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Sonia Wedell-Castellano on Domotex 2023: “We are still thrilled at how well it went over.”

Domotex was held in Hannover again in January 2023, coming back after a lengthy pause. Following up the trade fair, Carpet Home spoke to Sonia Wedell-Castellano, Global Director Domotex, about how the fair was received by the industry and what the plans are for Domotex going forward.

Carpet Home: It had been three years since the last Domotex. What were the impressions you and your team members had of the fair?

Sonia Wedell-Castellano: Even now we are still thrilled at how well it went over, receiving positive feedback during and after the fair from many quarters. We were honestly surprised, along with the companies exhibiting at Domotex, at how strong attendance was in this post-pandemic era, even with a not-so-great economic situation currently. It shows how much people are enjoying getting to finally meet up again in person, and also indicates how the industry is really behind Domotex as a platform. There was a great atmosphere in the halls throughout the entire fair – everybody was exhilarated at coming together again at last to share ideas and do some business. All in all, I have to say this Domotex restart was fantastic.

Carpet Home: It was surprising how upbeat the mood was at Domotex, especially among the exhibitors. I say ‘surprising’ because of the shaky economic situation we have seen in recent months, which of course impacts the trade fair business. What does the mood say to you – how will that influence your planning for future fairs?

Sonia Wedell-Castellano: Attendance far exceeding anybody’s expectations was partly what created such energy at Domotex. Some exhibitors even said it was the best Domotex experience they had had in many years. It proved to us as a team that Domotex can still be highly successful, even in a tough economy and with fewer exhibitors. It also shows the fruits of going the extra mile with our marketing efforts, and with visitor communications in particular. The exhibitors too, of course, played a substantial role in attracting visitors. So for us the takeaways for planning the next upcoming fairs are: stick with the concept, full speed ahead ... in fact let’s take it up a notch.

And ist also means: we will be sticking with the rhythm of once a year! That has indeed been a key takeaway. Before the pandemic some exhibitors had their doubts, but now we have seen that a straightforward platform for carpets and flooring is something absolutely needed and wanted in Hannover.

Carpet Home: The mood was good, but many visitors were disappointed that there were fewer exhibitors. Certain big-name players, in the handmade carpet segment in particular, were noticeably absent, and in Halls 5 and 6 there were a lot of vacant spots. Why was that, and what situation are you expecting for Domotex 2024?

Sonia Wedell-Castellano: I think we have to keep in mind that this was the first Domotex since outbreak of the pandemic, held in a time when the global economy is not doing so well. These conditions made some companies understandably hesitant to exhibit at Domotex 2023; thus some have yet to return to the fair as exhibitors. Another factor was the significant travel restrictions China and some other countries still had in place early in the year, which made it harder to travel abroad to exhibit. Many producers of rugs who exhibit are from Iran, for example. And as you may well imagine, the political upheaval in Iran made it simply impossible for many to obtain a visa in time to go participate in an international trade show. This very problem explains a number of last-minute cancellations; there was no other option but to leave the spaces empty. Regrettable indeed, but things happen beyond our control, despite our best efforts.

As to our expectations for the next upcoming expo, I can tell you that many companies have expressed interest coming back for Domotex 2024 – and several intend to come who didn’t exhibit this year. Carpet producers like Merinos and Oriental Weavers and flooring suppliers like Ter Hürne, Windmöller, Neuhofer and NK Sales have confirmed they are coming, along with many other companies.

Carpet Home: It seemed like there were quite a lot of decision-makers there from medium to larger-sized trading firms. What did you observe about the attendance structure, what countries did visitors come from?

Sonia Wedell-Castellano: Domotex has always had an international identity as a trade fair. In 2023, roughly 70% of the approximately 20,000 visitors were from abroad: 60% from Europe – 45% EU, 21% Asia, 11% America and the rest from Africa and Australia.

Visitor quality was truly outstanding at the fair. Eighty percent of those attending were decision-makers, and more than a third were executives. According to our survey, which was which audited by the FKM, roughly half of decision-makers placed an order with an exhibiting firm while attending Domotex. So those who show up at Domotex are there for a reason.

Compared to 2020 the number of 20,000 visitors may seem small, but it isn’t by any means. Comparing at all is really useless, for we are now living in a different time − the post-pandemic era. But if you are going to compare, you still have to look at the conditions, and also look at the number of exhibitors. While the number of exhibitors was 50% lower this year than typically in the past, but attendance was still at two-thirds of the normal level. Thus visitors actually increased from a certain perspective.

A detailed report on Domotex will be coming out in the next issue of Carpet Home, appearing in late March. If you are not yet a Carpet Home subscriber, just e-mail us at tim.steinert@snfachpresse.de

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Sonia Wedell-Castellano on Domotex 2023: “We are still thrilled at how well it went over.”
Foto/Grafik: Deutsche Messe
Sonia Wedell-Castellano, Global Director Domotex
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