The industry is currently facing an autumn trade fair, in the run-up to which the question marks predominate. Which trade fairs are held at all? Which exhibitors will be present where? How will retailers accept the corresponding offers? Will the fear of the corionavirus dramatically reduce the number of visitors or will you trust the organizers’ sophisticated safety and hygiene concepts? Question after question, and the half-life of the answers is constantly decreasing. What was valid yesterday is already obsolete today and has to be reassessed tomorrow.
Some decisions have nevertheless been tied down. Koelnmesse will not hold its own events until the end of October. M.O.W. as well as some events in OWL will probably take place, even if this will sometimes happen in a thinned form, the in-house exhibition south and the in-house exhibitions in Upper Franconia open their doors – the latter with a slightly modified format.
And abroad, especially in the Far East, people are increasingly relying on virtual trade fairs in order to reach important customers from America and Europe, who have to do without trade fairs overseas due to travel restrictions alone.
In the long run, neither trade fair cancellations nor digital trade fairs will be a solution. The “touch and feel” experience counts, especially in the furnishing sector. And as in all industries, personal contacts are indispensable when it comes to building and strengthening long-term business relationships.
The coronavirus is still young, but its life expectancy is high. That means we have to live with it for a long time. We probably won’t get rid of these disgusting little beasts in the medium term either. This has to be accepted. As long as neither a vaccine nor proven drugs are available, we will have to live with a certain risk. And yet we have to let normality return to some extent.
In many other areas we have come to terms with certain residual risks. We count thousands of traffic fatalities every year. But nobody would think of paralyzing traffic because of it. It goes without saying – at least for the vast majority – that we follow certain rules in order to protect ourselves and others. The right-of-way rule right in front of the left has become second nature to us, when we start driving we automatically put on the seat belt and on the motorcycle we put on a helmet without complaining about the restriction of personal rights.
The danger posed by Covid-19 can also be contained by adhering to certain rules and behavioral patterns. The past weeks and months have clearly demonstrated this. Just like the opposite. By doing without distance rules and face masks, incalculable sources of danger arise.
Autumn 2020 will still be characterized by uncertainty. This is understandable, because we still have to get used to a relaxed life with Corona. Any decision made with caution must be accepted. After all, it’s about human life. Against this background, the latest decision by the Cologne trade fair organizers is reasonable and commendable at this point in time. Koelnmesse has proven that it takes the concerns of exhibitors, visitors and employees seriously, but also that it is thinking long-term about the further development of its strongly international trade fair formats. “Imagine it’s a trade fair and nobody goes there”, that would have been the most unfavorable message for the subsequent events in the years to come.
Speaking of the future: in January, Heimtextil, imm cologne and Domotex will be international trade fairs with global appeal in Germany. Hopefully by then we will have learned to live with Corona and to accept the new normal. And for us furniture makers, trade fairs are normal. The big trade fair companies have worked on well thought-out safety and hygiene concepts that promise a high level of safety. It is up to all of us to adhere to them.
An exciting, challenging autumn lies ahead of us. Let us use this time to “make friends” with the new situation. By the end of the year at the latest, we should be ready to get into the car, put on the seat belt and accelerate.