After the fair is before the fair – this is especially true for the employees of Messe Frankfurt. For Mira Wölfel the preparations for next year’s fair have already started while the current Prolight + Sound is still open for visitors and exhibitors. In the following interview, the head of Sales & Planning reports what needs to be done to prepare a fair like Prolight + Sound, and what extraordinary needs some exhibitors have.
Which responsibilities do you have at the Messe Frankfurt?
As head of Sales & Planning I am responsible for the sales activities of Prolight + Sound and the music fair. The most important thing: analyzing the needs of the companies, in conjunction with personal contact, and finding the best possible means of presentation at the fair. Careful advice and having an open ear – even for extraordinary wishes – are most essential. I lead a team of experienced sales specialists for exhibitor interaction and realization of sales campaigns. In addition, here in Frankfurt we coordinate a global sales network that is present for our clients in over 160 countries.
While the time period shortly before and during the fair is the most intense for exhibitors, it’s probably the other way around for you. What tasks do you have when the fair is over?
An international trade fair like Prolight + Sound is the result of an entire year of hard work. Even longer, to be precise – the planning for the following year has already started before the gates of the fair open. And naturally after the fair is already before the fair. As was the case in 2017: as every year, we continued to dialogue with the industry after the event in order to gather feedback on Prolight + Sound 2017, we carefully analyzed the results and evaluated survey data. All this is very important in order to continuously optimize the fair with regard to our clients’ wishes. In the coming weeks, there will be additional conversations with exhibitors and organisations. These will include for example topics like the future hall planning to find the best possible context to present product groups. Crucial is to ensure the beneficial interactions between Prolight + Sound and Musikmesse.
What are the largest challenges you have in your job?
Prolight + Sound offers a platform for the entire spectrum of event technology: from light and sound to theater and stage all the way to AV media technology and system integration. In addition, the music fair displays the world of musical instruments and many other topics around music. With the diversity of market segments presenting themselves at the two events, the fact that there are differing interests has to do with the nature of things. The challenge for us as fair organizers is to take all of these interests into account in the strategic conception of the dual fairs. The prerequisite is continuous dialogue with the industry I referred to earlier. The willingness to change is just as important.
And that already leads us to the second great challenge: a progressive fair platform also changes with digital transformations. We are surrounded be an unprecedented amount of information that can be called up on the web. But: the product experience under real conditions, the encounters with clients and potential clients, networking and the knowledge transfer with other industry actors – all of that continues to be irreplaceable and cannot be transported in this form on any website and over any online channel. With this as our backdrop, our task is increasing the value of the fair visit, year after year. Correspondingly, in 2017 we realized new formats like the “Silent Stage” special area and extended our advanced training programme. But naturally we also use the possibilities offered by digital communication. For example, by generating visibility for the innovations of our exhibitors through Prolight + Sound blog, via our social media or online exhibitor search.
What were some unusual or “crazy” requests from exhibitors that you can remember?
In the history of the music fair and Prolight + Sound there were quite a few extravagant exhibitor wishes realized. The highlights include setting up a body flying arena or a motodrome in the middle of the fair – or a promo flight from the world’s fastest camera drone. Such projects pose great challenges for logistics and organization, and often legal or insurance issues have to be sorted beforehand. We offer as much support as possible so that our exhibitors extraordinary actions can unfold in all its glory.