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Global Exhibitions Day 2017: What exhibitions mean for us

Published on 6/7/2017 by Christoph Spangenberg

Exhibitions are of enormous economic importance as mirror images of innovative industries and commercial centres and also as trendsetters and places for first-hand experiences. That has been something we have been privileged to participate in for a hundred years, since that is how long we have been organising exhibitions. To mark today, as Global Exhibitions Day, the action day of the global exhibition industry, we asked five exhibition directors from within the MCH Group to tell us what exhibitions mean to them.

Global Exhibitions Day 2017

"Exhibitions provide impressions that it is impossible to get from the written word and from pictures"

For me, the exhibition is a place for experiences. Not (just) for pleasure, but from the economic point of view too. In today’s strongly digitised world, direct contacts between customers and suppliers seem to be drifting more and more into the background. Information is exchanged by e-mail, and products offered through online shops. Despite intense searches, however, there is hardly a company to be found that will make a substantial financial investment without having met its partner at least once in person beforehand. Experiencing a person or a product "in the flesh" makes it possible to build up an impression that is essential for a correct appreciation and which cannot be achieved through the written word and pictures. Now, it is precisely for this type of experience that exhibitions provide a platform – a platform which is indispensable today and, in my opinion, for the future too.

Dominique Dresel (MCH Group)

Dominique Dresel
Exhibition Director Igeho and Mefa

"The exhibition industry has such a promising story to tell"

When a visitor is transported elsewhere, more so compelled to invest time, resources or thought towards an idea, that to me is the sheer brilliance and power of what fairs do all over the world. The exhibition industry has such a promising story to tell, and one that is inclusive in many ways; stringing together people, partnerships and possibilities.

In India, we have barely scraped the surface of this potential over the last 10 years, and now with global partners like MCH Group we hope to transform the existing capacity and appetite of the entire industry in the region. By building business propositions and ideas that are live, global, social and shop-able we hope to pave the way for our audiences to be engaged, inspired and perhaps even challenged.

Neha Kirpal (MCH Group)

Neha Kirpal
Director of India Art Fair
New Delhi


"A one-off, multifaceted meeting place"

An exhibition, no matter of what kind, exudes a kind of magic. Within a matter of days, a small town is created in the empty exhibition halls. A small town which, I believe, has only one raison d'être: namely to make people happy. Our aim is to establish relationships between people, between the exhibitors and the visitors and to ensure that visitors are able to find the products and services offered by our exhibitors. If we succeed in doing that, we will have done our job. We will have contributed significantly to the satisfaction of everyone involved. Making you happy makes us happy.

An exhibition is a one-off, multifaceted meeting place. Since the start of my career in this industry, I have organised exhibitions in all sorts of sectors: antiques, pets, natural medicine, construction, etc. I would never have thought it possible to meet so many different people. The effect that has on us is to make us keep on adapting our behaviour to people. From the CEO of a large company to a tradesperson – they ought all to be listened to and to have their needs understood. For each and every interlocutor, the correct environment needs to be laid on to contribute to value creation.

The future of exhibitions is complex, because the competitive environment has changed drastically. There is hardly any competition left between the specialist trade fairs. The consumer shows are being forced to face up to new consumer habits. For that reason, whatever is offered must always be presented in a highly sophisticated way to trigger emotions. Those are emotions which the visitors are not going to find anywhere else. The future of exhibitions lies in greater specialisation so as to be able to meet targeted visitor groups. Is it not the very essence of our industry to have supply and demand meeting one another for a matter of days in an attractive, pleasant setting with the aim of promoting all the parties' business?

Yann Tellenbach (MCH Group)

Yann Tellenbach
Messeleiter Habitat-Jardin


"An attractive live-marketing platform with multiple and diverse benefits"

Exhibitions are going through a process of change. The principal focus is no longer on selling square metres but on providing an attractive live-marketing platform with many different benefits. I am convinced that, if we face up to the challenges, exhibitions will remain very highly relevant in the marketplace in future too. But we are all called upon to act, and our role is changing massively. It ought not to be the process and the processing that are at the centre of what we do but the needs of the markets and our customers. In many sectors, market circumstances are changing faster and faster all the time, and we must react proactively to this and with a high degree of agility.

I am personally looking forward to tackling this exciting situation and welcome more intensive exchanges between the exhibitions and the exhibition locations. All of us face similar challenges and can learn a great deal from one another. At a time when many of us are exploring new avenues, some of them are bound to turn out to be dead ends. A frank exchange will help us benefit from one another and prevent us from setting off on the wrong tracks unnecessarily.

Daniel Nussbaumer (MCH Group)

Daniel Nussbaumer
Exhibition Director Muba, Basel Autumn Trade Fair

"Digitisation is not going to replace exhibitions, but is offering new tools to complement them"

My first visit to a trade fair was some 25 years ago, and what that did for me was to instil a fascination and passion for motorbikes and to influence substantially the course of my professional career. Since then, I have never shaken off the "motor bike virus". As the Director of SWISS-MOTO, it is my aim to get our visitors infected with the "motorbike virus" too and thus to strengthen the motorcycling sector.

An exhibition with a good concept and creative ideas offers limitless possibilities for arousing emotions and moving issues into the limelight in an impressive way. I am convinced that "digitisation" will never replace an exhibition with a good concept. I tend rather to believe that it will be possible to tie such new technologies up with our live-marketing platforms in a meaningful way, placing new and attractive tools in our hands.

Yves Vollenweider (MCH Group)

Yves Vollenweider

Global Exhibitions Day was launched by the UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, for the first time in 2016. More information at

Christoph Spangenberg

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