Cebit battles exhibitor pull-out

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Cebit battles exhibitor pull-out

World's largest tradeshow seeks salvation in niche markets.

The Deutsche Messe is declaring next week's 2007 edition of the Cebit tradeshow a transitional edition in a last ditch effort to polish up the event's tarnished image. 

Cebit 2008 will no longer attempt to cover the entire IT industry but instead is shifting focus to niche markets.

"The IT industry, the main market for Cebit, is going through an expansive change process. That is bound to have an impact on the tradeshow that is the international trend setter," Ernst Raue, board member for the Deutsche Messe conceded to the German news agency DPA.

Cebit has been battling a gradual drop in attendance and exhibitors. This year the Nokia and Motorola pulled out of the event in favour of the 3GSM show in Barcelona. Host city Hannover also is ill equipped to receive the massive flow of people attending the event, sending prices for the city's few hotels skyrocketing.

Cebit in essence has fallen victim to the same symptoms that killed the Comdex convention, which folded after its 2002 edition.

Both events suffered from a lack of focus on both their show floors as well as in the audience. This spawned a cycle of brand name exhibitors leaving, followed by corporate buyers. As the relative number of gadget hunting consumers increased, additional exhibitors pulled out.

As witnessed by the Nokia and Motorola pull-out, more focused events are having more success in growing their attendance. In addition to 3GSM, the show is facing harsh competition from the IFA television show in Berlin.

There is no guarantee that attempts to restructure Cebit will be successful. The 2002 edition of Comdex too was billed as a transitional event. The changes caused attendance to plummet by nearly 50 percent and marketing statements promising a come back have never materialised.
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