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Exhibition World | Feature25yard of huge US brands such as Ford, General Motors,Chrysler and Chevrolet. These US brands will hit Detroitlooking to impress not only the overseas markets, but thedomestic US market, and will throw everything they haveat their stands, maximising their marketing spend todrown out competitors' engines with elaborate andspectacular model launches.It's an issue that affects all the international motorshows but Geneva. Tokyo is home turf to Toyota, Nissanand Mazda; Germany to Volkswagen, Mercedes andBMW; France to Citroen, Renault and Peugeot.Switzerland, on the other hand, is home to Rinspeed, amanufacturer best known for creating Splash; anamphibious car capable of 50mph on water, and thisyear's BamBoo; an odd-looking concept with onlymarginally broader appeal."We are the only international show of these five thattakes place on neutral ground," said director of theGeneva International Motor Show, Rolf Studer. "We have no automotive production in Switzerland.So every brand has the same chance to show itsproducts to the press and to the 700,000 visitors.Without preference."This neutrality holds particular appeal for designers.Geneva has a reputation for being the launching groundof many models, and with a level playing field,manufacturers are more inclined to unveil their latestmodels. The exhibition has developed a reputation forbeing a major branding event, rather than a straightbuyer's market, evidenced by the high number of modellaunches. And the model launches bring the media,which means the show doesn't need to rely onperformance arenas and similar show pieces. "We don'tneed spectacle - we have serious things," says Studer.The serious content continues with the exhibition's strongconference programme. This year, during the two pressdays preceding the public opening, there were 80conferences on issues including alternative propulsion andsustainable motoring. "We started three years ago with thegreen pavilion for alternative technology," says Studer."These companies know they have a platform here. Theylike to come to Geneva to prove this technology."THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| April 2011|

Feature| Exhibition World26| April 2011| Geneva is also an annual show, and the only one of thefive to take place in the spring. Its closest geographicrivals, Frankfurt and Paris are biannuals, as is Detroit onthe other side of the Atlantic. Of the top five only Tokyoshares Geneva's yearly cycle. "We are the only show totake place in spring time, and spring is the sales start,"comments Studer.It's also relatively compact for a truly international motorshow. The venue, despite being currently undersized forthe event, is beside the airport, and mobile visitors couldcover the whole show floor in a day. "The manufacturersappreciate the fact that Palexpo is 'small but smart', it'shuman scale," says Studer. "It's not so big that you needthree days to go through it."It helps bring the show its international clientele. Youcould conceivably fly in, enter the exhibition from theairport, see the show and leave the same day. Genevahas a broad catchment, located in the centre of Europe.Forty-five per cent of the show's visitors, Studer claims,come from outside Switzerland, and he estimates morethan 60 per cent of visitors return more than once inside10 years. Studer claims the Swiss Germans love theshow as it gives them a yearly opportunity to visit French-speaking Switzerland. The organiser even putson 15 additional trains exclusively for use by peopleholding entry tickets to the motor show. Ultimately demand for the show is increasing. This year'sevent needed another 10,000sqm of gross space tohouse the exhibitors it turned away. But Studer will get hisadditional space; Palexpo is developing a new 5,500sqmhall as well as expanding and redesigning Hall 3, both ofwhich will be finished in time for the 2013 edition.At a time when motor shows are fighting to regainground lost during the hard years of the global recession,Geneva appears to be going from strength to strength.Palexpo MD Claude Membrez explains why by the end of November - the venue's 30th anniversary - Palexpois on course to experience its most successful year since doors opened in 1981.What are Palexpo's development plans for the next 12 months? Our plans include building a new Hall 3 which will be larger with a new design. This should be finished in 2013. The constructionof a completely new hall will begin in 2011 and will be ready for the Motor Show 2013, offering more than 5,500sqm. Are there any obstacles or issues you would like to see addressed in Geneva/Switzerland in order for youto do business more successfully?The unfavourable exchange rate of the Euro causes problems sometimes, as well as the fact that Switzerland does not belong tothe European community which means that exhibitors are sometimes confronted with rather complicated clearing formalities.For some big international events like the Geneva Motor Show it can be difficult to find accommodation during the press days inthe city centre. However the city invested in the construction of several new hotels over the last three years. Public transport is wellorganised and serves the Palexpo area regularly.What are your views on emerging trends in the international exhibition industry? We saw in 2008 with the worldwide economic crises that long time established exhibitions survived rather well, while new exhibitionshad a tendency to disappear. The world of exhibitions is becoming more international; the biggest increase is registered in Asiaand India. Contrary to the common idea that the new information and communication technologies kill face-to-face meetings, we note that thesework rather well in conjunction with the traditional exhibition, and do not threaten them. The exhibition industry is flexible and adapts itsoffers quickly to the needs of new sectors. We also feel that Geneva belongs to the 'valeurs sûres' (safe bets) in the world of exhibitions. THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET