Markus Jessberger, Event Director, RX Germany, reflects on the challenges and opportunities of event rebranding and relocation, and offers some tips on cross-border cloning.
Q. Describe your role and responsibilities
A. As Event Director at Reed Exhibitions Germany I am responsible for the two industrial fairs; ALUMINIUM and COMPOSITES EUROPE. My portfolio also includes SHOWTECH, an international trade fair for stage and event technology, as well as MODERNER STAAT, a trade fair and congress dedicated to the modernisation of public administrative bodies.
Q. What achievement are you most proud of in the past 12 months, and why?
A. That is impossible to say in a single sentence. Certainly the close cooperation with the German association of mechanical engineers, VDMA, for COMPOSITES EUROPE is one of them. Also, focussing even more strongly on targeting specific visitor groups for my trade fairs is an important milestone. And finally, I am proud that in spite of the strong international competition, we again held the pole position on the global technology stage in 2011.
Q. What is the strategy behind the new look for ALUMINIUM 2012?
A. “Visions become reality” is the name of our new campaign which we launched for ALUMINIUM and COMPOSITES EUROPE in parallel and it is based on an emotional world of imagery. We see a child enthusiastic about technology, depicting a vision of tomorrow. With this motif, we intend not only to generate attention in an industry relying purely on technology, but also to “awaken man’s inner child”, as the German phrase goes. We feel that many of our mostly male trade fair visitors will recognise themselves in that child, and that our female trade visitors will also find this emotional visual language attractive. With this campaign, we further hope to be able to encourage researchers and developers to discover and advance the opportunities inherent in aluminium and composites today.
Q. What is the biggest challenge you face this year?
A. Quite clearly, it is the change of location of ALUMINIUM and COMPOSITES EUROPE. Düsseldorf is one of the world’s biggest trade show locations and a far cry from the crowded premises in Essen which capacity limits we had reached in 2010. Even selling the same exhibition space and attracting an equally high number of visitors, our exhibitors could possibly feel that the Düsseldorf trade fair is less frequented. This is why we are making every possible effort to significantly increase the number of visitors to ALUMINIUM and COMPOSITES EUROPE in Düsseldorf and to further enhance the share of international visitors. With our combined number of approximately 1,400 exhibitors we are the largest and most innovative trade fair platform for lightweight construction worldwide!
Q. What are your top tips for successful cross-border cloning?
A. Trade fair rollout offers us two big opportunities. First, the presence of a trade fair in other geographical markets is an extremely important building block in international marketing. And second, we open up access to further markets for our exhibitors with global operations. In my view, ALUMINIUM is a prime example of successfully exporting a trade fair. Presently, the international “mother trade fair” in Düsseldorf is complemented by four events in all of the world’s major aluminium markets – China, India, the Middle East and Brazil. This has been accomplished without any cannibalising of the regional offshoots or the mother trade fair.
We exploit the full potential of the respective geographical regions by bringing to bear our in-depth experience gained over many years with ALUMINIUM in Germany, and by applying our high standards while still responding to the specific requirements of the respective regional markets. In concrete terms, this means that in the case of ALUMINIUM we contribute the know-how, and our RX colleagues in the specific regions are responsible for its implementation in line with the market.
From our base in Germany, my team and I also work intensively with our local colleagues to develop all the subsidiary trade fairs, and we also encourage our global partners to be present there. We do this in spite of the fact that we do not generate any turnover of our own in Germany with trade fairs abroad. The ALUMINIUM fairs are a successful example of the Reed Elsevier group’s “boundarylessness” practices!
Q. How important is social media to the on-going development of your events? How are you using it?
A. In the same way that trade fairs were not replaced by Internet offers, communication via social media will not be a substitute for the other channels of successful trade fair communication!
However, social media is an additional, extremely fast and constantly updated channel, bringing a noticeable improvement in the way we communicate our events. Therefore, as organisers we will profit greatly from them. For this reason, we are present in all relevant social communities with ALUMINIUM and COMPOSITES EUROPE. In addition to Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter we primarily use our own blogs to communicate with exhibitors and visitors. We post our own information about the trade fair, along with exclusive contributions from specialist authors and contributions from our exhibitors in all networks. The “interview” (Q&A) is an instrument we use with increasing frequency in order to include exhibitors in our communication. The positive response demonstrates that this is the right track.
Q. What excites you most about the year ahead?
A. With the first edition of ALUMINIUM and COMPOSITES EUROPE in Düsseldorf, we will gain a multitude of experience and data which will be analysed and qualified and will serve as the basis for innovations in 2014 to further optimise the two fairs. This requires not only a high degree of precision from my team, but also a good feel for the constantly changing requirements on the customer side.
Apart from that, the ‘oldest trade fair’ in my portfolio, SHOWTECH, is again on the ‘playing schedule’ in Berlin. Presently we are making trail-blazing changes with a new project team in order to make this trade fair even more attractive for our exhibitors and visitors. And who knows, perhaps we will see an offshoot of SHOWTECH on another continent soon?
Finally, we are also working on complementary or new trade fair themes and different formats which means that things will remain very exciting at Reed Exhibitions Germany and in my portfolio for the foreseeable future.
For more information contact Markus Jessberger