Record number join UFI Asia-Pacific Conference in Tokyo

(L-R) David Zhong, Kiyotsugu Ishihara and Kai Hattendorf.

Over 300 delegates from 22 countries and regions attended the sold-out UFI Asia-Pacific Conference this week in Tokyo, making it the biggest of its kind in the event’s 14-year history.

Held at Tokyo Big Sight on 14-15 March, it marked the first time that UFI has held the annual Asia-Pacific industry conference in Japan.

A mix of speakers from inside and outside the business events industry covered this year’s theme of “Facing the Future”:

Among them was Kengo Kuma, the world-renowned Japanese architect who designed the stadium for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. He opened the conference with a talk about the power of creativity, and how it can trigger harmony to create integration and connections.

Margaret Ma Connolly, CEO in Asia for Informa, shared her views on how our industry can attract and develop talented managers. Scott Munro, chief commercial officer of Branded Limited, shared his experiences of building a “festivalised” B2B conference. He challenged exhibition organisers to offer their support to festival and event organisers who are increasingly looking to “exhibitionise” their festivals.

George Tanasijevich, president and CEO of Marina Bay Sands, outlined his views on the opportunities in Japan for “integrated resorts” to internationalise and transform Japan’s MICE sector. Josephine Lee, COO of Reed Exhibitions China, updated delegates on Reed’s growing portfolio of B2B exhibitions in China, Asia’s largest exhibition market.

Tadao Ishizumi, president of Reed Exhibitions Japan, delivered a case study focusing on how Reed Japan has developed from humble beginning 33 years ago to become an organisation that produces over 200 exhibitions in Japan annually, generating hundreds of millions of US dollars in revenues – “all organically, without any acquisitions.” He called on Japanese authorities to fast track the development of additional venue space in Japan to allow the market to grow.

There were also several sessions about the role that digital platforms and technology can play in transforming the future of business events. Speakers included Eddie Choi from Mills Design, Jason Popp of GES, Tesi Baur of MBB-Consulting, Gunnar Heinrich of adventics, and Stephan Forseilles of EasyFairs.

“The exhibitions industry in the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow at an impressive pace, as this year’s conference has shown once again,” said UFI managing director/CEO Kai Hattendorf. “As more venue space becomes available and as the government paves the way for the development of integrated resorts in Japan, Asia’s second largest market is seeing a fresh surge of international interest.”

The UFI Asia-Pacific Conference 2020 will take place in Macau, from 6-9 March 2020.