Last year was the first time we attended 2 of the major trade fairs in the field of industry and digitization with our own booth. And because we liked it so much, we decided to go back to present our knowhow and our fancy new AR-applications to the world. So, we travelled again to the world’s largest fair grounds from April 23th to 27th.
As every diligent blog-reader knows, we went by car last year. This year we decided to go by plane to save time. Since the company’s budget doesn’t allow a chartered airplane YET, we relied on Lufthansa to get us there. This year, four of us were going, which means we booked 3 planes. While Marlene and me were still enjoying the advantages of the Graz airport, Silviu had already landed at Hannover. We met Stefan (Moosi) at the Munich airport, but he left from there an hour before us. As soon as Marlene and I arrived at Hannover airport, we went to the centre of Hannover by train and from there by city railway to our Airbnb apartment. It looks like it pays off for people who live there to simply leave the flat for a week during a big fair, at least that’s the impression we got from this apartment. Thanks to the Mozart-LP in the living room, we soon felt comfortable. But see for yourself:
On the first evening, we talked about the strategies for the first exhibition day and went to bed.
Our colleague Alisa had the foresight to book an apartment near the tram station, so we didn’t have to worry about transportation. Arriving at the end of the line we just had to walk a short way to the fair grounds.
It looks like the DMAG (Deutsche Messe AG) doesn’t read our blog, because the security controls were as ineffective as last year. Following the masses, we looked for our booth in hall 5. Thanks to the huge WKO logo (big thanks for the organisation and catering at this point) we knew we had arrived. The trend to get a bigger booth with every fair continued, as we had even more space than last year. The announcement of chancellor Angela Merkel visiting the fair grounds made us set everything up very fast, but she never showed our booth for some reason. Well, bad luck for Mrs. Merkel, as she missed one of the fair’s highlights.
As I don’t want to explain every day at the fair in detail, I will give you an overview of a general exhibition day: We arrive in the morning and everything should be where we left it (more on that later). We unpack all our samples and get ready for the rush. Between 9 and 10 a.m. it’s normally a little bit quieter, it really starts at 11 o’clock a.m. We talk to potential customers and explain what we do (no, we don’t build ovens, nor houses and also, sadly, no pools). We had a look around as well, in order to see all the new things and we talked to our neighbours. At about 5 o’clock p.m. the flow of people starts to slow down and at 6 o’clock we take our stuff and start making our evening plans. Of course, we also had many interesting talks and hopefully the odd project will come out of it, too.
Since Silviu was now on our team and also mostly new to augmented reality, we showed him a lot about our projects and technologies. At the end of the first day we were a well-rehearsed team already. After talking to our neighbours and showing them our projects, which they also really liked, we looked for something to eat. Luckily there was a Greek restaurant near our tram station. With Ouzo and Mythos, we toasted (not for the last time) to the oncoming week. On the way home, Marlene was desperate for ice cream (and Moosi, Silviu and I for some beer). Thus, we stopped at the kiosk near our apartment. We didn’t see it coming when the vendor thought we were from Australia. As soon as we had explained our dialect and that we don’t have kangaroos on the alps, Marlene wanted to buy her favourite ice cream. Disappointed because it was out of stock we went home with a ten-pack of beer (Moosi said it was easier to carry).
Same procedure as every year (day). Nearly on time at 9 a.m. we arrived at the booth. Marlene and Silviu took a look around the fair grounds to get to know them better generally. But soon you get overwhelmed by all the impressions. Luckily, we had a party at the WKO-booth in the evening. Eating Schnitzel and drinking Austrian beer we talked a lot, drank a lot and heard some old stories about the exhibitions from other exhibitors. As the beer and wine were nearly gone the security told us to leave the hall because after a specific time nobody is allowed inside.
Because of Moosi’s unpredictable reaction to the evening before we were only three people at the booth. But because we were a well-rehearsed team we didn’t have any problems at all. Due to the overall fewer people on the fair grounds we couldn’t reach for much leads. We used the time to arrange the virtual world around us with the HoloLens (see photo).
This day ended as well and because we liked it so much on Monday, we went for Greek food again –ouzo included –Moosi excluded. Marlene, however, still wanted her ice cream, so we stopped at the kiosk once again. But the elusive desert still wasn’t available.
On Thursday, I took my chance to stroll around the fair grounds. Some of the impressions I put into a video which can be found on our YouTube channel soon. But as I said before, after a short period of time you get overwhelmed by the impressions. Generally, it was nearly the same as last year. Topic number one was still digitization, followed by robotics. We also had some interesting talks at our booth, although we got asked if we sell ovens, because one guest saw one of our groundplane videos. We had to tell the disappointed visitor that we actually don’t sell ovens.
At around 5 p.m., the neighbour booth started preparations for their booth-party. Continental looked like they had planned a bigger party and we thought we could join them. As soon as the security started building barriers though, we got a little worried about our plans. The disappointment was big when we heard it was invitation only – and there were no invitations left, not even for friendly neighbors. Well, too bad Continental, we would have rocked your party! Instead, we decided to go home and order pizza – but not without another unsuccessful try to get some ice cream.
The last day! Arriving at the booth, we had to find out that our “swan neck” (iPad holder) was stolen. Without our most valuable accessory, we hat to present our projects and apps manually. It was, however, a slow day anyway; most visitors were students or families, though they also liked our AR-applications and the HoloLens. Moosi left at midday. From then on, we were only three people. We survived the last rush and soon the exhibition was over. With a bag full of leads, we took a little trip to the centre of Hannover. We finished the day with burgers and currywurst and made a last stop at our kiosk only to find out that Marlene wasn’t able to reach her primary goal of the week – to get some ice cream. So, we went home and packed our stuff.
For this day, the trip home was scheduled. After a long and exhausting week, we were happy to get home. Especially Silviu was looking forward to the flight. Due to the late booking of his seat, he “had to” fly business class. As the flight from Munich to Graz was so short, Silviu nearly couldn’t finish his lunch. With a lot of new impressions and a whole bunch of leads, we arrived at Graz. Looking forward to next year, we said goodbye and put the week behind us.
As I said before, the exhibition has become specialized on industrial. Rumour has it that the Hannover Messe will be united with the CeBIT which separated from it nearly 30 years ago. For private customers it’s a little bit to big and to specialized on industry, in my opinion. Although you could have grabbed some nice goodies at some booths. At our booth, we had some interesting talks and visitors and we cannot wait to start some new projects.
Hannover – see you next year!