Byline: Pauline Herbst
Ask Raimund Hosch what the most enjoyable part of his job is and he replies: a[euro]What I love most is what I have done this morning a[euro]" staying in touch with the exhibitors, watching how the show is turning out and seeing that my exhibitors are satisfied with their orders. An international trade show is such an exciting business.a[euro]
Whata[euro]s not apparent from this seemingly casual response is how gruelling a[euro]staying in toucha[euro] with over 1000 exhibitors is. NZ Management just managed to catch up with Hosch in between a carefully coordinated schedule where he visited a host of stands. As the following interview reveals, trade show management requires a great deal of commitment and an eye for detail.
How many months of planning does each show require?
The old saying a[euro]before the fair is after the faira[euro] applies to us as organisers too. Particularly when it comes to annual events such as IFA there are now no longer any breaks for trade fair teams. Canvassing for the next event begins even while the last one is still going on. In the case of our leading international trade fairs and the strong brands they represent, sometimes more than 60 percent of exhibitors register for the next event even before the last one has finished. Naturally, that kind of success is the result of years of hard work by the trade fair teams in question.
As a rule one can say that the period between trade fairs requires very tight organisation. One of the biggest challenges is the often very brief time window for construction and dismantling between individual events. That requires optimum coordination among everyone involved.
How big is the team required to handle this?
Of course that varies from trade fair to trade fair. Thus minor events often only have two to three people who strictly belong to the project team. Major trade fairs such as IFA or ITB have a core of 10 to 15 on their team, with additional staff assisting during the actual event. Project teams are aided by numerous interdisciplinary departments within the company, such as technical services, advertising, marketing and the press, all the way up to the protocol department for VIPs and supporting events. A decisive contribution also comes from our subsidiaries which provide technical services, facility management and catering. We also cooperate with outside contractors, particularly when there is a major trade fair. The success of a show depends on so many things. In the case of a large trade fair such as ITB or IFA, up to 23,000 staff working for exhibitors, service providers and our management team are involved at the venue of the event.
How does a recession affect how management sets up and handles an international trade show?
Naturally the economic situation in Germany and abroad has had an effect on canvassing for exhibitors and trade visitors. Competition has become more intense, and making the numbers add up has become more difficult. Companies give taking part some serious thought. Business trips to trade fairs at home and abroad come under much more scrutiny than before. However, most companies are aware of how important trade fairs are as a low-cost, highly effective marketing instrument, particularly in weaker sales periods. We wish some companies had more courage to aggressively market their products. That would put them in front when the economy picks up. Many companies walk a tightrope balancing communication cost-cutting with sensible marketing investment in a bid to achieve short-term savings.
Leading fairs mirror the market situation in a nutshell and are better at reflecting a companya[euro]s market standing than any other marketing instrument. …