International meeting point for the ceramics industry
After ceramitec having been cancelled twice because of Covid, the industry is at last meeting again in Munich. A talk with trade fair director Robert Schönberger on the relaunch of the in-person trade fair.
Will ceramitec 2022 be a “normal” trade fair again?
RS: I think, there will be a “new normal”. Over the last 24 months, we have all had to learn to be very flexible and cope with many more uncertainties. However, what has come out of it is that: Whenever trade fairs have been possible in these months, these have been able to take place safely and without any problems. We have now got used to requirements like face masks or vaccination certificates. For this reason, we are anticipating normal trade fair business in the compliance with whatever rules are applicable in June.
What are you expecting with regard to necessary hygiene concepts?
RS: We feel very positive that the date for ceramitec in early summer is a very favourable one. After such a long time, many exhibitors and visitors are longing for an event to take place. We are in close dialogue with the authorities and medical professionals, so that we shall be able to respond to any changes in good time. At the trade fair grounds, we are providing ample space, attendee registration and vaccination certificates can be uploaded quickly and simply in the run-up to the event, and we can adapt our hygiene concept at very short notice. For all trade fairs held so far during the pandemic, the regulations had been alleviated by the start of the trade fair. At none of these trade fairs were there any outbreaks of infection. Trade fairs and the idea of how these can take place as well as the supplementary hygiene concepts do work and offer a high level of safety.
Will you be integrating hybrid elements in the trade fair?
RS: The question of online versus on-site has occupied us a great deal in the last two years. And I think we can all concur that online events are no substitute for live meetings. But both formats have their place. Hybrid for a car means that it can drive with both, but only one engine/motor is ever used at one time to drive the car: an electric motor or combustion engine. A trade fair is one format for driving its exhibitors’ marketing. We shall do everything to ensure ceramitec runs very efficiently to optimize its impact – and maximize attraction to draw visitors to Munich.
What’s new compared to the trade fair in 2018?
RS: This time we shall be in the C halls of Messe München. With analytica and automatica, two trade fairs with overlapping themes are taking place parallel. As one ticket allow entry to all events, we are expecting additional visitors from the other trade fairs and a good flow of visitors via the numerous access points. In terms of content, the exhibitors will be emphasizing certain aspects. With a second forum for talks, we are offering even more scope for sharing knowledge and discussions.
Have thematic focuses already been defined?
RS: The thematic focuses are determined by the industry segments. Here, however, we are seeing some changes. In the heavy clay sector, especially among the international exhibitors, we have picked up on a fervent desire to see each other again. That makes us positive in our outlook with regard to international visitors. In technical ceramics, the German-speaking DACH countries and Southwest Europe are very strongly represented. In whitewares, refractories and raw materials, some new players will be exhibiting. And the importance of metals and powder metallurgy is still growing.
RS: We are arranging the programme over two forums in Halls C1 and C3, to bring the discussions closer to the respective exhibition areas. An important change is in the scheduling: We are planning all sessions with 60 minutes each to allow a good changeover between sessions, but above all between conference and trade fair. In addition, we are breaking up the concept of specialist conference days, every day there is a programme for each segment of the exhibition. So, irrespective of what day it is, visitors can always find inspiration in the different sessions. For the organization of the content, we are getting support from publishing companies and associations. We are especially delighted that ZI is getting involved in such a big way again this year. On the Friday, we are arranging the traditional Career Day, a platform offering concentrated information for upcoming professionals looking to start work in the ceramics industry.
RS: Trade fairs have changed in their role in the marketing mix. While they used to be more of a sales platform, today the presentation and particularly the live meetings are very important. Year-round communication is possible thanks to digital channels. But participation at trade fairs also contributes to strengthening brand awareness. An exhibitor recently put it very aptly: “At ceramitec, we show that we are there for our customers as a dependable partner. We take foremost our experts with us as they can explain and instil confidence with regard to technical aspects. Sales follow on from this.” The real highlight of the trade fair will be seeing each other again. And the signal from the exhibitors: Hey, we’re here for you.
RS: Because it will be worth it. The ceramics industry is so multifaceted, and nowhere else are these facets presented as comprehensively than in Munich: And it’s a tempting prospect: getting information from different suppliers, finding out and learning new things in the conference programme, and perhaps rounding off the early summer evenings in a beer garden. ceramitec has a lot to offer.