Have you read Saxony’s trade fairs yet? Fears and hopes among organizers, exhibitors and the public

24.01.2021 07:20

Have you read Saxony’s trade fairs yet? Fears and hopes among organizers, exhibitors and the public

Von Pia Lucchesi

Dresden – Not much was possible in 2020. The new exhibition year also starts without promises. So have you already read Saxony’s trade fairs? An entire industry is trembling – and with it the audience. What will become of crowd pullers like the Leipzig Book Fair? How can the trade fair in Dresden develop under these conditions?

Dresden Exhibition Center

The lake rests quietly in front of the Dresden trade fair. At the moment the halls are home to the Dresden vaccination center. © Eric Münch

Pushing – that’s what Ulrich Finger’s Dresden exhibition team has their hands full with at the moment. The head of the city society explains: “We are currently in the process of postponing the events and concerts that have been postponed from 2020 to spring 2021 into autumn.” His schedule and the allocation plan for the exhibition halls are well filled. Nothing to feel of the calm.

The company is currently drawing on its reserves – this has consequences for the future. “Actually, these funds should be used to carry out renovations and restorations on the building fabric. But due to the current situation, we will probably not be able to do that in the foreseeable future,” says Finger.

He is not worried about the future. He is convinced that after the pandemic, concerts and consumer fairs such as the building fair “Haus” and “Dresdner Easter” will again attract thousands of visitors to the Ostragehege.

Finger: “A lot is possible in virtual space – but not everything. We can offer much more action, flair and events live on site than the Internet.”

“Haus” construction fair as a crowd puller: Despite the corona warning, it counted over 20,000 visitors in March 2020. © Norbert Neumann

Leipzig Fair

The Leipziger Messe organizers are currently also using the time to create new websites.  The site for the Haus-Garten-Freizeit trade fair was already online.

The Leipziger Messe organizers are currently also using the time to create new websites. The site for the Haus-Garten-Freizeit trade fair was already online. © dpa / Jan Woitas

“In 2020 we carried out 150 projects in January and February and from August to October. A total of 270 projects – trade fairs, congresses and other events – were canceled”, reports Andreas Knaut, company spokesman for Messe Leipzig.

It is not yet possible to say how much sales or profit the fair has lost as a result. Knaut estimates: “We will achieve roughly a third of the planned sales in 2020.” The fair is currently gearing up for around 120 projects in 2021.

In the first quarter of 2021, mainly digital trade shows will take place. The DreamHack Leipzig gaming festival is currently running online as a “Home Edition”. Instead of playing together at the fair, gamers from all parts of the republic are currently turning their own four walls into event locations.

Knaut looks ahead: “We are organizing Intec / Z connect – our international trade fair duo for machine tools, manufacturing and automation as well as for the supplier industry – also in digital form.” The “protekt plus” industry get-together will also only take place online.

Cosplayers like Dominik Scheffner as Batman and Ronja Baarts as Harley Quinn like to meet at the Leipzig Book Fair.  They too hope that the pandemic won't rob them of this fun.

Cosplayers like Dominik Scheffner as Batman and Ronja Baarts as Harley Quinn like to meet at the Leipzig Book Fair. They too hope that the pandemic won’t rob them of this fun. © dpa / Sebastian Willnow

The Leipzig Book Fair will take place this year together with the reading festival “Leipzig reads”, the Manga-Comic-Con and the Antiquarian Book Fair at the end of May. Thousands of bookworms keep their fingers crossed. © dpa / Jan Woitas

Relocating trade fairs and events to virtual space is only one option for the people of Leipzig. According to Knaut, the pandemic clearly shows the indispensability of face-to-face trade fairs and congresses. “For this reason, we continue to use presence formats that we complement or complement virtually in a meaningful way,” said the spokesman.

He adds: “We are still convinced that the core of every business transaction – creating trust – only works in the context of a face-to-face event. The experience of the live format on site cannot be replaced digitally.”

Cover photo: dpa / Jan Woitas / dpa / Sebastian Willnow

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