.”

All sessions will be made available to UFI members and conference participants in the coming days as on-demand videos.

As the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, UFI organises annual regional conferences in Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Americas, and the Middle East & Africa, as well as the UFI Global Congress. The next event to take place will be the UFI Americas Conference, 10-12 September in Monterrey, Mexico. The UFI Global Congress will take place in Cologne, Germany, from 20-23 November.

Vicky Karantzavelou
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | Website

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales.

She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.

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