The wire&Tube show in Düsseldorf never fails to deliver.
This globally leading exhibition is the premier show in our industry and after two false starts due to CoVID-19, June 2022 saw the return of this major event.
In this article, Peter Comerford from Comton Group and The Metal Magazine shares some of his thoughts and experiences of the show, as well as some tips for exhibitors and attendees planning to attend the next show.
It’s been barely a week since the show, and given a few days of reflection, I was impressed with what I saw this year. The Messe is a fantastic venue – easy to get to and to navigate – and Düsseldorf itself is a stunning city that is a perfect place to kick back in of an evening and meet business contacts old and new.
Having been to four or five of these events over the years, it should come as no surprise that the event is so big, but I’m always surprised at how many people turn up, and how large the fair is. Looking at the official website, the numbers are crazy.
1,822 exhibitors from over 50 countries. I’ve no idea on the footfall, but it was noticeably quieter than in previous years. I don’t think this reflects on the show losing popularity, more so that there were maybe 20-30% fewer attendees and / or exhibitors than expected due to the ongoing CoVID restrictions in China.
I’ve never done any of the seminars so can’t comment on the quality or the content, but I would assume if they are anything like the exhibition, that they would be good value.
Why were we there?
We’ve been looking forward to attending this fair since we set up Comton Group three and a half years ago. It’s just not possible to see so many key personnel and decision makers in one place anywhere else but Düsseldorf. Mike and I came to this event to push our media offerings to a European and global audience, and this fair provided us with the perfect platform to network with our old supply chains and customers from our industry days. It also allowed us to meet up with new and potential clients for the future, and allowed us the opportunity to get feedback on our new product, The Metal Magazine.
Speaking to the exhibitors, the main takeaway was that companies were just happy to be back at events. They were enjoying meeting up with customers and colleagues that they hadn’t seen in years, and there seemed to be a real buzz around the place. I met many old friends that I hadn’t seen or spoken to since I departed the distribution sector in 2018, and Mike in the same vein was busy meeting his old supply partners from across Europe.
We also spent a lot of our time meeting and talking with companies that we had either not done business with, but were target accounts, or had simply never heard of before. For us this made the wire&Tube fair extremely useful, and it’s why it would be a valuable visit for new companies, or companies that are entering the market with a new product or service.
The wire&Tube fair is an extremely social event. There are numerous parties organised on stands during the event, and on the evenings in and around the city. This created potential to make new business connections throughout our visit, and allowed us to meet business owners and decision makers in various bars, restaurants, the train on the way to the event, and even on the flight home.
Making new connections
One of my gripes with exhibitions, and networking events in general, is that most people find it difficult to actually meet new people, and create opportunities for business relationships to develop. It’s common for attendees to simply meet up with people they already know, or spend time on their own company stand, when in reality the 17 halls of the Messe are awash with potential business.
We spent the majority of our time talking to and meeting people that we didn’t know, and had numerous quality interactions that we will be following up now we are back in the office in the U.K.
Just because you have a stand, it does not guarantee that the right people will come to you, and as I mentioned above, it’s not always easy to approach people from cold. So here are a few tips to make the most out of an event like this.
Tips for exhibitors
- Take the right people. The talkers, the outgoing staff, the energetic ones. Don’t just take the management. If you’re not a ‘people person’ you shouldn’t make the cut.
- Talk to anyone who is loitering, they could just be your next major account. Don’t let them pass you by.
- If the attendee you talk to is clearly a waste of time, move on. Say you’ve got a meeting or a call to take so you can move on, you could miss the prospects you’ve paid to be at the event to meet while talking hot air to a time waster.
- Make sure your stand sells to those that are passing by (it amazes me how poor some of the stand designs are given the costs to be at this exhibition, and how few visuals there are to support the visitors passing your stand). If it’s not obvious what you do, you’ve done it wrong, and even if you are a household name remember that not even everyone in your company knows everything you can offer, so make sure you show the prospects and customers how you are solving their problems.
- Wearing comfortable shoes/trainers is a must. It was noticeable how much more relaxed people were with their footwear and clothing in general. It’s good to be smart and professional, but don’t kill your feet. Five days is a long time to be standing upright.
- Give people a reason to walk onto your stand. Be it a competition, great food or drinks, an engaging video to watch, and try and grab the prospects data digitally, so you’re not just asking for business cards.
- Put your mobile away, and don’t sit with your back to the aisles. Basics, but common mistakes I saw this week.
Tips for attendees
- Super basic, but go and talk to people. If you have something worth talking about, then tell people about it, or ask for assistance with the business problem that you need a solution for.
- When approaching exhibitors, don’t expect everyone to engage with you immediately. By wednesday, thursday or friday, some of the exhibitors have been away from home and on a stand for 3-4 days. Throw in travel, and some beers on an evening, and it’s not a surprise some exhibitors aren’t on their best form!
- Just like when you meet someone you don’t know for the first time, think about them, ask how they are getting on, how they are feeling, how the show has been? Have you had any good leads, enquiries or met any interesting people? Do they have any recommendations for food or drinks in the evenings? Remember, people buy from people, so be human, and take an interest rather than just expecting a conversation to flow from the off.
- If you are a potential buyer, it’s easier to start a conversation, but ask if they have time to chat and who the best person to speak about X would be.
- Get contact details for those people that are not on the stand, or book a timeslot if the person you need is otherwise engaged.
- Send the right people, if you’re not the most outgoing in your business, bring someone who is to help you break the ice.
Looking forward to 2024
The wire&Tube fair returns on 15-19 April 2024, and it’ll be interesting to see how much further forward our business will have moved in two years’ time. For sure, though, we will be coming back to this event, and I anticipate that it will have moved forward apace the next time the doors open.
Congratulations to all involved on a fantastic event.
You can find out more information about the wire&Tube fair by visiting the official website, which includes a whole host of testimonials from other visitors and exhibitors who attended this year’s event: www.wire-tradefair.com