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Trade Show Curtailments Extend in Europe

With most countries in Europe continuing to be gripped by the pandemic we continue to witness planned exhibition and conference events postponed and cancelled.

The exhibition centre in Dusseldorf recently announced: “The continuing high level of infection and the fact that the end of the lockdown is not foreseeable for the time being make a resumption of trade fair operations in Düsseldorf at the end of April appear increasingly unrealistic. Already at the beginning of December 2020, Messe Düsseldorf has cancelled all of its own events at the Düsseldorf site until April 2021 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.”

Mack-Brooks Exhibitions has announced the postponement of Fastener Fair Stuttgart, which was scheduled to take place from 18th to 20th May 2021. The 9th edition of the show will now take place from 9th – 11th November 2021. Mack Brooks Exhibitions explains the decision was taken in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and following conversations with all exhibitors and visitors that have taken place over the past weeks and months. Uncertainties around continued travel restrictions were also a contributing factor to this decision due to the truly international character of the Fastener Fair Stuttgart show.

Speaking about the announcement, Liljana Goszdziewski, portfolio director of Fastener Fair Stuttgart, on behalf of the organiser Mack-Brooks Exhibitions, said: “Following extensive conversations with all participants we have come to the decision to postpone Fastener Fair Stuttgart to November. Based on the current international developments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, covering further lockdown and travel restrictions, we believe that it is the most responsible decision at this stage to postpone. This early announcement will hopefully allow time for the impact of Covid-19 across the world to stabilise and when safe to do so, ensure that the event can continue its critical role in bringing the global fastener and fixing industry together again.”

The huge Hannover Messe scheduled for April has gone entirely digital. “In view of the developments relating to Covid-19, Deutsche Messe AG and the exhibitors at Hannover Messe have decided to organize the industrial fair from April 12 to 16, 2021 entirely digitally.” Deutsche Messe originally planned a hybrid format that included digital elements in addition to an on-site trade fair.

“In close coordination with our exhibitor committee, we decided that the organization of a presence fair under the given framework conditions is not feasible and is not responsible,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, Chairman of the Board of Management of Deutsche Messe AG. “That is why we will switch the HANNOVER MESSE 2021 from hybrid to purely digital.”

In the UK the lockdown continues with all events cancelled and despite an aggressive rollout of the COVID vaccination program no easing of government restrictions are yet in sight.

With the ongoing pandemic, despite optimism from many event organizers, is does seem extremely unlikely that any physical events can responsibly occur until the second half of 2021. The big question also to be asked is “if events do take place will visitors actually want to venture into crowded event venues”.

A World Without Trade Shows

Trade shows have been important for all industries. A few years ago 72% of sales and marketing managers said a trade show is an effective method to generate quality leads, but now over half of marketeers believe their event budgets will decrease. In the Garter report, ‘2020 CMO spend survey’, with 432 marketing executives in North America, the UK, France and Germany, the CMOs thought that the negative impacts from 2020 will be a temporary thing. On the question regarding the overall economic and business climate, within 2-3 years, 73% expected the impact to be positive. Even with a positive outlook, the survey still showed that 44% of the marketing budget would be cut from trade shows and various marketing events. Yes, trade shows are important, but they are just the start of the customer journey. A great lead at a trade show is only a great lead unless you follow up and turn it into a productive relationship.

“The COVID-19 crisis seemingly provides a sudden glimpse into a future world, one in which digital has become central to every interaction, forcing both organisations and individuals further up the adoption curve almost overnight,” says McKinsey & Company in its publication ‘Digital strategy in a time of crisis‘.

The world has probably been changed for ever by the pandemic. Maybe it just accelerated the inevitable transformation to digital marketing. One thing is for sure the shape of how businesses interact with existing customers and search out new potential prospective customers is changing in front of our computer screens – daily.