Cologne: 03.–05.09.2024 #kindundjugend

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Online or in person

Are we more successful when we meet in person?

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The coronavirus pandemic has turned our working world completely upside down. Working from home and online meetings have become the norm and the trade fair industry in particular has experienced a complete slowdown. After years of restrictions, many people are now longing for the personal interaction that only face-to-face events can offer. How important are personal meetings for success? Our article takes a look at the return of trade fairs and their indispensable role.

Trade fair visitors at the Kind + Jugend trade fair 2023 in Cologne.

Getting to know new people and maintaining old relationships. That's why we need presence fairs. (Image: © Koelnmesse GmbH, Harald Fleissner)

Online or in person: Are we more successful when we meet in person?

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out five years ago and the accompanying contact restrictions took effect, it shook up many (work) routines that had previously been taken for granted. And while office days were replaced by remote working and team meetings were replaced by online meetings, you could get the impression that some positive things were happening.

For the trade fair industry, the situation was equivalent to a full braking. We are all more than happy to be back on track after this exceptional situation and to revive and perceive the trade fair as the industry meeting place par excellence. This is not only our view as trade fair organizers, but also reflected in the many conversations we have had with exhibitors and trade fair visitors - such as with Federica Padoa, Chief Marketing Officer at Artsana Chicco: "For Chicco, the trade fair has always been the official event that we work towards in order to present our new collections. But Kind + Jugend is even more than that - it's like a big family reunion where all Chicco fans, our most important customers, retailers and colleagues from all over the world come together."

Especially when meetings are held digitally during the year, face-to-face meetings at trade fairs become even more important and the desire for personal exchange and real encounters becomes louder. This is because very few teams can be successfully led and very few products can be adequately presented to customers and buyers with a digital meeting culture. "The importance of personal contact and giving visitors the opportunity not only to see our products, but also to hold them with their own hands, cannot be overestimated. We love this direct, authentic contact at Kind + Jugend!", says Karen Neblett, Executive Vice President at the American baby outfitter Kids2.

In the spotlight: The AUMA Exhibitor Outlook 2024/2025

What does this mean for the future of the trade fair industry? At the end of 2023, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) surveyed around 400 company decision-makers who had recently exhibited at trade fairs about the importance of trade fairs. Here is a quick overview of the most important results:

  • Almost all (99.5 %) of the exhibiting companies surveyed stated that they intend to continue exhibiting at trade fairs in the coming years.
  • The majority of companies want to increase their trade fair budgets or keep them stable.
  • Around 64 % of those surveyed assume that trade fairs will continue to have the same or even increasing importance for their marketing in the next five years.
  • The vast majority of exhibiting companies (81 %) do not see virtual formats as a substitute for face-to-face trade fairs. Digital offerings are seen by 41 % of respondents as a supplement to face-to-face trade fairs.

Trade fairs are practically irreplaceable in the marketing mix

Impressive figures that can be translated quite easily: Trade fairs are simply brilliant and indispensable in the marketing mix. No wonder, after all, trust is built primarily through personal contact - the best foundation for a successful business relationship. Product innovations can be "grasped" in the truest sense of the word when you see, feel and test them. And last but not least: The best impulses for new business or product ideas arise when industry experts engage in a lively exchange at the trade fair stand or at evening events in a relaxed atmosphere. Once this foundation has been laid, subsequent meetings are under a favorable star - even if they take place digitally.

What does this mean for Kind + Jugend?

Building trust, innovations, exchange - Kind + Jugend is known for all of this in our industry. And anyone who was there in 2023 will have sensed the potential that this trade fair has for upcoming years. The motivation to switch to "full speed ahead" and exploit this potential after the forced emergency stop and successful restart is palpable among everyone involved. The Anex team gets to the heart of the matter: "Kind + Jugend is an extremely dynamic and diverse platform that offers us the opportunity to present our brand, establish new contacts and spend some time with our valued partners, whom we unfortunately don't get to meet in person very often." Linda Sätterström, Founder and Creative Director of Elodie Details, also emphasizes: "We are very much looking forward to seeing the many retailers and buyers we haven't seen for so long. In addition, we have always been able to make new, interesting contacts at Kind + Jugend."

So, are we more successful when we meet in person? For us, the answer is "Yes!" - and it's more fun too!

You can find the complete AUMA survey results at here .