So good to see you…

IDS opens its doors for the 39th time on 22 September, providing the international dental community one of its first opportunities to meet in-person post-pandemic

16 August, 2021 / indepth
 Will Peakin  

Around 830 companies from 56 countries will be present in Cologne this September for the International Dental Show, the leading international trade fair for dentistry and dental technology.

Organisers say that the global trade fair will combine the strengths of a physical event with “trailblazing digital features” in the form of ‘IDSConnect’. They add that this hybrid approach will enable dental professionals to discover companies and products, and connect with potential partners, via a series of innovative channels.

IDS 2021 is being staged in Halls 2, 3, 10, and 11 at Koelnmesse, the city’s international trade fair and exhibition centre. All halls are connected via a simple circular route. Four entrance areas – the South, East and West entrances, and the entrance on the trade fair Boulevard, ensure that the visitors will be evenly distributed throughout.

In addition to the existing restaurant and resting areas in the halls, which are being extended with additional space to ensure the social distancing rules can be adhered to, a new food service area is being installed in Hall 4.1. The managers of Koelnmesse say they have created the conditions for a great and safe trade fair experience with their initiative, #B-SAFE4business.

The historic city of Cologne provides a beautiful backdrop to IDS

Scottish Dental caught up with Mark Stephen Pace, chairman of the board of the Association of the German Dental Industry (VDDI), and Oliver Frese, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse, to ask them about the show, their experience of the pandemic, and what exhibitors and delegates could look forward to this year.

Can you give us a bit of background on IDS – how it got started and the story of its growth to where it is today?

Mark Stephen Pace: The history of the IDS is closely linked to the history of our dental industry in Germany. The Association of German Dental Manufacturers e.V. (VDDI) was initiated exactly 105 years ago. It was founded on 24 June 1916 in Berlin. The aim of the founding members was to find new markets and sales opportunities for dental products in the extremely difficult geopolitical and economic times of the First World War. The vision of organising a dental show was clear from the very start – the aim was to jointly present the products of the manufacturers to the trade audience for their appraisal.

Mark Stephen Pace, chairman of the Association of German Dental Manufacturers.

Our industry was aware that only products that offer real advantages and added value to the users will be successful. Six years after the establishment of the association, it succeeded in staging the first dental show in 1923 in the middle of the year of hyperinflation in Germany. Our industry invited foreign manufacturers to exhibit at the dental show at an early stage, so that the dental show in 1928 was the first show with international participation.

What began 98 years ago on 350 square meters with around 30 exhibitors developed over time into the largest dental trade fair in the world. Over the course of time, the national trade show has become THE international trade fair of the worldwide dental industry, meeting up in Cologne every two years to compare its accomplishments, innovations, and product developments. We are looking forward to this year’s IDS, it will be different, but it will be unique and outstanding in a world with many challenges.

Can you describe your experience of the pandemic and how the organisations operated during the lockdown?

Oliver Frese: The COVID pandemic has completely turned our lives and the world we knew up until now upside down. In our private lives, we were no doubt confronted with the same challenges as millions of other people. Suddenly, daily life, customary routines had to be reorganised and restructured overnight. Overall, we mastered that task well, which meant we have got through these tricky times well so far. As far as professional life is concerned, the Corona crisis has changed the trade fair landscape long-term and in a sustainable manner. Here at Koelnmesse we particularly worked intensively on two themes from the very first day: Digitalisation and the re-start.

Oliver Frese, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse.

I am convinced that the development of digital trade fair formats can no longer be reversed. The Corona crisis has merely accelerated the digital transformation of the trade fair scene, which was already clear beforehand. In future, we will move between both worlds in a hybrid fashion. Whereas the main focus of the interdisciplinary knowledge exchange and information transfer (content) will be digitally oriented, the personal experience and the face-to-face exchange, i.e., the basic foundation for sustainable business, remains to be the great benefit of the on-site trade fair.  Experiencing the products in haptic form is indispensable, especially for a trade fair like IDS. There will be a flowing transition of the networking between the two elements, definitely in-person on-site, but also via the Web.

This is why we are combining the great strengths of a physical trade fair with trailblazing digital features in the form of IDSConnect. Our hybrid approach enables visitors from all over the globe, who are not able to travel to Cologne this year, to discover attractive trade fair presences and products and connect with contact partners via innovative channels.

Parallel to this, we have developed the extensive hygiene and safety concept, #B-Safe4Business, which enables the conduction of trade fairs under observance of all conceivable regulations and requirements. This is helping us now with a view to the pending IDS 2021 and is at the same time the ‘blueprint’ for the future. Our concept has been developed in close coordination with the authorities and is continuously reviewed and dynamically adapted to the current legal situation and applicable regulations. As such, we ensure the best possible safety for all trade fair participants at the fair grounds and at the same time create an environment in which the business of our customers can grow again.

How have you approached the organisation of this year’s show and what will the experience be like for delegates and exhibitors

Oliver Frese: From the very beginning and in close coordination with the VDDI, in the scope of personal dialogues we recorded our customers’ demands and requirements regarding IDS 2021 and integrated these into the overall concept. We always follow this approach, it is not “Corona-related”. Because I can only find out what moves and drives my customers by talking to them.

Of course, “Corona” was and still is a constant companion in the course of all dialogues and we have also developed special measures and aids, for instance for the themes stand planning, ticketing or for the stay at the fair grounds. IDS 2021 will most certainly differ from former IDS trade fairs, but we are working hard so that the difference is hardly “tangible” for our participants. On the other hand, it is in the interests of our customers that certain changes are perceived.

For example, at the entrance to the fair grounds: All admission tickets are exclusively being issued as digital day tickets, whereby admission to the trade fair will exclusively be granted to people who can provide recognised digital proof of complete vaccination, testing or recovery. This ensures better protection for all of the participants and guarantees efficient tracking.

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