Visitors to Hamburg get a glimpse of what to expect at SMM next year

Today should have been the opening of SMM, the world’s largest shipping exhibition. With the spread of Covid-19, however, Hamburg Messe, the organisers of the show, took the decision to shift the event to February next year.

With every other major maritime event cancelled, SMM’s rescheduled February 2 to 5 dates will mark the first big international shipping show in around a year.

SMM organisers today provided an update on the “hybrid” trade fair they’re planning for next year that will include on-site exhibitors and visitors as well as online programs for all those who are unable to attend.

After the coronavirus pandemic, trade fairs will never again be the way they used to be

Working with the city of Hamburg, the organisers have come up with health and safety guidelines that require preregistration for the fair, set a maximum daily limit for the number of exhibitors and visitors on site, specify wider aisles and plexiglass partitions at exhibition stands, and stipulate participant tracking in the exhibition halls as well as many other precautionary measures.

“We want to make sure that both visitors and exhibitors will feel comfortable being at SMM,” said Claus Ulrich Selbach, business unit director – maritime and technology fairs & exhibitions at Hamburg Messe.

This new concept was proven to work at the guest event, Nordstil, which ended yesterday inside Hamburg’s giant exhibition halls. Nordstil is a marketplace for exhibitors and trade visitors from the lifestyle and home decoration industries. It was one of the first consumer goods fairs held in Germany since the pandemic began.

Impressively, more than 80% of SMM 2018 exhibitors have signed up to participate in SMM 2021.

“After the coronavirus pandemic, trade fairs will never again be the way they used to be. Even when people are able to travel without restrictions again, we will make use of the wide-ranging options of the digital age. They harbour great potential for trade fair operators and visitors alike,” Selbach stated in a release today.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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