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One trend that we're seeing at many of our trade fairs, independently of the sector involved, is that of online trading.
Gerald Bose, CEO of Koelnmesse GmbH speaks about various aspects of trade fairs as he converses with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi.
Koelnmesse GmbH is a 90 years old trade fair company started by the city’s then-mayor and later German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. The first event was opened in 1924. This was the spring trade fair, which featured hardware, textiles, and furniture. The company is a leader in global trade fairs for 25 sectors and is popular for approximately 75 specialist trade fairs. It has 11 trade fair halls and organises approximately 30 guest events. It has a broad network of 11 subsidiaries and representative offices in more than 80 countries.
Gerald Böse has been the CEO of Koelnmesse GmbH in Cologne since 2008. Under his management, 2009 became the year with the highest revenue and the largest number of events to date in the company's history. In 2005 Böse was the Speaker of the Management Board of Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress-GmbH. From 1992 to 2005 he worked for IGEDO in Düsseldorf, finally as the Managing Director. He has studied business management in Munich.
There are other large companies as well in the industry who organise trade fairs. What makes Koelnmesse stand out from the rest?
Koelnmesse can point to a tradition that goes back 90 years. It is one of the biggest international trade fair companies operating today. The 75 trade fairs it organises regularly in Cologne and all over the world attract 2.6 million visitors and 47,600 exhibitors. Thanks to our extensive experience in a broad range of sectors, we understand their requirements, and we know how we can contribute to our customers’ success at our trade fairs. As a result, we stage the leading global trade fairs in approximately 25 sectors. When we organise our events, we are completely committed to our role as a service provider for our customers - our visitors and exhibitors. We offer them a broad array of services that enable them to focus completely on doing successful business at the trade fair.
In addition, Koelnmesse enjoys a unique location that is very close to Cologne’s city centre and the world-renowned Cologne Cathedral. In combination with our highly flexible and ultramodern exhibition grounds, that greatly enhances the appeal of our events.
Over the years, how has the way of organising trade fairs changed? What factors have played a key role in the transition of such trade fairs?
Trends and external influences affect trade fairs just as much as they affect other marketing channels. In recent years the trade fair presentations of companies have been more open, interactive and digital than before. However, what has remained unchanged is the focus of every trade fair on personal talks and the sharing of information between the exhibitors and visitors. In terms of themes, in recent decades trade fairs have become more and more specialized, thus offering customized trading and communication platforms for specific target groups. Universal trade fairs have increasingly become specialized trade fairs.
How do you think economic ups and downs affect trade fairs? Can you cite a few examples from your past experiences to explain this point?
If the entire economy or individual sectors are not doing well and companies are trying to save money, that of course has an effect on trade fairs. Nonetheless, trade fair companies generally feel the effects only one or two years later, because company budgets for trade fairs are planned a long time in advance, as a rule.
What is the role of fashion trade fairs in connecting the emerging fashion industry with the international market?
Specialized fashion trade fairs such as our Children’s Fashion Cologne are important order and trend platforms where manufacturers can get together with retail traders and the creative designers of the fashion industry. These trade fairs generate long-term and international contacts within the sector. In addition, the presentation of awards at trade fairs helps to bring creative up-and-coming fashion designers together with representatives of the industry. For example, the CFC YoungStars Award will be presented for the first time this year at the summer edition of Children’s Fashion Cologne. This is a promotional award for newcomers in the area of fashion design for babies and children.
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