“The most important milestone is: my 40 years of experience in an industry that I loved at first sight. Since many years I am a Consultant, Coach & Trainer for the Exhibition Industry worldwide combining strategical marketing with operative exhibition know-how as founder & CEO of Messe | Marketing. But my career started in the late 70th as marketing conceptioneer when I laid the basis to recognise trade-fair participations as marketing instrument within corporate communications. This was a milestone, which brought me to Mercedes-Benz, being the first woman responsible for the Automobil-Shows around the world. And shortly after I became head of the international fair & exhibition department of the newly found Aviation & Space Company ‘Deutsche Aerospace’, today’s Airbus. As my heart is still beating for the exhibitors in our industry, I designed a variety of seminars & trainings to make trade fair participations more successful and to turn Contacts into Cont(r)acts. I believe that the Exhibitor’s success is driving the success of the complete Exhibition Industry. And the support of them – the heart beat.”
ES. What can be the recovery guide for exhibitions?
Karla. I believe in Trade Fairs as motor for the economy, especially in crisis times. Personal encounters and live-experiences will always be the basis for business in regard to build-up trust and reliability.
ES. What do you see the roadmap ahead for exhibition industry?
Karla. In the future trade fairs should take over an additional task in the way that they mutate from a market-place to a market-insider by offering tailor-made matchmaking for their customers ‘exhibitors’ & ‘visitors’ and even more by delivering up-to-date industry information 365 days around the year.
ES. What is your take on Virtual exhibitions?
Karla. Live is live. Face-to face communication and digitalisation: this is a total discrepancy. It does not fit. Live-communication is based on personal encounters and that makes trade fairs around the world so unique. Although digitalisation shows us at the moment, that a lot is possible. And it is possible very well. But we also learned, that best virtual solutions are as expensive as Fairs & Exhibitions – but still cannot gain the uniqueness of live-events.
ES. Please share with us your personal assessment of the situation
Karla. In the long run I see a lot of consolidations and less variety in competition which might on one hand strengthen the market but on the other hand also weaken it.
ES. How badly has your region been affected?
What has been the impact of this pandemic on your domestic industry?
Karla. The affect of the exhibition industry in Germany can only be judged completely at the end of the pandemic which is closely connected to the launch of a vaccine. At the moment Germany is in a fairly good position in regard to the number of infections. But the situation within the exhibition & event industry is still drastically endangered. The only light in the tunnel is the decision of the German Government not to rate ‘Trade Fairs’ as large events like concerts, sport-events, etc. and to allow reopening of trade fairs after the summer vacations.
ES. What will be the future of business tourism?
Karla. There will be a paradigm change in the mind of business travellers mostly based on sustainability and its importance to the word. But nevertheless as personal encounters are part of the human nature, mobility will be as well.
ES. Your message to the industry?
Karla. To learn also means to unlearn!