8 success factors for the exhibition ground of the future

Published on 11/10/2016 by Christoph Spangenberg

Exhibition grounds must meet their customers' requirements at all times and, in the ideal case, must more than meet their needs. Precisely what goes to make up a successful exhibition complex, and how an exhibition complex can equip itself for the future was set out by MCH Group CEO René Kamm at the UFI Global Congress in Shanghai, taking the example of Messe Basel. Around 600 industry leaders met there in early november, in order to discuss the future of the exhibition sector.

Venue Management: success factors for exhibition grounds (MCH Group)

1. Don't build too big: quality not quantity

With the new exhibition hall complex by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the exhibition surface at Messe Basel was reduced from 162,000 to 141,000 square metres in 2013. Since then, however, it has been possible to adapt the exhibition halls to accommodate virtually any customer wishes. The big continuous surfaces - the hall space on the first floor extends over a length of 420 metres without any interruptions - permit flexible event layouts. Hall heights of up to ten metres permit multi-storey stands. The reduction in exhibition space is in line with the current trend, since most of the exhibition grounds in Europe are not planning any capacity increases over the years to come.

2. Create an architectural landmark

The new complex by Herzog & de Meuron that was opened in 2013 is more than just a new exhibition hall. With the new Hall 1, together with the Event Hall and the City Lounge spanning Exhibition Square, the architects have created a new Basel landmark, which ranks amongst the most popular photo motifs, alongside the cathedral and the old town.

3. Be an attractive brand touchpoint for events and their customers

The Basel exhibition halls and Exhibition Square are incorporated in the shows and thus form part of the product, as it were. The infrastructure can be branded with just a minimal outlay: with structures and gardens on Exhibition Square, oversized posters on the façades, LED strips and additional details. Visitors are thus welcomed the moment they arrive and immerse themselves in the brand world.

4. Offer a high level of comfort

esse Basel is located in the heart of the city and can be reached from the three railway stations and the airport in a matter of minutes. Several tram lines serve Exhibition Square. Visitors benefit from short distances both on the exhibition site and within the city as a whole. The concept of an "exhibition in the city" additionally offers guests an urban environment with a large number of restaurants, hotels, museums, clubs and theatres. Messe Basel provides its guests with a free WLAN.

Baselworld 2016, Messe Basel (MCH Group)

5. Be flexible: parallel events, multifunctionality, catering

A number of events for different stakeholder groups can be staged at one and the same time at Messe Basel. Hence, in autumn 2016, the Basel Wine Fair, Gourmet Fair and Autumn Trade Fair and also the Baloise Session concert series are all being staged in parallel inside the exhibition halls, while the entertainments for the Basel Autumn Fun Fair are running on Exhibition Square and in Hall 3. Alongside these come the schedules at the Congress Center Basel and the Musical Theater Basel. The multifunctional nature of the buildings is in line with the trend for exhibitions to become multifunctional events and ensures that the location can be configured to suit almost any requirements. Hence, the Event Hall Basel is used to stage not only trade fairs but also concerts, corporate events, exhibitions and company general meetings. To ensure the greatest possible level of flexibility, there are no permanent restaurants in the halls. The restaurants are configured to meet customer wishes and supplied from a big central kitchen.

6. Be sustainable and energy-efficient

Messe Basel uses the roofs of its halls to generate electricity from solar energy. Since 1999, a 1900 square-metre solar installation on the roof of Hall 1 has produced around 215,000 kWh of electricity each year. In 2013, an installation four times the size was added on the roof of the new hall complex. This feeds some 1.08 million kWh of electricity into the grid each year. In addition, the MCH Group supported the construction of a further photovoltaic system on the roof of the Congress Center Basel, which supplies around 180,000 kWh of solar electricity each year.

7. Meet the increased demands on safety and security

The safety of organisers and visitors must be guaranteed both at events requiring the highest level of security and at smaller exhibitions – from an OSCE Ministerial Council where the exhibition ground is hermetically sealed off through to fundamentally public and correspondingly accessible events of all kinds. Messe Basel is subject to round-the-clock surveillance from a central security control room. 385 fixed-position cameras and 82 360-degree cameras monitor the infrastructure and the site. Almost 500 gates and doors are controlled via the security system. With more than 5000 smoke detectors and also sprinkler installations, the buildings are equipped with dual fire-protection systems. A total of 630 hand-held fire extinguishers are available and more than 200 wall hydrants. Added to this comes the intensive cooperation between the security staff, police, rescue services and fire brigade.

8. Ensure that the technical infrastructure is fit for the future

Virtual conferences, electronic registration, multimedia shows: technical developments are increasing the range of available options and giving rise to more sophisticated customer wishes. The infrastructure must keep pace with this. For concerts, the Event Hall at Messe Basel is equipped with a flexibly installable stage and, through one of our partners, offers all types of technical infrastructure that can be installed on a mobile basis as and when required. The Congress Center Basel is accommodating the trend towards virtual meetings by also offering hybrid conferences that are staged both on-site and virtually. Experts can deliver their presentations in a webinar, for example, and the subsequent discussion can be streamed live from the Congress Center into the internet, where participants can make their contributions no matter where they happen to be. The Congress Center Basel is also equipped for the production of live TV images. At exhibitions, electronic registration enhances visitor comfort and offers attractive opportunities for subsequent contact and marketing.

More impressions of the UFI Global Congress in Shanghai can be found on Twitter under #ufishanghai. The UFI is the association of the world’s leading tradeshow organisers and fairground owners and sees itself as a communication, marketing and continuing education platform for its members.

Basel is the biggest and most important exhibition location in Switzerland and one of the key locations in Europe. The exhibition and congress site comprises five exhibition halls, the Congress Center Basel the Musical Theatre Basel.

Christoph Spangenberg

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