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June 26 2019Education and training

Matchmaking sets the direction

International Summer University with exhibition experts from all over the world

How must trade fairs develop further in order to meet the requirements of modern matchmaking? That was the core topic of the International Summer University from 5 to 7 June 2019 in Cologne. Around 40 trade fair experts from seven countries took part in the conference.

Matchmaking at trade fairs: This was the topic of this year's International Summer University organised by the Institute of Trade Fair Management at the University of Cologne and UFI. Lectures and best practice examples provided a lot of input for the exchange of experience between trade fair professionals and juniors from all over the world.

The first day of the Summer University was dedicated to lectures on current research results: Dr. Lara Lobschat, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, spoke about the role of traditional marketing instruments. She noted that traditional marketing tools such as direct mailing, but also trade fairs, remain effective if they are used together with other social media components. Howard Klein, former Development Director at Reed Exhibitions (UK), spoke about current developments in Mergers & Acquisitions and the large sums that are now spent on the purchase of trade fairs and competitors.

Dr Dominik Matyka, Chief Advisor DMEXCO & Partner Cavalry Ventures, reported on various formats for the matchmaking of exhibitors and visitors at DMEXCO. There is no "one fits all strategy", according to his credo, the participants have to be addressed individually. The aim is to establish communities consisting of loyal and committed participants. The trade fair itself is only one part of the community activities. Anna Abelein, Managing Director and Co-Founder Protostart GmbH, emphasized in her lecture "Agile Leadership: Taking action in the face of complexity" that agility does not only mean a change in the organizational form of a company, but also a change in the understanding of leadership. 


Current case studies from practice on day 2

Prof. Dr. Stefano Puntoni, Professor of Marketing at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, set open source marketing strategies in relation to trade fairs. Fairs could benefit from this form of marketing by providing a platform that is equally attractive for exhibitors and visitors. The most important components of this type of marketing are credibility, relevance and commitment. Puntoni advised that customers be involved in the development process of new products and services to create brand affinity.

Sophie Holt, Global Strategy Director at Explori, spoke about data depth and analysis tools for exhibitor and visitor surveys. Dr. Holger Feist, CSO Messe München, and Dr. Bernd Storm van's Gravesande, founder of Bits & Pretzels, presented the history of the Bits & Pretzels matchmaking platform: Originally it was only about an IT start-up community of interest in Munich, a regulars' table, which finally developed into a big event of congress and matchmaking. The aim of the three-day conference, which now has over 5,000 participants, is to support the scene through lectures and networking, including such renowned speakers as the founders of Virgin, Airbnb, Lottoland, Shazam, Tinder and Evernote. But also the German satirist Jan Böhmermann, the former Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg, the founder of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke and the CEOs of Vodafone Germany, Volocopter and FlixMobility were won over for lectures.

Prof. Nikolas Hafermaas, Creative Director TRIAD, Berlin, presented the "Green Tech Festival" in his lecture, which took place for the first time in May 2019 as part of the Formula 1 of electric cars in Berlin and is to be continued in 2020. Hafermaas regards trade fairs as sensors of change. At trade fairs you see innovations first, but you also see there when an industry is going downhill. He explained that the German trade fair organisers were already trying out innovative formats. They themselves could become a driving force today. They have to take up socially relevant topics and shape people's encounters at the trade fair as well as support "community building" with the help of digital offerings. 

Conflicts between companies? Participants discussed experiences

"From bargaining over positions to interest based results (The Harvard Approach)" - this was the topic of speaker Rahim Shamji, founder and CEO of ADR-ODR International from Great Britain. The company is involved in conflict resolution processes worldwide and advises the British Foreign Office on global conflict issues. In role plays, the conference participants looked at various conflict scenarios that could arise between companies and then discussed their experiences. The third day provided a glimpse beyond the confines of the trade fair industry. Company representatives presented current matchmaking services.

About the International Summer University

Since 2006, the International Summer University has been organised and run by the Institute of Trade Fair Management at the University of Cologne in cooperation with UFI (Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) and Koelnmesse. AUMA has supported this event since its inception.

The target group of this three-day English-language congress are employees from middle and upper management in the trade fair and event industry, who have the opportunity here to exchange ideas with experts and scientists, but also with each other.

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