UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, concluded a week of events in Maastricht, The Netherlands 13-16 June.
Hosted by MECC Maastricht, exhibition industry professionals from Europe and beyond came together to attend numerous UFI events, including the European Conference, HR and Operations & Services Forums, the first-ever Event Directors Summit, and the European Chapter meeting.
The European Conference attracted over 300 delegates – marking the highest attendance number to date for the European Conference and included many first-time attendees.
“Both the number of participants from across Europe and beyond and the feedback I received on-site, show that the European Conference and the collocated events are on a solid growth trajectory,” says Michael Duck, UFI president.
The European Conference
To kick off the Conference, the director of Limburg Province, Peter Diez, welcomed delegates to the Government House (Provinciehuis), the place where the Maastricht Treaty was signed.
Conference sessions took place at the MECC Maastricht and featured a mixture of panel speakers and break-out discussions. The Conference’s keynote speaker was Ann Daniels, a polar explorer and world record holder. The event also included an updated speed networking format and UFI Xchange sessions – sponsor-driven content – delivered in a TED-style environment.
Another first was the launch of the Event Directors Summit, exclusively attended by 50 exhibition and portfolio directors – which featured a half-day outdoor programme and a half-day workshop.
Earlier in the week, two Forums were held by UFI’s HR and Operations & Services Working Groups, which allowed participants to gain insights from their peers and experts in their fields.
The 2023 UFI Next Generation Leadership (NGL) Grant winners also met for the first time to kickstart their project: to write a new blueprint on how to plan and operate events. The workshop let them design the project framework before the presentation of their findings at the UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas.
UFI’s leadership also held their regular meetings in Maastricht, dealing with the association’s strategy, budgets, among others. The Board of Directors selected Hugh Jones, CEO of RX, as the UFI president for the period of November 2024 – November 2025.
Meanwhile, networking and social activities ran parallel to the main events. These included the UFI Sports Club and a walking tour of Maastricht.
Rob van de Wiel, managing director of MECC Maastricht, says, “Hosting the UFI European Conference at MECC Maastricht has allowed us to show what we are capable of as a venue as well as a city.”
“We are extremely grateful to the whole city of Maastricht for welcoming us with open arms. Our delegates… will take away many fond memories and new contacts,” adds Nick Dugdale-Moore, UFI regional director for Europe.