For the exhibitors, there will be “personalized booths” where they can present themselves 24/7 and even throughout the year / Launch on June 06, 2020
This year, the stone fair in Xiamen will have a real plus a virtual version for the first time: on the one hand, there is the usual fair in the southern Chinese megacity and on the other hand the “Cloud Xiamen Stone Fair”, which is only available on the Internet. Another of the differences between the two variants is: the real fair will take place from October 27 – 30, 2020 during the usual opening hours, the “Cloud” is to be open 24/7 and all year round. At least that is what says a statement from the organizer, Jinhongxin Exhibition Co Ltd.
The background is not the 20th anniversary of the fair, but the Corona pandemic, which led to cancellations or postponements of all fairs and events worldwide in spring. It is unclear how the year will continue: most autumn events, for example Marmomac, have so far emphasized that they will keep their dates. Cersaie has already been postponed by a few weeks to November.
The idea of a virtual variant had already been tried out by Coverings (scheduled originally for mid-April 2020). However, apart from its pretty title “Coverings Connected (CoCo)” not much had happened.
The garden fair Chelsea Flower Show, which is currently taking place in London, has already moved on and offers its special presentations in the form of videos for paying “members” online.
The Xiamen Stone Fair will organize its “Cloud” as a B2B event where sellers and buyers can meet online, according to the statement. The goal is “to generate more internet-based business and cooperation.” The fair calls this “online exploration”, i.e., virtual roaming among exhibitors.
However, selling stone in the internet is not so easy and e.g. none of all those e-marketplaces or platforms has really caught on so far (but many have disappeared).
Yet the “Cloud” shall be more and also turn into a place to exchange ideas and inspirations – a real trade fair. The organizers call this aspect “featured events” – in the reality it is, for example, the fair’s 3-day congress that has established itself as a real added value for visitors and exhibitors. Another aspect is the “New Product Area”, where companies present new products and services, or the “Stone Infinite” show with international examples of product design with natural stone.
The launch of the “Cloud” is scheduled for the coming June 06. Exhibitors have the opportunity to present themselves and their products in a “personalized Cloud Booth”.
It will be interesting to see how the fair solves the challenges of such a virtual event. Although there are companies that offer software for this purpose, there is no experience with contacts by more than 120,000 visitors, as the real trade fair in Xiamen has.
The tenor of the organizers, therefore, sounds a bit reserved. For example, a VR (Virtual Reality) event is not planned, where visitors wearing head mounted displays
can walk as avatars through a virtual event and even talk to other people.
Nevertheless, the organizers in Xiamen leave no doubt that the virtual extension will not disappear again once a vaccine against Covid-19 is found: “Cloud Xiamen Stone Fair will be sure to be a complementary counterpart for the physical trade fair and better serve the industry.”
(19.05.2020, USA: 05.19.2020)