Crises boost creativity. Useful products emerge in the search for new solutions. In this respect, 2020 was a highly creative year – and this includes the trade-fair sector. On the one hand, it showed just how important personal encounters are. On the other hand, this creativity resulted in many new forms of interaction. An interview with Light + Building Brand Manager Johannes Möller about working from home, the yearning for personal encounters and digital reach.
Light + Building is set to open its doors again in Frankfurt am Main and offer all the visual, haptic and interpersonal benefits of a physical event from 13 to 18 March 2022. The organisers of the leading international trade fair for lighting and building-services technology have taken advantage of the situation to work creatively on a variety of new digital features oriented, naturally, to the needs of both exhibitors and visitors. The result is an opportunity for the sector to interact digitally at any time, the whole year round, beyond the six days of the fair and independently of any travel restrictions.
What is new at Light + Building?
Over the past months, we have all learnt not only to work flexibly from home but also, in particular, to adapt to new situations and replan as necessary. Today, video conferences are the norm. At the same time, however, we have seen that personal encounters are of inestimable value. This is not a new discovery. On the contrary, it became apparent at a very early stage. New at Light + Building is that we have worked on and improved our products. One upshot is our development work on the familiar exhibitor search engine, which has been upgraded to the Light + Building Contactor, the platform for the lighting and building-services sector. Online, the Light + Building Contactor perfectly complements the physical trade fair in Frankfurt.
What exactly does this mean?
The Contactor is a digital tool that gives exhibitors the opportunity to make presentations in our network at www.light-building.messefrankfurt.com. The Contactor is already online. Every exhibitor who decides to take part in Light + Building 2022 enters their individual profile into the digital tool. This includes corporate details, contact persons, images and information about products, innovations and solutions. When the event begins, we take a further step and expand the Contactor into a ‘virtual counter’, i.e., a digital meeting place where exhibitors can receive and serve registered visitors.
Messe Frankfurt has never offered a feature comparable to this before. What benefits does it offer exhibitors and visitors?
The virtual counter is the extension of the exhibition stand in the digital world. In this way, we bring together customers and suppliers independently of borders, continents and time zones and ensure the necessary contacts. The encounters can then take place live at the fair itself or by video call from a remote location, thus making Light + Building more independent and ensuring a constant digital presence as the leading international trade fair for the sector in an age of travel restrictions.
Light + Building stands for innovations and the latest trends. The virtual counter greatly increases the coverage achieved by exhibitors and, therefore, the coverage they can achieve with their latest products. Coverage is further increased by the integration of the marketing for Light + Building and the Light + Building Contactor in the international network of Messe Frankfurt. The subsidiaries of Messe Frankfurt and our Sales Partners canvas, promote and position Light + Building and reach out to visitors – both real and virtual – in more than 150 countries. This is new, too, and results in a constant stream of new, potential leads in the Light + Building Contactor. In other words, the event can achieve a completely new dimension of coverage because exhibitors profit from both real and virtual visitors.
How can exhibitors communicate via the virtual counter and what exactly can they do there?
In exactly the same way as at their exhibition stands, exhibitors decide on their content, products and offers. This could include virtual tours of the stand, product presentations, personal advice for customers or webinars. Direct communication is then made via a chat function, video calls or in digital conference rooms. Additionally, an AI-aided matchmaking process makes contact recommendations on the basis of participants’ interests and thus brings the right exhibitors together with the right visitors or items on the programme of events. After the fair, the Light + Building Contactor remains active and permits worldwide contact with the sector the whole year round.
Does this mean Light + Building in Frankfurt is becoming less important?
The emphasis is on the physical fair with all visual, haptic and personal advantages. This has always been the case and will remain so in the future. Last year, we learnt just how important personal encounters are and that they cannot be replaced by digital means. Nevertheless, digital channels of communication have been given an enormous boost by the pandemic. We must take advantage of the positive effects and integrate them into the event for the benefit of all exhibitors and visitors.
Are you offering any other digital services?
Yes, we have worked very hard on digital services for Light + Building and are supplementing the opportunities offered by the Light + Building Contactor with some great dynamic content, such as podcasts, video interviews and digital forums. In future, we will also round off the special areas we are planning for the event in Frankfurt with digital features. At these areas, we examine the challenges facing the sector and discuss solutions and innovations. Naturally, this includes taking a look into the future, as well as spotlighting the latest trends and training issues.
Light + Building will be held from 13 to 18 March 2022.