Organizers of ISM and ProSweets have announced plans to move forward on an in-person/digital hybrid of the parallel tradeshows — both of which are slated to be held  Jan. 21 through Feb. 3, 2021 in Cologne, Germany. 

The new digital options — which allow for online appointment scheduling, targeted product searches and virtual meetings — should help the event overcome the hurdles it faces for the in-person conference as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As of Aug. 8 2020, residents from the United States and a number of other countries still were not allowed to travel to the European Union. The EU says the list of which countries are banned is being updated regularly. It’s possible that U.S. residents will be able to travel to Europe by late Jan. 2021.

In addition to travel restriction issues, the German government has extended its current ban on large events until December 2020, but ISM says that even if the ban is extended beyond that, it does not apply to its conference. 

Organizers said the German government’s measures apply to events such as folk festivals, concerts and sporting events, and thus they can still go ahead with ISM and ProSweets.

Preparations for the show are in full swing, and just under 80 percent of exhibition space is already booked. Organizers added that the feedback they have received from the industry and trade is explicit: Business has to carry on despite COVID-19. 

"This is why the industry is particularly looking forward to personal encounters and discussions after this long time without trade shows, because business relations cannot exist long-term without them,” said Sabine Schommer, director, ISM. “Beyond this, trying out products is essential for the buyers for their decision-making process. To this end, ISM 2021 offers optimum solutions for the Corona-conform organization of trade fairs in the scope of its "#B-SAFE4business" concept, so that the distribution of samples is also possible under these framework conditions.”

New digital options offer hybrid event

In addition to the in-person event, ISM and ProSweets are offering a new online industry tool for registered exhibitors and trade visitors as well as for media representatives called "Matchmaking 365+" 

The program offers online appointment scheduling, targeted product search and virtual meetings via video, chat or audio.

The platform will allow ISM exhibitors to reach trade visitors before the fair opens, regardless of the physical exhibition dates of ISM 2021. 

"With Matchmaking 365+ we are taking the next step towards hybrid trade fairs,” explained Julia Kölsch, Director of ProSweets Cologne. “Especially in times like these it is essential that we offer our customers extensive support and solutions that in addition to the physical trade fair provide a clear added value and additional options of establishing contacts, networking and an exchange." 

In comparison to the former Matchmaking platform, the new version 365+ offers the exhibitors new ways to present products. Users can present their products as photo and text information within the exhibitor showroom, and include video.

Beyond this, Matchmaking 365+ offers additional industry-related content, including industry knowledge, interviews and the contents of the trade fair event program.

Access to the digital Matchmaking platform of ISM will be granted to registered trade visitors and media representatives free of charge.