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An increasingly global fair

Autopromotec 2011: more exhibitors and visitors

The 2011 edition of the world automotive aftermarket fair was a combination of increased visitor numbers and quality, a determining factor for a b2b fair. There was considerable interest in the many innovative aspects of products and operator training in a context that is increasingly representative

by Mario Lenzi

There were 1,473 exhibitors, an increase of 2%, with particular growth in the number from abroad, about 37% of the total. The same is true for visitors: of the 103,666 attendees, 18,524 came from abroad, an increase of 11%.


In Europe, the automotive aftermarket trade fair sector is undergoing unprecedented changes. As with other sectors, on the one hand major events are being grouped together, and on the other there are various attempts to create new initiatives.
The fair sector must adapt to a model based on concentration, where events with a strong focus on business will be the ones that survive.
Just like large and small companies, fair organizers must also respond to globalization and the change in mentality it demands. Italy’s competition model of 10 or 20 years ago is now being echoed at European level, but the context is already that of a worldwide competitive arena because companies (and therefore exhibitors) think on a global scale.
From this viewpoint, the number of visitors and exhibitors at Autopromotec in Bologna has confirmed it as being an international benchmark for many sectors. There were 1,473 exhibitors, an increase of 2%, over an exhibition area of  150,000 sq. m., with particular growth in the number from abroad, about 37% of the total. The same is true for visitors: of the 103,666 attendees, 18,524 came from abroad, an increase of 11%. And there were more than 50 international delegations of buyers and distributors from over 100 countries.
Autopromotec therefore catalyzed the interest of international professionals in search of business opportunities and the sector’s latest product innovations while continuing to focus on business-oriented initiatives for exhibiting and visiting companies. Important international associations in the sector also chose the fair as the location of their meetings.
The programme was packed with appointments inside the exhibition centre and outside, with social events dedicated to networking and non-conventional marketing. In addition to doing business and seeing the new technological products exhibited in the pavilions, added value also came from special initiatives such as the European Automotive Aftermarket Symposium, with updated information and precise indications of how the main decision makers see the future of the entire automotive aftermarket sector.

A new approach to exhibitions
The 2011 edition of Autopromotec also marked a change in the approach to exhibitions. A new aggregation model in which professionals in the relevant sectors are the main players overall and not just in specific targeted initiatives. A concrete example of this new vision was the opening event: no longer a press conference by the organizers, but a major conference at which the highest-ranking members of institutes and primary associations discussed subjects of particular interest. And in fact, participants in the opening conference “Servicing, Safety and Maintenance”, moderated by Roberto Pippan, chief editor of the economic desk of “Giornale Radio Rai”, were Duccio Campagnoli, director of BolognaFiere; Giorgio Cometti, president of Aica; Renzo Servadei, CEO of Promotec Spa; Eugenio Razelli, president of Anfia; Gianni Filipponi, director general of Unrae; Maurizio Vitelli, director general of Traffic Control – Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport, and the Hon. Bartolomeo Giachino, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport.

World growth in demand for vehicle servicing products
The fair was also an excellent opportunity for feeling the pulse of the market, because it is at the stands that you can learn what is really going on in the sector-related economy and what the trends will be in the near future. A future with a strong technological drive and, fortunately, an upturn in business also in mature markets and strong demand by emerging countries, which confirm considerable growth in mass motorization.
Just to give a small example, the volume of business generated by the fair is estimated at 1.1 billion euros, a figure calculated by projecting the results of a survey of over 100 of the 1,473 exhibiting companies.

Important recognition by US government
Also very important is the international recognition by the government of the United States: Trade Fair Certification was presented to Autopromotec by Michael Thompson, director of Trade Fair Certification, and Michael Richardson, United States Commercial Consul in Italy. Trade Fair Certification was set up to select overseas fairs for American exhibitors and is part of a particularly incisive programme of initiatives by the US Department of Commerce to encourage and provide efficient support for the participation of American companies in overseas exhibitions.
This certification is another step towards the complete internationalization of an event that, this year in particular, has confirmed and reinforced its identity as a world fair. Naturally, all this is to the advantage of exhibitors and especially to visitors who were able to meet the aftermarket world and all its new developments in the vehicle servicing sector.

Information and learning, a dedicated academy
There was considerable interest in the initiatives proposed by AutopromotecEDU at the 2011 edition. In-depth discussions, information, education and the culture of auto repairs were provided in a programme of twelve appointments that included conferences, events and seminars with operators, experts and the representatives of international associations and institutes.
The appointments included: the third European Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (EAAS11) on “Future opportunities for the aftermarket in Europe”; the seminar “Sustainability and the demand for energy”; the conference “Truck: network, services and profitability”; and a meeting about the relationship between “specialist press and servicing”. Meetings also targeted communication, marketing and visibility for auto repairers that have made significant innovations. AutopromotecEDU is an undeniably innovative initiative and on the wave of this positive first experience it does not intend to be a one-off event but aims to be a regular appointment at subsequent Autopromotec fairs. The organizers hope that EDU will become a “vehicle repair university” by offering sector operators from all over the world increasingly qualified information and learning opportunities.

Trucks to the fore
Also particularly appreciated by visitors was Autopromotec Industrial Vehicles Service, the first time in the history of the fair that an initiative has been dedicated to heavy vehicles. A logo, special guide and search engine provided operators with a new route for visiting the exhibitors of equipment, components and spare parts for trucks. Truck is the result of awareness about the importance of the goods transport sector and the increasing attention it must pay to maintenance. It is part of a particularly important moment for a  segment that went through a very difficult stage between 2008 and 2009 but is now showing the first signs of recovery.

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