“We want to blaze a bold trail into the new normal together with the industry,” says Matthias Pollmann, Koelnmesse’s Vice President Trade Fair Management, summarising the task ahead with respect to imm cologne. As he explains, it is important to offer the industry a secure platform on which it can maintain its position on the international market and address the timeliness of the subject of home living.
On 18 January 2021, imm cologne and LivingKitchen will open their gates – that’s a certainty as far as Matthias Pollmann, Vice President Trade Fair Management, and Claire Steinbrück, Director of the Interior Business Event imm cologne, are concerned! As things stand, 70 per cent of the hall space has already been booked. “Given the present circumstances, this really is a very good registration figure,” explains Matthias Pollmann. “Compared with previous months, we are also currently seeing increased interest overall in holding live trade fairs. The motivating realisation is gaining ground that real-life interactions between people are essential when it comes to establishing and building business relationships,” continues Pollmann.
And that’s not all: from the consumer’s perspective, the subject of home living is emerging from the crisis as a winner. In a similar way to other areas of life like camping, home offices and digitalisation – as well as the furnishing-relevant themes outdoor living, cooking and eating and home spas – home furnishing is one of the segments that people consider even more important as a result of the pandemic experience. It is also one of the segments that is recording an increase in demand – in some cases, the upswing has been significant. Although expectations with regard to the event character of trade fairs are certainly not as high as they have been in recent years, the expectations placed by consumers on the home living experience are all the higher.
A responsible approach to the present – and looking towards a changed future
Exhibitors can expect a trade fair with high safety standards for all participants, a strong public appeal through the media and digital alternatives to reach those visitors who cannot take part in person. “Unfortunately, however, there is still uncertainty in the industry due to the repeated emergence of hotspots in Europe. That is why I am absolutely convinced that we need to start living the ‘new normal’ now. We can’t wait for a return of the old days. Instead, we have to be bold and shape the future together,” comments Pollmann.
Safety for visitors and planning certainty for exhibitors
To ensure the safety of exhibitors and visitors, Koelnmesse has worked in cooperation with the public authorities to develop #B-SAFE4business, a concept that makes provision for all measures relating to hygiene, medical care and organisation. On top of that, Koelnmesse has drawn up a hygiene and infection control concept, which complies with the current provisions of North Rhine-Westphalia’s Corona Protection Ordinance and the requirements of the relevant health authority. Measures include discharging used air from the exhibition halls to the outside and drawing in entirely new fresh air so that aerosols cannot spread via our ventilation system.
Standing firm in competitive markets
The aim of holding the trade fair duo of imm cologne and LivingKitchen in January is to provide the industry with an effective and reliable platform so that the furniture and kitchens industry in Germany and Europe does not lose ground against international competition. “From my perspective, a successful restart does not necessarily call for a showcase consisting exclusively of innovations. What is crucial is being present at the fair with your products. In the interiors sector, where touch and feel and the ability to experience the products in person are particularly important, the cancellation of many industry trade fairs has stimulated a renewed need among trade visitors to attend the fair,” says Pollmann, describing the industry’s sentiment.
Given the reinvigorated passion for home living and subjects related to the home that has arisen during this period of crisis, this spirit of optimism suggests that the time is right for the trade fair business and the interiors trade to return to the spotlight. After all, we have never before valued our homes as highly as we do today, and never before have people had a greater need to turn their own four walls into a place of refuge that offers quality of life. imm cologne will also signal the return to a functioning growth market in the 2021 interiors year – international furnishings brands will scarcely be able to overlook Germany as a sales market.
Key target groups are within reach – even in export markets
That is why the team from imm cologne is very optimistic about attracting visitors. “Of course, the number of visitors will depend on the travel situation with regard to air, rail and local public transport – as well as on the extent to which travel restrictions are lifted. Nevertheless, we are already reaching around 90 per cent of our trade visitors despite the limitations that are currently in place.”
Thanks to extensive marketing activities, imm cologne has succeeded in steadily increasing its share of international visitors from China, the USA and other growth markets in the last three years in particular. At the same time, imm cologne is a trade fair with a strong European reach. As a result, there is no reason to expect any dramatic changes to the event’s visitor structure. According to Pollmann, “Because its international business is largely focused on European buyers, the German furniture industry in particular can anticipate a high level of attendance from its export customers at imm cologne 2021.”
“It is not only the traditionally high proportion of prospective European customers that is fuelling our hopes for a satisfactory number of trade visitors,” says Claire Steinbrück, summing up. “Following the cancellation of ORGATEC, we also expect that architects in particular who had planned to visit that trade fair will now come to imm cologne instead.”
As much of the trade fair experience as possible – with the addition of hybrid formats
With imm cologne, Koelnmesse is giving the industry a suitable platform on which to showcase innovative and inspirational products, discuss current issues and revive business – and all this in compliance with the applicable hygiene and safety regulations. At the same time, the imm cologne team is also developing a hybrid event format for those participants unable to attend in person. “We will focus on extending our digital reach and will learn from the digital formats we are offering this autumn for gamescom and DMEXCO,” comments Pollmann. “Of course, it is in the nature of the interior design sector that its products are more difficult to present digitally than games are, for instance. Nevertheless, we are seeing some good concepts for streaming certain imm cologne events as well as top-class congress talks and discussions. Exhibitors will also be able to present their products digitally and thereby increase their reach. To supplement our digital matchmaking options, we are not only expanding the business opportunities available to our exhibitors but also reaching a broad spectrum of visitors.”
The interiors industry relies on experiencing products in real life
The objective of the team working with Matthias Pollmann and Claire Steinbrück is to give the industry the best possible trade fair experience in January. And not just in terms of the actual safety of customers but also their perceived safety. But they are also counting on the industry’s will to do business again – and this is where interior design is definitely one of the sectors of the economy that is particularly dependent on experiencing products in real life and on their presentation at a trade fair. However, both Pollmann and Steinbrück are firmly convinced of one thing: “Now is the time to be bold and blaze a trail into the new normal.”
Koelnmesse – Global Competence in Furniture, Interiors and Design: Koelnmesse is the world’s top trade fair organiser for the areas of furnishing, living and lifestyle. At the trade fair hub of Cologne, the leading international fair imm cologne as well as the trade fair formats of LivingKitchen, ORGATEC, spoga+gafa, interzum and Kind + Jugend rank among the internationally renowned and established industry meeting places. These fairs comprehensively represent the upholstered and case furniture segment, the kitchen industry, the office furniture sector and outdoor living as well as the innovations of the furniture supply industry. Over the last few years, Koelnmesse has specifically added international fairs in the most important fast-expanding markets to its portfolio. These include idd Shanghai, interzum bogotá in Bogotá, interzum guangzhou in Guangzhou and Pueri Expo in Sao Paulo. With ambista, the online portal for the interiors business, Koelnmesse offers direct access to products, contacts, expertise and events relevant to the industry all year round.
Further information is available at: www.global-competence.net/interiors/
Further information about ambista: www.ambista.com/
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imm cologne press information as well as photos are available on the Internet at www.imm-cologne.com in the section "News".
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