Staging successful international trade shows will depend on creativity, better communication with retailers and exhibitors, and the flexibility to adapt to cultural, financial and fashion trends, said Marie Laure Bellon-Homps, president of trade fair giant Eurovet Inc.

This story first appeared in the November 3, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Bellon-Homps, a 20-year veteran of the show circuit ranging from technology and children’s apparel to lingerie, swimwear and textiles, joined Eurovet in 2003 as an associate director. Since then, the trade show organizer, which stages the Salon International de la Lingerie and the new Mode City intimates fairs in Paris, has expanded its reach into the global community with two shows in Asia: Shanghai Mode Lingerie and Hong Kong Mode Lingerie.

“What’s going on right now is a paradox,” she said. “This is the first time we are dealing with a global [financial] crisis, but we had a very good Mode City show in September with a 25 percent increase totaling 20,040 visitors. I think at salons like this people need to focus on specific niches. People are spending less on stands, but at the same time they are demanding that we organize more networking soirees. I think that the future is to work much closer with exhibitors, which will make the salons more viable. With all sectors in a financial crisis it’s essential that you become more flexible.”

Bellon-Homps said part of a “modern approach” to organizing a successful trade fair is working with exhibitors before a show is staged.

“In order to get new customers we need to work in partnerships with our exhibitors far in advance,” she said. “Our role also is very important in the intermediate stage in terms of enhancing the greatest potential for greater exposure and a positive image for the brands. As an example, we no longer have the catwalk shows paid for by exhibitors. We base our selections for the runway shows by evaluating the best styles, silhouettes, creativity, and fashion trends.”

She added that the challenge in growing the trade fair’s presence is “multitiered.”

“You have to accelerate international development and increase the number of new products and ideas. You need to organize business appointments well in advance and target strategic zones in the global marketplace. In order to justify a show in today’s economy, you have to have enough exciting products and exhibitors to bring in visitors. We’ve even expanded our staff to include people from many nationalities, such as Russians, Chinese and Japanese, to enrich communications and partnerships.”

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