Trade Fairs Make Their Return in Europe

Frances Ferrante
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Photo credit: Messe Düsseldorf

DUSSELDORF — The first major European trade fair since the lockdown, CARAVAN SALON attracted 107,000 attendees to Messe Düsseldorf from August 28 to September 5, signaling a much-awaited return to business for the trade show industry. Attendees during the 10-day event included many young families.

“The world’s most important trade fair for caravanning was well thought-out [as far as] hygiene and infection protection,” said Erhard Wienkamp, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf. “CARAVAN SALON sends an important signal for the entire industry in Germany and Europe.”

This show and other recent ones—primarily in Germany—are a bright spot in a year of dismal losses for the trade show industry. On September 14 and 15, Propel by MIPIM took place concurrently in three cities—Hong Kong, New York, and Paris—beaming in Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak for the keynote. In Essen, Germany, Easyfairs held its first event since the outbreak on September 9 to 10. A regional show, all about automation (aaa) saw just an 18% drop in exhibitors from last year. The same week, Messe München played host to TrendSet, with 600 exhibitors and more than 12,000 visitors attending to experience the latest in high-design lifestyle and home accessories.

According to UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry, global revenues for trade fair and exhibition organizers fell by two-thirds in the first half of 2020.

Photo credit: Messe Düsseldorf

Overall In Europe, more than a hundred trade shows have been canceled so far this year, with Switzerland leading the way by banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people. Germany has been hit the hardest, but losses have been felt from Barcelona to Parma, Italy, where a scaled-down version of the massive CIBUS International Food Exhibition recently took place with 50 stands instead of the usual 3,000.

Although it appears that the second half of the year will show some improvement, much will depend on conditions in the host city. For example, German authorities announced in April an attendance cap on all events held in Berlin, forcing the organizers of IFA—the biggest trade show featuring consumer electronics and home appliances outside the United States—to cap attendance at 4,000 people. That’s a fraction of the 600,000 people attending last year. Taking place the first week of September, this year’s IFA included precautions such as the recommended use of masks and social distancing and a traffic light system to warn attendees if a hall became overcrowded

Photo credit: Messe Düsseldorf

The event drew 1,000 exhibitors to its online show (last year’s live show had 2,300), including big names like Sony and Bosch, along with 150 startups. Virtual presenters included heavy hitters such as Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm, who spoke on the latest developments in 5G and AI.

Reach Erhard Wienkamp at WienkampE@messe-duesseldorf.de or (49) 211-456001.