As the special event industry continues to mature, pronounced regional differences worldwide are becoming clearer. In Europe, business with social events (for example, weddings) is just emerging as a market. But the market for corporate events is already big and evolving.
Trade show events play a significant role in Europe and especially in Germany. For the customer, a trade show is a great opportunity to find out more about both the product and the company and to actually "feel" the brand.
Every year, Germany plays host to about 130 different trade shows with more than 60,000 booths (called "stands"). Companies from all over the world spend more than $5 billion (U.S.) at these German trade shows on creation, design, booth construction and events. The range includes major trade shows for high-tech computer products and services (CeBIT, Han-over), automotive shows (IAI, Frank-furt) and even highly specialized shows for the printing industry (e.g., DRUPA, Dusseldorf).
More than 150,000 companies show their products at trade shows in Germany alone. Close to 10 million fairgoers visit the German trade shows. Sixty percent are visitors from the European Union, while the rest come from throughout the world.
Most of these trade shows are fairly big. It would take a visitor several days to see everything at the 25 CeBIT exhibition halls.
Some companies just set up a simple stand with two posters and a couple of salespeople ready to hand out brochures. But it takes a lot more to be true to your brand and to attract people's attention to your stand, especially when you realize that you may be competing with more than 3,000 exhibitors at a trade show.
Now, what might go into an event at a trade show? Here is a brief recap of a trade show event designed and created by our company:
An innovative booth design, a spectacular show, perfect organization and enough space for client communication were the ambitious targets set for us by the Mannesmann Arcor AG & Co., a leading German telecommunications company. Not only the booth but the entire hall at CeBIT was turned into one big stage. The success for the exhibitor could be measured not only in terms of attracting fairgoers' attention, but also by the number of intensive contacts made with its target group, primarily distributors.
Planning events at trade shows in Europe can be tricky. For example, hotels are already booked solid for the next couple of years for CeBIT. European special event management companies must make sure that they have their room blocks booked well in advance to avoid three-hour rides to the exhibition hall every morning.
Further, the rules are strict concerning participation at trade shows in Europe. For example, an exhibitor must be able to prove that he is the manufacturer or the exclusive distributor of his products in order to take part. You must meet restrictions not only on the construction of the stand but also on communication guidelines. Generally speaking, no direct over-the-counter sales take place at a trade show. During the show, the customer is only informed about the product and may place an order.
With such restrictions, the exhibitor's stand must stand out, and special events can make that happen.