Klaus Paschka and Bettina Reiter, respectively managing director of Gesellschaft für Handwerkmessen (GHM) and exhibition director of opti, gave an update on April 15 about the next edition of the German trade fair in the form of a corporate interview on the show’s website. After a blank year in 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they confirmed that opti 2022 would be held from 14th to 16th January in Munich, confident that Germany will reach a sufficient vaccination ratio over next summer. They also announced the kick-off of the registration program for exhibitors on the same occasion.

Paschka, whose duties include the management of GHM’s B2B segment since the start of the month and is therefore directly responsible for the eyewear show, said that the group used the forced break to rethink its strategy in a way to organize live events that are “fit for the future”. This has led GHM to completely digitize and integrate its customer services in each event’s exhibitors’ portal, a new system that opti is one of the first shows to use.

Digitization will generally take a larger role in the next opti and other GHM trade shows as the company wants to see its role extend beyond the simple supply of exhibition space in the future. Paschka and Reiter said that opti 2022 would actually be augmented by digital offerings before, during and after the show itself, including personalized matchmaking and discussion preparation tools. They said that the live event would comply with the healthcare and safety standards in place in January 2022, possibly including the integration of Covid-19 test results or vaccination certificates. In the unfornunate case that the show cannot take place for sanitary reasons, the company said that it has a plan for an alternative format without providing more details at this stage, and that exhibitors would then be fully refunded of their stand costs.

Although most international trade shows have been canceled since the pandemic outbreak and the majority of industry players are looking forward to meeting again in person, the opti organizers believe that the impact of the sanitary crisis on the general optical market will also naturally affect their activity. Consequently, they have planned a reduced exhibition space of four halls for their 2022 edition, compared with six at the two previous editions.

Asked about the evolution of trade shows in the coming years, Paschka said that the company foresees the blurring of the boundaries between visitors and exhibitors, with trade fairs evolving towards a more open format where all market players can be involved, like conferences.