Welcome to IDEM Singapore 2022! Here, you will find that trade shows perform much better in Asia than in Europe. Although the International Dental Show (IDS) re-opened its doors in 2021 in Cologne in Germany, the show was only able to attract 40% of its original participants. IDEM 2022 in Singapore is one of the best and largest dental shows in the whole of Asia at a capacity attendance of almost 100%.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020/21, many trade shows were not able to take place and only reopened at the end of 2021 or 2022. The global trade show calendar got a bit mixed up. Organisers tried to compensate for their losses by offering hybrid and virtual events. However, it is apparent that in-person events are the preferred choice and what exhibitors and visitors are really looking for.
In general, the European exhibition market opened up more slowly than the Asian one. Many shows in Europe are only welcoming back around 50%–60% of their original participants, whereas in Asia, the reopening traded at 80%–90% of the 2019 numbers for many organisers. In my opinion, one of the reasons for the strong demand in Asia is that Asia is a strong regional market and depends little on Europe or the US. In addition, the current logistical issues, inflationary pressures and geopolitical issues, including the current Russia–Ukraine war, are not pertinent to Asia and have a heavy impact only on Europe.
Although most of the skies are open and business travellers can already travel freely without COVID-19 testing requirements, in most Asian countries, the exchange between Europe and Asia remains limited. The increase in exhibitors and visitors comes from local or regional markets. At IDEM, you will witness a strong turnout of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dental industry leaders and perhaps fewer European ones, since ASEAN has high economic power and shows great resilience to deglobalisation pressures.
The ASEAN market promises excellent business opportunities. There are free trade agreements in place, and ASEAN is destined to become one of the world’s powerhouses. It has over 500 million citizens and a strong rising middle class, which will have a positive impact on dental business in the region. The Philippines, Thailand and Singapore are already offering first-class dental technologies and services to their citizens, and travellers worldwide also enjoy these destinations for medical treatments. I believe that Indonesia and Vietnam will be two major players and that the dental market will grow massively in these countries in the coming ten years.
I expect that the global trade show market will return to normal by 2024/25. European and German trade shows will take longer to recover. IDS will take place in 2023, but China has still not announced the reopening of its market. Japan has recently opened for business but not yet for tourist travel. We need to wait and see how the pandemic will develop in the coming third winter. One thing is certain: exhibitions have proved to be the right platform for industry leaders to come together. In-person events are even more important now than in 2019, and I am sure that many marketing departments will slowly realise that money spent on trade shows is perhaps more valuable than money spent on social media or other channels.
We are very excited about the next decade and strongly believe that Asia, the US and the Middle East could be the three most important trade show markets in the future. Europe is on the verge of losing its competitive advantage to other regions. It all depends on how Europe masters the crisis. However, I believe that the time of global mega-shows is over. It is now time for regional heavyweight shows like IDEM. You are at the right place!