Orgatec 2006: heading towards a new trade fair system

We all knew that the latest Orgatec, the international office event, would not be this year’s memorable event, and yet it marked a turning point in the history of specialized trade fairs.

Narrower exhibition areas (4 small pavilions, -40% in contrast with the previous edition), more relaxation areas, the perception of fewer non-European visitors (not reported by official sources), are the symptom of one single trend: the crisis of the trade fair system that exclusively focuses on the number of square metres sold. Quantity is no longer enough to catalyse the interest of international manufacturers and visitors. There must be more aggregation and the certainty to take part in a business-generating event.

Undoubtedly, over the next few years, those trade fairs that can actually multiply in different driving markets are bound to reap some substantial successful achievements, without aiming to group the whole demand and supply around one single event-place. Trade fairs presenting product concepts and the organization of events designed to promote contacts with the specifiers are also likely to prove successful.

In the meantime, many manufacturers are choosing not to exhibit their products: trade fair events have largely multiplied and there is nothing wrong with attending them all. The anxiety to attend Orgatec so as not to be viewed as a company with problems has been erased. Companies only attend if they have something new to show and only after carefully assessing the effectiveness of the investment-benefits ratio. Considering that the German trade fair is not in favour of economic facilities, clearly, in most cases only those brands that truly wanted to participate actually attended the event, while many manufacturers preferred to attend as visitors.

Result: the edition satisfied everybody, and probably accidentally so: both those attending and those who did not. Those exhibitors that presented new products enjoyed great exposure: Sedus, Bene, Dauphin, Nurus, Herman Miller, König + Neurath, Vitra, Alparda, Art Aqua, Citterio, Fantoni, Unifor, Iren companies choosing to visit Orgatec without exhibiting browsed around the pavilions in triumph, knowing full well that they were ‘in good company’.

Italian participation One single fault: an Italian group of companies confined in small pavilion 10 that gave the idea of getting on a running bus without knowing its destination. Result: a faceless area characterized by small tunnels overflowing with amazingly similar products that was made even worse by the inverted sequence of the colours of the Italian flag identifying the group.

There would be much to say about the absence of the Italian trade association in relation to the organization of the event, as this year, the association did nothing. One is almost led to mention the exact opposite, namely Sidi, the historical Spanish group that this year also emphasised the identity of the Spanish companies through images and ideas (did you stop at Sidi&Tapas?)
(from our correspondent Lucia Matti)

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