On The Road! September Trade Show Roundup
Usually, September is the dreaded month after the summer holidays. But this year, the travels and excitement were extended as our Commercial Director Remco van Laar and our Managing Director Gert-Jan van Breugel hit the road to attend the trade shows IAA, Caravansalon, Eurobike, Kind + Jugend and Interboot.
After a year and a half of events largely being held virtually due to the pandemic, it felt great to get back out into the world with clients, new connections and rooms full of exciting products. While Remco was in charge of shaking hands and exploring new deals, Gert-Jan was seeking out all the latest trends.
So, we sat down with the dynamic duo to talk about their month on the road and learn about what they’re bringing back to the office.
MODYN has really been quite good about holding digital meetings throughout the pandemic. But what would you say the biggest thing is that you missed about being able to speak to people face to face?
“Yes, business-wise, we’re always in contact with our clients via Teams. But, you realize that you can have better personal, and deeper conversations in person. And that’s what I really missed — sitting down next to each other sharing a coffee, or taking a client out for a beer in the evening. It’s a different kind of communication and you discuss different things, too, which allows you to learn more as well.”
Tell us about the opportunities that these conferences present to meet new people.
“It was interesting because at Eurobike, for example, everyone was dressed down, but still stylish, and it just had this casual feel. There was this really open atmosphere there to just go and chat with someone new and talk about not only what you do, but how you might work together. Other trade shows were a little more buttoned-up, and it bled over into how everyone approached one another, too.
But actually, one thing I really appreciated about being back talking with people in person was just the frankness. You’d meet some people and have a really great conversation but they’d be able to tell you, ‘Hey, we have a conflict here so while we like your ideas it’s just not an option,’ and that actually felt a lot better than when you chat online or via email and someone gives you some pleasantries but never follows up. I think it’s just easier to have these conversations in real life.”
Tell us more about those good meetings!
“Well, you know I can’t say much. But, we had dinner with a client one night and got to talking about new projects. We met with some prospective new clients to have deeper conversations about future planning. And there was one meeting that nearly turned into a brainstorming session! Really cool ideas. But you’ll have to wait and see.”
It’s been a lot of work to be on the road for the last five weeks — but it sounds like it was worth it.
“Definitely. Besides the conversations and people you meet, you also learn what trade shows are actually good for making connections with people, and speaking to decision-makers, and what shows aren’t. You know, it was my second time at Interboot and I realized it’s just not the place to make the right connections. Really interesting show! But, not great for making the right connections.
Eurobike, however, has continued to prove itself as a great way to connect with people in the industry. And next year it’s moving to Frankfurt after 20-or so years in Friedrichshafen, so I’m personally excited for that. I’m also interested to see how IAA is transforming from a traditional car show to a global mobility show — that’s really cool to be a part of and it’s going to be really interesting to see how it develops and what other opportunities lie ahead there.”
How about trends, Gert-Jan? We heard you were the one scouting all the new ones.
“Well on the topic of IAA — there was this huge emphasis on showing off your ‘greenest side.’ So, companies trying to outdo each other with sustainability goals, creating compact electric vehicles, and of course connected vehicles. You might say, ‘okay we’ve seen that for a while now,’ but something felt different this year — more dedicated.
EUROBIKE was also interesting because, since the start of the pandemic, the bike has become even more popular. The electric bike, in particular, has continued to pick up speed, and the trend of omnichannel selling and bringing producing as close to home as possible has deepened — only to be halted by slowing global supply chains. The value of the bike for the consumer and the environment is really understood right now, and brands are doing what they can to keep up with the demand.”
There are also shifts in the trade shows themselves, right?
“Yes, like Remco mentioned, IAA is broadening itself to include the greater mobility sector next year, and that’s huge. This year they even started to incorporate bikes, which really starts to tread on EUROBIKE’s territory. I think it’s interesting because now you can have a conversation about what role a bike plays in a consumer’s life alongside the role an electric car plays — all in the same room. It’s showing the interconnectedness and how this greater sustainability trend is shifting our mindsets.
Finally, I think it’s important to point out just how different things felt this year. Kind + Jugend and EUROBIKE were slimmed down, for example, obviously because of the Coronavirus. And that made you kind of miss the old days when it was packed with people and totally bustling. But at the same time, I have to say, for the vendors and visitors who were there, there was a lot of genuine excitement. I think people had this renewed feeling about getting out there again, shaking hands and making deals that we just took for granted before.”