“The internationalisation of Italian trade fairs: methods and tools for competing”

At Rimini Fiera, two days of work for AEFI members on a highly contemporary theme

Rimini, 16 July 2015 – The two days of the annual training update seminar for AEFI (Italian Exhibition and Trade Fair Association) members start today in their 4th edition, with the section open to the public. For the second year running, it is being held in Rimini, at Rimini Fiera.

“The internationalisation of Italian trade fairs: methods and tools for competing” is the theme chosen this year for the seminar, which offers a series of talks on this first day to take stock of the changing world scenario and new opportunities for the trade fair sector with ideas, reflections and opportunities for exchange.

“Internationalisation,” stressed Giovanni Laezza, Manager of Riva del Garda Fieracongressi and Vice Chairman of AEFI, opening the session, “is now an unavoidable choice and opportunity that the sector must take. The national trade fair sector, which with one thousand exhibitions per year is able to involve approximately 22 million visitors, represents a efficient and strategic lever to support Italian businesses, and in a global scenario that has completely changed in recent years, opening to foreign countries is a choice but also an unavoidable challenge.”

“Abandon blameworthy laziness and look to internationalisation with a gaze that can no longer include hesitation.” This was the comment of Lorenzo Cagnoni, Chairman of Rimini Fiera and Vice Chairman of AEFI in his welcome address. “The theme of the alliance of trade fairs to tackle global markets remains central. So too, the support of the institutions is critical, not only in terms of the support itself, but also acquired awareness of the extraordinary value of trade fairs as a competitive lever in the Italian economy.”

Internationalisation means more than “export”: in order to successfully seize the opportunities offered by global markets and be present in distant and complex areas, a local presence which is ever more solid and structured must be organised. That’s why it’s essential that trade fairs increasingly move beyond a basic concept of display areas and towards a position as partners and business consultants for companies. The role of trade fairs will increasingly be that of an advanced instrument to support businesses’ growth strategies and they will continue to have an extremely important role in their development in this sense, both in creating direct contact with the market and in communicating the expertise of companies in their active search for potential clients.

Above all, for a domestic market such as ours, highly focused on an industrial fabric of SMEs, the support of trade fairs in approaching foreign markets is incredibly important, also exploiting the image of Italian manufacturing, which, as a philosophy and lifestyle, represents an extraordinary vehicle and decisive weapon in promoting and selling our products.

In the first day of work, coordinated by Lorenzo Brufani, General Manager of Competence, Christian Druart, Research Manager for UFI; Jaruwan Suwannasat, Exhibition and Event Director for TCEB-Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau; Abdullah Jaber, Head of United Arab Emirates Embassy Press Office and Barbara Weizsäcker, Secretary General of EEIA-European Exhibition Industry Alliance, outlined the situation and competitive context, laying bare the various issues linked to the “Change in the worldwide situation and the new opportunities for the trade fair sector”, providing, from their privileged insight, a global overview of the situation.

The sessions were opened by Christian Druart, who dwelt on new managerial models and outlined the position of the international trade fair system, which is seeing growing investment in the sector in terms of infrastructure, with particular reference to the countries of South America and South-East Asia. Druart also highlighted the need to adopt new models of management, of pricing, new content and formats for events to meet the needs of a market where flexibility and the capacity to apprehend the needs of companies are the element that leads to success.

In the course of the presentation, Abdullah Jaber, outlined trade fair activity in the United Arab Emirates, highlighting its international dimensions and the opportunities for Italian businesses. Jaber then illustrated the existing collaborations and those being defined between Italian and Arab trade fairs, with a particular focus on the consumer goods sectors in which the Emirates are great admirers and purchasers.

Jaruwan Suwannasat considered the collaboration between Italy and Thailand, providing information on the potential of the Asian and Thai market in particular, together with the government support provided for those who choose to exhibit in these countries.

Barbara Weizsäcker, on the other hand, stressed the importance of Italy in the European context, reaffirming how essential collaboration and cooperation are in promoting the needs and interests of the sector at a European and international level. Her talk also highlighted the effectiveness of the trade fair as an instrument for publicising and boosting growth of companies in foreign markets.

In the afternoon – and it will also continue tomorrow morning – the private component of the seminar reserved for AEFI members, dedicated to illustrating nine success stories chosen by the members as a starting point for discussion and debate with the aim of contributing to the development of a shared schedule of activities that can also be put into effect through the Association.

The details of the case histories have been provided by the respective organisers, who focused on the methods and aspects that made these exhibitions examples of best practice in the international trade fair context in the area of the fundamental values of our culture (Mostra Internazionale dell’Artigianato - International Craft Exhibition, Fiera del libro per ragazzi - Children’s Book Fair, TTG Incontri); in food (Interpoma); in environmental protection (Ecomondo); in living (Marmomacc); in the organic sector (Sana) and in new models for operators and public (Marca and RiminiWellness).