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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

Existing venuesTo assess the future competitiveness of existing venues, aspects such as the feasibility and attractiveness of the city or region for trade shows and congresses, the regional or national venue competition, and the range, quality and costs of services offered by the venue need to be evaluated. The dimensions of the venue, equipment and general condition of the facilities, including safety and attractiveness as well as efficiency and flexibility, will have to be benchmarked against competitive venues and international standards. Typical mismatches we encounter include lower than required capabilities on the low electrical installations deployment; undersized congress or meeting facilities compared to exhibition space; unattractive or absent service areas for visitors and exhibitors (catering, restrooms). Additional commercial service offerings such as online information and registration or response time may be evaluated but are normally not part of a venue-focused assessment.As a principle of critical importance, venue structures and services need to address the changing requirements of customers: With less and less time available, limited budgets and mostly clear ROI expectations, guest organisers, exhibitors, visitors and congress participants will appreciate venues that best facilitate lead generation, matchmaking, networking or education. Venues addressing these requirements through flexible, innovative and pleasant meeting experiences will have a competitive advantage over others. Of course it will be necessary to offer services including state-of-the-art IT and audiovisual technology, high-speed internet access and language interpretation facilities, but all these features are fairly common in today's venues and do not really offer competitive advantages any longer. Before planning any venue, it's crucial to understand the type of customer you expect to use it. Once this is done, the core planning process is generally divided into four phases that comprise the work of the architects and project managers.Phase 1 - Determining general layout Two major types of trade fair venue layouts can be identified around the world. Type A has a central concourse. The visitor enters the concourse via various entrances from one side of the concourse while the halls are located on the other side. The halls can normally be divided into segments. This type of venue layout is ideal for smaller venues with a high number of concurrent shows. Easy orientation and access for visitors and clear logistics processes for exhibitors at the backside of the halls characterise this layout type. ADNEC in Abu Dhabi is an example of this type of venue. Type B is more complex and well suited to larger shows (more than 60,000sqm). It also has a central concourse, but this time the halls are arranged on both sides. These layouts often offer larger areas between the halls to optimise logistics processes. Entrances for visitors are usually at both ends of the concourse. Larger venues of this type also offer additional entrances. This type of venue layout is very efficient for larger shows Before starting any planning process for a new venue, some homework needs to be done. Investors and management must determine what kind of trade fairs and/or congresses and other events (quality, size and quantity) are targeted to be held in the new venue.This in turn requires a thorough analysis of customer needs, a market analysis and a clear strategy.As in the case of existing venues, an evaluation of the city or region as well as the competition is a prerequisite. The results of this work will strongly influence the profile of the future venue.The development or extension of a venue needs to take into account many dimensions: Customer needs, markets, competition and standards, while delivering attractive architecture and innovative solutions such as green building technology.making room: new venue planning