CeBIT bites back at critics

Exhibitors claim numbers down but visitor quality up

CeBIT 2010 has hit back at critics of its events, with exhibitors claiming it was an overall success. But visitor numbers were down.

Tegatech returned to this year’s event for the fourth year running and its principal, Hugo Ortega, said he had a greatly improved show. But he claimed floor traffic was subdued compared to previous years.

“You could notice it was less, but the quality was higher probably because we launched a tablet and that’s a hot topic right now,” he said. “There’s so much focus on tablets this year we really did go a little bit hard and pushed the range.”

Ortega said this year’s response was strong enough to make him start negotiations for CeBIT 2011 early and that he looked forward to exhibiting again. But he said the event could use some improvement.

“I think CeBIT should pay attention to its competition,” he said. “A lot of people we spoke to would rather be at market-specific exhibitions because CeBIT’s open door policy means you get a multitude of people. Ultimately, the quality of people must reflect who the target audience is.

“There seems to be a split personality between the exhibition floor and the conferences. There’s a fear that one dominates the other and that the conference attracts a better quality of audience.

“If they don’t attract some big names next year, CeBIT is definitely going to start to hurt because the little people only gain leverage if they can see big names there. And people like Intel, Microsoft, Apple… not being there reflects very poorly on the show.”

Intel’s national marketing manager, Kate Burleigh, said the processing giant had purchased a small health-focussed stand at CeBIT 2010 and that it had worked very well despite the fewer visitors.

“I think the days of having overall stands are pretty much gone. I’d much rather have a stand that focuses on a specific product segment,” she said. “The key with any trade show is the amount of time and effort you have to put into running, manning and building the stand…it’s not about the floor space.

“If you don’t think the return on investment is there in pulling staff off mainstream business for the show, then it’s not worth it.”

While Burleigh said she preferred to show at reseller and specialist events, she added accounts of the CeBIT’s demise had been greatly exaggerated in the past.

“People have been talking about the days of CeBIT being over for quite a long time but it still seems to be hanging in there. We’ll always consider whether we should be there or not,” she said.

First time exhibitor, Western Digital, said this year’s event had greatly exceeded expectations but also agreed that foot traffic was down.

“We wanted to sell our latest Blue, Green and Black marketing message to end users and that’s why we attended this year’s event,” WD territory manager, Eric Chan, said. “We were surprised at the success we got out of it.

“The quality of the crowd was good… it’s a bit pricey because they don’t charge people for coming to the show, so the cost goes to the vendor. But we didn’t mind because it was the right investment.”

According to a spokesperson at CeBIT’s organisers, Hannover Fairs Australia, the final visitor data was still being prepared. This year’s events featured tech unveilings from the CSIRO and channel launches from OzHosting.

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