They seem to be mutually exclusive, yet these two factors will shape the events industry even more in the post-COVID-19 world: Future congresses and trade fairs will hardly be able to take place without including virtualised options. Nevertheless, people continue to enjoy face-to-face interaction, which is more important today than ever before!
For trade fair and congress organisations, this means combining the best of two worlds to create ideal hybrid events. Hamburg Messe und Congress (HMC) has been expanding its range of digital services for years. HMC technicians made good use of the lockdown times to acquire additional knowledge in the areas of video and streaming technology, among other things; they experimented, tried things out, adopted some and scrapped others, while their colleagues elsewhere refined their approaches to making physical events even more memorable.
The gist of it: Both the virtual and the physical experience are of pivotal importance.
For more than 100 years the City of Hamburg has been the home of INTERNORGA. First held on the premises of the zoological garden – today Planten un Blomen Park – as a “Spring Fair for All the Needs of Hotels, Restaurants, Cafés and Large-Scale Catering” in 1921, it quickly established itself as a trend-setting international flagship fair and a source of inspiration for food service and hospitality. This is the place where – over the years – the first convenience products, the first Teflon-coated frying pans, the first gas grills and the first insect burgers were showcased.
Classified by the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) as Germany’s only international food service and hospitality fair, INTERNORGA has long had a firm place in the calendar of events of an industry which has just put an exceedingly difficult period behind it. Unfortunately, the original plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary at a physical trade fair at the Hamburg exhibition campus during the year under report had to be abandoned. However, crises inspire inventiveness, as is commonly known. So from 15 to 17 March 2021, the IDX_FS International Digital Food Services Expo powered by INTERNORGA (IDX_FS Expo) took place as a purely digital industry meeting.
To organise this innovative expo and create a virtual meeting place for stakeholders from the food service, hospitality, bakery and confectionery segments to share news and views and to network, the makers of INTERNORGA joined hands with the Institute of Culinary Art and the event management company IDX Events. In addition to providing an innovative virtual exhibitor platform, the IDX_FS Expo broadcast its programme from three live stages in Hamburg and Cologne, featuring first-rate speakers, competitions, awards such as the INTERNORGA Future Award and the German Gastro Founder Award, and new event formats. In addition, for the first time in its history the largest culinary industry congress, the International Foodservice Forum, took place digitally. In times of constant uncertainty, all events have caused stakeholders to rethink their approaches, which resulted in a significant acceleration of digitalisation. There has been a new, fresh perspective, which is encouraging!
Despite the success of the IDX_FS Expo, industry stakeholders were anxious to finally meet face-to-face and share views and ideas again at INTERNORGA in Hamburg. After a three-year break, INTERNORGA celebrated a grand reunion and a successful relaunch at Hamburg’s exhibition halls from 30 April to 4 May 2022. Once again it became obvious that human interaction, the exchange of thoughts and experiences, and networking cannot be fully digitalised, not to mention testing, tasting and feeling which are inherently physical. Physical presence will always be a must in this sensory industry.
The accompanying congress programme at the CCH and in Hall “Chicago” attracted and inspired nearly 2,000 participants. Scientists, consultants and other industry experts contributed their expertise at the 40th International Foodservice Forum and on the day dedicated to corporate and community catering. They provided valuable insights to decision-makers and delivered new impetus to the rapidly changing out-of-home segment. Ultimately there was no denying the fact that times continue to be challenging for the hospitality industry which has to cope with supply chain disruption, rising purchasing prices and staff shortages. It was all the more important for INTERNORGA to send a positive signal to the sector in 2022.