PARIS -- Starting this fall, buyers will have to pay up to $35 a head to get into Premiere Vision, Europe's largest fabric fair.
The fees are part of a complex new entrance program for the fair announced here Friday by Bertrand Bocris de Junneman, managing director.
After a successful effort to increase attendance for Premiere Vision's most recent show held last month -- when the visitor count rose 18 percent with nearly 7,000 newcomers -- Bocris de Junneman is now out to target visitors with an elaborate selection process involving buyer rankings as well as entrance fees.
The plan involves a three-step buyer hierarchy, with rankings clearly labeled on new magnetic-stripe name tags. It will go into effect with the next Premiere Vision to be held Sept. 30-Oct. 3.
Exhibitors will be asked to list their top 15 buyers to make up a VIB (very important buyer) category. VIBs will have a number of privileges, including a Club VIB room, a full show kit with a trend book and a bimonthly newsletter to be launched in January.
The second category is pre-registered buyers, who will have to prove their legitimacy to the fair's visitor service by sending copies of one or more bills for industrial orders totaling $8,600 (50,000 francs) from resources exhibiting at Premiere Vision. Bills can be dated as far back as a year before the opening of the show.
These two categories of buyers will be sent personal badges and will pay a reduced entrance fee of $23 (130 francs) at current exchange rates.
Other, general visitors will have to pay $35 (200 francs) to get into the fair.
Visitors from schools, the press and guests of honor will be exempted from the entrance fees.
The name badges will be encoded with information about the buyer's company as well as the buyer category, and exhibitors will have magnetic-stripe readers at the entrance of their booths to read the name cards for this information.
At a press conference, Bocris de Junneman took pains to answer any number of possible objections to the entrance fees. He justified his decision by pointing out that other shows also have selective systems."At Ideacomo, you can only get in if you're invited by three of the show's exhibitors. And at Ideabiella, if you go without buying, you're not allowed to go back the next season.
"Our exhibitors like the fact that Premiere Vision is a generalist fair, but it's hard for them to identify the visitors," he said.
"Selecting visitors doesn't mean refusing entrance to non-buyers. We just want to give privileges [to buyers]. This is a specialized weavers' fair. It's like a club. There's a waiting list with 500 resources trying to get in," he asserted. Just as he selects exhibitors, Bocris de Junneman is attempting to apply selective criteria to visitors, he said.
"The European textile industry is having problems at the moment so we must help it by not increasing the space price. Paying for entrances is a way of contributing to that. Space price hasn't increased in four years, and my best wish is not to raise it until the year 2000.
"Premiere Vision is a qualitative show. We only use 40 percent of our space for booths while other fairs use 60 to 70 percent. So if I wanted to make money, I could just sell more booth space," he said.
"Please note that there is no financial objective here [in the entrance fee]," he stressed. "In our advertising, we'll encourage buyers to pre-register to make it cheaper and easier for them. [The magnetic identification cards] will actually cost a lot of money. We're talking millions of dollars."
Although he refused to disclose the total amount of the investment, he said the fair's installation alone costs about $9.5 million.
He also noted that last year Premiere Vision increased cash flow by 50 percent and doubled net profit.
"I've got projects planned up until 1998," he said.
Bocris de Junneman methodically addressed every potential complaint he could think up to the new fees. As far as foreign visitors are concerned, he evaluated their average total budget for the trip to range from approximately $2,600 to $3,500.
"So we studied entrance prices according to those figures," he said. "Don't tell me an American buyer is going to come all the way over to Paris for the fair and refuse to pay to get in; let's be serious."As for young designers who have complained about the fee, Bocris de Junneman said he rationalized the situation by asking them if they had bought a compact disc over the year at the same price.
There will also be a reorganization of the fair's layout for the coming fall edition, shifting various sections about to correspond to fashion trends. For example, explained the fair's fashion director Marie-Francoise Ghane, knits and prints will take adjoining spaces because "knits have more and more prints, while prints have more and more knit bases."
There will also be two marketing spaces, where exhibitors can spotlight featured fabrics on a daily basis.
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