COST CANCEL FAIR - The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many realities to stop. Among these there are fairs. All have suffered losses, especially those that at the time of the beginning of the restrictions were already in an advanced stage of preparation. Guglielmo Maffeis, organizer of Faq400, tells about his experience. How much does it cost to cancel a fair, in terms of cost and money, when you are already ready to open?
For years now since the very first days of January we begin to take the first organizational steps. 2020 has not made exceptions. As always we started visiting different locations, arriving to choose the most suitable at the end of January. In February we were hoping to be able to perform our exhibition because we had set it for the end of May.
By March 5th, we were pretty far ahead. In fact, we were ready for the market launch, actually we had already published a video with the presentation interviews still enthusiastically. From there to days inspections would have to start, with the exhibitors, the catering and the teachers who would hold the training courses within the fair. We’re talking a few months/man invested.
At the beginning of March, however, the news appeared increasingly dark. In order not to make fun of ourselves and of our sponsors, we decided to announce the cancellation of our "physical" event. But we did not lose faith because we are not used to letting "rot" situations. At first sight we charged Cinzia Bonanomi, our partner in charge of operational marketing, to think of an alternative. She came up with the idea of trying to walk the ground of the virtual fair, remembering a 3D exhibition seen years ago and built for the engineering district of Lecco that had fascinated her.
In the field of virtual 3D fairs some roads have opened in front of us. We have made a selection with three possible suppliers, of which two foreigners, with the objective to close the contract within 30 April 2020. The choice fell on Avepa, for the speed with which it responded and for the conditions it reserved for us, especially meeting us on payment times. The goal was to open our fair for July 2020, practically a record. The solution has attracted us so much that even for when we will return to in-person events, we will propose a parallel virtual space.
The virtual fair has allowed us to continue working all year round, and above all to remain connected to our customers and partners. Unlike any negative forecast that could be read in 2020, the year for Faq400 closed with a slight drop in turnover.
When we decided to walk a new ground we had already started the activities of promotion, graphics, booking catering and hotels. In addition, we had already paid the deposit of the fair that would have hosted us. Economically speaking, we are talking about a few tens of thousands of euros invested just to start.
We recovered the deposit paid for the rental of the exhibition, I must say, finding great professional ethics in the body that we had hired. Then we cashed in the "minimum" refreshments provided by the DPCM issued during the first lockdown. But not having lowered the turnover over 33% as required by the new decrees, we will not receive further compensation. It’s better this way, because it means we "kept" our positions, organically I would say, indeed we launched into new markets and with future perspectives.
We advise all those who want to take innovative paths to inform about the calls available for the digital transformation of their company: we did it, thanks to the project of our virtual fair presented according to the "BANDO SI 4.0 - Development of innovative I4.0 solutions by Regione Lombardia and Unioncamere Lombardia".
Also here Advepa has a hand in it: it was another distinctive element of our choice because we have joined a company specialized in facilitated finance and in drafting of calls of financing (the Sercam Advisory of Rome).
We are in contact with organizations and organizers of events to tell them about our experience and join us in the construction of many three-dimensional "poles" of immersive reality. It’s a challenge that we feel we can pose to anyone who needs to stay in touch with customers all over the world, to live as protagonists this epochal transition and not get stuck for who knows how long. We have the necessary experience to guide this process, which certainly costs the effort to get out of the old ways, but which is an exciting challenge worth risking.
In fact, in our future we see only rosy perspectives that would not have been possible without the idea of the virtual fair for 2020. The big news is the expected doubling of the pavilions and the introduction of useful services to our community. We will finalize the new fair that will be called: "ICT Village" and will contain the best of the ICT offer for the Italian market. We will collaborate with 1) Erpselection, the first management software rating portal in Italy, 2) with CIO Club Italia, a very vital CIO association , 3) with AI the Artificial Intelligence explained in a simple way, 4) with Sercam Advisory, for calls for funding.
Guglielmo Maffeis is in charge of Social Media Marketing. Since 2017 he has been a member and CEO of Faq400, the Italian community of IBM i/AS400.