UFI Sets the Stage for Its First-Ever U.S. Global Congress in Las Vegas

October 24, 2023

UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, is gearing up to present its 90th UFI Global Congress in Las Vegas, and there are myriad offerings on tap for participants to look forward to. Not only will this largest annual gathering of global exhibition leaders take place in the U.S. for the first time, but it will also mark its first return to North America since 1972, when the event was held in Toronto.

Set for Nov. 1-4 at the ARIA Resort & Casino and hosted by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), the event will feature a bevy of high-value offerings, including more than 50 speakers from inside and outside the exhibitions and events industry and a strong focus on content and networking.

Featuring the theme “Go Beyond,” the event’s curated sessions and networking events will explore new ideas, innovations and strategies emerging throughout the industry, from CEO-led strategy sessions to the 2023 Next Generation Leaders showcase, including best practice deep-dives and short, op-ed style interventions. 

“Our industry has turned the corner on pandemic recovery and is once again in a resurging period of growth,” said UFI President Michael Duck. “Now is the time for us to come together as an industry to ‘go beyond’ what we did before, what we were before and evolve our role and proposition when bringing together global marketplaces.”

This year’s Congress is on track to be the global association’s largest in its almost 100-year history, with approximately 500 people from more than 50 countries slated to attend, according to Kai Hattendorf, UFI CEO and managing director. 

“Coming to the U.S. this year is one of many ‘firsts’ UFI has been doing in the past 10 years as our association continues to grow and evolve,” Hattendorf explained. “We have been a natural part of the U.S. association’s ecosystem for a long time, as more and more U.S. businesses have joined, looking to partner and expand into other markets. In addition, especially in the last years, ever more organizers are looking to launch and expand show brands into the U.S.”

What’s On Tap: 9 Things You Won’t Want to Miss

The UFI Global Congress will present several new and updated elements this year, including:

  1. congress
    The 90th UFI Global Congress will feature dedicated matchmaking sessions before the start of the main program.
    Matchmaking and Networking: In addition to premium content sessions, the UFI Global Congress serves as the global meeting of the industry’s leaders. To help drive these connections, UFI will run dedicated matchmaking sessions before the start of the main program on Nov. 1 as icebreaker sessions so attendees can begin their time at the event with already-established business contacts. These sessions will especially focus on participants from North America, first-time attendees and other special groups. Networking slots and events throughout the Congress will also provide the necessary time for participants to “talk shop.”
  2. Opening Session: Departing from the common keynote approach, this year’s opening session will allow participants to experience the uniqueness of face-to-face interaction with a twist, establishing the Congress theme while paying homage to Vegas as the event’s host destination.
  3. DanRam as Master of Ceremonies: Having already moderated UFI events in Europe to rave reviews, DanRam will join the event as MC. With a knack for keeping audiences engaged and a passion for inspiring people with his motto “Start Now Start Simple” in building a future we all want to live in, this six-time TEDx speaker and public speaking coach has hosted the world’s biggest tech conferences and welcomed many distinguished guests to his stage. 
  4. Main Stage Sessions: Main stage sessions will tackle the most important strategic issues the global exhibition industry currently is facing, from changing customer expectations and evolving business models to talent acquisition and retention, sustainability, (de)globalization and regulations.
  5. How I See It Talks: This year’s event will see the debut of new short, concise interventions from people who have something to say on how the industry can #gobeyond.  
  6. Spotlight Sessions: Dedicated parallel “Spotlight Sessions” will delve deeper into industry-specific topics, offering operational best practices from around the world, as well as insights into industry advocacy. Special programming will explore the U.S. exhibitions market and drive opportunities for global companies to take their business to the U.S. and for U.S.-based companies to go abroad with their products and services. 
  7. Xchange Sessions: The afternoon of Nov. 1 will see the return of the popular Xchange sessions program, which provides participants with opportunities to learn from destinations and event tech businesses about their respective developments and innovations.
  8. Vegas-Style Night Out and Social Activities: Offering more opportunities to engage with global industry leaders, evening events and social activities will include a welcome reception taking place at ARIA, while a “Grand Night Out” on Nov. 2 will be organized at Drai’s Nightclub, located at the top of The Cromwell, which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Las Vegas Strip. Additionally, the UFI Sports Club will be out on the morning of Nov. 2, and a whole array of social activities on Nov. 4 will wrap up the Congress for those staying on for a more relaxed day of additional networking.
  9. UFI Leadership Begins New Three-year Term: The Congress also serves as a meeting place for UFI’s governing bodies, from the General Assembly to the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. With 2023 as an election year, the newly-elected volunteer leaders will meet in person and begin their three-year mandate in Las Vegas.

Check out the full UFI Global Congress schedule here.

A Global Event for a Global Industry 

UFI hosts the Global Congress on a different continent each year, with last year’s event held in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. After North America, the event will take place in Cologne, Germany in 2024 and in Hong Kong in 2025.

main stage
The 2022 UFI Global Congress was held in Oman. In 2024, the event will take place in Cologne, Germany.

Registration for the UFI Global Congress remains open for UFI members, as well as members of SISO and UFI’s G3 partner associations AIPC and ICCA. To register, go here. For continuing updates on the Congress program and other highlights, go here

“We are honored Las Vegas will serve as the inaugural U.S. host city to welcome the world’s premier trade show organizers for the UFI Global Congress,” said Steve Hill, LVCVA president and CEO. “We look forward to celebrating UFI’s 90th anniversary event in ‘Only Vegas’ style.” 


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