"How companies can get value from their participation in trade exhibitions" was the theme of a webinar organized by ISTMA World, held on May 19, with Gunnar Mey, director of fairs and events at Messe Stuttgart, Germany, as the guest speaker. One of the main warnings that he gave, before a virtual audience composed of about fifty professionals from ten different countries, was the need for companies to "carefully prepare their participation in events of this type", otherwise the investment may not meet expectations.

The fairs, he stressed, are privileged accesses to increase business and even to attract new customers. But it is in the hands of the companies to think, program, and prepare their participation in order to achieve their objectives.

Gunnar Mey began by telling how this sector was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, having been forced to suspend its activity for two years, since it involved the crowding of people in the same space. "We were the first to close our activity and as the pandemic was solved, with the increase of vaccination, we were the last to resume our action, although in a somewhat conditioned way", he explained, adding that, during the pandemic, Messe Stuttgart carried out digital actions, most of them with proven positive results. Nevertheless, he believes that nothing replaces the results related to real presence and contact between people.

He presented some studies, noting that the main ambition of those who participate in a fair is usually to achieve a considerable number of sales. But, he pointed out, these exhibitions also allow a unique interaction with customers and potential customers, generating new contacts that, in the future, may translate into business. They are also, in his point of view, an excellent opportunity to strengthen the confidence of customers.

To correspond to the wishes of those who participate, he stressed, it is necessary to take into consideration issues such as location or size of the space, as well as the professionalism and image of who represents the company. He warned companies of the need, if necessary, to use the services of professionals in this area to obtain the best results.

Reaching customers 
The fairs, he also reminded, allow to disseminate information about the exhibiting company, but also to receive countless data about the markets and potential customers. They also provide access to the media and to conferences and presentations that can be important to enhance business. In addition, they are excellent opportunities to stimulate teamwork, encouraging employees to give their opinions and participate in the event.

In his opinion, despite all the investment in technologies and digital means, face-to-face fairs are still an excellent option for companies to approach the most interesting markets and reach the most attractive customers. 

Bob Williamson, President of ISTMA World, welcomed the presentation, advising those present to take a closer look at trade show participation in order to improve results. 

This session is part of a series of webinars that ISTMA is holding this year, seeking to promote industry reflection on trends, pressing issues and emerging technologies.