IFA 2020 Special Edition: Ushering in Return to Normal
Dealerscope magazine recently had the opportunity to sit down with IFA Executive Director Jens Heithecker to chat about the thought process behind IFA 2020 Special Edition:
Dealerscope: Talk about how IFA feels being the first event since the pandemic hit to come back with a physical aspect to it – with exhibitors and attendees actually on a show floor.
Heithecker: We are excited to host the first major on-site event after the outbreak of the pandemic. It was clear to us from the very beginning that IFA had to take place in 2020. We see ourselves as an important platform for the industry and trade to place innovations and products in the media and in this way, present them to end consumers and prepare the pre-Christmas business. Especially this year, it is important to us to fulfill this role and support our partners.
Dealerscope: With all the questions surrounding conducting and planning business activities that 2020 has presented globally for everyone – and for every trade show – can you please talk about what you immediately saw as the biggest decisions you had to make in re-imagining IFA Special Edition for 2020?
Heithecker: Probably the most fundamental change, and thus one of the most important decisions we had to make, is the question of whether private visitors can come. After numerous discussions with the responsible authorities of the State of Berlin, it soon became clear to us that this would unfortunately not be possible this year. We therefore decided to run IFA Special Edition with limited ticket contingents which are available for representatives from industry, trade and the media.
Dealerscope: Specifically, what were some of the “essentials” of the full IFA exhibition that you decided were most important to retain – and how did you come up with that list of “must-haves”?
Heithecker: The currently designed IFA 2020 Special Edition focuses on IFA’s B2B functions. By and large, this means that we offer a meeting place for industry and trade in the IFA Business and Meeting Lounges, as well as presenting cross-sector innovations in the convention format IFA NEXT meets SHIFT mobility. With IFA Global Markets, the sourcing of components using global supply chains also takes its place. While these parts of the event are aimed at trade visitors, media representatives can experience the latest products and services, press briefings and IFA keynote speeches live exclusively at the IFA Global Press Conferences.
Dealerscope: In brief, what can visitors to IFA Special Edition 2020 expect in terms of this year’s show that will make attending it a worthwhile and enriching experience?
Heithecker: At IFA 2020 Special Edition, you will experience product launches, innovations and keynote speeches on timely topics of the industry. With a virtual extension of IFA - the "IFA Xtended Space" - the live event will be supplemented by virtual streaming offers, match-making tools and digital product presentations. This combination gives visitors the ideal conditions for efficient networking and exchange.
Dealerscope: The world is hopeful that 2021 will mean a return to normalcy for everyone (including trade shows). Even if global conditions are nearly back to normal next year, the challenges of 2020 will have certainly left their mark in terms of how to think about the planning of shows, going forward. What can you say will be top of mind when you are planning IFA 2021? As of today, what will be your priorities for 2021?
Heithecker: For 2021 we are definitely looking forward to a bigger-scale IFA. We cannot be fully certain what restrictions will still be in place in 2021. But as trade show exhibitors we are experienced in dealing with changing circumstances and we always find a solution for our industry. Future trade shows might slightly change in terms of Hybrid Events - an additional virtual component will definitely be part of the new normal in the future. Nevertheless, I am convinced that personal meetings are still and will always be immeasurable.
Dealerscope: With the announcement that CTA has decided, “to cancel CES Asia going forward,” tell us about the potential opportunity this creates for IFA’s CE China event in the future.
Heithecker: Innovation and technology don’t know borders. They are global. They should not know politics. And if there’s one thing that is the core function of IFA, Global IFA and CE China, then it is to be the platform that connects innovation and technology with brands, retailers and consumers.
In other words: CE China is based on a truly unique concept. That’s why we are successful, and that’s why we know that it is vital for the GLOBAL consumer electronics industry that CE China will go ahead.
Now for any type of event this year, health and safety are even more important than usual. That’s true for IFA Berlin and it’s true for CE China. Most countries are successfully emerging from this pandemic. That includes China, and especially Guangdong and Shenzhen. So I’m really optimistic.
Dealerscope: As the CE industry continues to move forward through these trying times, what message would the organizers of IFA like to send out to the CE industry?
Heithecker: We believe that seeing each other, one on one, remains a key element to build trustful relationships. As it is well known, trust is the best starting point for efficient and, above all, resilient cooperation. So, let us together work on keeping and building trustful relationships across the industry. We at IFA are more than willing and capable to support the industry in this endeavor. This year, IFA 2020 Special Edition is our contribution. At the same time we will make sure that all necessary public hygiene measures are in place and that everybody will be as safe as possible.