China: Twenty years of trade fairs in Pudong

Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) opened its gates in autumn 2001. Its twentieth anniversary this year is an occasion to look back and ahead.

Foundation stone laying ceremony for SNIEC in November 1999 with then German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. (Photo: SNIEC)
Foundation stone laying ceremony for SNIEC in November 1999 with then German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. (Photo: SNIEC)

SNIEC in the Pudong district has long been one of the world's busiest exhibition centres. Michael Kuppe expressly singles out three of its many success factors. “One of the milestones was already the decision to build the event centre in the late 1990s,” points out SNIEC’s general manager. “And to do this is in China, which was certainly and up and coming country at the time,” he adds. “Nevertheless, it was still very volatile and not exactly open and secure in terms of investments and intellectual property.” Secondly, Kruppe points to the courage and foresight to rely only on B2B. The expectation being that China would offer more possibilities going forward - due to its sheer size. “And it really worked out that way.” As a third success factor, the SNIEC chief singles out the focus on service and quality, and now also on safety. The latter is practiced not only because of COVID, “but as a matter of principle, because otherwise exhibitors and visitors stay away.”

The joint venture between the three exhibition companies of Düsseldorf, Hanover and Munich and its Chinese partners proved to be a winner right from the start. “Things have been steadily going uphill since we opened in 2001,” Michael Kruppe looks back. The only setback came in 2014 with the opening of Shanghai Exhibition Centre NECC. Pudong also emerged as a booming location, thanks to the huge marketing efforts of SNIEC’s management team. “Since around 1990, Pudong has been strategically established” says Kruppe. “Among other things, there were and still are free trade and tax incentive zones attracting many investors.” In addition, Pudong has been transformed into a financial and commercial hub. Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which now boasts three mega-terminals, has enhanced its reachability. “Thanks to the completion of the maglev (Transrapid) in 2002, it’s now only a ten-minute journey from the airport to SNIEC,” adds Michael Kruppe.

The premiere of Shanghai Motor Show in December 2001 attracted over 150,000 visitors to the brand new SNIEC. (Photo: HMI)
The premiere of Shanghai Motor Show in December 2001 attracted over 150,000 visitors to the brand new SNIEC. (Photo: HMI)

A bumper programme of activities awaits for the anniversary year. A special banner has been created. “In addition, we will install some statues and structures in SNIEC,” says Michael Kruppe. “They are to symbolise the evolution of the past twenty years.” There will also be an anniversary book with over 100 pages. It will offer insight into SNIEC’s development, quoting contemporaries who witnessed its beginnings. In November there will be a gala dinner with surprise guests. Forecasts for 2021 are much better than for 2020. “Compared to 2019, our fourth record year running, we still expect revenues of around 80 to 85 per cent,” predicts SNIEC manager Kruppe. “In view of the pandemic, we can be happy with that.” Even before COVID, trends like the expo experience and digitisation were talking points. Plus: “We see increasing demand for combined B2B and B2C events.” SNIEC is getting ready for this - for example with 5G, updated conference spaces, a new big VIP lounge and LED screens (www.sniec.net).

Author: Peter Borstel

This article was published in TFI issue 1/2021

 
 

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