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WHAT GIVES TRADE FAIR AND CONGRESS VENUES A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE? JOCHEN WITT AND DR GERD WEBER OF TRADE SHOW CONSULTANCY JWC HELP PIECE TOGETHER THE FACTORS THAT MAKE MODERN VENUES SUCCEEDthose areas of a venue where form and function are equally important, such as areas that might defi ne a venue, like entrances or boulevards. However the success of a venue does not depend primarily on its beauty, but on its functionality. The rule 'form follows function' is more relevant in the trade fair industry than in many other industries. Deviation from this rule multiplies risk and frequently results in missing functions, inappropriate layouts, dimensions that do not conform to market, substandard international technical standards, and a lack of fl exibility in conjunction with inappropriately high investment or operating costs. To assess a venue's competiveness and feasibility for the future, an integrated process is required, taking into account the strategy of the venue and/or organiser company, the relevant trade fair and congress market, the competitive situation, regional or local trends, and international standards in venue development. The assessment must be based on a thorough needs analysis of future customers (organiser, exhibitor, visitor). Typically, a different approach and process is applied for existing and new venues.VENUES ON THE LINErecent UFI survey identifi ed almost 1,200 venues with more than 5,000sqm at the end of 2011. With an average service life of 25-30 years, a large number of venues will be refurbished, expanded or rebuilt in the next few years. New venues are also planned for metropolitan areas without trade fair activities.In this analysis of venue ideals, JWC's Jochen Witt and Dr Gerd Weber demonstrate how a proper planning process can help to satisfy customer needs, reduce investment and operating costs and, ultimately, increase the ROI of the investor.To be successful, any investment into new or existing venues must be based on an intensive planning process, which should be an integrated part of the corporate vision, mission and strategy. Surprisingly, our experience of venue development is different. Management or governments frequently start the process directly with the selection of an architect and the architectural planning, the simple reason being that they want something with 'a nice design'. This approach might be justifi ed for