Q: Back to Business – but not business as usual. Preparations for ProWein 2021, the world’s largest and most important trade fair for wines and spirit, are in full swing. In particular, the effects of COVID-19 and the currently applicable hygiene and safety regulations require substantial adjustments on all levels and by all those involved. What will change in 2021, what are the adaptations to the new conditions?
A: Indeed, the current hygiene and safety regulations set the pace for ProWein 2021. Alongside many other precautions only a certain number of people are allowed in the exhibition halls each day; this is the only way to ensure that the required social distancing measures are met. For the stand personnel of our approximately 6,900 exhibitors alone, we are already at about 20,000 persons per day. With the more than 60,000 visitors to ProWein 2019 the required safety regulations could not be met. And even if we assume that the number of visitors declines – which will be the case – we can only admit a limited number of visitors in the nine halls at ProWein. For this reason we extended the trade fair to five days and thus channel the visitor flows by spreading it over five days. Accordingly, ProWein 2021 will be held from Friday, March 19 to Tuesday, March 23 in the proven hall constellation 9 to 17; not to forget Hall 7.0 for our special show “same but different”. We have also adjusted the opening hours: Friday to Monday from 10:00 am to 6.30 pm, Tuesday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Q: This extended duration and simultaneous channeling of the visitor flow is certainly not the only concrete measure as a result of COVID-19. What other hygiene and safety measures can exhibitors and trade visitors expect at ProWein?
A: Managing visitor flows – meaning limiting the number of people at the Exhibition Centre and inside the individual halls in concrete terms – is indispensable for compliance with hygiene rules. Visitors and exhibitors will have to wear face masks covering their nose and mouth and strictly adhere to hand hygiene. With the motto “PROTaction” Messe Düsseldorf has developed a highly detailed hygiene and safety concept and has already implemented this very successfully in early September at CARAVAN SALON, the world’s most important trade fair for camping and caravanning. Here, too, the core element – in addition to the general compulsory wearing of masks and hand hygiene – was limiting the flow of visitors to a daily limit with the help of personalized tickets. For details interested readers should go to https://www.prowein.com
Q: What do exhibitors at ProWein 2021 need to pay attention to? Can the hygiene and safety concept be implemented by them without great efforts?
A: First of all, let me mention maybe the most important point: by extending to five days while also limiting attendance to 10,000 visitors daily, the hall layouts/space allocation will not need to be changed, which means exhibitors will keep their stand locations from 2020. They will not need to reduce or enlarge their stand size. However, stand construction must be adapted to meet COVID-19 conditions.
Q: Was there an alternative to this concrete implementation of the hygiene and safety provisions and/or extended duration?
A: Needless to say, we looked into various versions and options very thoroughly. We examined in detail, for example, whether trade visitors could be clustered by halls, i.e. the focal ranges, and by trade fair days. At first this seemed an attractive idea with many benefits; taking a closer look, however, we realized it would not be feasible, nor in the interest of our customers.
Q: As the sector’s leading trade fair ProWein is also characterized by a high percentage of international wine and spirits professionals; after all, at ProWein 2019 every second visitor came from outside Germany. Aren’t you afraid of facing a drastic decline in the number of international ProWein visitors in view of the dynamic COVID-19 development worldwide?
A: A very recent decision by the German government might have an extremely positive effect on the entire trade fair industry. With immediate effect exhibitors and visitors are considered business travelers with good reason and will be allowed to enter Germany even if they come from a risk region. In addition to a negative corona test, they must also present a confirmation of their participation in the trade fair. In concrete terms, this means that visitors must show their admission ticket to the trade fair and also an appointment for a business meeting with at least one exhibitor at the location of the trade fair. Employees of exhibiting companies must present a confirmation of their participation in the trade fair from the trade fair organizer. This entry permit also applies to citizens from countries requiring a visa; the business travel visa is still required. Employees of exhibiting companies are exempt from the visa fee. These are extremely positive measures for ProWein, Messe Düsseldorf and the entire German trade fair industry.
Q: What other concrete effects and changes do exhibitors and visitors have to expect at ProWein 2021?
A: One very important point is that visitor tickets will be available exclusively online. On-site ticket purchase will not be possible. The ticket shop is expected to go live in January 2021. Trade visitor registration will, of course, remain unchanged and naturally those tickets already purchased for ProWein 2020 will remain valid and/or will be carried over to a respective day of the event in 2021. This group of trade visitors will be contacted by e-mail at the end of the year and informed in detail.
We have already been able to make adjustments to the current hygiene and safety regulations but there are still some open issues to address such as how to handle the spittoons or whether there will be any large tasting events and areas at all. There are still many details that need to be clarified.
Q:Coming back to the “normal” trade fair preparations, which are already in full swing at this stage. What exactly is on the agenda?
A: Three “items” are currently on the agenda. We plan to modernize the image of ProWein in line with the zeitgeist of the wine and spirits industry: open-minded, curious, dynamic, colorful – and yet always conscious of its origin and roots. The campaign will already be launched in October with several activities specifically designed to address younger target groups of visitors from trending catering sector and the bar scene.
Also on our to-do list is the further development of digital formats. The COVID-19 developments have shown that digital tools will also play an increasingly important role in the wine and spirits sector. As the leading global trade fair, ProWein in particular can provide decisive impulses here and develop contemporary digital formats together with the industry players. I am thinking here, for example, of the matchmaking tool, which was already introduced very successfully on the market at the last ProWein and has achieved a high level of acceptance among exhibitors and visitors alike.
The third major project is the Business Report which we will once again produce in cooperation with Geisenheim University. This year’s main topic is COVID-19 and its impact on the international wine and spirits industry.
Rest assured: ProWein stands side by side with the wine and spirits industry – in the future just as it has done over the past 26 years.
For information on visiting or exhibiting at ProWein 2021, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America; Telephone: (312) 781-5180; E-mail: [email protected]; Visit www.prowein.com and www.mdna.com; Follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/mdnachicago