Events and conferences Products

Virtual trade shows – an exhibitor’s perspective

From conferences to festivals to grand finals, many noteworthy events have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus. Major HVAC&R shows such as ARBS 2020 and the 2021 AHR Expo have not been spared from this quagmire either.

Some events are making a beeline to the digital space. But the virtual leap is not completely seamless or without challenges – particularly for exhibitors.

Chillventa is a major European fixture on the HVAC&R calendar. Following the cancellation of this year’s event, the Chillventa eSpecial, also known as the Digital Chillventa, was held on the original dates from October 13-15. This was not to be meant be a replacement show – the next Chillventa will be held on October 11-13, 2022.

Based around the theme “Chillventa Connecting Experts”, the digital event kicked off with the Chillventa Congress on October 13, followed by a series of lectures given by participating companies on the second and third day.

According to the organisers, it included 75 product presentations, more than 300 roundtables by 207 exhibitors, and attracted around 6,800 active participants.

Fan specialist Ziehl-Abegg was one of the exhibitors, fielding a team of four experts for a panel discussion titled “The value of retrofit in the world of refrigeration and HVAC”.

The panel discussed how the HVAC&R industry can benefit from more retrofitting. Besides saving energy and reducing CO2 consumption, they explained the potential savings of upgrading fan and motor technology. The panel also showed off the company’s products and solutions, as well as the latest development tools used to design highly efficient and silent fans.

While some companies settled for a no-frills zoom meeting, Ziehl-Abegg set up a TV studio at the headquarters, complete with camera operator and sound engineers, to showcase the panel discussion.

Despite a successful presentation, Ziehl-Abegg CEO Peter Fenkl says he has mixed feelings about the new format.

“The new format was more international than the traditional trade fair in Nuremberg”, he says.

“Besides general technology aspects of fans and controls we spoke with ‘visitors’ about trends regarding new fan technology for refrigeration applications as well as our new cloud solution – ZAbluegalaxy.”

Fenkl appreciates how the show demonstrated flexibility and speed in adapting to the changing circumstances, but also sees some inherent limitations of the digital platform.

 “My colleagues reported an unsatisfying communication on online levels without the direct physical contact to our customers, especially in complex topics,” he says.

“We still have to remember, that even under these difficult circumstances we have to set course for the business of tomorrow. This is why we were represented in such an elaborate way at the digital Chillventa.

“We are desperately looking forward to get again in direct and personal interaction with our customers,” he says.

Pictured: The Ziehl-Abegg panel of experts presenting at the Chillventa eSpecial (from left) Florian Wagner, Felix Föll, Andreas Walter and Markus Sturzenbecher.

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