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Observers noted that it had been updated regularly in an attempt to keep pace with all the changes. But at any one time, it was impossible to get a comprehensive overview. This was partly due to the fact that organisers had remained hopeful that things would change. In fact, at its annual press conference in June, another major force in Germany, Kölnmesse, appeared confident that exhibitions would resume as the year went on.


But, after close consultation with its supervisory board, it decided it would be unwise to stage any events of its own in Cologne until the end of October. Exhibition boss Gerald Böse said: “Unfortunately … we did not succeed in easing our customers’ deep-seated doubts around in-person business meetings in the autumn, and their attitude is understandable.”


This has been an unprecedented year for exhibitions worldwide. But the one thing it did manage to exhibit was the resilience and adaptability of the industry itself. As for the future, there’s every reason to be optimistic that the industry can cope. But there will be few who deny the one thing they look forward to returning most of all is the sort of face-to-face contact that builds strong relationships based on mutual trust. There’s another element that drives this thinking and it’s one that anyone who has regularly attended shows will recognise – the sheer buzz and excitement. Nothing can replace that.


BRIEF | SHOW OF SOLIDARITY


The UFI threw its weight behind the trade show industry as early as March by writing to the European Commission, urging action following the launch of a joint campaign to keep events open. The campaign had the support of the Atlanta-US based SISO (Society of Independent Show Organisers), the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) and the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Addressing its letter to Ursula Leyden, EC president, the UFI wrote: “The outbreak of the coronavirus has created a complex situation and impacted the exhibition industry heavily... this creates huge domino effects for many industries. “Both sides, companies that are involved in staging exhibitions and the companies that exhibit or source on trade fairs are already massively suffering under the current wave of postponements and cancellations.”


The campaign highlighted the fact that, while many events around were being postponed or cancelled, many events were taking place successfully. The letter pointed out: “These gatherings are especially important in times of disruption. It is our obligation to maintain opportunities for people to meet wherever possible.”


“POWTECH continues to connect the experts of particle, powder and bulk solids technologies across various industries and enable new ideas and businesses. Our responsibility now is to make this possible across even more channels”


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