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20CENT MOOD an unfortunate omission especially since it is not the first time
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20CENT MOOD an unfortunate omission especially since it is not the first time

A justified cry for attention

Have you seen the campaign "Gewoon Vergeten-Vous nous avez oubliés " in different media? When the Horeca can finally reopen its doors and everything is allowed "except what is forbidden" (well there is a typical Belgian explanation), the cry of alarm from Febelux has of course not gone unnoticed. 

The Professional Federation of the Live Communication sector in Belgium and Luxembourg is concerned that the trade fair sector is still in the dark. Indeed, the government does not seem to announce any news about how trade fairs will be organized in the near future, and even less about the date from which this type of event could take place. Of course, public health and sanitary rules must prevail. Everyone is in full agreement about that. But waiting too long is bad. And that is the problem. A tradeshow worthy of the name doesn't happen overnight. 

I'll go even further. An exhibitor or a visitor, especially in the professional world, needs certainties in order to organize their agenda. When it is unclear, one cancels his participation or visit and finds other solutions. I won't hide the fact that these last few days, in my professional conversations, participation in trade fairs is often questioned. "Tell me Vincent, do you think the show will still go ahead? ", “I hesitate, because even the organization doesn't know anything yet and tells me to wait for their news”, “But how are we going to do it? It's complicated, especially since there may be other alternatives at the beginning of 2021 where I could exhibit"... these are just a few examples of the questions and comments that come back to me most often. 

The sector is therefore waiting for a little more clarity, which is normal. 

 

And yet it is possible

First of all, we must realize that a trade show is not a mass event like any other. It is entirely possible to install control and hygiene measures. First of all, professional events are always subject to compulsory registration, and a registration system at the entrance (and sometimes even on each exhibition stand). In short, it is possible to monitor the comings and goings.

In addition, many exhibition organizers are already studying solutions such as 

  • flow management to avoid crossovers and guarantee social distancing, 
  • the limitation of the number of participants, 
  • the limitation of visiting time,
  • making masks mandatory,
  • the obligation to use individual packaging for catering, or tastings
  • virtualization: some conferences and seminars could be held simultaneously in order to meet the unsatisfied demand that could not make it to the event, 
  • ...and many other necessary measures. 

 

Other countries are moving

When I see the wait-and-see attitude that organizers in our country are facing, I still see a striking contrast with abroad. 

For example, I receive announcements from China, as well as from other Asian countries, where (postponed) trade fairs will already take place in August under certain conditions. In France and Germany, the trade fair sector is also active, with campaigns for events in the second half of the year and clear and reassuring communication about the tradeshows and their organization.

 

An unfortunate oversight, but not a recent one.

What about our country? No idea. The government does not seem to be interested in the trade fair sector. And in a way, I get the feeling that this disinterest is nothing new. Even before the health crisis, the major events in Belgium were already suffering. 

Here again, compared to other countries, Belgium is lagging behind, lacking vision and political support. For several years I have been navigating the trade fair circuit and I have been amazed by the progress and renewal of infrastructures in Cologne, Paris, Düsseldorf, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, ... and many others. And in Belgium, we have to note the ageing of our tools. Renewal projects are still pending (yes, I'm aiming at the Neo project). Organizers of international congresses and events were already turning away from our country. We have lost branded events or let other countries take them over. In short, important economic losses that are costing us a lot. Did you know, for example, that the Seafood Expo Global, which has left Brussels, is expected to have an economic impact of around 100 million euros for the city of Barcelona (the city of Barcelona or, as luck would have it, the Fira has undergone transformations and improvements in recent years, this is no coincidence). So that’s gone, finished, goodbye! 

This is just an example, but frankly, dear government. Doesn't it motivate you to take an interest in this sector of the economy? 

And now with this health crisis, due to lack of interest, due to lack of knowledge of how the sector works and the opportunities it offers, the government, by its wait-and-see attitude, is stifling the organizers of trade fairs in our country even more. These companies are in the dark and it is necessary to give them back their future.

In conclusion, I would appeal to the authorities to take the necessary measures and to have public health as their primary concern. However, at the same time, it is time to realize that the trade fair and events sector should not be neglected and forgotten. The economy needs to be relaunched and with professional events, my dear politicians, you have an effective tool that has already proved its worth. 

 

In short, dear government, have a clear vision of the future and stop neglecting the sector!

 

 

 

Your comments and questions are welcome via vincent@20CENTretail.com or via the form http://20100retail.be/en/contact

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