The BAU must go on
Interview: Thomas Jakob
Velux, Schüco, Rockwool, Xella, Teckentrup: these companies, and others, have declined to attend the BAU 2021. This must worry you.
Of course, it’s a shame that those companies won’t be there next year. But there will be newcomers and returning companies, as well as firms that want to significantly enlarge their stands. For instance, we have never had such demand for space on the part of exhibitors from outside Europe. We are currently 20% above the level we saw in a comparable period two years ago. We have gained Unilin/IVC Group, Belgium’s market leader in the flooring industry. The Polish leader in the window branch, Drutex, will be doubling its space. What’s more, the tile company Steuler Fliesen will be attending for the first time since 2011. Altogether, 80% of the stand space is spoken for, which corresponds to where we were two years ago. So, there’s no call for panic.
Then why the “Wir sind dabei” campaign?
Naturally, there is general insecurity. On the other hand, for many companies building represents the first step in the post-coronavirus-lockdown era. In our press and media campaign “Wir sind dabei!”, exhibitors from all branches of the industry explain why the BAU fair in January is an absolute must. For them, the fair will be the foundation and a positive start to the 2021 business year.
Are you planning to make the stand areas more spacious in order to conform to possible limits on the number of people per square metre?
That’s really not necessary. Based on the current safety and hygiene concept that will enable trade fairs to take place again after 1 September, the entire gross area of the event grounds that are to be used is already the right size for the number of visitors. A BAU fair has a gross area of over 300,000 m2; this means that with a limit of one person for every 10 m2, we can adequately accommodate 30,000 visitors a day and stay within the limit. Also, we are assuming that the regulations will be loosened up before the BAU fair, as they will be in gastronomy and retail. I have to stress again and again that we still have another six months before the fair. Right now, we don’t need to change or widen any pathways. And our exhibitors’ stand structures will have to be adapted only so they conform to the distancing and hygiene regulations, particularly with catering, which can be compared to gastronomy. We’re going to set up meeting areas and meeting points in the halls, where exhibitors will have additional, suitable possibilities for conversation.
A maximum number of visitors, binding registration for visitors with clearly regulated admission times, pathways, mouth-and-nose covers, stand parties. From today’s viewpoint, what is indispensable? And is there anything you can’t − or don’t want to − accept?
As I’ve said: As far as visitor attendance goes, we are well-situated for the BAU 2021. We are preparing for fixed admission times spread out over the morning or fixed tickets for particular days. But we don’t think this will be required. What’s decisive is the topic of visitor registration. Since 2015, the BAU has been a fully registered trade fair; this means visitors already have to sign up with their data before coming to the fair. At the BAU fair in 2019, the percentage of online preregistration was more than 85%. We want to keep promoting this development for the BAU in 2021 so we come as close as possible to 100%. Furthermore, we’re going to support all our exhibitors with free scanning technology featuring our Scan2Lead tracking system. Then, simply scanning visitors’ tickets when they arrive at and leave the stand is all they’ll need as proof of contact. I really can’t imagine having walls along the pathways; it won’t be necessary. Despite coronavirus, we want to maintain the character of the BAU fair, even if people are still officially required to cover their mouths and noses in January. If the infection rate continues to decrease, we’re sure that people will be allowed to take off their masks, for instance at the trade-fair stands, the way they do in restaurants. The BAU 2021 will certainly be different than the BAU fairs in 2019 and 2017, but I’m positive about one thing: the quality and quantity of contacts will be very good. Of course it could happen that we, or our exhibitors, will have to do without some of our favourite instruments. This most likely includes the stand parties.
Are you monitoring what other trade fairs are doing and how in-person and digital formats can complement each other? The Expo Real has a lot of ideas there.
The Expo Real is actually a good example, one that we’re building on. Of course we’re going to round out the BAU 2021 with digital formats. Accompanying digital formats will offer everyone involved a new, even better trade-fair experience. For the BAU 2021, important digital cornerstones are our Connect App with expanded matchmaking functions that link visitors, exhibitors and partners. There will be livestreaming possibilities for exhibitors and, what I think is particularly important, our retargeting technology, which has the lovely name “trusted targeting”, will give our exhibitors the opportunity to hold virtual conferences, seminars and product presentations. As the management of the BAU fair, we will invite all suitable participants to these digital events, whether they are actually at the fair or not.
How are you adapting the overall program for architects?
Along with our four main topics The Challenge of Climate Change, Digital Transformation, The Future of Living and Resources and Recycling, which are all subjects that are interesting to architects in any case, we have added a special topic to our program: The Building Industry After Coronavirus: What Comes Next? The forum The Future of Building, which will take place in Hall C2, will be especially appealing to architects. It will discuss how architecture is changing thanks to coronavirus.
Are you discussing changes to cancellation policies with hotels in Munich?
We have already done that and have some good news: the Munich Hotel Alliance has made cancellation conditions more flexible for the BAU 2021. This alliance of the 27 leading hotels in Munich has adapted its cancellation policy for trade-fair and group bookings for the BAU 2021. If the fair is cancelled then existing, direct group hotel bookings can be cancelled without penalty up to two months before the fair. If the penalty-free cancellation period has already passed, the exhibitors should discuss changes to their contract with the respective hotel.
The Munich Hotel Alliance have also agreed to encourage both the Bavarian Association of Hotels and Restaurants and the DEHOGA [Eng: German Hotel and Catering Industry Association] to have their members accept these arrangements as well. We’re confident that both these big hotel associations will follow the recommendation of the Munich Hotel Alliance and convince their member hotels to adopt the new regulations. Be that as it may, we are advising our exhibitors to contact their respective hotels. There’s a contract relationship only between the exhibitor and the hotel – not with the Messe München corporation.
As you see, despite the setbacks there is a lot of good news to report about the BAU 2021. Like us, a lot of exhibitors are really looking forward to the fair in January and are anticipating a positive impulse for the industry after this challenging time. Personally, I’m convinced that the BAU will take place.