Getting Used to the European Model

Trade shows in Europe are much larger and more crowded, but there is much more intense interaction between attendees and exhibitors about products and solutions.

DUSSELDORF -- The biggest U.S. safety and health trade shows offer great educational programs, large and comprehensive expos, and attractive locales for the thousands of professionals who attend them every year. What's not to like about spending a few days at a show in San Diego, Las Vegas, or Chicago, assuming the weather's fine and no travel snafus occur?

But a show taking place in Dusseldorf, Germany, as A+A did in October 2015 and does in alternate years, has a different vibe altogether from its American cousins. The booths are much larger and more elaborate, and many feature a second level. Many exhibitors offer food and drinks to their visitors. Live demonstrations of rescue equipment and techniques take place several times a day in some halls, with the demonstration personnel climbing ropes and scaffolds 50 feet or more in the air for some of these, and the "A+A Live" demonstration stage attracts large crowds of onlookers. There is bus service to the fairgrounds, but not shuttle buses from area hotels; A+A's 65,000+ attendees rely on the free and frequent light rail trams to deliver them right to one of the entrances and then back to a stop close to their hotel at the end of the day.

Something else not seen at the U.S. shows is a popular mainstay of the A+A trade fair: the daily corporate fashion show, where young male and female models show off the latest corporate fashions on a catwalk-style stage.

Most of the the Dusseldorf fairgrounds' 19 halls are connected, making it possible to visit most of them without stepping outside. And there's a shuttle bus offered to carry tired visitors from one end of the grounds to the other, making it easy for a visitor to get in a last-minute appointment if necessary.

A key difference in A+A is the depth of interaction between exhibitors and attendees. The largest booths offer many chairs and tables, so attendees will sit, eat, drink, and discuss their challenges and solutions at great length with exhibiting personnel. Even at the busiest booths, no one seems to be rushing to get attendees out of the way in order to chat with someone else who's walked up.

A+A 2017 (Oct. 17-20, 2017) will be here before you know it. For information about the event, visit www.mdna.com.

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