The news this month that Ceramitec – the Munich-based ceramics technology event that operates on a triennial basis – has postponed next year’s event to 2022 brings into stark focus the perilous state of the global events business at this time. The trade show sector – in all industries – has been hammered, with 100% of revenues denied overnight.
Indeed, it almost seems unimaginable given the current state of affairs, that we will see ourselves shaking hands, welcoming customers and mingling in crowds numbering in the thousands any time soon. Of course, it will return and we will look back at these days and learn some valuable lessons. However, for now, this remains something of a distant hope, and until a vaccine is unleashed and international business travel can become the norm again, then exhibition organisers have simply got to hang in there.
For us here at Asian Ceramics, we cannot deny that we are relieved that we exited the trade show business a few years ago, when we sold our Indian Ceramics event to Messe Muenchen and our Gulf Glass and GulfSol brands to DMG Middle East. However, we have huge sympathy with all our exhibition partners across the world, from India to China, Germany to Italy, Spain to Indonesia and beyond for the difficult – some would say impossible – situation that they currently find themselves in.
We know, from our own experience, how much effort and energy is put into making the trade shows for which industry is so dependent; effort that is perhaps not always fully realised by those who attend or exhibit. In some of the most difficult places to operate, trade shows have been founded and have flourished; opening doors to markets that would otherwise have been far tougher to break into.
With the absence of trade shows of course, then “regular” promotion and advertising becomes even more important. The ceramics industry has not stopped; sanitaryware is being fitted, tiles are being made, tableware bought (although in smaller quantities at the moment as hospitality issues bite), and therefore the need to expand and modernise remains as great as ever.
It would be wrong for companies supplying the industry to think this is a time to batten down the hatches; far from it. This is a moment to look forward, grow a presence and develop new customers and the importance of a steady marketing message remains key. Without trade shows to receive new customers, then the more traditional forms of communication are increasingly important again – namely, advertising.
We look forward immensely to some normality returning to the World, but in the meantime we applaud the decisions of many exhibition organisers across the globe who have taken extremely difficult commercial decisions to postpone events until such time as they can operate without restriction. I am certain that we are all in agreement on that.
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