You have just announced that Asia Fruit Logistica and Asiafruit Congress are moving to a new venue in Hong Kong from next year. Why are you changing venues?
Gérald Lamusse: Asia Fruit Logistica has grown rapidly since it was launched in 2007. Our latest event in September expanded by an average of 20 per cent in terms of exhibitor and visitor numbers. It demonstrates how important the event is becoming for the fresh fruit and vegetable business in Asia. It also shows you how Asia is becoming a much more interesting market for suppliers from all over the world.
At our current rate of growth we would very soon outgrow the space available to us in our current home. The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition has tried everything it can do to accommodate us, but it has its own very large shows that take place in their convention centre at the same time as Asia Fruit Logistica. So we faced the very real prospect of splitting our trade show across several halls and on several levels of the HKCEC. We do not believe that is the best solution for our exhibitors or for our visitors.
So from September 2012 Asia Fruit Logistica and Asiafruit Congress are relocating to AsiaWorld-Expo. Tell us about your new location.
GL: AsiaWorld-Expo is a modern purpose-built trade fair complex, which is well-suited to a fast-growing trade show like Asia Fruit Logistica. Indeed, there is space for us to grow over the next several years. Its exhibition halls are large, modern, with high ceilings and no pillars, and they are also very accessible for stand constructors. It will mean that exhibitors can get in and out of the centre very efficiently.
AsiaWorld-Expo is also located next to Hong Kong’s International Airport. You know that it is a major transport hub for the Asia region as a whole, with hundreds of flights coming in every day from all over the world.
It means that visitors from all over Asia can visit our trade fair very easily and very cost-effectively. AsiaWorld-Expo also benefits from direct links to Guangdong province and to the rest of southern China. We believe that it will allow more visitors from China and the rest of Asia to visit Asia Fruit Logistica. So the new location is good news for exhibitors and visitors alike.
But the new location isn’t in the heart of the city. Isn’t that a bit of a problem?
GL: Think about it: every visitor to Fruit Logistica in Berlin or to many other trade shows elsewhere in the world tends to stay at a hotel in the city centre and travel to the trade fair every day by taxi or train. They come in in the morning and they head back in town in the evening. So in that sense Asia Fruit Logistica is now no different to any other trade show you attend.
But the big advantage we have in Hong Kong is that AsiaWorld-Expo is connected to the centre of Hong Kong by the Airport Express, one of the world’s leading airport train systems. It connects the trade fair grounds to Kowloon and Hong Kong stations in less than 30 minutes. Trade show visitors can also enjoy significant discounts on their ticket prices of up to 50 per cent, which makes it even more affordable. It really is a first-class service.
Do you anticipate visitors and exhibitors will stay close to the AsiaWorld-Expo Centre and Hong Kong airport?
GL: There are all kinds of options available that should suit everyone. Some people will want to stay next to the exhibition centre and travel into town in the evening, others will want to stay in town and travel to the exhibition centre every day.
There are two five-star hotels with more than 1,000 rooms within walking distance of AsiaWorld-Expo - there are a number of budgets hotels nearby too - but you can also jump on a train or get a taxi and stay downtown, in Kowloon or on Hong Kong Island. As I said, it’s really no different to what you already do when you come to Berlin, or go to Moscow, or attend a trade show in the US as many already do.
And what’s happening with the Asiafruit Congress? Is that changing too?
Chris White: The Asiafruit Congress will take place at AsiaWorld-Expo alongside Asia Fruit Logistica. Delegates can stay at the five-star Marriott Hotel next to the exhibition centre if they want to, but we expect many of them will want to stay at our Asiafruit Congress headquarters hotel in the city centre. We expect to announce the location very soon. Our headquarters hotel will host our Asiafruit Congress Welcome Reception, a popular and well-attended event which brings together many congress delegates and marks the start of the three-day trade show and conference event. Other networking events are planned for congress delegates too.
Will you be changing the conference format as well?
CW: Yes, we will. It is the right time to freshen things up as we have been using the same format since we started in 2007. So we’re developing a new mix of plenary and breakout sessions for Asiafruit Congress delegates. It will increase the number of topics we can cover in the conference and give our delegates much more choice too. The Asia market is growing so quickly that we need to give delegates more chance to discuss many more subjects and also give them more time for networking. After all, that’s why they come to Hong Kong.
More information about Asia Fruit Logistica and Asiafruit Congress is available online at asiafruitlogistica.com and asiafruitcongress.com