In this update, we are continuing to extensively involve you, our partners, in the planning process of the upcoming spoga+gafa trade fair. We are making good progress, as demonstrated by the feedback we’ve been getting from the sector. The record turnout at the press conference in mid-May showed that there is a lot of interest in spoga+gafa and that people are very confident about it. We would like to thank you for this on both counts — it helps to motivate us to look optimistically at the months ahead. Today, slightly more than three months before the trade fair begins, we are once again giving you insights into the general and special circumstances that will affect spoga+gafa until this year’s trade fair commences. We are continuing to work intensely on planning the world’s largest garden lifestyle trade fair. Despite the tense situation, we have so far been able to record an excellent number of applications compared to the previous year level. This shows that the garden sector is making preparations for the time after the corona crisis and for the resumption of business activities. Over the past few days, this shared purpose has steadily grown in the digital sphere under the hashtag #gardenbackstronger.
Understandably, some exhibitors and visitors were disconcerted in recent weeks by the cancellation of several events that focus on end customers or that attract a lot of visitors. For example, we received many inquiries after the 2020 Oktoberfest unfortunately had to be cancelled. As a B2B-oriented specialist trade show, spoga+gafa differs fundamentally from sporting events and funfairs as well as from many other B2B and B2C trade fairs — not least regarding the expected density of people attending. In September 2019 spoga+gafa welcomed over 40,000 visitors, who were distributed across Koelnmesse’s entire 230,000-square-metre exhibition area over a period of three days. This is the clear difference to many of the cancelled events. Even if the number of visitors is as high as it was last year, our exhibition centre can keep them at the desired minimum distance of 1.5 metres from each other.
As a result, our stated objective remains providing the international sector with the best possible assistance so that it can return to a “new normal” and giving it the safest and most reliable opportunities possible at our exhibition centre in Cologne. As of today, we can thus inform you that spoga+gafa will indeed be taking place in Cologne from 6 to 8 September 2020.
Specialist trade fairs officially permitted once again in North Rhine-Westphalia
With effect from the target date of 30 May 2020, specialist trade fairs and conventions will once again be permitted in many regions of Germany if certain safety concepts are implemented and the number of visitors and participants is limited. One of these regions is North Rhine-Westphalia, where Cologne is located. The State of North Rhine-Westphalia notified the public of this fact on 6 May 2020.
At the same time, the reopening of borders within Europe already scheduled for May and June will provide the implementation of spoga+gafa 2020 with a further boost. Like all other situations in daily life, spoga+gafa 2020 will be subject to a “new normal,” at least for this year. If you take a look at the countries of origin of the visitors of previous years, you will see that three quarters of them came from Europe. These visitors will have the opportunity to travel and will also be willing to do so. We can assume that visitor numbers will be lower this year. That’s because we don’t know, for example, what the reality is like for our partners overseas. This will become clearer in the months ahead. We also remain optimistic in this respect, but we have to be realistic too. If we look at the visitor target countries mentioned by our customers, we see that this year’s focus on Europe provides the opportunity to make spoga+gafa as successful for its participants, given the context, as in previous years.
You’ll be in good hands in Cologne
In cooperation with the authorities and our trade-fair-related partners, we are currently drawing up the criteria and measures that will accompany us in the run-up to this year’s trade fair. These measures include appropriate hygiene, proper distancing of participants, and regulations for the processes conducted at the entrances, in the halls and at the stands. We rely on the professional behaviour of the exhibitors and visitors. Moreover, we will once again fully register the participants and exploit the size and flexibility of our exhibition centre as well as the possibilities of our digital guidance systems to make sure the trade fair runs smoothly under the conditions of the new normal.
In connection with the infrastructure needs of spoga+gafa, the Koelnmesse exhibition centre is perfectly suited for carrying out the event successfully and safely. The exhibition centre enables us to place the exhibitor stands at the same locations as in past years. This means that we have not had to change the planning to date. However, we will very probably have to dispense with stand parties and social events in 2020 and change our catering concept. But everyone will be able to live with that.
What the exhibition centre will be like (excerpt):
The precise implementation of our measures will be greatly impacted by the stipulations of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Cologne authorities. We expect these stipulations to be published shortly. Our preparations foresee the following measures:
- Distancing rules for everyone who enters the exhibition centre. As is the case in society generally
- Face masks will probably be mandatory. As is the case in society generally
- Additional entrances will be provided for exhibitors. This will prevent bottlenecks occurring in the entrance areas
- As in previous years: full registration of all visitors and exhibitors
- Cloakroom services will be provided free of charge: no waiting times
- According to the planning, bag checks to be conducted technologically without any direct contact
Although we can only influence our own exhibition centre, talks with the Cologne Tourist Board, the various hotels, the catering and hotel association Dehoga and the neighbouring airports have shown that Cologne and the surrounding region are doing a good job of preparing for the months ahead.
Planning security and transparency for exhibitors and visitors
Keeping an eye on the current situation, Koelnmesse is thus making preparations for spoga+gafa to take place successfully. Should, however, the authorities require the event to be cancelled due to another wave of infections, which currently does not appear to be the case, Koelnmesse will fully reimburse any payments made to Koelnmesse to the exhibitors and visitors. Should the trade be postponed for the same reason, Koelnmesse will fully reimburse any payments made to Koelnmesse to the exhibitors, who are not able to participate on the new exhibition date. The partners of the trade fair will be informed about possible tendencies in good time.
Dear exhibitors and visitors of spoga+gafa, we can assure you that we will conduct the trade fair in all of our interests and in a manner that will ensure everyone’s health and safety. Let’s push-start your business together and enable the best possible opportunities for a successful sector restart.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our spoga+gafa team.
We look forward to staying in touch with you. #gardenbackstronger
Your spoga+gafa team
Trade Fair Management
50679 Köln, Germany