“You can’t e-mail a handshake”

How digitalization is changing trade fair exhibits. An interview with industry expert Uta Goretzky. /// by 

Via touchscreens, trade fair visitors obtain additional information or view the internal workings of the products. Photo: NürnbergMesse 12.10.2016, Nuernberg: SANHUA at the Chillventa Trade Fair 2016

Uta Goretzky, Managing Director of the International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services (IFES), sees digitalization as a great opportunity, especially for trade fairs. She considers Holtmann, a partner in the NürnbergMesse Group, as a pioneer in the integration of digital communication options in stand construction.

How has digitalization changed trade fair exhibits and the exhibitors’ requirements/expectations of modern stand construction?

Uta Goretzky, Managing Director of the International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services (IFES). Photo: Claudia Rothenberger

Digitalization can give a company’s trade fair exhibits an essentially new quality but can’t replace the trade fair exhibits itself. But mixed reality applications can give brands and products a totally new experiential and informative quality on the trade fair stand, which visitors are increasingly coming to expect and almost demand. This ranges from the “x-ray” view into the workings of a machine and OLED screens to display details to product applications that the visitors themselves can control and experience through “virtual reality,” bringing them very close to actual reality.
Is digitalization and the use of modern technology a threat or an opportunity for companies such as Holtmann?
Based on my observations, it’s one of Holtmann’s greatest opportunities that they’ve already been exploiting for several years. The integration of new media has become standard. For some time, it hasn’t been just a matter of developing and implementing a target-group-specific design for a trade fair exhibit. It’s becoming increasingly important to advise customers that their message and not just their corporate design should be at the centre of their trade fair presence. And, of course, this includes the integration of digital communication options. For me, it made perfect sense that Holtmann would even establish a separate department for this.

What does an innovative trade fair exhibit look like today? What innovations are Holtmann already using (for example, at EuroShop)?

Holtmann offers an impressive demonstration of how a trade fair exhibit can be enhanced with digital contents. Photo: NürnbergMesse

12.10.2016, Nuernberg: SANHUA at the Chillventa Trade Fair 2016

I was impressed at how Holtmann made the topic of virtual reality come alive at EuroShop. At IFES’s internationally staffed “Global Village”, Holtmann showed visitors how trade fair stands can already be viewed via VR before they’re even implemented so as to better assess their quality and impact and, if necessary, to be able to modify them. Now the saying (which may be surprising but is true now thanks to “virtual reality”) fits: “It’s easy to be smart before the fact rather than after.” With its sample references, the stand quickly made it clear that VR can be used for other customer requirements as well.
What trends can be expected over the next few years? In what areas has Holtmann been a pioneer?
When it comes to predicting trends, we really are smarter after the fact. But it isn’t difficult to see that digitalization is irreversible and adds a new dimension to the trade fair exhibit. Over the past few decades, Holtmann has repeatedly injected fresh momentum into our industry as one of the inventors of modern stand construction after 1945, as a developer of new design options and now currently using mixed reality applications. At Holtmann, these are state of the art in terms of the quality and rationality of the applications. But despite all the digitalization, what will remain are the real encounters at the real trade fairs of the world. That’s why I also liked Holtmann’s campaign claim at our “Global Village” so much: “You can’t e-mail a handshake.” Sometimes tradition is also avant-garde.
Thank you for the interview, Ms. Goretzky.

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