Going un-Dutch?

15th of April 2010

Dutch correspondent Anton Duisterwinkel reports on the effects the internationalisation of ISSA/INTERCLEAN - taking place in Amsterdam later this month.

There is no denying it: each year ISSA/INTERCLEAN is becoming more and more international. For instance, this is reflected in the number of participating companies. In 2008, less than 10 per cent of the booths were of Dutch origin, whereas in 2006 this was 13 per cent and in 2004 18 per cent. The same trend is seen in the number of visitors. In 2006, 40 per cent of the visitors were Dutch, in 2008 this was only 33 per cent. And while the total number of visitors was falling in those years, the number of visitors from abroad (as seen from the Dutch perspective) was rising. ISSA/INTERCLEAN is becoming a, if not the, international meeting point for cleaning professionals.

During the same period, ISSA/INTERCLEAN changed from a trade show where both suppliers of cleaning equipment and materials as well as cleaning companies presented themselves to a supplier only-event. In earlier years, all large Dutch cleaning companies where present with a substantial booth. In 2010, only one Dutch cleaning company remains – the one that also retails cleaning materials. Also, the number of Dutch retailers of cleaning products is falling.
The number of foreign exhibitors generally has also been on the rise. In 2004 32 countries were represented on the show floor - in 2008 this had risen to 40 countries.

The effect of these changes has been that several new trade shows have been formed in recent years in the Netherlands. These have had limited success, but they do emphasise that ISSA/INTERCLEAN is becoming less interesting for many Dutch visitors. ISSA/INTERCLEAN used to be an outing for the staff of cleaning companies or services, but is now rapidly professionalising.

This is no reason to complain - in fact Dick van Zomeren, éminence grise of the Dutch cleaning scene, already in 2006 pointed out that the Dutch may even be a little proud that the international cleaning world turns its eyes to Amsterdam every other year for the latest inventions and new insights. This is all the more remarkable, since the Netherlands has very few companies that manufacture cleaning machines or produce cleaning tools and chemicals.

There is one other ‘un-Dutch’ statistic about ISSA/INTERCLEAN: the weather. Since 1996, is has always been sunny if not summery during the week the trade show was organised. Although Dutch weather may not be as bad as some would believe, this is quite a remarkable fact. It will be interesting to see whether this will still be the case, now ISSA/INTERCLEAN has switched to the last week of April rather than the first week of May.

A major reason for this shift in dates, reportedly, has been that the first week of May there will be school holidays, as there were in 2008. Some believe this also has had an effect on the number of Dutch visitors. Will this change of date entice more Dutchmen to visit ISSA/INTERCLEAN? Let’s wait and see what happens.


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