With almost 800-year experience, Messe Frankfurt is the global leader in the fair organizing industry. Its portfolio of over 100 fairs in around 30 countries offers the exhibitors the opportunity to increase their international trade volume and discover the world’s most dynamic markets. The pandemic has caused a lot of cancellations or postponements in the schedules of the company.
Representing Messe Frankfurt fairs in Turkey, Messe Frankfurt Istanbul has been successfully turning its 20th year. We conducted an exclusive interview with Tayfun Yardım, general manager of Messe Frankfurt Istanbul, to ask the effects of the pandemic, the prescription to the trade disturbances of the disease, the present situation of the industry, suggestions and recommendations for the exhibitors and visitors. He offered more in the talk.
Would you start with furnishing us with the information about the foreign structure of Messe Frankfurt, a legendary fair organizing company which celebrates its almost 800th anniversary, in general and about the position of Messe Istanbul in particular?
Messe Frankfurt is the largest fair, congress and event organizer of the world in its field. The company has been serving to 190 countries with its 30 affiliated companies employing 2,600 people. Our company, which organizes over 150 fairs of which more than half are in Germany, is a public establishment owned 60% by Frankfurt Municipality and 40% by Hessen State.
Messe Frankfurt Istanbul International Fair Organization Ltd. was established in the year 2000. The main idea behind establishing a company in Turkey was to determine the Turkish market and to adopt the manufacturing areas. Our company has been striding to lead Turkish exporters to new markets. It gives us a special pride to see that the companies which we serve have been influential players in international markets and to contribute to the export volume of our country.
Can you tell us the main headlines of the milestones of 20 years of Messe Frankfurt Istanbul?
More than 3000 Turkish companies had the opportunity to exhibit their products and services and establish new business connections in our fairs organized for different sectors in 40 cities around the world for 20 years. We are proud to have successfully organized dozens of successful organizations notably Automechanika Istanbul and Motobike Turkey, during last 20 years. However, what makes us happy as the Messe Frankfurt Istanbul family is the growth of our companies in 20 years and the contribution we have made to the export volume our country has reached.
You organize the world’s largest fairs in their sectors such as Heimtextil, Ambiente and Automechanika. Are there other fairs in which Turkey is in the first-three national exhibitors? Does Messe Frankfurt Istanbul Turkey assume a role for Messe Frankfurt events or operations outside Turkey or its only mission is about the participation of Turkish companies in Frankfurt fairs and organizations held in Turkey such as Automechanika Istanbul?
Not only in Frankfurt but in many of our international fairs, our companies clearly reflect the production potential of our country with the increasing participation rate every year. Over 300 companies participated in Heimtextil, the most leading home textile fair of the world, this year and the largest exhibition space belonged to us. At Texworld Paris, one of our clothing fabric fairs, we are the second country with the highest number of exhibitors after China, with the interest shown by our exhibitors to the fair for many years. Leading automotive industry fair Automechanika, the ISH trade fair for our construction and energy sectors, and many more in our fair Light + Building, Turkey is among the countries with the greatest participation. As Messe Frankfurt Istanbul, we also intend to ensure the continuity of this development. Not only in Istanbul Motobike and Automechanika Istanbul which we organize in Turkey, no matter where in the world, we are aiming minimum one Turkish exhibitor to take place in all of our fairs.
During the pandemic, the fair industry was one of the most affected industries. What do you expect during and after the normalization process?
Recently, we often hear the expressions of “normalization” and “new normal”. From the beginning of 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic is challenging the event industry, as there are numerous reasons that have forced humanity to change their daily lives and living conditions throughout its nearly 200,000-year history. But as you may understand, in the 780-year period many pandemics, wars, economic and political crises have passed. During this period, both in Turkey and around the world it will be the beginning of a new era and although the expectations as an exhibition area will undergo a change in perception; tough periods such as a pandemic actually accelerate or slow down ongoing processes. Issues such as digitalization and security were already on our agenda, the pandemic accelerates the process only at this point. At the end of the day, whether it is lighting, automotive or textile, both the manufacturer and the consumer are human. As a social being, human always prefers to meet face to face. In cases where physical meeting is restricted or there is no feasibility, digital platforms are of course a very good opportunity offered by technology. However, as long as humanity remains on the stage of history, and as Messe Frankfurt’s platforms have made possible for 780 years, the most important success factor of the trade fair industry will continue to be face-to-face meetings.
As Messe Frankfurt, we take measures to maintain social distance on the basis of increasing corridor widths and minimum stand areas, one / two-way traffic practices in the corridors, regulations in food and beverage areas and regular health checks in all the organizations we organize after the pandemic and will organize in the upcoming period.
Will there be any new events Messe Frankfurt will organize Istanbul in Turkey?
We welcome a lot of suggestions from the collaboration of exporters’ unions and associations which we cooperate in our foreign fairs about organizing a new event in Turkey. Of course, we continue our evaluations for a fair organization for the right sectors at the right time. We will provide platform infrastructure for the Virtual Hometex Turkey 2020 digital event, which will be organized by Denizli Exporters Association and Denizli Chamber of Industry between 18-20 November 2020, and bring international visitors from the home textile industry together with our companies, and we will provide international marketing services for more than 100,000 company officials all over the world. In the near future, we will work on similar digital projects in different sectors with our other export associations.
What are your recommendations to prospective exhibitors and visitors for the new term?
We are in a period where pandemic and international travel restrictions continue. In this process, postponing or canceling international trade fairs for future dates has generated a need for new product arrangements and new business connections for both manufacturers and purchasers. Unless trade fairs are organized, manufacturers cannot find the opportunity to present their new products and services to their potential customers and purchasing professionals cannot find the chance to meet new suppliers that will meet the demand in their markets. When the international trade fairs reopen, the effect of the pandemic will continue, and it will take time for the number of exhibitors and visitors to reach the previous level. However, our advice to our companies is that they take all personal health precautions as long as they can travel to the fair and take part in our fairs, not to miss the chance to “turn the crisis into an opportunity” arising from the pandemic. With our hybrid fair applications, as long as you are participating in our fairs, even visitors who cannot travel will be able to view your products in digital environment and communicate with you live thanks to your presence in both physical and digital platforms. In this way, you can convert your fair investment to export in a short time by establishing new business connections.