Movable feasts: Viscom Germany
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By Morwenna Kearns
11 November 2011
Viscom Düsseldorf had enough room for large exhibition spaces, demonstration area and dedicated application zones
Unlike many trade fairs, which see perennial visitors return to the same venue year after year, the German leg of the four-stage Viscom show sees the cities of Düsseldorf and Frankfurt take alternate turns playing host. It's an idea that has many benefits: those who find it difficult to attend the show in one city may find it much easier to travel to a different destination the following year; the opportunity to travel to a new place is likely to tempt many professionals (despite the glory days of the work jolly seemingly long behind us); and makes for a more memorable experience while many other, sedentary events tend to blur together in one's mind.
Indeed, the location of a show is one of the most integral parts, if not the most important aspect, of planning one. While, theoretically, it is the range of exhibits that draws the crowds, organisers must consider options for travel, accommodation, entertainment and hospitality, for visitors, exhibitors and press. I attended a print industry trade show held in a famous and otherwise very satisfactory venue, which positioned its press area in a glazed atrium that was almost unbearable on the hot days of the show. I have also been to shows that were, geographically, in central locations, but were in practice extremely difficult and expensive to get to. These things may be likely to put off prospective attendees.
There have been a number of show venue changes announced this year, ostensibly to address these issues. Viscom Paris moved from the city to much closer to the airport, aiming to attract international visitors as well as local professionals who could still travel by train. Messe Frankfurt, the exhibition centre hosting next year's German show, is 15km (9 miles) away from the Airport Frankfurt am Main and a 15-minute walk from the city's primary railway station, itself linked to the airport by train. There are also efficient trains and trams to the Messe, allowing transport there and away but also easy and safe access to the city's restaurants, bars and hotels. Germany itself, of course, is central enough to be accessible to most of Europe.
The show floor is obviously essential too. It must be tailored to the size of the exhibition; too large and a small show will look drowned in space; too small and large exhibitors or those planning demonstrations will be cramped, or put off entirely. Viscom Düsseldorf, being quite a large show, had enough space to have distinct zones – Display/PoS World and Digital Signage World for instance – which will return for Viscom Frankfurt 2012. Many exhibition centres have portable walls which reduce the problem of surplus room, but it may still feel imbalanced if a small show is surrounded by empty halls and a vast car park. The majority of events, though, enjoy a happy medium that appears effortless, and that is part of their success. Those going to Frankfurt next year should experience a similarly easy ride.
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