Huge exhibition halls, countless exhibitors and visitors from all countries and cultures, exchange with our partners in medical publishing, and fascinating discussion – these are the words we might once have used to describe the Frankfurt Book Fair. These vibrant scenes that capture the spirit of the event have been only memories since the outbreak of the pandemic. Last year, we all had to be content with participating in the fair digitally. This year, we are all the more looking forward to the first hybrid Frankfurt Book Fair. But how will it be to meet business partners in person again after all this time? Is that even necessary? What could we learn from our experience last year?
The pandemic has changed the world – not only privately but also to a significant degree in work life. The Frankfurt Book Fair has long been a highlight on our annual calendar, and this year we will be participating for our 59th time. Planning the booth with the fair constructor, choosing the products at the booth, arranging meetings with business partners, and of course organizing travel – all these preparations suddenly changed in 2020. Our beautiful exhibition booth, networking, and meeting point was replaced by an entry on a digital list of exhibitors.
But what is this “list”? How can we raise awareness for ourselves and our products and services as a scientific publisher alongside all the other exhibitors? How can we implement the planned presentation of our Vesalius Innovation Award for Start-Ups digitally? And what can we offer our customers and business partners as an alternative to the usual meet-up that we had already planned on location? Just like for most of the other exhibitors of the Frankfurt Book Fair, these are some of the questions that we had to address. It turned out that we could solve most of these questions in one way or another, and sometimes surprisingly quickly, thanks to digitalization.
Reach More People
Our “digital booth” took shape, we organized digital events and webinars and replaced physical gatherings with online meetings. And there were some advantages to all this. We suddenly had the ability to reach more people with the events than what would have been the case with a physical event. The measurability of all the digital events enabled us to determine exactly which types of content were popular. Another positive side-effect was that we could save time and travel costs.
60th Exhibition Year Coming
So, does that mean we will only take part in the Frankfurt Book Fair digitally in the future? No, absolutely not! Even if we are still unable to attend with our own booth on site this year, we are looking forward to meeting our existing and new business partners again in person. But we will also take along the best of what we learned from last year. Besides contacts on location, we will offer webinars and digital events on the topics “advancing open access and open science”, “Dermacompass”, and “partnering with Karger on publishing projects” again this year.
The exhibition and event sector has rapidly transformed in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, also with many new opportunities opening up. Nonetheless, we hope to be able to participate with a physical Karger stand again next year and celebrate our 60th exhibition year properly. For all the advancements of digitalization, the fair atmosphere and personal exchange at the venue are irreplaceable.