Mr. Schuster, we are going through difficult times ...
... and many exhibition halls have been empty in the last few months. Nobody knows when we'll really be over corona. How are you experiencing the situation personally?
Robert Schuster: I remain positive, and I think we can all learn a lot from managing this crisis – despite all the risks and restrictions. A lot of trade fairs have had to be cancelled in the past few months. But countless new concepts and ideas on how to network in times of corona have also emerged. One thing is clear: the professional world is dependent on intensive exchange – on suppliers and consumers meeting each other personally, manufacturers and practitioners jointly exploring together what improves their work, which trends are important, and above all: what inspires their customers. The best place for that is a trade fair, and everyone agrees on this.
What feedback did you get from discussions with the exhibitors?
Robert Schuster: without trade fairs or other sales platforms, companies are missing out on important and valuable business opportunities, including new contacts. For exhibitors, the most important reason for participating in real trade fairs is personal exchange, face-to-face contact, followed by the acquisition of new customers and lead generation, as well as product presentations. One can only get a good market overview on a real platform, live on site. That is why the expectations of the industry are high.
Does that mean that DACH+HOLZ International 2022 in Cologne will take place live?
Robert Schuster: yes, of course! Our trade fair events are becoming more agile. We use all possible channels for close cooperation with exhibitors in advance. That could mean scheduling joint zoom meetings, explaining the hygiene regulations in detail, or providing regular information in other formats. More than ever, our motto remains: quality before quantity! I can well imagine that we will experience a particularly intensive exchange at the trade fair. That is what all those involved in the trade sector are hoping for, at least: associations and exhibitors, as well as visitors.
What can we expect for the course of the trade fair: What have we seen before, what is new?
Robert Schuster: we've never been known for routine. In 2022, too, our trade fairs will be different from previous ones. Because artisanry, in particular, thrives on new stimuli and expects innovation. Exhibitors can rely on us here: we will work out the lead topics, concepts, and ideas together with the associations, and fine-tune every detail in close cooperation with them. What has fundamentally proven itself successful is the mixed planning concept of the trade fair – and we will retain that in Cologne as well. This means that there will be no mere topic allocation per hall, but we will continue to provide more synergy effects from the perspective of the trade visitor. We are also increasingly relying on the experience character of the trade fair in all the halls. This includes new formats, such as network platforms for start-ups and influencers, themed routes that convey concrete input, and topic-specific forums with streaming - for example, by craftsmen from all over the world who report on their professional experiences. Our priority objective is to bring the industry together with a unique platform and to host a trade fair that makes everyone involved feel that they belong.
If the corona pandemic continues to be a sensitive issue by the time DACH+HOLZ International 2022 takes place, what will the security of all those involved look like on site?
Robert Schuster: first of all, there's one thing I'd like to say – visiting a trade fair is safer than shopping in the supermarket, where there is no registration of customers and safety distances cannot always be maintained due to the existing aisle widths. I can already assure our trade fair participants that all hygiene regulations that may apply in 2022 will be observed. The health of our DACH+HOLZ family is very important to us. For the very first time, our team has a hygiene officer who knows all the requirements by heart and will ensure that minimum distances are possible, for example, walkways are clear and the trade fair as a whole is designed in such a way that everyone involved can meet safely and at eye level, and have a pleasant experience. We set new standards – not only in terms of hygiene, but also in terms of ticketing, lead tracking, and contact tracking. With the MyBusiness Premium flat rate, we offer exhibitors a great service package that includes online ticket vouchers for their customer invitations, as well as the data of their registered visitors.
Registration starts now. What are the conditions for cancellation?
Robert Schuster: yes, exhibitors can start to register right away and plan together with us. Registration is non-binding until 1 September 2021; cancellation is free of charge until then and the participation fee is only due after admission. The hall planning is expected to start in May 2021.
What is the mood like in the industry and what trends are emerging?
Robert Schuster: the construction industry is cautiously optimistic. The major trends that have been asserting themselves in recent years, above all the topics of automation and digitization, are expressing themselves in new forms. New impulses are unfolding in the area of conflict between tradition, sustainability, and the increased demands on quality of life and safety – for architects and planners, as well as for business owners, specialists, and young professionals. Overall, we're experiencing a totally new feeling of community. People are moving closer together notionally and are once again placing more importance and value on exchanging experiences. You can sense that within our team – but even more so in the collaboration with the exhibitors and associations. We are all convinced that DACH+HOLZ International 2022 offers the best platform for a successful future.
Thank you very much for talking to us, Mr. Schuster!
1 In a recent survey, 76 percent of exhibitors say that they are missing out on opportunities to acquire new customers. 84 percent complained about the lack of networking with visitors and other exhibitors, and around 60 percent bemoaned missing out on opportunities to present new products in real life. The survey was carried out in October 2020, among 427 exhibiting companies from major economic sectors. The industry associations VDMA, ZVEI and AUMA, the association of the German trade fair industry, took part in the survey.