The trade fairs have undoubtedly been among the activities that have suffered the most from the Covid-19 emergency: suffice it to say that to date the fairs in all the different sectors have been cancelled and postponed until next year. It is precisely this "lack" that increases the willingness to participate and the interest in the fairs to be held next year.
Interzum 2021, scheduled to take place in Cologne from 4 to 7 May 2021, has always been the most important international platform for the furniture supply, materials and ideas industry. The next edition will be organized in an even more functional way, thanks to the brand new pavilion "1plus", which will make it possible to reorganize the different thematic areas and to respond to the requests of the exhibiting companies for more space. All this guaranteeing maximum safety for exhibitors and visitors with very precise protocols. We discuss this with Thomas Rosolia, CEO of Koelnmesse Italia, the Italian branch of the Cologne Fair.
The situation determined by Covid-19 has prompted the use of new methods of communication, especially via the web. What repercussions will it have on the future organisation of trade fairs?
"I am convinced, fortunately like many others, that trade fairs are indispensable to bring the economy back to normal as quickly and sustainably as possible. We are talking about real business platforms that have always been one of the most important focal points of any economic activity. Strong international events such as interzum will always play a decisive role in showing the industry solutions and trends for new applications, to develop new possibilities and thus ensure the success of a company. Production, logistics, sales and communication will change and the "online" connection of the players, the creation of new business thanks to the network will be more important than ever, especially in this season of reactivation of economic relations. It is essential that, as is happening, all market players actively prepare for this moment.
This is also the time to look to the future with a cautious but motivated optimism: we are working hard for all our exhibitions and as far as interzum is concerned, we are sure that this great exhibition of supplies, elements, ideas for furniture production will continue on its successful path. We are just under a year away from the next edition, which will start on May 4, 2021, and we have excellent data on the adhesions: to date more than 70% of the exhibitors, despite the continuation of this season of uncertainty, have already confirmed that they will be present. Extremely important data for Italian participation: to date we have requests for an area of 20 thousand square meters, compared to the 18 thousand assigned for the 2019 edition on the same date. Interzum 2021 will be organized in a new way, being able to count on the spaces in the brand new pavilion "1plus" that will allow us to reorganize the different thematic areas in a more effective way, giving more square meters to the many companies that have been asking for them for a long time. In the foreground all the procedures to ensure maximum security for exhibitors and visitors, with very precise protocols that will regulate the entrances, access to various services and the stay of everyone in the fairgrounds, thanks also to an advanced system of "digital guides" that will allow operators to make the most of their time at the fair".
Do you foresee that there will be substantial changes in the organization of the next edition in relation to the evolution of the emergency?
"As I was telling you, we are defining and preparing a whole series of measures for adequate safety and hygiene, always maintaining a high level of commitment to a "functional fair" concept. And having more space, as I mentioned, will allow us to change the overall layout: the possibility of integrating Hall 10.1 into the "Textile & Mashinery" section, for example, has allowed us to create a sort of "fil-rouge", a thematic path that from Hall 9 crosses 10.1 to get to floors 1 and 2 of Hall 11, creating in fact an itinerary to visit all the spaces occupied by exhibitors in this segment, from mattress production to fabrics and materials processing. Soon, these guided tours will also be created in the "Materials & Nature" segment, so that Halls 6, 4.2, 5.2 and 1plus are organically linked. These are projects that have convinced many of our exhibitors to be and feel even more involved in the next interzum, and have also enabled us to attract global players to Cologne who were not previously among our exhibitors".
Do you think the virtual fair will have a future?
"Fairs have always been a place where people meet and their mission can never be denied or overturned. This is why our goal is always to offer our customers, whether they are exhibitors or visitors, the best possible platforms where every company can build business effectively, safely, efficiently.
This does not mean that the enormous development of IT tools, software, relationship systems, intelligent ways of viewing and sharing images, data, information and virtual spaces is a challenge on which we have long been focusing significant resources. Today we can say that the digitalization process started years ago allows us to offer new experiences and services to our partners: I am thinking of "ambista", the platform for the world of furniture that involves manufacturers, retailers, suppliers and interior decorators.
The further opening and expansion of our exhibitions in the digital world is one of the strategic objectives for the coming years. I could mention the experience of gamescom, the great exhibition dedicated to the world of video games and entertainment whose next edition, in August this year, will be held in a completely digital form.
The challenge is to integrate in the best and intelligent way the nature of the "fair product" - i.e. the direct, personal contact - with digital tools and modes that not only amplify the results, but allow all the operators involved to operate in complete peace of mind".