Despite the increasing ease in which information is shared in the digital world, the role of international trade fairs is just as vital as ever for getting the real business done.
During his first visit to New Zealand in his role as MD operational trade fair business at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, Wolfram Diener (pictured below) outlined why trade fairs are just as important as ever for bridging market borders and enabling business sales and partnerships to flourish.
“The digital world does not replace the analogue one,” he told ExporterToday. “On the contrary, it makes trade fairs increasingly indispensable international community meetings, offering orientation on a wide variety of markets – and personal contacts.
“Knowledge, networks, trust and personal experience are becoming the currency of the future,” he adds.
Since coming into the role, Diener has seen the increasing focus on information exchange and networking, and on digital transformation as the big trends within Germany’s international trade fair industry – including the fairs hosted by Messe Düsseldorf.
“Especially today, it is as important as ever to bring players within an industry together, he says, enabling them to present innovations, discuss current developments and jointly chart the course for the future of their industry.
“Trade fairs provide an ideal platform for doing so. Organisers increasingly combine congresses, conferences and workshops to form a ‘business festival’. At Messe Düsseldorf we concentrate on trade fairs that show what digitalisation means for the various industries in concrete terms – from medical device technology and safety at work, through the plastic industry, down to metalworking.
“Alongside networking, this is also about seeing the latest machinery from all the market leaders in an industry operating side by side under real conditions. For this purpose, we offer an ultra-modern exhibition centre with leading technology and infrastructure.
“Of course, the customers you expect to meet here are international decision-makers,” says Diener.
While Germany is literally on the other side of the world, Diener believes money spent on sending business representatives there is well-spent.
“How do you, as an innovative New Zealand company, reach your customers? Visit them all one by one, around the globe? You’re well advised to come to us,” he says. “We organise 22 leading international trade fairs for a host of industries in Düsseldorf alone. Here you find your customers, innovations, trends and complete industries. This is where the global market leaders of the respective industries come together.
“Add to this our global trade fair families in locations like China, Russia and India – which we are consistently developing in our strength industries.”
Maximising the experience
For Kiwis among the about 1.544 million visitors now attending Düsseldorf trade fairs each year, Diener says preparation is paramount.
“You should be clear about the goals you want to achieve. Do you wish to find suppliers in special segments? Or make more contacts for a specific market? Which existing contacts are to be maintained or deepened? Or are you simply happy to just find new food for thought?”
Plan your visit carefully, he advises, around what you want to look at and which exhibitors you want to make an appointment with and see.
“And very importantly, allow some free time to discover something new,” suggests Diener. “Our world-leading trade fairs are a playground for the most diverse players in any given sector. There is always something new and exciting to discover here.”
In terms of the growth potential of Messe Düsseldorf’s trade fair options, Diener says they are moving into new areas with special events. He describes them as ‘small plants’ with high growth potential.
These include the Print & Digital Convention for Multichannel Marketing – being held for the second time this year – or Energy Storage Europe, which now offers the world’s largest conference programme for all energy storage technologies, and with satellites in China, India, Japan and the US.
In addition to its activities in Russia, China, India and ASEAN countries, Diener says Messe Düsseldorf is also expanding internationally into dynamic future markets such as Africa, South America and the Middle East.
New Zealand a popular exhibitor
The ProWein trade fair held in March and billed as ‘the world’s largest wine trade fair’, and a jewel in Messe Düsseldorf’s portfolio, again saw New Zealand one of the most popular exhibitor nations. The number of New Zealand exhibitors at ProWein has more than doubled over the past ten years – from 23 to 50 exhibitors this year – and includes market leaders such as Villa Maria, Sileni Estate, Yealands and Marisco Vineyards.
“We are particularly pleased with the commitment of the New Zealand Winegrowers Association, which is always represented with a large joint stand,” says Diener.
He describes his role at Messe Düsseldorf as one of diversity. “I’m responsible for wire & Tube, as well as BEAUTY, the international No. 1 fair for cosmetics and wellness; MEDICA, the world’s leading trade fair for medical technology; and CARAVAN SALON, the worldwide hotspot for motorhomes.
“Every day I have to deal with new industries, topics and a wide variety of experts – so it couldn’t be more exciting.”
He says he loves the fact that Messe Düsseldorf is a friendly and family-type company that puts its heart and soul into everything it does. “I was received very warmly here right from the very beginning,” he says.
Just as visitors are always well received at the many trade fairs Düsseldorf hosts.
Story by Glenn Baker, editor of NZBusiness and ExporterToday.