By Lauren Burns
In September, we ran a story with our 2013 Meetings Calendar about trade shows becoming less and less popular. As discussed, there are many causes of the waning attendance numbers, but it might be a good idea for trade shows to take a hint from the biennial Koelnmesse International Dental Show.
About the IDS
Held every two years (2013 will be the 35th show), the Koelnmesse is a popular event. Sure, it draws exhibitors and visitors from all over the world – it is international – but what should be noted is that instead of seeing a small decrease in attendance, we're seeing a significant increase in both exhibitors and attendees for the 2013 show (the theme of which is orthodontics in surgeries and laboratories). Let's compare the 2011 show with the 2013 show: by June 2012, there were more than 1,250 suppliers from more than 50 countries registered for the event – that's 13 percent more than in June 2010. Using the same timeline, there are 18 percent more foreign companies registered, and eight percent more domestic companies registered. In total, there are around 1,900 companies from around the world expected in 2013.
GFDI (the commercial enterprise of the Association of German Dental Manufacturers) and Koelnmesse issued this statement regarding the 35th IDS show: "This excellent intermediate result already strongly suggests that the International Dental Show's success story will continue. It impressively underscores the position of IDS as the leading international business and communication platform for the entire dental world. We are especially pleased to note that the trade fair is developing so well internationally, considering the difficult economic situation and the euro crisis."
Of the exhibiting companies, 68 percent will be coming to Cologne from abroad, and the countries that will be most strongly represented are Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, South Korea, Switzerland, China, and the United States. According to the leaders at the IDS: "The broad range of products on display from around the world will give visitors the opportunity to get a comprehensive overview of the global dental industry in terms of services, product innovations, and the latest trends."
Koelnmesse has recognized the growth in interest and has responded by implementing several new technological aids relevant to the preparation of the event. I spoke with Katharina C. Hamma, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse about those updates.
Lauren Burns: It's evident from the IDS website that a lot of preparations are underway for IDS 2013. What is being done for exhibitors before the event to ensure an excellent experience in Cologne?
Katharina C. Hamma: The exhibitors at IDS receive a comprehensive range of services – from the point when they are thinking of renting a stand at the trade fair to their planning of the stand, their preparations for the trade fair and their actual participation in IDS. In addition, IDS offers exhibitors numerous services that can be quickly and easily reserved online. These services include stand construction services, technical services, marketing services, and catering services. Additionally, the booking of hotels, private rooms or complete travel packages can be done via the IDS website. Last but not least, all IDS exhibitors can make use of the new product database by uploading short texts and images of their new products. It's a great opportunity for them to give visitors and journalists a first impression of their innovations – even before IDS starts. The new product database will be available by January 2013.
Burns: The IDS is a huge event — the total exhibit space totals to 150,000 square meters. What are you doing to help visitors maneuver through the exhibit easily and remember products they've seen?
Hamma: By the autumn of this year, the online exhibitor search will be accessible on the IDS website so that visitors can get an overview of the companies that will be present at IDS in March 2013. Furthermore, a dedicated IDS app for iPhone, BlackBerry and other operating systems enables participants to prepare for the trade fair in a targeted manner and guarantees an efficient visit. This app, which is offered free of charge to users and upgraded for IDS 2013, will contain more than just the catalogue; it will also use an innovative navigation system to reliably guide visitors through the trade fair halls to any desired stand. In addition, the app will include information about the supporting program and the services available at the trade fair. The information provided by the app will be continuously updated. The IDS app will be available via the IDS website by the end of the year. Last but not least, the online route planner will provide visitors with an individual plan for their visit, including optimal routes through the halls to their desired exhibitors.
Burns: Is there an easy way for exhibitors and visitors to communicate with each other?
Hamma: Yes, another digital service is Business-Matchmaking 365, a communications and business platform that allows visitors and exhibitors to contact each other directly, even before IDS 2013 begins. During the run-up to the event, visitors will also be able to use the online schedule planner to send appointment inquiries to exhibitors via e-mail.
Burns: Can you tell me about some changes being made for 2013 as you respond to the increase in exhibitors?
Hamma: To satisfy the great demand of companies that want to exhibit at IDS 2013, the structure in the halls has been optimized. Additionally, Hall 2.2 will be completely occupied, whereas in 2011 only a part of this hall was used.
Burns: What's the most attractive thing about coming to your meeting?
Hamma: The entire dental industry, including all of the global market leaders, will be meeting in Cologne at IDS. The breadth and depth of the range of products and services on show here cannot be matched anywhere else in the world. It begins with dental medicine and dental technology, continues with maintenance and infection prevention and goes on to encompass services and tools for information, communication and organization. Nowhere else are so many innovations and trends presented. That makes Cologne and the International Dental Show the sector meeting place for decision makers from the dental profession, the field of dental technology, the specialist retail trade for dentistry and the dental industry.
Finally, Cologne itself is worth a journey. Cologne Cathedral is the third-highest church in the world, Cologne's museums provide a wealth of information about the Roman and medieval periods of the city's history, as well as display world-renowned art collections, and there are approximately 4,000 bars, breweries, pubs and restaurants, which guarantees visitors a diverse range of experiences in one of Germany's oldest and liveliest cities.
Growth in Germany: IDS by the numbers
1,386 exhibiting companies from 49 countries
62,726 visitors from 134 countries
1,542 exhibiting companies from 48 countries
77,433 visitors from 165 countries
1,742 exhibiting companies from 55 countries
100,522 visitors from 149 countries
1,823 exhibiting companies from 56 countries
106,147 visitors from 136 countries
1,954 exhibiting companies from 58 countries
117,697 visitors from 149 countries
Since most of the exhibiting companies will be coming to Cologne from abroad, the IDS has made travel arrangements simple for visitors and has added some perks as part of the packages for both international and local travel. Lufthansa is the official airline of IDS, and will offer tickets at reduced rates to exhibitors and visitors to the show.
If you have a voucher, you'll want to redeem it for an e-ticket at the online shop before the trade fair begins. The e-ticket is good for admission to the IDS, but that's not it – it also allows the ticket holder to travel for free within the public transportation system in Cologne. That's a great benefit, because if you don't buy some kind of travel package (usually available in monthly travel deals), riding the subway or trams can get expensive.
At the IDS website, you can book travel arrangements and hotels, as well as purchase your admission ticket.
Orthodontics in surgeries and labs
All of this just for the preparation of the event! Koelnmesse won't leave you high and dry by March, though. At the event, you can expect to be equally impressed by live demonstrations of the most up-to-date technology in the world relating to the key theme: orthodontics in surgeries and laboratories. In addition, there will be cultural programs featuring music, theater, and art.
The excitement for the 35th Koelnmesse International Dental Show is apparent in the preparations being made and the interest expressed months before the event, and it just keeps growing.
What the industry is saying about IDS
The IDS meeting is the leading dental meeting in the world. The new technologies, ability to network and wide range of dental products creates an experience unlike any other dental meeting. The large international attendance allows us to gain new customers and cement existing relationships. The vast product displays provide an opportunity to explore product line extensions and new product offerings. The show is unique in that it provides both a selling and marketing opportunity. — Randy Arner, Vice President of Marketing for DentalEZ Group
The IDS is a "must" meeting for anyone who exports, imports, or is considering either one. I know of no other venue where the dental world meets so comprehensively. The IDS provides a jump-start for the inexperienced exporter/importer and a booster for the well versed. It is a smorgasbord of everything dental. — Sara Evans, Sales Manager, Richmond Dental and Medical
As one of the world's leading dental companies, we also exhibit our products at IDS — the top event for the international dental industry, which takes place in Cologne, Germany, every two years. This trade show brings together all the relevant target groups from the worldwide dental sector. For Ivoclar Vivadent, IDS is more than just an exhibition. It is a platform for the exchange of experiences with customers which helps us to better understand their needs. Moreover, customers are invited to explore our innovations in the fields of direct restoratives, fixed prosthetics and removable prosthetics. — Armin Ospelt, Head of Global Marketing, Ivoclar Vivadent AG
Attend your first IDS meeting and start to gain some perspective on concept of a global dental market. At the last five IDS meetings (past 10 years), Porter Instrument went from attending as a "foreign visitor" (2003, 2005), just to stay on top of the new technologies relative to equipment. We took a small booth in 2007 and 2009. This year we will have doubled the space from our initial exhibition. Networking through the DTA (USA Pavilion), we have opened up a significant number of foreign dealers who found us at the show. The size and organization of the meeting is something you just need to see for yourself. See you in Köln. — Michael J. Lynam, Sales Manager, Porter Instrument Division
If you're looking for the one global dental trade show that you must attend, then it has to be the IDS. It truly is an international show now, with dental products, dental clinicians, and representatives coming from all over the world — not just Europe, but Asia, Latin America, and now a nice and growing presence from the United States. It's big, it's expensive, it's time-consuming — and yet you just don't want to miss it. — Eric Shirley, Vice President and General Manager, Midmark — Dental Division
The IDS show, held in Cologne every two years, dwarfs every other show in the world. It has a level of energy that is not found anywhere else; it is more like a compilation of the top shows around the world — all under one roof. Not only are manufacturers, dealers and trade groups from all over the world convening to present their latest innovations and market leading brands, but it is well attended by dentists as well (on the designated days). The atmosphere is fun, with very creative displays that often include dancers or musicians, and is combined with European hospitality for a relaxing discussion with dentists that is not normally found at trade shows in the U.S. — Joe Simon, Vice President of Marketing, Premier Dental Products Co.
I attended my first IDS meeting in the early 1990s and have been back seven more times. Each show seems to top the previous one. The IDS is unlike any show we have here in the U.S. It starts with the size of show: the IDS is so large, I have never been able to see the entire show in any one year. Then there are the booths. Most booths are custom built for IDS and are spectacular. I have seen everything from an actual implant being done in a completely finished operatory inside a booth to a Formula 1 race car in a booth. I have seen laser light shows and have taken a tour through a giant mouth, even walking on the "spongy" tongue. Unparalleled hospitality is the norm. Almost every booth offers refreshments to the people stopping by. These refreshments include coffee, water, sodas, beer, sparkling wine, and snacks. There is the opportunity to meet and speak with dentists and industry people from six of the seven continents. I have worked in the dental business for more than 30 years, and the IDS meeting is the most unique industry-related event I have ever attended. — Bob Zettler, Director of Sales, DUX Dental