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DOMOTEX INTERVIEW 20


SEVEN QUESTIONS FOR SONIA WEDELL-CASTELLANO, THE GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF DOMOTEX HANNOVER


Last year was one like no other as circumstances changed and plans had to change with them. But for everyone working in sectors involving mass gatherings, vital lessons were learned


Photography | Domotex Words | Richard Burton


Sonia Wedell-Castellano has been a member of Deutsche Messe for nine years. For the past two and a half of them she has been Global Director of DOMOTEX in Hannover. She held several other roles after arriving from DMG Mori in 2011. After her fi rst year in charge, she gave an interview to this magazine, discussing her achievements and outlined her plans for the future, plans that were to change drastically as events unfolded. Here, she looks back on a tumultuous year.


DOMOTEX : How diffi cult has it been to keep up with changing events? SONIA WEDELL-CASTELLANO : In late summer 2020, we had to postpone DOMOTEX 2021 from January to May 2021, in the hope and full of confi dence that, by then, there would be a vaccine available and a large part of the population would have been vaccinated, enabling business people going back to business again. We decided to go for a hybrid event – including both a physical


presence in Hannover and digital participation formats for those exhibitors and attendees who wouldn’t be able to travel. Until now, the situation hadn’t improved, so we were forced again to change from hybrid to digital-only. [Note: shortly after this interview


event was also cancelled after further feedback from the industry]. It was a totally new challenge, not just for us, but for everyone involved. No long-term planning is possible which makes it really diffi cult. But there was always a continuous exchange with exhibitors and partners. Their feedback was highly helpful in our decision-making.


DOMOTEX :What have you learned from it all to take forward? SWC : That uncertainties can always disrupt your planning, nothing is stable, the unexpected has to be expected - and that the home offi ce works better than expected. It is also about the way I work as a team leader. I found that leading my team works even if I don’t see them live every day. It also became clear that new formats, digital and hybrid, will soon become normal. I’d say that online is the real winner


here. So be prepared and don’t fear the change. Change is good. The pandemic has shown what really matters in life: health, family, and a sound social environment.


, the digital


DOMOTEX : What does the future hold for major exhibitions? SWC : We’ll be off ering diff erent participation models and formats other than onsite shows. But we will be returning with a hybrid show again. Personally, I don’t believe in


BACK TO CONTENTS


DOMOTEX MAGAZINE 2021


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