MMI Asia Pte. Ltd., the regional headquarter and a wholly owned subsidiary of Messe München, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Singapore Tourism Board on 15NOV21, to arrange the Southeast Asian edition of transport logistic and air cargo for multiple biennial editions in Singapore, from 2023 onwards. CargoForwarder Global asked interviewed Robert Schoenberger, Exhibition Group Director, Messegesellschaft Muenchen GmbH, on how Messe Munich has navigated through the turbulences of the pandemic.
A word on the latest edition of the leading series of transport logistic and air cargo shows, first. Singapore now joins the line-up of events that began with the world’s largest logistics event and parent show in Munich, and are now also regularly held India, China, Turkey, and the United States. The date for the premiere in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, has already been set: 13-15SEP23, and key industry stakeholders Changi Airport Group, SATS Ltd, and DHL Express are also already on board. The event’s central theme will be “Integrated Logistics for a Disrupted World”
At the MoU signing, MMI Asia’s Director and General Manager, Michael Wilton said: “In a disrupted world, the logistics industry has had to adapt, change and remain flexible in order to meet
the extraordinary demands the global economies have placed on their sector. The event will enable the very best minds to meet, network and ensure they remain up to date with the latest trends and
best practices in the industry. For shippers looking to address and solve the demands that have been forced on their distribution and logistics networks, the event will provide unparalleled
access to the very best solutions and services available in the global market.”
Lim Ching Kiat, Managing Director, Air Hub Development of Changi Airport Group added: “Air cargo plays a key role in global trade and supply chains - its significance is further highlighted during the pandemic with the delivery of essential goods and medical supplies. Looking ahead, Southeast Asia’s share in global air trades is expected to increase, and global cargo hubs like Changi play a key role in supporting this growth. It is therefore very timely that the transport logistic and air cargo Exhibition and Conference launches an edition in this region.”
A positive outlook, therefore, on the future of events despite the ongoing uncertainty that the pandemic brings, and directly addressing the current situation with the aim of bringing the best industry minds together to share best-demonstrated practices and solutions. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) wanted to know more from Robert Schoenberger (RS), Exhibition Group Director, Messegesellschaft Muenchen GmbH
CFG: Mr. Schoenberger, trade fair companies are among the main victims of the pandemic. How has Messe München come through the crisis so far, as it stands today?
RS: The situation was very challenging. Characterized by the uncertainties as to when live events will be possible again, we experienced continuous ups and downs. Even though we are a company with public shareholders, we operate financially independently. We have received support in the form of loans. Unfortunately, however, there was no way to avoid structural change, meaning staff cuts and a reorganization of the company. Even if the current news does not bring any clarity yet, we very much hope our trade fairs will be able to take place in the usual form in the coming year.
CFG: The next event on the schedule is air cargo India in Mumbai from 22-24FEB22. How many exhibitors are you expecting, if the trade show does not have to be cancelled due to COVID-19, and what are the thematic highlights?
RS: Our subsidiary Messe München India organized three parallel trade fairs just last week and achieved very good visitor numbers. Trade shows are possible again and are very well received. That puts us in a positive mood. The booking situation is very good at this point, and we expect an almost identical event to the one in 2020. In the current times, a really big success. In the conference, we will of course recapitulate the past months and draw learnings for the future. There are topics that inexhaustible when it comes to discussion and that are always being developed further -in particular, this includes sustainability and digitization. However, as always, we will also address very topical issues and would like to give a voice to start-ups in the industry.
CFG: The Transport Logistic Americas Forum in combination with the TIACA Executive Summit events initially planned to be held in San Francisco last September but then cancelled, are now scheduled to take place 22-25MAR22. Is everything currently going according to plan there, and what are the thematic highlights that can already be identified from an air freight perspective?
RS: We were very sorry about the postponement of the Executive Summit and Forum from September to March. We wanted to fly the flag in the USA in 2021 and thus usher in the time until the air cargo forum Miami on the West Coast. The program was in place, the speakers confirmed. Therefore, we decided not to abandon the contents, but to postpone the event by a few months. The highlight in San Francisco will be the two parallel expert tracks on the first two days of the conference and then the Innovation Journey to Silicon Valley on the following two days. There is really a deep dive into innovations. To hold a conference in this format, is only possible in California. That's another reason why we really wanted to hold on to the event.
CFG: During the pandemic, many companies decided to significantly reduce business travel and use video conferencing instead. Looking ahead to your upcoming trade shows in Singapore, Shanghai, Johannesburg, or Transport Logistic / Air Cargo Europe 2023, to name a few, do you already see signs of reduced demand and lower attendance?
RS: A few months ago, we were really in mourning within our industry and of course discussing a lot about the future of events. What we feel positive about now, is that where live events were possible again, guests did also attend. And everyone was pleased that it was possible to meet in person again. Also, chance encounters are simply not possible, digitally. Now that people are going back to the office and also taking more business trips again, we are noticing that interest in digital formats is declining. So far, the feedback from our customers has been unanimous: We are looking forward to MAY23 and the reunion in Munich.
CFG: Exhibitors will be interested to know if they can cancel a booking at short notice and free of charge, should the pandemic situation require it.
RS: All exhibitors, including those among your readers, have been able to experience for themselves since the beginning of the pandemic that our company has been very accommodating. For all events that were cancelled, all participation fees were refunded. Currently, we have also set up special conditions of participation, which make it possible for the customer to cancel participation if there are particular hurdles to entering or returning from the country. At the moment, therefore, registration for the trade fairs is virtually risk-free.
CFG: Whether in international sports or trade fairs: events in autocratically ruled countries not only do not seem to be questioned, they even appear to be popular, as evidenced by the staging of Olympic Games in Sochi and Beijing respectively, or the awarding of the Soccer World Cup to Russia and Qatar. So, the question is: why doesn't one of the world's largest trade fair companies, Messe München, set an example here and withdraw - for example - from China?
RS: That is a very political question. Just this week, there was a discussion in German logistics about whether integration is the right way to go, or a clear position taken. China is so closely integrated into world trade that confrontation is factually impossible. The question thus concerns not only sports and trade fairs, it concerns everyone who has business relations with these countries. As a trade show, we offer a platform for customers; but we ourselves have a subsidiary with over 150 employees. We bear responsibility for them because their livelihoods, families, and lives depend on it. But this topic will certainly become even more important in the future. In this respect, I am curious to see how you, as air cargo media, will continue to discuss this and how it will then find its way into the discussion rounds at our events.
CFG: As an independent medium, we will continue to report objectively, critically, and factually on future developments, including the choice of location and the program of trade shows.
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