Hannover Messe venue

Trade Show Outlook Virtually the Same

Dec. 17, 2020
ARC Advisory Group, Hannover Messe, ProMat all moving online.

Manufacturing conferences and industrial trade events were among the casualties of 2020’s global pandemic. While there is optimism that a return to in-person events may be in the offing for the second half of 2021, some of the winter and spring trade events are moving to a virtual format.

On Dec. 17, Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade show held annually in Hannover, Germany, announced it would again be a virtual event on April 12-16. It joins such annual gatherings as ARC Advisory Group and ProMat to opt for a digital conference in the first quarter of 2021.

“In close consultation with our most important exhibitor committee, we have decided that organizing a physical trade show is not feasible or justifiable under the given conditions,” said Dr. Jochen Köckler, chairman of the board of Deutsche Messe AG. The show managers had hoped for a hybrid event in 2021 with some on-site participation, but global COVID infection rates forced Hannover officials to move the event online.

One common theme of the digital event promotion is confidence in both a strong content offering a connection to the industry trends toward digital transformation that have been accelerated during the pandemic.

Calling their show “a digital trailblazer event,” Hannover officials said they would provide a focused presentation for virtual attendees. “Virtual visitors will be able to quickly gain an overview of product innovations and use new tools to make direct contact with the companies that are relevant to them,” said Köckler.

ARC Advisory Group offered a similar perspective on its annual conference, which brings together the top process manufacturing suppliers and end-users for three days of cutting-edge content.

“Industrial innovation is accelerating,” company officials said in a press release announcing the ARC Industry Forum on Feb. 8-11. “Leading companies had progressed along their digital transformation journey and were able to quickly adapt to the changed business reality.  

“With what they have learned, they are now re-thinking how to manage operations using shared data, analytics, distributed work and digital twins. The industry has passed a tipping point, having seen the power of disruptive technologies to transform business operations and competitive strategies, improve resilience, reduce costs and better serve customers. It's full speed ahead.”

In looking to attract top executives to the virtual event, ARC officials noted the changes that the industry already has achieved to meet the pandemic challenges. “Executives charged with driving transformation are seizing this moment to innovate and deliver real value,” they said. “Call it digital transformation, smart manufacturing, smart cities or Industry 4.0; there is a rush to innovate, transform and accelerate the future.”

ProMat also transformed its event, also scheduled for April 12-16. Now called the ProMat Digital Experience, or ProMatDX, show officials are confident their approach will attract their event will meet the challenges of the material handling industry.

“In these unprecedented times, supply chain solutions are more critical to business success than they have ever been,” said officials at MHI, the trade organization that presents the annual event. “MHI created a new digital event experience designed to power up manufacturing and supply chain professionals with critical access to the latest solutions they need now to improve the resiliency and agility of their operations.”

Not all trade events are taking a virtual path. Believing in “the value of an in-person event experience as an important means to discover, explore, develop and advance the HVACR industry together as a community,” ASHRAE officials announced in October that AHR Expo would next be held in person from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2022 in Las Vegas. The 2020 show had been scheduled for Chicago, and then delayed to March 2021 in Chicago before the announcement.

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