12.–16.01.2025 #immcologne

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In person & in virtual attendance

The imm cologne hybrid trade fair concept

DMEXCO @home welcomed around 20,000 visitors this year. More than 800 speakers took to its stage. The best thing about it: Viewers and exhibitors met exclusively virtually. The entire trade fair was hosted digitally due to the coronavirus pandemic. Growing numbers of event organisers are adopting virtual and hybrid trade fair concepts. Among them is imm cologne: A hybrid trade fair format is planned for January 2021. What exactly does that mean?

Hybrid trade fair concept

Hybrid trade fair concept

The advantages of the hybrid trade fair concept

The hybrid trade fair will be hosted both live at the trade fair venue and digitally. In addition to the visitors attending in person, viewers from across the world will be able to participate online. They will be able to follow talks on the live stream and use the chat function to start conversations with exhibitors. Exhibitors will have the option to allow colleagues or experts to join via video or chat, thereby increasing the number of staff present at their stand, be it physically or virtually.

In contrast to a digital trade fair, where all viewers attend online exclusively, a hybrid trade fair brings two worlds together: Think of it like a hybrid car with a combustion engine and an electric motor. Hybrid events have diverse advantages:

  • Unlimited numbers of participants: Regardless of the social distancing regulations, the location and the size of the trade fair halls, there are no restrictions on the numbers of participants.
  • Content available anytime: Talks and presentations are streamed live and recorded. Useful and interesting content is made available online and can be accessed 24/7 after the company’s trade fair appearance. Companies can use the videos on their websites and social media channels.
  • Environmentally friendly solution: People from across the globe can attend the trade fair via video. This reduces emissions from planes and cars.
  • Improved measurability: How many visitors were there? Which talks were especially well received? These and many other questions can be answered with the data collected and can be used to improve future events – full compliance with the data protection regulations is a given here.

Hybrid trade fairs are becoming increasingly relevant

COVID-19 has drawn greater attention to the advantages of hybrid trade fairs for the first time. According to a survey conducted by the European Institute for the Meetings Industry (EITW), only 27 per cent of event organisers saw hybrid trade fairs as a future-oriented solution before corona. This figure has risen to a considerable 60 per cent following the outbreak of the pandemic.

The social distancing regulations and other hygiene rules can adversely affect the numbers of participants at physical events. It is therefore a real bonus for the trade fair world that events can still be held with the aid of digital offerings.

The DMEXCO digital community is a real stroke of luck for us. Together we have developed DMEXCO @home in an extremely short space of time. It is a platform that will set standards in the international trade fair industry. The next DMEXCO will be hosted in 2021, hopefully as a physical AND a digital event.

Oliver Frese
Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse

Virtual trade fair DMEXCO @home

DMEXCO, the trade fair for the digital economy, took place in September 2020 for the first time as a fully integrated digital event.

What imm cologne @home offers

The positive experiences with DMEXCO will now be applied to imm cologne in January 2021. Back in the spring, an innovative solution was developed for the forthcoming edition of imm cologne, as Matthias Pollmann, Vice President Trade Fair Management, explains in our interview. With the digital platform imm cologne @home, Koelnmesse will bring visitors and exhibitors together across geographical boundaries. The event’s conceptual framework is based on three key pillars: networking, innovation and content.

Personal contact in the virtual sphere

Personal contact and networking are the most important criterion for participating in a trade fair for 99 per cent of exhibitors. This was one of the findings from a study conducted in 2019 by Kantar TNS on behalf of the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA). The whole concept of a trade fair becomes less attractive without the possibility to start one-to-one conversations with prospects and partners.

Interaction is therefore the central component of imm cologne @home. The platform will provide digital stages with live streaming, hosted video chats in the virtual cafe, private showrooms and video chats at the trade fair stands. All this will enable exhibitors to start direct conversations with virtual visitors, advise prospective and existing customers, and make new contacts. Here we have summed up the key points that exhibitors need to bear in mind when planning their trade fair stand.

Innovative and compelling content

New home and furniture trends and product innovations will continue to make up the lion’s share of the programme. By streaming their trade fair appearance, exhibitors can reach an even larger audience and even more potential new customers. At the same time, they will fill imm cologne @home with important content.

Although digital media achieve a huge reach, they have their challenges, too. Attention spans are shorter: Online viewers are more easily distracted, or they may be doing two things at once. For companies appearing on imm cologne @home, it is therefore essential to attract viewers with exciting content and to encourage them to interact with suitable formats. This will make the first hybrid imm cologne a success for all participants.

imm cologne is going hybrid – and will stay hybrid after 2021

The hybrid trade fair concept poses new challenges for Koelnmesse, but it also presents unique opportunities. As Matthias Pollmann says: “Digital reach will be used as a new success criterion for all our trade fairs going forward. It will no longer simply be about the numbers of exhibitors and visitors and where they come from – we want to be measured in terms of our digital reach as well.”

The first hybrid imm cologne will be hosted from 20 to 23 January 2021. Find out more about the new format and read the important information on the social distancing and hygiene regulations.

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