EMECA General Assembly reports members’ activity back at 2019 levels, albeit multiple challenges remain

Members of the European Major Exhibition Centres Association (EMECA) met at Feria Valencia for their autumn General Assembly, 5-6 October.

“We are proud to confirm the positive trend and strong performance of EMECA members in 2023. While some member companies already achieved new record business volumes, others [look] forward to 2024, forecast to be strong year for many, due to the customary cycle of exhibitions or special effects, like the Olympic Games in Paris. The desire to meet in person is fully back,” said Roland Bleinroth, EMECA president.

The conference overview showed that in certain geographies B2B is performing stronger, in others it is B2C. While trade fairs focussing on national or European participants are on good track, some leading international exhibitions report lower attendance levels from overseas destinations. These differences depend also on the respective show topics and the situation in the concerned industry sector. Additionally, long delays in visa applications to attend exhibitions in Europe are reported from several countries, EMECA noted.

While most EMECA members report a positive development with regard to turnover, the situation is more difficult regarding profitability. Major challenges continue to be the geopolitical and economic uncertainty, persistent inflation, raising energy costs, high increases in labour costs, talent attraction and staff retention.

In spite of these challenges, the transition towards net zero carbon emissions remains a high priority for events industry in Europe, according to EMECA, and members are continuing to invest in their infrastructure with a particular focus on sustainable energy, lowering carbon-emissions and waste reduction. The implementation of these goals is supported by the global industry initiative Net Zero Carbon Events of which EMECA is a gold sponsor. The European Exhibition Industry Alliance (EEIA), EMECA and UFI’s joint monitoring and advocacy effort in Brussels, assist in steering this ambitious transition phase.

Guest speaker Nicolas Vigneron, head of sector European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), updated the EMECA members on its programme for SMEs and invited them to collaborate in raising the awareness of exhibitors, especially start-ups and SMEs, to protect their intellectual property. EUIPO offers cost-free, tailored material and services for multipliers in the framework of its ‘Ideas Powered for Business’ campaign. Pilot collaborations have commenced with several major exhibition organisers.

The second guest speaker, Nuria Lloret Romero, professor for Informatics at Universitat Politècnica de València, briefed the EMECA members on the latest digital developments and new opportunities for exhibition venues and organisers, focussing mainly on data governance and on trends in AI and cybersecurity.

The EMECA General Assembly voted to welcome a new member starting 2024 – Metropolitan Expo in Athens, Greece.

EMECA also held elections for its Board in 2024. New members to the Board will be Mario Goffard Negro from BEC, Spain, as VP Communications and Jonas Scharf of MCH, Switzerland, as VP strategy.

The already acting VP technical affairs, Elżbieta Roeske, has been approved for a second term. Corrado Peraboni was confirmed as treasurer for the next two years.

EMECA members host and organise nearly 2.000 trade fairs a year globally, 1,550 of which are in Europe.


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