The covid-19 pandemic slammed the lid down on the economic, commercial, social and cultural activities of our society. Factories, offices, hotels, technology centres, stores… they all had to close their doors. The same thing happened to trade fairs, those platforms for innovation and business contacts.
Fira de Barcelona is working hard now to restart its activity after the summer. It is studying the situation to foresee what will surely be a whole new era for trade fairs, to ensure that the Montjuïc and Gran Via sites can open with complete safety and all measures of protection.
The chairman of Fira’s Board of Admininstration, Pau Relat, said that “the institution will be part of the reactivation, with the aim, more than ever, to be a motor for all sectors of the economy, to promote business and support professionals, entrepreneurs and companies, working together with public and private initiatives to overcome the situation. This is why trade fairs are so important, as one of the main drivers of the economic and social recovery we so badly need, why they must be part of the plans for support and for easing lockdown”.
For its part, the CEO of Fira de Barcelona Constantí Serrallonga set out the institutions priorities in clear terms: “restarting business in a safe and profitable environment for all those involved, with the objective that their presence at an event contributes towards restarting their business and networking”.
One result of the complex times we are living through is that Fira de Barcelona, like all international fairs, has had to reschedule its calendar of events, accumulating a lot of them in the last third of the year.
This is the case of Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week (wedding fashion), Bizbarcelona (entrepreneurship), Liber (publishing in Spanish), Nàutic, Alimentaria Foodtech (food industry machinery) and Alimentaria, which will be added to those already planned for this period, like Smart City Expo World Congress (smart cities) or the group of chemical industry shows. Expoquimia, Eurosurfas and Equiplast. FiraCampusVirtual was held in May, a digital platform that combined the shows of Ensenyament and Futura, which were due to take place in March, just at the time when the pandemic hit us.
The situation calls for innvoation in the trade fair model, in some cases adopting hybrid forms, with virtual and physical attendees, as in the case of Valmont Barcelona Bridal Fashion Week, which is offering a new experience and the chance to reach a larger audience.
Space and capacity
To adapt the installations to what we have come to refer to as the “new normality”, Fira has joined forces with a leading consultant to draw up a protocol for action, applying the directives from the health authorities, focusing on safety measures and protection for workers, exhibitors, visitors, organizers, suppliers and those attending the events, especially in the B2B sectors, which are very different from other types of mass events.
The protocol considers some very practical issues: how to prepare the spaces, controlling the flow of visitors and capacities, monitoring health, hygiene, physical distancing, disinfection and cleaning of common areas and the stands, medical information and support, specific systems for accreditation and the organization of the catering services.
This protocol will obviously, as already stated, pay close attention to directives from the health authorities and the work done by professional fair organizations like EMECA (European Major Exhibition Centres Association), UFI, Associació Internacional de la Indústria Firal, and AFE, Associació de Fires d’Espanya. Fira de Barcelona is a member of all of them and has contributed to the vital task of making prevention and safety a virtuous premise, to ensure that trade fairs continue to be spaces for progress and creating opportunities.
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