The health emergency does not prevent trade exhibitions from running normally but produces a change of mentality in the audience of visitors and businesspeople. The organizational offices of EIMA International are collecting the reports produced by the various organizing bodies.
They are then adding the data produced by representative bodies such as the Confindustria Industry Exhibition Committee and by specialized research companies such as GRS, in order to monitor the exhibition phenomena in this unique situation. The participation of exhibitors – as emerges from the collected data – is lower than normal for all the events that took place in recent weeks, even if some of them have maintained a very high number of participating companies (such as the Boat Show of Genoa or the Mercante in Fiera of Parma).
The presence of the public varies from event to event: in some cases, there were significant numbers of visitors, in other cases the participation was affected more deeply by the restrictions linked to the health situation. However, the element that the organizers report unanimously is the professional connotation of the participating public. The disruptions caused by the emergency weigh more on the general public, while they affect a lot less the audience of businesspeople and professionals, who need to establish direct contact with the manufacturing companies and maintain a network of relationships with the industry players.
Although certainly in smaller numbers, the businesspeople who attended the recent exhibitions are “decision-makers” who travel to do business and choose exhibitions that are essential to their business. The composition of the public of foreign businesspeople is affected by the “geography of the crisis” since there are areas from which it is easier to organize travel and areas instead (see some South American countries such as Brazil and Colombia, some Gulf countries such as Kuwait and Oman, and some of the Balkan area such as Kosovo) where restrictions are more limiting.
The management of health facilities and procedures – another element that emerges clearly – does not suffer from any critical issues, since the obligations relating to temperature checks, sanitation of environments, use of masks, social distancing, and booking of the slots for refreshments are fulfilled in an orderly and fluid fashion. The visits to the stands are more targeted and the appointments agenda is mostly managed in concert with the exhibitors, so as not to cause crowds.
The monitoring carried out by GRS includes the one relating to the public’s perception of safety at the exhibition, which is particularly interesting:
“The data collected in recent months – read a GRS report – shows how visiting the exhibition is considered by the public as a very reassuring and comfortable experience, with over 70% of respondents reporting a high perception of reliability, compared to the 55% found among the frequenters of shopping centers, 48% among restaurant customers, 36% among the users of public transport, and just 17% recorded among visitors of children’s playgrounds”.
As far as EIMA is concerned, the organizational offices recorded a higher level of participation by exhibiting industries than the pandemic emergency could have led to predict – to date about 1,600 companies have confirmed their participation in EIMA next February. High participation by businesspeople is also expected (a recent survey conducted by the Unacma retailers association on the entire base of retailers reveals, for example, that over 85% of them intend to attend the Bologna Exhibition).
For the purpose of streamlining attendance at the exhibition, EIMA is able to take advantage of the Digital Preview, which takes place in virtual reality from 11 to 15 November. This enables the participants to select the most interesting company contacts and optimize appointment scheduling as much as possible. The gap caused by the travel difficulties from some countries will be reduced as much as possible through the establishment of “green corridors” promoted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on which the Federation is investing great efforts.