A classic interview: interview with IWA’s director Rebecca Schönfelder

IWA’s director Rebecca Schönfelder outlines her plans for the future of IWA OutdoorClassics.

Rebecca Schönfelder became manager of the IWA Outdoor Classics in 2018

Rebecca Schönfelder will take charge of her second IWA event in March. The 31-year-old will manage the 46th
edition of the international trade fair, having first joined the Nuremberg Messe in 2005.

Ms Schönfelder has been a member of the IWA OutdoorClassics event team for 11 years, so is familiar with the development of the specialist exhibition and the areas in which the relevant industries operate. Having taken on increasing responsibilities over the years, she took charge of her first IWA OutdoorClassics in 2018.

Having also helped to shape many of the show’s recent developments, Ms Schönfelder took the reins from Thomas Preutenborbeck, who had managed the trade fair for two decades. Mr Preutenborbeck has taken on a more strategic level, including responsibility for the IWA OutdoorClassics, Enforce Tac, U.T.SEC and Evenord trade fairs.

Mr Preutenborbeck is certain that “Ms Schönfelder will successfully continue to meet the demanding challenge of keeping the traditional IWA OutdoorClassics in tune with the times.” He went on to say, “Naturally, I shall still be associated with IWA OutdoorClassics, not only in my function as department manager, but also emotionally.”

Ms Schönfelder said she wanted to keep up the feeling of [IWA] being like one big family. “I shall continue along the path my predecessor has taken,” she commented. “That means, above all, making sure that the IWA OutdoorClassics remains the most important leading international trade fair for the industry.”

Her first objective is to deepen existing customer relationships, make new contacts and further expand the IWA as a marketplace where industries across the world can meet: “For me, the core segment of the trade fair is the top priority. However, we also need to explore new, suitable product segments that could be of interest for the trade.”

Once again taking place in Exhibition Centre Nuremburg, Ms Schönfelder explained how they plan to keep things fresh. “IWA OutdoorClassics will be bigger than ever. We added an additional hall to the exhibition area, which now covers more than one million square feet.

The 46th IWA OutdoorClassics is the final opportunity for British traders to reach the European market before Brexit

Most of the new hall will be dedicated to products for security, but as always we’ll also be keeping an eye on trends in hunting and sports shooting.” 2019 will mark the 46th IWA, and during this time the show has continually evolved, always striving to improve on the impressive shows that precede it.

“It all started in 1974 with around 100 exhibitors and 2,000 visitors, mostly from Germany,” explains Ms Schönfelder.

“Today, around 50,000 trade visitors and more than 1,500 exhibitors from all over the world meet in Nuremberg
each year in early March. Paying attention to what’s going on even in a business that’s so traditional (at least at the first look) is one of the pillars of the success of IWA OutdoorClassics, along with becoming more and more international.”

Working on such a large scale, it is no surprise that there is often a big story developing within the walls of the Messe.

“One of the legendary stories in the history of the show was the visit by His Majesty, the King Juan Carlos I of Spain in 1999. Though actually not a trade visitor in the narrow sense of the term, he always was a dedicated promoter of hunting. And of course, royalty always adds splendour to a trade show.

“Who knows, maybe one day, we’ll be able to welcome a member of the British Royal family in Nuremberg as an ambassador for hunting and wildlife conservation.” Ms Schönfelder has worked with great dedication to actively shape many recent developments at Europe’s largest firearms event, but naturally, there are several challenges that need to be met when running a show on such a large scale.

“People are coming to Nuremberg not only from Europe but from around 120 countries. The history of IWA OutdoorClassic is very closely connected the to the history of the Nuremberg Messe, both the trade show company and the exhibition centre itself.

Although everybody working here for IWA Outdoor Classic will tell you this show is one of their favourites, our portfolio contains more than 120 national and international trade shows.

“Everybody here adds a lot of knowledge and expertise, helping to run events as smoothly as possible, no matter what size.”

2018 saw 46,121 visitors through the doors and continues to show signs of growth. Ms Schönfelder explains: “Any trade show is always a mirror of the branches that meet there. They always depend of the demand for their products, and the flexibility of their industries to adjust to new demands, as well as on changes in legislation.

“As the number of exhibitors is increasing, we expect further growth in the number of trade visitors as well. However, when talking about numbers, one should never forget that quality is more important than quantity.”

Attracting quality trade visitors has always been a high priority for the organisers at IWA, however, they also offer support for individual exhibitors, helping them to make the most of the fast-paced competitive environment of the trade halls.

“We offer a lot of additional marketing services for exhibitors, so they can choose from a variety of options to draw even more attention. But above all, our representatives in offices all around the world are the first point of contact for every exhibitor from abroad; they take care of all questions about exhibiting at IWA OutdoorClassics.

“Of course, one of them is situated in the UK, right in the heart of London. Another great option, especially for smaller companies, is participation by joining the ‘national pavilions’ at the show. Currently, we’ll have such pavilions from the USA, France, Belgium, Sweden, Spain, Italy, China, and course, the UK,” adds Ms Schönfelder. One of the organisers remits has been to translate the IWA’s business philosophy into practice; a focus that began with a slight rebrand.

“When we changed the name of the show some years ago from IWA to IWA OutdoorClassics, we wanted to emphasise that it is more than just a gun show. The range of exhibitors and products covers a broad number of classical outdoor activities.

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