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How is Exponor’s business bearing up in light of the current economic situation? Have any major shows cancelled or radically reduced their space?
We have been affected by the current economic situation, many of the shows being held at our venue now have fewer exhibitors and these exhibitors are taking less space. There are also fewer visitors coming to the exhibitions at the venue. However, no major shows have been cancelled, which is positive. To combat this we are doing some repairs and improvements to our buildings, improving our catering offering, and reducing the prices of parking at the venue. We have also come up with some creative ways of communicating with visitors, such as introducing a regular fair brochure and marketing via Bluetooth.

Does Exponor have any particular strategy in place to tackle the tough economic climate ?
Yes, targeting exhibitors, we have tried to include more services but without changing the price. Focusing on visitors, we have improved and enlarged our hosted buyers programme. We are also helping exhibitors by publishing interviews with them in our media, offering them billboards and other forms of advertising at the venue, giving them speaking opportunities at our seminars and offering them rooms at our congress centre, all with no added costs.

How does Exponor compete for international business and market itself to global exhibition organisers?
Exponor is mostly focused on the Iberian market and the Portuguese speaking countries, especially Brazil and Angola. Most of the communication we do is directly related to the trade fairs we organise. Very little is done to promote Exponor as a venue or organiser.

"We have been affected by the current economic situation, many of the shows being held at our venue now have fewer exhibitors and these exhibitors are taking less space."

How is Exponor’s business split internationally and locally? Will we see any change in this ratio/dynamic in 2009/2010?
We have a subsidiary in Brazil since 1999 – called “Exponor Brasil” – managing the Brazilian and South-American market. Exponor has been focused on organising fairs in Portugal and will start doing it in Angola this July. In 2010, we plan to expand our operation in Angola. There are a number of industries which we have seen to be advantageous for us in Angola these are furniture, machine tools and accessories, woodworking machinery and electronics.

We feel we have a competitive advantage when we talk about Brazil or Angola, as it is easier for us as Portugese to interact with Brazilians or Angolans. Those are good markets that can act as good alternatives to the traditional markets of Portugese products for instance in Europe and the US.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges facing the exhibition industry in Portugal right now and how will Exponor tackle them?
The biggest challenge right now, is getting through the current economic crisis. We are working hard to convince companies of the benefits of investing in trade fairs.

How actively does the exhibition industry in Portugal work to attract international events?

Portugal has been able to capture many relevant international events, but these are mostly  in the MICE area and not so much in the exhibition sector.

What has been Exponor’s greatest recent challenge and how has it worked to overcome this?
The greatest challenge in our history is to overcome the current economic situation. I believe to do this we need to try to persuade companies of the importance of face to face communication at this time.  Doesn’t answer the second question.

What has been Exponor’s greatest achievement?

Being able to attract so many companies to exhibit and visit our venue over the 20 plus years of our existence has been our greatest achievement.  

What does the future hold for Exponor?
As we are optimistic by nature, we hope for a better future in 2010!

Among other things, we will take the opportunity of having less space occupied by events at our venue to do some repairs and improve in our facilities.