COLOGNE, Germany – Organizers of the IMM Cologne international furnishings trade show here have confirmed the event will take place Jan. 18-24, 2021, as planned.

“We want to blaze a bold trail into the new normal together with the industry,” said Matthias Pollmann, vice president of trade fair management for show organizer Koelnmesse.

He noted that 70{3e0544090c75b66d16c3eca4d142e2092ea98ee5f79f18046a1f13abafab9023} of Koelnmesse’s almost 3 million square feet of space dedicated to the IMM Cologne has been booked.

“Given the present circumstances, this really is a very good registration figure,” Pollman said. “Compared with previous months, we are also currently seeing increased interest overall in holding live trade fairs. The motivating realization is gaining ground that real-life interactions between people are essential when it comes to establishing and building business relationships.”

Exhibitors can expect high safety standards for all participants, plus media and digital alternatives to reach those visitors who cannot attend in person.

“Unfortunately, however, there is still uncertainty in the industry due to the repeated emergence of hotspots in Europe,” Matthias said. “That is why I am absolutely convinced that we need to start living the ‘new normal’ now. We can’t wait for a return of the old days. Instead, we have to be bold and shape the future together.”

Existing goods as well as new products will be a priority, predicted IMM Cologne Director Claire Steinbrück.

“In the interiors sector, where touch and feel and the ability to experience the products in person are particularly important, the cancellation of many industry trade fairs has stimulated a renewed need among trade visitors to attend the fair,” she said. “It is not only the traditionally high proportion of prospective European customers that is fueling our hopes for a satisfactory number of trade visitors. Following the cancellation of Orgatec, we also expect that architects in particular who had planned to visit that trade fair will now come to IMM Cologne instead.”

To ensure the safety of exhibitors and visitors, Koelnmesse has worked in cooperation with public authorities to develop #B-SAFE4business, a concept addressing all measures relating to hygiene, medical care and organization. In addition, Koelnmesse has drawn up a hygiene and infection control concept, which complies with the current provisions of North Rhine-Westphalia’s Corona Protection Ordinance and the requirements of the relevant health authority. Measures include discharging used air from the exhibition halls to the outside and drawing in entirely new fresh air so that aerosols cannot spread via Koelnmesse’s ventilation system.

The IMM Cologne team also is developing a hybrid event format for those unable to attend in person.

“We will focus on extending our digital reach and will learn from the digital formats we are offering this autumn for gamescom and DMEXCO,” said Pollmann. “Of course, it is in the nature of the interior design sector that its products are more difficult to present digitally than games are, for instance. Nevertheless, we are seeing some good concepts for streaming certain IMM Cologne events as well as top-class congress talks and discussions. Exhibitors will also be able to present their products digitally and thereby increase their reach. To supplement our digital matchmaking options, we are not only expanding the business opportunities available to our exhibitors but also reaching a broad spectrum of visitors.”