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Tete-a-Tete with Mr. Vivek

 

In this tete-e-tete, Gerald Bose, CEO of Koelnmesse GmbH talks about trade fairs industry world over.

Headquartered in Germany, the Cologne trade fair company was established in 1922 through the initiative of the city’s then-mayor and later German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. In 1924, the first spring trade fair was successfully conducted in newly-built halls in the Deutz district on the right bank of the River Rhine. Today, the Koelnmesse Group is a legally and economically independent business enterprise with around 700 employees all over the world. A broad network of 11 subsidiaries and representative offices in more than 80 countries is available to serve exhibitors, visitors and the media. The Cologne exhibition centre is the fourth largest in the world.

Gerald Böse (47), CEO of Koelnmesse GmbH since March 1, 2008, has dedicated his entire career to the Trade Fair Business. After gaining his degree in business administration, Mr Böse worked at Messe München for four years before moving to the IGEDO fashion fairs in Düsseldorf in 1992. In his role as a managing director, he assumed responsibility for the company’s internationalisation and sales activities as well as corporate planning in 1995. Beginning in 1999 he built up the New Media department at IGEDO, which opened up new business areas for the company with the founding of the media trade fair OMD in 2000. In early 2006 he was named Executive Director of Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress- GmbH and of the Neue Messe Karlsruhe.

In this tete-e-tete, Gerald Bose talks about trade fairs industry world over.

Q: It’s a great moment for us to have this talk with you,  How is Koelnmesse doing? 

Gerald Bose

 Koelnmesse is one of the world’s biggest trade fair organizers. Our unique selling points are our flexibility, strength of service, very wide-ranging international mix, successful trading and communications platforms, a closely knit network of international branches and one of the world's most modern trade fair grounds. We set out every day to add to these strengths.

We are also highly innovative when it comes to the consistent development of our events. We adapt exhibitor and visitor concepts, structure and calendar, fringe programme and PR activities to the needs of the market and our customers from around the world on an ongoing basis. We never stop adding to our portfolio and, with 77 trade fairs and exhibitions, 2009 is the busiest year yet in the 85-year history of Koelnmesse. Besides the leading international trade fairs in Cologne, our 30 overseas events are door-openers for our customers to the growth markets of the global economy. In short, Koelnmesse is well equipped to face the challenges of the international trade fair business.

Q: 2009 had been the busiest year yet in the 85-year history of Koelnmesse’ -Interesting! Then, how about the upshots of economic turmoil? 

Gerald Bose.

We do not see ourselves confronted by a general crisis in the trade fair sector – neither in the industry as a whole nor in Cologne. On the contrary: surveys confirm that trade fairs are actually growing in importance compared to other marketing and communication channels.

That said, the global financial and economic crisis is impacting individual sectors, which inevitably affects the events associated with them. They are up against a highly competitive international trade fair market which, especially in Germany and Europe, remains highly dispersed. In the medium and long term, only top-notch events at good quality trade fair locations will hold their own on the market.

In this respect, Koelnmesse, and Germany’s trade fair “world champion” are in an excellent position. Like no others, German trade fairs represent event expertise and industry know-how. The crisis is an outstanding opportunity for us to demonstrate this virtuosity to all customers.

Q: We appreciate that spirit. So, what has/will help your group to win over the situation? 

 Gerald Bose

The effects of the economic and financial crisis on trade fairs in some industries has been evident since the beginning of 2009 and will undoubtedly still be felt up to mid-2010. And yet Koelnmesse’s entire portfolio has developed positively. Also and especially in times of crisis, it is clear that trade fairs work. Across the board, our customers have ended Koelnmesse events in excellent spirits and in some cases with orders at very healthy levels. Our leading international trade fairs have provided the impulse and direction for the industries attending and resulted in good business.

Q: And, how have strategies and ideas for successful exhibiting undergone transitions at Koelnmesse matching pace and need of time? 

Gerald Bose

 There is a saying that time is money. And that applies especially to the trade fair business. Koelnmesse, with its leading international portfolio of around 40 services sets the standards. Our services enable exhibitors and visitors to concentrate fully on the main issue: doing business. We not only organize their travel and accommodation for them, our Lead Success offer gives them the very latest in contact management, beginning long before the fair and giving them efficient ways to prepare for it and follow up leads afterwards. Then there is new media like the Mobile Exhibition Guide, a navigation system we operate on our extensive grounds – the fourth largest in the world – that takes visitors straight to the stand they want via their Blackberry.

Q: That’s encouraging I must say! Delving out more details, we wish you acquaint us with information on the emerging trends and traits the trade fair industry could possibly adapt in years to come. 

Gerald Bose

 Three developments will mark the trade fair business of the future:

a) International growth: the money in our business is being increasingly earned overseas. At a time when established markets are losing their share of business, once the economic crisis is past, developing countries will continue their strong growth. With 11 subsidiaries and representative offices in more than 80 countries, Koelnmesse is in a good position. In fact, almost half of our 70-plus trade fairs and exhibitions are now held abroad.

b) Concentration: The market share of the 20 leading providers in the trade fair business, among them Koelnmesse, continues to grow steadily. Successful innovations and the relocation of events to Cologne demonstrate the location’s strengths. These include the leading INTERMOT, gamescom and dmexco trade fairs.

c) Convergence: Media companies continue to expand their trade fair activities, above all where they have access to publications focusing on the trade fairs in question and with it the power of the press. To this end, Koelnmesse is entering into effective partnerships.

Q: ‘Power of press’- agreed! The pen is proving mightier than sword.

Now, turning to topic of challenges besides recession: Mr Bose, do you think there remains some, averting tradefair industry’s good growth? 

Gerald Bose

 One of the greatest challenges is undoubtedly posed by global pricing pressure due to trade fair overcapacity, some of it subsidized. At the same time, trade fairs must hold their own against the new communication and marketing instruments appearing all the time. They will achieve this since there is no other medium that is as efficient and successful.

Q: Many efforts are taken by the policy makers and government bodies to cushion the industry. Do you think they had worked adequately to benefit? 

Gerald Bose

 Naturally, business promotion is in our interests. Our main purpose, not only in times of crisis, is to promote the business of the sectors attending our events. In turn, our leading international trade fairs give individual companies and whole sectors alike an effective recovery package under a wide range of macroeconomic conditions.

 
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