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Trade fairs: Few visitors at this year’s Stonetech

(June 2011) It is no secret that visitors from Western countries attending Chinese trade fairs partake in a special experience: while in the middle of negotiations, starting around noon on the fair’s last day their peripheral vision will catch a glimpse of moving stone slabs making their way to the exists soon to be followed by tables, chairs and posters until the halls are completely bare by 4 p.m.

But this time, we were privy to the reverse experience at the Beijing Stonetech from April 20th to 23rd on the second day. A single stone slab was making its lonesome journey – from the entrance to one of the halls where the carriers deposited it right in the middle of the path.

Martin Lee of Sino Origin Holding explains what we experienced: people of a near-by quarry had gained access to the fair and wanted to expose their goods…

But as far as the rest of the Stonetech fair is concerned, there is, unfortunately, no optimistic news to report. The fair is currently experiencing an identity crisis reflected by low visitor frequency. See figures below.

The trade grounds underscored the demise of this once leading trade fair in China: the exhibit halls are easily accessible, situated in the middle of the city but by world standards for urban trade fairs, they are run-down and in a general state of demise. The fact that the operators did not use their new city-rim site, speaks for itself.

The situation boils down to two major shortcomings: first, the Stonetech takes place just one month after the Xiamen trade fair. And second: it has no unique profile to call its own. We do not venture a prognosis as to good or harm of switching the venue from Beijing to Shanghai on alternating years.

But apparently the operators have already undertaken steps to help the fair out of its current crisis: Stonetech is being promoted as the event in stone design and architecture. To this end, Italian designer Raffaello Galiotto with Lithos Design in tag was invited. Also the fair encompassed a two-day summit by the name of „China International Stone Design Summit“ revolving around the subject. BusinessStone.com’s Peter Becker was an invited guest and held a talk.

But the marketing concept could lend credence to the thought that promotion endeavours merely played lip-service to the problem: e.g. the program could not be found on the internet despite high participant’s interest as reflected by the 80-odd visitors.

Stonetech will be held in Shanghai next year (April 25th to 28th 2012).