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A new confidence15th of June 2010
Europe's most important professional cleaning show took place in Amsterdam at the end of April. ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2010 held high expectations for the trade's manufacturers, many of which had planned new product launches for the event. And after a difficult couple of years for the market all exhibitors were hoping for some positive feedback from their customers and distributors.
The week prior to ISSA/INTERCLEAN was a worrying one for organisers and exhibitors alike, as a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland darkened the skies and brought European air traffic to a grinding halt. But just in time the cloud cleared, flights resumed and Amsterdam enjoyed glorious sunshine for the duration of the show. Almost 23,500 visitors travelled to Amsterdam RAI and there was a record 651 exhibitors.
The percentage of foreign visitors actually increased – in 2008 67 per cent came from outside the Netherlands while this year this figure had increased to 71 per cent. There was a marked rise in visitors from South Africa and Central & Eastern Europe. And of the 23,415 visitors 76 per cent were authorised buyers.
One of the highlights of ISSA/INTERCLEAN is always the presentation of the Innovation Award and this year the organisers hosted a gala ceremony on the first day. Baudoin picked up the top prize for its Travelator Cleaner - Kärcher and Alpheios were winners in their categories.
The seminar programme and forum discussions were once again an important feature, organised by ISSA. Subjects discussed included sustainability, regulations and standards, hygiene in healthcare and training.
For the first time this year there was an element of segmentation at the show, with separate WASHROOM and HIGH PRESSURE areas. The organisers say both exhibitors and visitors were pleased with this idea because it enabled cleaning professionals to view total solutions in a clearly laid out format.
Anja Mesner from Metsä Tissue, which exhibited in the Washroom hall, had mixed feelings. "For visitors it's easier to find and go directly to the stands they want to go to; no need for long walks and searching. However exhibitors may have noticed fewer 'just by chance' and 'just walked by' visitors - I think that's a big disadvantage."
Visitor Andrew Large from the World Federation of Building Service Contractors (WFBSC) and the Cleaning and Support Services Association (CSSA) agrees. He said: "This approach tends to segment the audience and people might not visit other parts of the show."
Commenting more generally about his visitor experience Large added: "It is a very impressive show in terms of its scale. It is overwhelmingly large - possibly too big in a way - the gap between the two groups of halls was better than in 2008 but still not perfect. There is a big gulf between the very professional stands and some of the less well organised shell schemes.
"There was also not enough real innovation on show for me. Where are the equivalents of the concept cars that you see at motor shows for example?"
ECJ spoke to a number of exhibitors and the general consensus was an extremely positive one - having put significant investment into their stands the majority were satisfied with the results. Markus Asch of Kärcher said: "ISSA/INTERCLEAN in my opinion this year successfully proved yet again to be the world’s leading trade fair for our industry." Eureka's Stefano Simonetti echoed this, saying: "For us, this year's show was much more positive than the one two years ago - it actually exceeded our expectations."
And Anders Terkildsen of Nilfisk-Advance added: "We experienced a very busy show and a much more positive attitude from our customers compared to 2008. It is clear that we are not fully out of the crisis in Europe, specially in southern Europe, but our customers are focusing on expanding their activities again."
Gianfranco Cianci of IPC was upbeat about the atmosphere at the show. "The most positive thing is the return of confidence to our sector of industry, which has shown great determination to work towards the recovery. To my way of thinking the event was a positive signal for the entire cleaning industry."
When exhibiting at such a major international trade fair manufacturers set themselves clear goals. What were they seeking to achieve this year, and did they succeed? First-time exhibitor Activeion had an ambitious set of objectives, as André Krell explained. "We were introducing our company to the European cleaning industry and launching our IonatorEXP to the B2B market. We also wanted to meet potential distributors and customers; present ourselves to the international press; and network with other cleaning industry companies. In our opinion, we achieved our goals."
For Sofidel it was a matter of reinforcing its message about environmental sustainability. Martina Freddi told ECJ: "ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2010 was another opportunity for us to focus on progress and development for the present and in the future. Being sustainable, pan-European and flexible are our constant goals and that is the message we were keen to promote to visitors."
For Diversey ISSA/INTERCLEAN came at a crucial time as the company launched its new identity - for many visitors this was the most visible exhibitor. Pedro Chidichimo commented: "We had the best ISSA/INTERCLEAN exhibition ever, and in words of our chairman Curt Johnson, 'the most impressive exhibition in the history of our company'. We participated in several round tables with industry colleagues and competitors, helping understand some of the challenges and opportunities we are all facing."
Kärcher had a very particular project for the show, as Markus Asch explained. "The fair was a high-profile publicity platform to inform our customers about the change of livery colour for many Kärcher professional floor cleaning devices. Feedback overall on the Kärcher stand display and the messages it conveyed was entirely positive."
"Our main objective was to confirm our group’s position of leadership on a global level," added Gianfranco Cianci. "And for us, leadership means not just product quality but an ability to set the pace and establish new trends."
Service more important
For Hako-Werke it was not just about launching and demonstrating cleaning machines, said Arne Schmid. "We believe that our service products will increase in importance over the next few years - that is why we marketed them much more strongly on the stand."
Brand awareness was a key objective for Tennant, said Agnes Knappen. "Our main aim was to increase market awareness and place Tennant as an innovator in the perception of the marketplace."
Of course, key to the success of any exhibition are the visitors and in this area the exhibitors made some interesting observations. "We had the impression that many end users from around the globe were not able to travel to Amsterdam due to the economic crisis," said Arne Schmid. "Certainly this had nothing to do with reduced interest but is rather a result of tighter travel budgets in many companies around the world."
Added André Krell: "Activeion Europe is responsible for the European, Middle Eastern and African markets, and visitors came to our stand from these three regions. We also hosted a significant number of visitors from North American, Australia, Latin America and Asia."
Stefano Simonetti noticed fewer visitors from the Mediterranean area of Europe, he said. "These are the areas which are being worst hit by recession in our experience. However we did see many people from the Middle East - Israel, Dubai, Iran and UAE. Also many from south-east Asia."
In terms of visitor quality, there were no complaints from the exhibitors ECJ spoke to. "The overwhelming majority of our visitors were decision makers with whom we held very fruitful discussions," commented Markus Asch. Anders Terkildsen added: "We had a large number of our very large key accounts visiting from all the European countries and also welcomed most of our distributors from eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa."
Gianfranco Cianci was also impressed. "We saw far more international visitors than we expected, and all of them eagerly seeking new solutions to their needs. They were interested above all in real, practical offerings and effective innovations. They weren’t looking at the price alone, but at the technology too, and that shows a big step forward in terms of understanding."
So, much of the feedback about this year's ISSA/INTERCLEAN was highly positive - what areas could be improved or developed for future shows? Some interesting suggestions emerged. "I like the idea of the live demonstrations outside, perhaps they could do more of this," said Andrew Large, adding that he would like to see everything fit together in a closer space.
Agnes Knappen had an idea about the length of the exhibition. "We have found that the fourth day is traditionally a quiet one so maybe the show could be reduced to three days, and on one of those days it could stay open until late in the evening."
For Martina Freddi the organisers need to go beyond "the selling of stand space" to focus more on the organisation of conferences and other activities. "I believe they should invest in the sales opportunities presented by the training of people." André Krell shared this view, adding: "We would support continued emphasis on industry initiatives such as sustainability and continued focus on seminars, think-tanks and overall industry information sharing."
Arne Schmid felt: "It would be helpful if more end users/customers would take the opportunity of visiting the show in Amsterdam. At Hako we will definitely work even harder to convince them."
And for Markus Asch, there is a key area where he feels the organisers should be more proactive. "I would like the organisers to do more to protect intellectual property in the future and thereby support manufacturers who take the industry further forward with their research expenditure."
Pedro Chidichimo feels there is work to do with regard to the visitor profile. "Our efforts to lead a serious industry transformation, based on sustainability and productivity, are beginning to be rewarded. I think the next challenge for the show is to start developing a higher segmentation in terms of the sectors visiting and encourage operators other than building service contractors to attend. We need to work together to get a higher representation from the healthcare, lodging and retail sectors."
For details of the next Amsterdam exhibition visit www.issainterclean.com