Thursday 3 December 2020

Sometimes trade fairs act in a fair way,  sometimes they have to be “pushed”.
Here follows the experience of Italian association AVR in 2020 while dialoguing with MCE and VALVE WORLD. Two examples of exhibitions involving segments of valves, taps and fitting, worldwide well known and appreciated.
The first one, MCE, is held near Milan in March of even years, VALVE WORLD in Dusseldorf in December of even years. They are both fairs of great appeal for visitors from everywhere, exhibiting showcases for business and matchmaking, locations for events and summits. Fairs are indeed ‘facilitators’ of encounters, allow to bring closer within a few days and in limited spaces demand and offer, different and distant worlds and cultures. All this has been abruptly stopped in 2020 due to the Covid pandemia, which upset lives and habits, distancing and interrupting physical contacts, the real essence of fairs.
The attitude of MCE and VALVE WORLD organizers has however been different, and here is how the Association acted. 

As for MCE – with whom ANIMA and associations as AVR have a long-term partnership – already at the end of February postponed the Exhibition at September 2020.
Then, given the persistent risk of contagion and the forthcoming edition inevitably to a lesser degree, with no visitors from abroad and smaller spaces, already in summer 2020 did AVR launch a survey among members, from which the general will of postponing MCE to 2022 resulted. Together with ANIMA and other associations of comfort segment, the above request was addressed to MCE organizers, who accepted to shift directly to 2022 edition.
Another event, an International Forum on Comfort Technology is now being arranged in April 2021 (8-9 April): LIVE+DIGITAL, with the mixed formula of physical and virtual participation, which will allow to cut costs and to be flexible, according to the actual situation of pandemic. All this, which would have been unthinkable up to a few months ago, entailed a sharp acceleration toward digital mode.

As for VALVE WORLD, reference fair for industrial valves, many AVR members are usual exhibitors and months ago AVR was planning to hold a technical conference within it. Still in Autumn 2020, while contagions were quickly increasing in Germany too and one after another cancellation of Fairs occurred, VALVE WORLD had not yet been cancelled and the companies who wanted to decline their participation would have undergone 100% loss of their contribution. 
In this situation did Italy and Spain contact separately - in different moments we have known - the Valve World Organizers in order to push them to change their decision about 100% penalty fees to be due. As already done for MCE, we have had a quick survey among the Italian exhibitors to show their opinions on their real participation in the Exhibition manifesting that they considered it impossible to meet visitors in sufficient quantity and quality to balance their investments in booth and marketing. 
One week before the deadline after which the companies would have lost 100% of their money, the organizers proposed to reduce the penalty fees to 25%. During last CEIR Marketing Committee we debated on this issue and CEIR secretariat immediately supported Spain and Italy with a further letter to organizers asking to change their minds. After this massive action coming from many sides, we finally received from Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs the message that the 25% fee paid will permit the Italian companies to have a 15% discount on buying the same area for the next 2022 Valve World edition. 
This perhaps is not a full victory, but confirmed us that acting together brings always better results. CEIR action of support single State members that activated their countries’ Embassies must have had some effect if even a granitic organization like Valve World listened to the associations’ requests and, finally, moved towards the interest of their clients.
In addition to this, during this discussion about how to approach the Exhibition, AVR had the opportunity to start again relations with VDMA, confirming that their associates as well were very upset with Organizers. It seemed our two Associations had a common “enemy” to face and so we started networking again after years.
At the end of the day, Spanish and Italian Associations, while acting together within CEIR, obtained very good results for their companies and, at the same time, they have both been working to build a stronger valves and taps voice in Europe, maybe one day all together within CEIR’s umbrella. 

Just a final note: to save time and obtain results for your companies, next time remember to immediately equip your association with the more suitable CEIR technical, marketing or lobbying Bazooka.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Alessandro Durante & Maria Grazia Micucci
Secretary and Assistant of the CEIR Marketing & Communication Committee

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