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- You’ve opted for a hybrid event for the 2021 edition of interzum. What are the reasons behind that, and can you tell us more about the concept?
Pollmann: Our show – which will take place from May 4-7, 2021 in Cologne, Germany – is the catalyst for creating tomorrow’s living spaces. Our challenge lies in the current dynamic development of the pandemic and its effects for the market participants. We all know that the on-site experience of a trade fair will always be essential for doing business. However, the developments of recent weeks and feedback from our customers have shown that we have to think in hybrid terms. Everything that takes place at the trade fair venue will be online-compatible and can therefore be streamed around the world; plus, we will offer additional digital offerings which will be online throughout the year. So, we are not replacing anything but expanding the reach of our event.
- Can you tell us the status of bookings in mid-November and how it compares to the level of bookings in a “normal” year?
Pollmann: As of today, the level of registrations for interzum is below that of previous events due to the global health crises. The look and feel of the next event will be very different from past events. The final size of our show will obviously depend on how the pandemic will develop.
- What position are exhibitors currently taking on interzum 2021?
Pollmann: The current view is cautiously optimistic in light of the fast progression in developing vaccines which will likely be available at the beginning of next year. Of course, we are receiving some cancellations from those who are unable to travel next year. At the same time, we are seeing companies returning to Interzum such as Finsa, Kastamonu or Yildiz Entegre. Our booking situation reflects the ups and downs of the current times but we expect the situation to stabilize early next year.
Based on feedback from our exhibitors and visitors we are certain that the sector is very much in need of interzum as an international platform for the industry, regardless of its form and size.
- You’ve implemented a very strict health protocol to ensure exhibitors’ and visitors’ safety and presented it at the #B-SAFE4business Village at Koelnmesse. Could you describe it in general terms?
Pollmann: Yes, we have developed a series of measures in compliance with local state and city health & safety ordinances. Our #B-SAFE4business concept is based on four pillars: Visit Safe, Meet Safe, Show Safe and Stay Safe. These regulations address specific steps related to hygiene, social distancing, rules for interactions, stand construction and daily routines to keep everybody safe during the course of our event.
- Do you have any forecasts for visitor numbers at interzum 2021 that take the development of the pandemic into account? Will there be any visitors from abroad?
Pollmann: There will be fewer visitors than in 2019 – that much is clear. It is too early to make any serious predictions how many visitors will attend. Again, given the positive developments in terms of a vaccine, I believe we should all take a more optimistic view of the future.
That’s all the more important considering that interzum has such a high degree of internationality and is likely to attract many visitors from Europe again.
- Will this edition of the trade fair have an overarching theme and if so, what will it be?
Pollmann: “Creating tomorrow’s living spaces” is the guiding theme of interzum. Besides the many innovative product presentations staged by our exhibitors, there’ll be some fascinating and inspiring trend forums again, with the focus on sustainability, mattress recycling in the Textile & Machinery forum or ecological, sustainable materials in the Materials & Nature section. At the same time, we’ll be focusing on the latest developments in the digital sector, like Digital Printing. So next May’s interzum will once again be a stage for the trends coming from suppliers to the furniture and interior design industries.
- Where do you currently see the challenges for suppliers of materials and components for the furniture industry?
Pollmann: In Germany, the furniture industry has actually recovered well from the early spring lockdown. Thanks to high consumer demand in the summer materials and components suppliers are actually facing major supply challenges because of a bottleneck for certain products such as particle boards, foams and furniture fittings. We are also seeing an increased demand for ecological products.
- Do you have any message for international buyers to come to interzum 2021?
Pollmann: Visitors to interzum can look forward to a modern trade fair that points the way to the future – both at the exhibition centre and online. Our show is a reflection of the entire industry and will show trends that will influence the year ahead and will therefore lead the way going forward. Interzum will also permit long awaited face-to-face encounters which can’t be substituted by a virtual setting. I look forward to seeing you (both online and offline) and drinking a good Cologne beer at interzum – you can do that even when you’re standing 6 feet apart.