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4 questions – 4 answers with Michael Johannes

Jun 6, 2018

Michael Johannes is Vice President Mobility & Logistics at Messe Frankfurt and has over 25 years of experience in trade fair organisation. He knows that fairs must constantly evolve and find new formats.

Michael Johannes
‘Nowadays we are no longer a seller of square metres, but a communication service provider’, says trade fair expert Michael Johannes. (Photo: Messe Frankfurt)

How have trade fairs and events changed over the years?

Nowadays we are no longer a seller of square metres, but a communication service provider. Particularly in our business field, where there are disruptive tendencies due to technical developments, we must remain innovative and adapt our fairs to market conditions. This is why we organise many conferences in order to find out where the trends are. And we also need to expand our existing network with new communities.

With the new concept Festivals of Motoring, you’re reacting to the demands of car manufacturers in Africa who no longer wanted a traditional car show. What is so special about these festivals?

The fact that traditional car shows are disappearing from the scene is replicated in many markets around the world. In South Africa, car manufacturers have withdrawn from them one after the other. In dialogue with the automobile manufacturers, we have developed a new event concept together: an interactive event for the whole family. It’s not about admiring cars, it’s about experiencing them live. The festivals take place on a race track. Visitors can, for example, can be driven around the race track by professionals or even drive themselves. There is live music and also special events for children. The manufacturers will also of course present their latest models. And that’s where a new target group comes into play: women who often make the decisions about buying a car in families. We also want to offer them a suitable supporting programme.

What can conventional trade fairs learn from the festival format?

Conventional trade fairs can learn from the interactivity and emotionality of the festivals. If, instead of looking at cars in a hall, you drive around the race track in the car, are pushed into the seat by the force of the speed and hear the engine howl, you’ll be much more taken by it and will remember it for a long time to come.

Will conventional fairs soon be a thing of the past or will the festival remain one of many different formats?

The fundamental change will be that in the coming years we will no longer be talking about classic B2B and B2C events, but will increasingly move into the B2P area, i.e. Business to People. Because business people are also consumers after work. Nevertheless, the classic trade fairs in the B2B sector will continue to exist. But trade fairs have to evolve constantly. That’s why we keep a watchful eye on the market. Because we want to act. Not react.

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