“We tried to make the best out of the situation,” said VNU Exhibitions director Gerard Leeuwenburgh when looking back at the last VIV Europe, which was hit by the Icelandic volcanic ashes problems.
The Icelandic volcanic ashes did not only seriously disrupt the air traffic over Europe. It also brought VIV Europe 2010, from 20 – 22 April, in a turbulent situation.
Many of the expected visitors - especially from the Middle East, Russia and Asia - were depending on air traffic to reach Holland.
Nevertheless over 10,000 visitors from 96 countries all over the world made it to the Jaarbeurs trecht venue to meet with 85% of the total expected field of exhibitors.
Organizer VNU Exhibitions Europe: “This is a great example of the industry’s solidarity.”
VNU Exhibitions’ Director International Exhibitions Gerard Leeuwenburgh commented: “There is only one expression to describe the situation: force majeure. On Thursday afternoon Schiphol Airport closed when all the show freight had arrived and the build-up of the exhibition was already in full swing.
“From that moment on we monitored the air traffic situation by the minute. Based on the number of exhibitors arrived and the fact that re-opening the air seemed a matter of hours we decided to go ahead with the show.
“During Sunday and Monday it became clear that Schiphol Airport would not reopen soon enough to resume its regular flight schedule.”
Leeuwenburgh said that from then on they knew then that they would face a decline in the number of visitors from the Middle East, Asia, Eastern-Europe and Latin America as well as from the UK and some European countries further away.
However, it was not possible to postpone or reschedule the exhibition at this last-minute stage.
“With 85% of the companies present and so many innovations on display, it was simply too late. Build-up was on schedule, all arrangements had been made,” he said.
Leeuwenburgh said they had great assistance from the industry media in informing the customers that the show was going on.
“Towards the future, we will make considerable efforts for our customers to be in contact with the visitors they missed at VIV Europe 2010. We are match makers and take that role seriously. We will develop a virtual VIV Europe 2010 and invest heavily in a Key Buyer Attraction Program for VIV Asia 2011.”