Fira de Barcelona has been awarded the Operations & Services Award 2021 by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), the association that brings together the world's leading trade fair operators. The award recognises the institution's versatility in dealing with the crisis caused by COVID-19, the return to activity with new digital and hybrid models and the implementation of innovative security measures, as well as the strengthening of links with society and the territory.
With this award, the UFI recognises the initiatives implemented by Fira de Barcelona, in collaboration with different local entities, to be proactive in the pandemic context and recover activity with a double objective: to promote the holding of events in the short term and to find solutions to future challenges by providing value in a post-Covid environment.
In this regard, the UFI's evaluation committee has particularly highlighted the health crisis response mechanisms implemented in recent months with the installation of a large vaccination centre at the Montjuic venue and a temporary hospital at the Gran Via venue, as well as the development of an anti-Covid security protocol at the fairgrounds, carried out in collaboration with the consultancy firm Aon and with the advice of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, among other initiatives.
In relation to measures to guarantee the return of the activity, the following initiatives have been valued: the application of technology to reinforce health security during the holding of events through artificial intelligence solutions for capacity control and social distancing, 100% digital accreditation and access processes, temperature controls, or the reinforcement of ventilation and air renewal in trade fairs held in 2020 such as Biz Barcelona and Saló de l'Ocupació or the Food Hospitality and Gastronomy Forum; as well as the promotion of events in digital or hybrid format, such as Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week or Smart City Live.
The Operations & Services Award 2021 also highlighted Fira de Barcelona's capacity to strengthen relations with the community and various organisations through the loan of Hall 7 of Montjuïc for the reception of people in vulnerable situations and the collaboration with Nutrición Sin Fronteras for the distribution of food. It also highlights its cooperation with associations and suppliers through the exchange of knowledge and good practices in national and international forums.
The General Manager of Fira de Barcelona, Constantí Serrallonga, stressed that "this award is a recognition of Fira de Barcelona's capacity for adaptability, as it has been able to reorient itself and provide agile responses to the current needs of both companies and society, in line with our social commitment, in a context as adverse as the one we are experiencing".
The Chair UFI Operations and Services Working Group, Stefan Eckert highlighted that “Fira Barcelona presented a complex but realistic scenario how to run a show under Covid-19 restrictions. It is a conceptual blueprint which can help other venues and show organizers to restart our business”.
The Operations & Services Award, which Fira has received for the fourth time (2010, 2012, 2014), joins other awards that the UFI has given the institution in recent years, such as the Sustainable Development Award (2017), for its promotion of sustainable initiatives, and the Education Award (2016) for its international talent development programme, among others.
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