Interview: “iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS is a Virtual Global Marketplace”

Cathleen Kabashi, director of iba granted European Baker & Biscuit magazine a short interview in which she speaks about the new iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS format that will be introduced in March, the challenges the pandemic brought to the industry and the perspectives for the 2021 edition of iba in Munich.

What was the main driver behind the creation of this additional virtual event?

The main driver behind iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS was our customers feedback regarding the lack of exchange within the industry. This awakened our entrepreneurial courage. Thinking outside the box, we created an answer for the strong need for exchange and the necessity of reliable, successful discussion platforms. We made use of our long-time experience in the baking industry and finally – after weeks of market research – created a new event format, enlarging our portfolio with the unique, fully virtual iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS. By doing so, we enable the industry to get new business contacts while presenting their numerous innovations that have emerged the last months in an appropriate way. The new iba experience in 2021 consists now of two complementary formats, providing the industry with a strong platform to connect globally in March before iba takes places in October.

Why should an industry player choose to exhibit their products in this virtual format? What is the return they can expect?

Due to ongoing restrictions and cancellations of live events, companies haven’t yet had the chance to connect on a broader level, generate new business contacts and present their latest innovations. By taking part in iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS, they are able to present their products virtually, interact with customers, maintain long-term relationships and – most important when sales teams are banned from traveling – create new business and leads. Moreover, they have the chance to contribute with their topics to the supporting program. Participants also get the latest business insights through experts highlighting current industry trends and by learning how to deal with the new normal. High-quality visitors have already registered in high numbers, to the first business meeting of the year.

Such events can be quite impersonal and abstract. How do you plan to keep visitors engaged and the communication open and dynamic?

With the new format flanking the live event in October, we bring people together in an even more multi-layered way, combining the best of both worlds. We have looked at a number of online events over the past few months and therefore know very well that it takes more than a stable internet connection to transport topics. We are professionals in the event business and have known the baking industry for many years.  That means we know what it takes to create not only entertainment, but also added value. For the technical implementation, we partnered up with the leader in his field. Both exhibitors and visitors of iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS can look forward to an entertaining online event: This is ensured by interaction possibilities, the networking construct of the four pillars CONNECT, DISCOVER, LEARN and ENTERTAIN as well as integrated features such as the visit of bakeries around the globe via moving images. We want to create a space in which people will meet globally on a high level, independent of external influences, and which bring fresh business contacts in spring. 

Will this type of virtual trade show become a regular event in the iba calendar?

Currently, we are working at full power at the most flexible level and we are very much looking forward to launch our first virtual networking event in March 2021. At this stage, it would be too early to speak about a regularity but we can think of more versions of iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS to come. Iba is a constant within the industry and sets trends, just like its exhibitors: thinking outside the box is part of success, so be excited to see what is next.

How is attending iba. CONNECTING EXPERTS improve the iba offline experience in October?

iba.CONNECTING EXPERTS can be seen as a virtual global market place, from which exhibitors and visitors benefit from at an early stage of the year. Exhibitors will present their new products virtually and via direct interaction, as well as maintaining and expanding business relationships, while attendees will receive business impulses that are now urgently needed – by means of moving images, high-quality content, and specialist talks. The event in March is a chance to generate new business despite these exceptional times. Thus, new bonds can be established and both sides can inform themselves about the latest innovations. The stage will be set in March, but relationships and innovations will be deepened in October – as we are all looking forward to finally meet again in person, despite the digital possibilities we created.

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