Global Exhibitions Day (#GED2020): why trade fairs are so relevant

The special show "Plastics shape the future" at K 2019, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, C. Tillmann

3 June sees us at Messe Düsseldorf celebrate the Global Exhibitions Day – or for short GED – for the fifth time now. This is the day where the exhibition industry worldwide draws attention to its importance for the economy. This year the message is particularly relevant: “Exhibitions are key to rebuilding economies”. So we have asked some of our Project Directors why this is the case. What is so important about your trade fair for the economy?

Trade Fairs are B2B Meeting Points and Platforms for New Business Ideas

Impressions of the Sea Tourism Summit during the boot 2020, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, C. Tillmann

“restart your business @boot Düsseldorf” – reads the current claim for boot 2021. With this message the trade fair team in Düsseldorf wants to actively bolster the water sports sector in these difficult times. As early as 2008 Messe Düsseldorf had already mastered the economic crisis in an alliance with manufacturers and dealers and re-pitched boot Düsseldorf as an international business hub. It is the most important B2B meeting point for the sector also serving as the central platform for successful management and new business ideas in rough waters. This is why the motto now reads: “We are there for you and by your side”. This applies to both the manufacturers and dealers and destinations by an active support for passionate water sportspeople. What’s needed just now are ideas that make it possible to pursue water sports in just about every region. After all, there are impressive diving paradises, marvellous yachting districts, sporty surf hotspots and tranquil houseboat districts to be discovered even in landlocked areas.

“I am confident that boot Düsseldorf will again present itself as the pulse generator and driving engine for the whole water sports industry in January 2021,”

says Petros Michelidakis, Director at boot.

Trade Fairs are Discussion Platforms and Innovation Hubs for Current Issues

The special show “Plastics shape the future” at K 2019, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, C. Tillmann

Despite the many outstanding properties of plastics the intense debate about marine waste or micro plastics has led to a negative image of plastics especially over recent years. At K 2019 , however, the industry succeeded in providing impressive proof that plastics are not only valuable, indispensable materials with excellent properties in many areas of our daily lives but also that the industry takes the current debate very seriously.

Petra Cullmann, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, A. Wiese

“K provided important impetus as a global information and discussion platform. The global plastics industry unanimously endorsed the need for fully operational circular economies across the entire value chain and sought direct dialogue in numerous forums and special shows. And what’s more: concrete approaches and solutions were already presented such as innovative systems sorting, cleaning and separating plastic waste,”

delights Petra Cullmann, Director of K.

Trade Fairs unite Different Actors in Overarching Initiatives

Messe Düsseldorf’s stated aim is to bring together different players from an industry and address cross-sectoral issues. Our prime example is the SAVE FOOD initiative launched at interpack 2011 with a special show and an international congress bringing together NGOs, research and industry to discuss food waste and loss themes. “Back then this theme enjoyed neither wide exposure in the media nor perception by the public at large, but this clearly changed afterwards. We struck a nerve and received enormous response in the public,” says Bernd Jablonowski, Director of interpack, and adds:

Bernd Jablonowski, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, C. Tillmann

“Especially in developing countries – where food is very precious – food losses often constitute a major problem due to poor harvesting and storage options, insufficient infrastructure, missing cold chains and often also non-existent (transport) packaging. Here the packaging industry can come to rescue with its know-how.”

Since 2011 SAVE FOOD has organised several congresses and meetings both in Düsseldorf and abroad that were also attended by such prominent figures as Her Majesty, Queen Letizia of Spain. Furthermore, the SAVE FOOD Exhibition installed at our packaging trade fairs worldwide has sent out the topic into the world, studies were carried out in development and/or threshold countries and the Mango Project was realised as a best case in Kenya. There a local company was supported with know-how and equipment provided by an alliance of several members of the SAVE FOOD Initiative to dry, slice and package mango that would have otherwise perished. This enabled the micro-business to sell the dried fruit in national supermarkets and expand. Until this very day the SAVE FOOD theme has accompanied interpack and Messe Düsseldorf – and will also play a prominent role at the coming interpack 2021.

Trade Fairs are Workshops for the Future

Over the past two decades EuroShop has become the most important innovation platform and trendsetter for retail technology, i.e. highly specialised IT specifically for retail. One retail topic that affects all of us as shoppers and shapes the future of shopping are payment systems.

Elke Moebius, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf

“A number of years ago specialist suppliers already exhibited numerous solutions for this at our trade fair, ranging from contactless payment and mobile payment all the way to special payment Apps that initially appeared to be visions for the future. But soon many of these solutions asserted themselves on an international scale, especially in Asia where payment by WeChat or Alipay are the order of the day. Germans were hesitant to adopt these solutions, hardly any other nation keine is still as fond of cash payment as Germany is. In view of the current Corona situation, however, it seems people have started rethinking this approach here, too,”

says Elke Moebius, Director of EuroShop.

Urban Store at the EuroShop 2020, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, C. Tillmann

Another relevant theme are smart stores. In the USA Amazon pioneered smart stores with its Amazon-Go Stores. At EuroShop 2020 the German supplier Wanzl presented an optimised version of such a store with its true-to-original Urban Store that serves not one but several purposes. Especially in conurbations these mini-format Urban Stores can ensure that shoppers are supplied with everyday products right on the ground floor of a housing complex. At the same time, neighbours meet here in the seating area of the coffee bar. For shopping the smartphone doubles as digital loyalty card. Via App shoppers have access to charging through a Gate solution 24/7 because shopping is also possible with no staff here. Fully automatic systems detect whether and which products were selected. After the mandatory check-out via the Gate the shopper’s account is automatically debited with the goods. “Still sounds somewhat unfamiliar but I am sure that we will soon take such Urban Stores for granted and that this format will enhance our retail landscape,” adds Elke Moebius.

Trade Fairs make the Pulse of an Industry visible

As the world’s No. 1 trade fair for print technologies drupa with its “Olympic cycle” is considered the global must-go show in the industry providing key impulses for the print & packaging sector.

Sabine Geldermann, Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf, C. Tillmann

“Innovations of relevance to the industry are mentioned in the same breath with the respective drupa edition. Each drupa – alongside its own claim – is also given an additional sector-specific name by experts, which makes it unique and underscores the outstanding technology focus or highlight that was centre stage at the respective drupa. For drupa 2016 the focal theme was “Industry / Print 4.0” and, hence, all innovations, applications and solutions revolving around digital transformation, automation and efficiency improvement of relevant processes,”

explains Sabine Geldermann, Director of drupa. The printing industry is considered a “best case” worldwide since it was affected by digital transformation early on and very massively due to the changes in media consumption behaviour and because it flagged up new business models and solutions. “For drupa 2021 the focus will be on global mega trends such as AI, Circular Economy and, hence, also sustainability themes as well as other effects of Industry 4.0 alongside a gamut of technology innovations,” adds Sabine Geldermann.

You see – there are many aspects where trade fairs help companies move out of the crisis and rebuild the economy. We do hope that we will soon be able to move full speed ahead again. On this note: Happy #GED2020! 😊

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