The 2012/12/03 at 08:02
The trade fair organiser Reed Expositions, part of the international network Reed Exhibitions, has set up a veritable global strategy. Market by market, it is aiming to decline the events it organises on every continent – an approach that demonstrates a growing trend towards international gearing in the exhibitions universe.
The success and attractiveness of Paris in this domain have long been recognised. Regional economic fallout from exhibitions held in the Île-de-France region come to around 4.5 billion euros per year according to the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The French capital is the number three destination, behind Las Vegas and Canton, for events gathering over 500 exhibitors, and the number two in terms of visitor numbers. “But the current context of economic stagnation is prompting exhibitions to turn overseas more. Certain offers such as manufactured products are very much in demand in emerging countries. The market shares up for grabs are significant. As a result, we can see an exporting of French exhibitors,” explains Stéphane Barbarin, Commissionner General of the French exhibition Bedouk, devoted to business tourism, now also declined in Barcelona and Frankfurt. While Paris is almost systematically on the list of the top ten cities hosting exhibitions with over 500 exhibitors, many other big cities have become major destinations in recent years. In Milan, events attracted 4.7 million visitors in 2010. Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong each received over 2 million persons in the same year. Over one million visitors were clients from trade fairs at Shanghai, Moscow, Munich and Hannover.
The exhibitions sector in Germany is a locomotive driving this trend towards internationalisation. For several years, the country has been developing its innovative model of satellite exhibitions with, on top of the country’s main exhibitions, similar rendezvous bringing the same type of offer to Asia, the Middle East or South America. The phenomenon is not a new one. Technogerma, an event dedicated to technological equipment goods and Konsugerma, a fair for consumer goods, are top German exhibitions that have been held overseas for many years. The Federal government supports the participation of German businesses in these events in the context of promoting foreign trade. Over 50 % of grants offered by the Ministry for the Economy and Labour are for exhibitions held in Asia. “Germany’s strength has always been in trade fairs. Their original profile was already very international, giving them a head start. Germans are aware that export is vital and helps the recovery of growth when there is stagnation on the domestic market,” emphasises Stéphane Barbarin.
It is now France’s turn to adopt this strategy. Vinexpo Bordeaux has given birth to Vinexpo Asia-Pacific, which has been held in Hong Kong for several years ever since the local abolition of customs fees on wines opened the door to more exports. This Asian expo is now a big event. The 2010 edition gathered 882 exhibitors from 35 counties and over 12,000 visitors. Vinexpo Asia-Pacific 2012 even heralded the crossing of the 1,000-exhibitor mark. The exhibition has also spread to North America to meet the needs of this immense market, via Vinexpo Americas. At the same time, the SIAL (Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire or International Food and Beverage Tradeshow) has hit Montreal, Toronto, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Abu Dhabi. Equip'Hôtel, a fair devoted to the hotel and catering industries, as well as Milipol, a State security event, are other French expos that have been duplicated overseas. According to Stéphane Barbarin, “brands need to be sustained on markets before competition can get a hold of them”. He also believes that “this export movement is far from over. Countries undergoing strong growth are going to become even more attractive. Brazil and China are amongst the countries capable of hosting exhibitions in all sectors.”
The trade fair Distree for new technologies, already present in Russia, the Middle East and Latin America, is studying the possibility of going to China and other Southeast Asian destinations due to strong demand from French businesses in the sector. Chambers of Commerce are keen to help this trend develop considerably, as shown by the CCIP which, in February 2012, organised a debate between major players in the exhibitions sector including site managers, organisers, institutions and trade federations, aiming to define the right strategy to take.