Battle of innovations
Interview with Jochen Köckler
Nov 19, 2013
Focus on Innovations@Domotex: Jochen Köckler, Board Member at Deutsche Messe AG, in discussion with Stefan Diez, designer and head of jury. Photo © Domotex/ Robert Volhard, Stylepark

Robert Volhard: In your opinion, what is the main job of any trade fair?

Jochen Köckler: To put it in a nutshell, trade fairs are platforms that enable people to get in touch with others.

You teamed up with Stylepark to formulate the new concept, “Innovations@Domotex”. One of the fresh features is that potential visitors can now “encounter” exhibits using a special guide before they enter the trade fair. What motivated you to develop this format for the Domotex?

Köckler: If you ask visitors exiting a trade fair what they liked about it, many will say: I liked it because I got to see a whole lot of trailblazing innovations. In other words, visitors who experience only a few pioneering products may not come back. This prompted us to devise the “Innovations@Domotex” format, which shows potential visitors in the run-up to the trade fair why the Domotex will be an exciting and worthwhile experience for them, in other words it is geared to giving people the “reasons to visit”. Nonetheless, the real hands-on experience will always remain at the heart of every trade fair: touching, seeing things, and discussing them with peers. All of this still happens during the trade fair itself. What we are concerned with here is classical innovations marketing that offers visitors useful guidance in the run-up to the event.

Is there more to “Innovations@Domotex?”

Köckler: “Innovations@Domotex” is composed of a range of carefully coordinated modules. The key component is the jury headed by Stefan Diez, which selects a number of products to be published in the guide I mentioned above. We enclose this guide as a supplement with trade magazines, use it for direct mailing campaigns and display it at the trade fair proper to provide better orientation to visitors. But that’s not all. We will also provide hands-on assistance outside the realm of the media. These are our quick information and orientation points in halls 6, 9 and 17, which we have named “Innovations@Domotex Areas”. These special zones are destined to help visitors find out details about specific products and plan their way around the hall.
And there is more. The service will be rounded out by talks and guided tours tailored to the topics addressed by “Innovations@Domotex”. In short, in the form of with “Innovations@Domotex” we have designed a unique communications program package that will premiere in 2014.

What did exhibitors think of the new concept? Were they happy come on board?

Köckler: A total of 100 exhibitors have submitted close to 200 products, and the jury selected 70 of them. A remarkable success – people’s positive reception for the premiere has indeed exceeded our expectations. We are very happy.

At the press conference, designer Stefan Diez said that the selection made by the jury presented the very essence of what would be on show at the Domotex; the must-see products to watch out for in January. How did exhibitors who did not submit any products or whose products were not selected respond to this?

Köckler: Well, we would certainly like to encourage those who decided not to hand in anything to participate with a trailblazing product next time around. To those who did enter a product but were not successful, we would like to say that it was the jury who made that decision, and hope that they will show good sportsmanship. Understandably, as the organizers we have a policy of refraining completely from exerting any kind of influence on a jury composed of notable specialist journalists, interior designers, designers and experts in the industry. And if anyone feels they have been treated unjustly, we would like to encourage to work on giving more prominence to the innovative power of their products next year. True to the motto: What is new about my product, what makes it special, what are the qualities that set it apart from rivaling products on the market?

Am I right in assuming that you see the selection process for “Innovations@Domotex” as a chance to encourage exhibitors to try their hands at new things, draw attention to their particular skills, and communicate their products with more verve and precision?

Köckler: Put it like this: We are the organizers of the most important trade fair shows for carpets and floor coverings world-wide. Fostering innovation is an excellent way of strengthening this position and meeting the responsibilities associated with the role. We have devised these tools to provide the best possible environment for exhibitors to participate in our trade fair. I firmly believe that our new “Innovations@Domotex” format is a trailblazing concept that fits the industry like a glove.