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Attendance Drops as IFMA Pursues Changes

Published October 16, 2007

COLOGNE, Germany (BRAIN)—IFMA organizers say they plan to push ahead with incremental changes for future shows, despite disappointing attendance at this year’s show that ended Sunday.

“What the show needs is a little ‘quietness,’ so you don’t change it every year,” IFMA spokesman Karsten Deicke said.

Trade attendance for the 2007 show fell by 7 percent to 20,000 visitors, while the number of public visitors fell by 15 percent to 28,000. The number of exhibitors dropped by 14 percent, or more than 100, to 648.

“We’re quite happy with the fair this year. There were good orders and the exhibitors are happy,” Deicke said.

Deicke said the show wants to improve its status as an international show and is particularly interested in drawing more exhibitors and retailers from nearby European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy.

“I think we will get some new exhibitors back here who haven’t been here for awhile,” he said.

IFMA plans, for example, to host a Netherlands pavilion next year and thinks it can increase the number of Italian exhibitors and trade visitors because of the new dates for the Italian bicycle show.

Still, the 2007 results demonstrate that IFMA has not figured out an effective strategy to compete against its southern German rival, Eurobike.

IFMA organizers continue to tout the many infrastructure advantages that in theory should give Cologne a big advantage over Eurobike’s home in Friedrichshafen.

Cologne is a major city with easy train and air access for international visitors, an abundance of hotel rooms, extensive public transportation to the convention center, and the presence of most of Germany’s major broadcast and print publications.

Friedrichshafen has none of these advantages, yet Eurobike continues to set exhibitor and attendance records year after year.

IFMA downplayed the 2007 attendance results, burying them on the last page of a five-page news release and offering no comparisons with the previous year.

After the 2006 show, by comparison, IFMA touted an increase in visitors in the second paragraph of its show wrap-up. —Doug McClellan

Topics associated with this article: Tradeshows and conferences

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