Restarting Trade Shows in Europe

Restarting Trade Shows in Europe

We’ve heard a lot about shows reopening here in the U.S., but what’s happening in Europe?

In this rebroadcast of Virtual Lunch in the Exhibit Marketers Café, Marco Barozzi joins us from Bologna, Italy to provide insights on:

  • Signs of recovery with upcoming trade shows
  • The importance of Digital Green Certificates
  • How venues all over Europe have stepped up
  • What government aid has been available

Here are links mentioned during the interview:

About Marco Barozzi

Marco Barozzi
Marco Barozzi

Marco Barozzi is the founder and Managing Director of Expo Consulting, located in Bologna, Italy. He has 30 years of experience and knowledge of international markets, and spent many years at key positions in prestigious exhibition companies such as Miller Freeman and Reed Exhibitions, before founding Expo Consulting.

Since 1998, he has served as the Country Manager of Fira Barcelona for Italy. And he speaks fluent English, French and Spanish, besides his native Italian. Check out the Expo Consulting website or connect with Marco on LinkedIn.


[00:00:00.330] - Marlys Arnold

You're listening to the Trade Show Insights podcast, Season 16, Episode 6.

[00:00:19.450] - Marlys Arnold

I'm your host and exhibit marketing strategist, Marlys Arnold, bringing you tools to improve your exhibit results. On today's episode, brought to you by the Exhibit Marketers Cafe, we've got a rebroadcast of our virtual lunch with Marco Barozzi, giving us the latest on what's happening in Europe.

[00:01:03.620] - Marlys Arnold

Marco Barozzi is the founder and managing director of Expo Consulting, located in Bologna, Italy. He has 30 years of experience and knowledge of international markets and spent many years at key positions in prestigious exhibition companies such as Miller Freeman and Reed Exhibitions before founding Expo Consulting. Since 1998, he has served as the country manager for Fira Barcelona for Italy, and he speaks fluent English, French and Spanish. Besides his native Italian.

[00:01:34.520] - Marlys Arnold

So Marco, Ciao, Bonjour, Hola, welcome to Virtual Lunch.

[00:01:47.810] - Marco Barozzi

Thank you. Thank you Marlys. Gracious, grazie. Thanks for having me here. Thank you.

[00:01:49.900] - Marlys Arnold

Oh, you're welcome. You're welcome. You know, it's kind of funny. It's like, you know, CNN and all the news networks, they have their their foreign correspondents in like London or or Tokyo or whatever. It's like, well, Marco's like our virtual lunch correspondent from Italy, so he keeps me updated on all the things happening in Europe.

[00:02:08.370] - Marlys Arnold

So, Marco, thank you so much. We got a lot of different things that we could talk about today, a lot of different directions we can go, but kind of start out and tell us a little bit about, you know, I know we may think we know what's been happening in Europe from what we've been hearing, but you're you're the boots on the ground. So tell us a little bit about, you know, kind of what's been going on and what you're starting to hear as things are moving forward.

[00:02:34.610] - Marco Barozzi

Yeah, I mean, I should start from, you know, from the bad things, you know, talking about the vaccine rollout and all that. But I don't talk about that. I'm I want to talk about how the industry is is doing. And I think there are good signs for the reopening of the industry and the events trade shows. You know, if you if you just want to have an example today, for example, in Spain yesterday, by the way, it's there's a show to start as a small regional show, but it started yesterday and it's going to be there for three days in Madrid.

[00:03:15.980] - Marco Barozzi

You know, and there's another show that will be opening in May, a tourism show. You know, and I think, you know, there are very, very good signs and also not just from the organizers themselves themselves, but also from from the people, you know, from the companies, because there is a really they're really eager to come back. They're really eager to find I mean, to go and walk the show floor again. And this also when we speak to the companies, obviously still a bit of fear that they're still afraid of what's going on, because there's a certainty about, you know, the vaccine, about the troubles, because you don't know what's still I mean, because of the restrictions and all of that. But generally speaking, I think, you know, there are good signs, in spite of the fact that in most countries we're still I mean on lockdown for example, in Germany, in Italy, too we are all red zones and all of these red colors, which are horrible in a way. But this is something we have we are living with. So we probably have to accept it for the time being. So I also can tell you that the the reopen like up of, you know, not a full reopen, but a very good reopening restart of the of the trade shows, you know, will be in Q2 and Q3.

[00:04:49.250] - Marco Barozzi

And, for example, in the U.K. government said that large events will will be reopening on June 21st, according to current data. So in Italy, we're still I mean, going with through the digital event and we can discuss about digital event and in person later if you wish. But, you know, I think Q2 and Q3 will be actually both give us the you know, the the real feeling of what's going on and how, you know, the companies will come back, especially if there is this vaccine or health passport or green certificate, whatever you want to call it.

[00:05:31.860] - Marlys Arnold

Well, and I do want to talk about that green certificate here in just a minute, but couple of shows that I know are already, you know, moving forward. You were talking about getting things started on Q2. The Bologna Children's Book Fair. And I know Alan's got that link he's going to share here for us. The Bologna Children's Book Fair is scheduled for June 14 through 17, and they are planning to be fully in person. So have you heard any details on that one specifically?

[00:06:02.310] - Marco Barozzi

Not not not on that specifically. But there are several shows that are planning to be in person and not just in Italy, but also in other countries. But there are good examples. Also in Turkey, for example, this at the end of the month, I mean, there will be a show about textile and, you know, I think clothing and manufacturing. So I think that's going to be one. And also Russia I mean, also Russia is one of the countries that I mean, as had the chance to celebrate a couple of events, so, I mean, depending on the country, but actually until the second part of the year, I do not see many in-person events taking place safe from, you know, obviously digital events that have taken place, as I was telling you before.

[00:06:57.840] - Marlys Arnold

Well, and on that, MWC Barcelona.

[00:07:01.650] - Marco Barozzi


[00:07:02.070] - Marlys Arnold

Has they've announced they are what they're calling fully hybrid. So we've got a couple of links on that. That's coming up June 28 through July 1st. And but there's been several big companies that have pulled out Ericsson, Cisco, Sony, you know, so it's they're they're still they're still going to do the in person. But it's well, let's just say it's going to look very different this year.

[00:07:30.990] - Marco Barozzi

I think they do. I think they do. They they strongly want to have the in-person event. As far as I know, the you know, there are not so many the companies have pulled out for the time being at least. I mean, I knew there were six or seven obviously big companies. But those companies, as you know, have confirmed their participation and digitally right now, digital, you know, so that will be present anyway. So as far as I know, I mean, the show will go on in person and hybrid possibly. But I think I mean, I still have strongly, you know, this desire to to hold the show.

[00:08:18.270] - Marlys Arnold

Well, on that. I just stumbled across an article last night. Here's the link for that. That. The large space, like thousands of square feet or square meters for Ericsson, is being taken by a small U.S. startup that's going to have 100, a 100 robots in their space. And and they've really I mean, they have literally laid it all on the line. They've taken the Ericsson booth space, what would be the Ericsson booth space and they are going to make this huge splash at the in-person event. But this article on Wired magazine, it was really interesting how it laid out how how it was all structured with the, you know, the way the big companies have their spaces basically reserved. And so it's really interesting that this company is going to step in and take their space this year. But obviously then they don't get that space next year because it goes back to Ericsson. So it was it's just really it's a really interesting article about the risk that this that this young company is taking. So but that's why I said that it's going to look different. Their show floor is going to be different this year.

[00:09:26.750] - Marco Barozzi

I think so. But those gigantic shows like Mobile, CES, all these big, big events, I mean, they are amazing. I mean, when you walk into these shows, you just I mean, you just are without words. I mean, you just say, wow. I mean, that that's that's a big thing, you know, and also because of the price, because of the people, they can get there because of the lead they can generate. I think these are undisputable and it will continue having much success in the future.

[00:10:03.770] - Marlys Arnold

Well, let's talk about we mentioned earlier about the digital green certificate. So tell us what that's all about and why that is going to be an important factor going forward.

[00:10:14.480] - Marco Barozzi


[00:10:14.900] - Marlys Arnold

If you think it's going to be important.

[00:10:17.240] - Marco Barozzi

Well, in my opinion, it is. I mean, there are surveys that tell us that it's going to be important not just for business travel, but also for travel. I mean, because, I mean, travel has to resume, you know, so business travel is absolutely part and related to our industry. So I think the speed this proposal to the to the EU and this also came from the European Exhibition Industry Alliance and also the European major center exhibitions. You know, so and also the UFI as I think this, you know, they they made this proposal, which is being considered by the E.U. and I hope that it will be and it will be a response that there will be some positive maybe response and in a short time, because even our industry and especially the industry, our industry needs I mean, to have to have a response. And I know, for example, in Italy, there are several show organizers that are putting pressure also on the EU, sending letters, also associations. And one thing Marlys, which I think needs to be remarked, is the fact that there's been a very good coordination, the approach and and the world, the coordination work made by all the associations, you know, local association in each country, but also, I mean, the European alliance, an industry alliance, and also the America and the UFI with the European Union in order to deliver this unified message for the restart of events and for this green certificate. And, you know, just because I mean, it's needed now it's time to go back to business and do business for business to come back.

[00:12:05.330] - Marlys Arnold

Well, so let's back up a little bit since since you and I have been talking about this, let's fill everybody else in if they haven't heard, what exactly is this digital green certificate?

[00:12:13.640] - Marco Barozzi

Well, the green certificate is something like you can call it different, different definitions. I mean, it somtimes called a passport or vaccine passport, which means I mean I mean, if you are if you are negative, if you have a negative test or if you have been, you know, already no anticovid the tests and all that, then you are you know, you came out negative, et cetera. So you can get this certificate. There is still a bit of a debate still because this is going to penalize maybe those who haven't, you know, haven't made the test, et cetera. So this is what I mean, the survey and the article I, I think I published yesterday on LinkedIn that was kind of, you know, emphasizing I mean, the fact that in any case, 73 percent of those surveyed think that the green certificate is a good idea and the rest, I mean, are still doubtful. And maybe you think they if not, maybe they're going to be going to be penalizing those who haven't made the test or haven't still made the vaccine rollout, for example, and be vaccinated, et cetera.

[00:13:23.960] - Marlys Arnold

And. And we do have that link we'll, we'll put up here just a second. So that if I understand right, that the EU is going is talking about at least making that a mandatory requirement to travel within the EU countries, correct?

[00:13:39.000] - Marco Barozzi

Yeah. Yes. But I think also, yes, for the EU countries for sure. But also I think I mean, once you got this certificate, then you can travel also in other countries, obviously, I mean, depending on the restrictions and depending on the various countries rules and regulations.

[00:13:54.570] - Marlys Arnold

OK, OK, so let's talk a little bit the here and the U.S. the big thing is the. The venues, a lot of the convention centers and some of the hotels have been getting the GBAC certification for the safety and sanitization. So is there a lot of that in Europe? I mean, have you been hearing about a lot of the facilities that have been getting certified for their, their?

[00:14:22.360] - Marco Barozzi

I think there's something for sure. There's something there are rules and regulations which are being dictated by the by the International Conference Association. I think another and also I mean all the big, the big, the biggest associations in Europe. The thing is that the the major exhibition centers, not just the major. So I think most of the exhibition centers, venues in in Europe did a great work during the pandemic. And also they're doing a good work now because of the vaccine rollout, because most of them have been converted into vaccination centers. And before they were converted into covid hospitals, for example, they were supplying, for example, distributing food or they were offering their kitchens for the homeless or I mean, so they they did quite a good job. I can I can tell you this in Germany, they did this in Italy, for example, in Milan. I mean, they converted twenty five thousand square meters into a covid hospital even if temporarily, you know. But this has been really a great work from part of the exhibition venues in Spain, Barcelona, for example. I mean, they set up a temporary hospital with a capacity of 300 places, for example, and expanding until, you know, two thousand using kitchen and and also giving food, you know, to to the for those who were in need, Madrid did the same and they allocated the like three thousand beds, if I remember well, you know, so I think this was a great job. And now these I just got a piece of news from from Barcelona that they're going to use some of these spaces for for the vaccine and roll out. So, you know, I know that the you know, the rules and regulations are the certification is required. But I think for the time being, maybe not all of them are aligned, you know, with what maybe what do you have in the US?

[00:16:28.220] - Marlys Arnold

So I know it sounds like they haven't, but at least if they're doing it, they're not making it is as big a deal and publicizing it as much as they are here, it sounds like, because here it's like all of the venues, all the convention centers, once they get certified, they make sure they put that out in the news so that everybody knows that they're,

[00:16:47.410] - Marco Barozzi

of course, and will surely and will surely, I think, a stick to the rules for sure.

[00:16:53.020] - Marlys Arnold


[00:16:53.530] - Marco Barozzi

But, you know, and I guess some already probably have that probably happen, you know,

[00:16:59.560] - Marlys Arnold

but it pretty much I think going forward, they're all going to have to get there.

[00:17:02.800] - Marco Barozzi

Absolutely. Absolutely. That that that's going to be a must.

[00:17:06.220] - Marlys Arnold

So Kevin has a question for you. Is this going back to the the digital green certificate. Is this similar to the app that was developed in Israel that we heard about basically puts a green card in your Apple wallet?

[00:17:18.460] - Marco Barozzi

Absolutely. Yes, that's something like that. It could be like a QR code. It could be something like that. Yes, absolutely. It's similar to what Israel already done. For your information, I was talking with a colleague from Israel yesterday and he said that 60 percent of the population has already been vaccinated. And so I was pretty happy because, you know, he is about 60. And he said it's my turn is going to be soon. You know.

[00:17:48.460] - Marlys Arnold

I know it seems like they're really showing the rest of the world how it's done. I mean, they've been ahead of everybody all along the way with the vaccines, it seems like. OK, so the other thing that you and I had talked about before is the government aid. And I know in this country it's been somewhat challenging and somewhat disorganized. So what what how is the government? Obviously in Europe, you've got the E.U., but then you've still got the individual countries. But what are some of the aid factors that have come into play in Europe?

[00:18:18.390] - Marco Barozzi

I yes, there's been a lot going on here. But, you know, I think there was like a sort of three phases. You know, it was the emergency phase when there was a scheme that it would probably, you know, was trying to be what the organizers organization for the companies. I mean, those in need. I mean, that was, you know, the schemes mean to help them. And then it was the restart scheme and finally the recovery plan. I mean, to restart plan, which is now I mean, lately, for example, Italy, last week, the government finally approved, you know, the the funds that should be distributed among not just the exhibition organizers, but also to the companies who have lost most of that turnover. In the past year and so this is this happened almost each European country, I mean, different different schemes sometimes covered by or under the the country umbrella, for example, Germany, I mean, when they got this state, what they call state aid, temporary framework, which in some cases has not been just a temporary framework. You know, somebody proposed that is going to be extended until the end of twenty, twenty one. So I think this is something that each country has put in place, depending on on the various times, you know, that it happened, for example, because, I mean, when the restart took place and this was like in June, July last year, there was maybe some funds were were provided. But then now I mean that there's a need for more. And I think, for example, in Italy, they are always requesting I mean, they put in a lot of pressure also sending to the the again. I mean, this was a big coordination with all the association, the local association and various countries. If we talk about the industry, you know, and this to the European Union, in order for them to approve the recovery plan, which I think is going to be finally approved, and then all the money can be distributed to those who need.

[00:20:24.870] - Marlys Arnold

Well, and I think that was the challenge throughout our industry, was we we learned through all of this that we weren't really terribly organized. There was a lot of challenge, I think, in trying to get a lot of these different aid packages and things.

[00:20:40.540] - Marco Barozzi

Yes, but this could be delivered Marlys also. I mean, in different ways, you know, like I mean, direct grants or maybe loans or insurance credits, you know, or also guarantees fund. You know, and this is I mean, I think this was depending on the various countries, but also I mean, a primary source was the local government and then the secondary source was the European Union. But now the under the recovery plan umbrella, there should be good money, I mean, to be distributed for all those in need.

[00:21:17.210] - Marlys Arnold

That's good. Definitely forward progress. So better late than never. Right.

[00:21:21.720] - Marco Barozzi

Better late. Better late than never. And, you know, it's I, you know, just wanted to start this conversation saying, you know, bad times are upon us because this was the ancient Romans were saying that. But I hope that what what comes after I mean, it's not happening because they said that the worst is yet to come. And I hope it's not going to be that because I think we are seeing really positive things ahead. And I'm really confident that this industry can restart soon.

[00:21:53.660] - Marco Barozzi

In-person events can restart, hybrid is here to stay as they as they say. And you you pointed this out, I guess, in previously. And one of the things I also want to pick from one of your introduction where you were speaking is about the fact that we were in an old world regarding our industry and we are entering in a new world. And it was a very it's a very interesting article from Marco Jabateh was one of the experts in this industry, which as the title of which comes from the Star Wars saga. And he said that you have to unlearn what you have learned. And so it is probably one of the things that we as an industry, as people at the industry have to do. So we probably have to learn new skills and we probably have to unlearn something that we have learned before, you know. So I think that's something we probably have to do.

[00:22:53.430] - Marlys Arnold

That's true. And we've all been learning at an incredible pace for the last year. I know I saw an article this week that said basically we've hopped from twenty twenty to twenty thirty as far as technology and developments and things like that. So. So Marco we'll share your link here so people can get in touch with you. But you know what's what's the best way. Well other than your website, catch you on LinkedIn. Twitter, where, where will people like you.

[00:23:20.610] - Marco Barozzi

LinkedIn, I mean you can Facebook or email. I don't know if you have my email, but on LinkedIn you can find it. I mean, so. Yes, no problems indeed.

[00:23:30.150] - Marlys Arnold

So you are you are multi-channel.

[00:23:34.890] - Marco Barozzi

Marlys like you.

[00:23:37.580] - Marlys Arnold

We we are all multi-channel these days. So so Marco, thank you so much for being here all the way from Italy, joining us for virtual lunch. We always appreciate your insights.

[00:23:54.510] - Marlys Arnold

You can find all the links mentioned during our interview in this episode, show notes at and if you'd like to join us for an upcoming virtual lunch, you'll find info on that at

[00:24:20.900] - Marlys Arnold

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[00:24:55.680] - Marlys Arnold

To learn more, please see the link in the sidebar. The show notes at Well, that's it for this episode of Trade Show Insights. Be sure to check out our shownotes and archives at You can also connect with me using the social media links or the contact page on the site. I'm Marlys Arnold. Thanks for listening. And be sure to join us next time for more tools to improve your exhibit results.


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