Giardina is going digital: first extensive online offer for exhibitors

The Giardina garden trade fair was being set up when the government announced the ban on large events on February 28th. Consequently, around 260 exhibitors missed out on their chance to enjoy some direct contact with their most important target group. The organisers reacted quickly and launched an extensive online offer to provide a virtual platform for the exhibitors.

Giardina thrives on its large and small show gardens, which are the result of months of planning and are then set up in just a few days for the trade fair in Zurich. Each year, approximately 65,000 visitors make their way to Giardina to be inspired by the latest gardening trends and get in the mood for the upcoming summer season. Not this year: the Giardina event planned for mid-March fell victim to coronavirus and had to be cancelled at short notice. “The cancellation was of course a financial disaster for many exhibitors, who had invested a lot of money and time in their presentations over many months. Given the many years of partnership and cooperation with many of the exhibitors, the Giardina team and I immediately started considering how we could go ahead with Giardina in a virtual space,” says Nicolas Kaufmann, Head Digital Touchpoints at MCH Group.

MCH Group | Nicolas Kaufmann
Nicolas Kaufmann, Head Digital Touchpoints MCH Group

Quick reaction

It was important to the Giardina organisers to allow the exhibitors to access their target groups despite the adverse circumstances. This possibility is essential for the exhibitors. Although personal contact in the trade fair halls and strolling through the blooming gardens cannot be replaced, a feasible digital solution was found which could be implemented quickly. With the help of technology partner ngn, it was possible to add to the online list of exhibitors within just a few weeks. The platform, enhanced with the additional content, was launched on 30 April and is available to all Giardina exhibitors until the next garden fair in 2021 free of charge. “Our pool of exhibitors generally reacted very positively to the offer and it was particularly welcomed by exhibitors who are tech-savvy. However, we are aware that this offer comes at a time when many of our exhibitors find themselves in an exceptional situation with other priorities. So we see this pilot project – which was put together in a very short space of time – as a basis on which we can continue to build in a suitably professional manner,” explains Verena Zimmermann, Giardina Exhibition Director. 

The first step towards a year-round community

Exhibitors can expand their personal profile on the new online platform free of charge and provide additional content. Special offers for visitors or event information can be included, such as for courses or workshops on the topics of garden design and upkeep. This new online offer was announced to garden enthusiasts in the Giardina newsletter and on Giardina social media channels. This way, Giardina exhibitors got direct access to the organisers’ significant existing network. New offers will now be relayed on an ongoing basis by the Giardina team to the target group. 

MCH Group | Verena Zimmermann
Verena Zimmermann, Exhibition Director Giardina

In the future, the Giardina digital offer and the online community will continue to grow in importance, explains Verena Zimmermann: “The Giardina online offer will continue to be expanded beyond Giardina 2021. The latest digital trends in garden design will influence our strategy as well as the expansion of the Giardina community. We will continue to analyse needs and gradually adapt our offer accordingly. It is crucial to the Giardina team that we can continue to build and expand this project in all its complexity in close cooperation with the MCH Group Digital & Innovation team.” Nicolas Kaufmann also emphasises how important the continued expansion of the online offer is: “Of course we know that the offer launched now is not the last word on the subject. However, it was important to us that our exhibitors and visitors could gain access as quickly as possible to a platform, particularly in the current crisis, where they could come together without a physical event, and to indicate that we are actively working on the digitalisation of our offers and services.  In my opinion, we have achieved this goal.”