The recession may be fading but it damaged glasstec, the world’s biggest exhibition for glass and glass processing. Show Director, Birgit Horn, tells MyTradeTV Editor, Michael Gannon, why it is bouncing back.
For any first time visitor from the UK to continental shows, the sheer scale of the exhibitions can be overwhelming. The second impression can be how advanced and sophisticated the products, systems and services are on display, manned by staff who never seem challenged by the numbers visiting, or from where they come from in the world.
Enormous stands are the order of the day, housed by massive halls that tend to go on and on. This is the image that was made on this trade editor when he made his first visit in 1998 and for the most part, this is as true now as it was then. glasstec takes place on 21-24 October in Dusseldorf, Germany, offering professionals the latest developments in glass and glass processing with almost all the big players having an impressive presence.
There is no doubt that that the international recession had a bad impact on the event and when the Show Director, Birgit Horn, took over in 2009, the timing was an unfortunate one. Visitor numbers dropped and the exhibition contracted and the optimistic hopes for solarpeq – the solar part of glasstec – were dashed by the German government slashing the feed-in-tariffs rates; something the UK government followed.
These two factors left an obvious mark on how glasstec performed. “We had an industry that was not operating at anything like full capacity with government policies that did serious damage to a burgeoning solar industry that glasstec was representing and encouraging,” Birgit Horn told MYTTV.
Steps were taken in 2010 when the event was reduced by one day which may have partly accounted for the drop in attendance. Two years ago, glasstec was a success in many ways but was having difficulties in keeping visitors figures up and 43,000 attended in that year.
Hopes for 2014 have reflected the state of play in the industry as it now finds itself. Birgit Horn hopes to have as many visitors as last time and the exhibitors have remained at about the same number which was 1,162 in 2012. There is no solarpeq, which had some 100 exhibitors at its height but many will have solar systems on display.
Unlike many shows in the UK, glasstec is a truly international event – 66% of its exhibitors are from abroad and 62% of visitors arrive from outside Germany. The UK figures in the top 10 of both exhibitors and visitors to glasstec.
Another positive factor is the satisfaction levels with 95% of visitors saying they were ‘satisfied’ and most importantly, given the dire economic situation prevailing even in 2012, 94% stating they were likely to return.
Hoping this might occur is not good enough and Ms Horn acknowledges this. “Our team has been putting in lots of work to make glasstec more accessible. We know that a trade show is a knowledge platform and must give extra benefit to the visitors”.
Time has to be a crucial factor for any visitor, even though Dusseldorf is only one hour’s flight from London. The organisers have established an industry guide on its website – www.glasstec-online.com – and there is also a ‘trend compass’ that shows which exhibitors are displaying products and services connected with specific themes. One example that Ms Horn pointed to was so-called ‘thin glass’ that is being developed to meet the expanding demand for triple glazing and its practical requirements.
glasstec has also been renowned for its additional events, especially its conferences and this year is no exception. The ‘Glass Technology Live’ special show has been organised by Professor Stefan Behling and his team from Stuttgart University.
With these and nine massive halls to visit, one day is hardly enough. “If you want to be successful, you have to take up to two days to get that additional insight into products and suppliers”, advised Ms Horn.
For further information, visit the website: www.glasstec-online.com
Caption 1 A visit to glasstec is a must for the serious glass industry professional.