I couldn’t help, but reflect on the future when each morning I was stirred awake by the buzz of helicopters overhead. It’s a surreal feeling I experienced in December when I had the opportunity to spend a week in Sao Paulo, Brazil at the ExpoSystems’ 2011 show. I saw first-hand how rapidly the Brazilian exhibition market is growing. Brazil is obviously gearing up to be front and center of the world stage when they host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Skyscrapers were going up, exhibition centers were being expanded and traffic was at a standstill.
If you have the chance to spend a few days in this country (Brazilian Carnival is in February, there’s your excuse to visit), you will see just how global growth is shifting to the emerging markets. Sao Paulo is clearly a city on the move. Helipads were a fixture of most multi-story buildings. Most relevant to our industry, spending time on a Brazilian exhibition floor confirmed a truism that on a macro level, exhibitions have similarities everywhere in the world. They are exciting marketplaces that pair buyers and sellers on a face-to-face basis. There are bright colors, helpful graphics and individual exhibitor areas (usually made of hard walling or shell scheme depending on where you are on the show floor). There is a certain comfort taken within our industry that no matter what continent I’m on, I feel a sense of being at home, even if I’m not in Chicago.
However, on a micro level there are always differences. When I’m in the Middle East or Europe, and get below the surface of a show, I find the true cultural differences. The same was true in Brazil. Many of the exhibitors have elaborate bars and the Caipirinhas are flowing by 4 P.M. The exhibits are beautifully designed and favor curves and flowing lines.
As we start 2012, I’ll leave you with a couple thoughts to consider. When you travel to an exhibition overseas would you prefer to see the same design and feel that we have in the U.S. or would you like to see a culturally infused show floor? Will you take some of the different cultural elements and infuse them into your next show or exhibit? Share your thoughts (and pictures) on our Facebook wall!
We live in interesting times…