GTN interviews new IWA director Rebecca Schönfelder to get the inside track on what’s new at the show this year

What’s new at IWA this year? How are you keeping things fresh?

IWA will be bigger than ever. We added an additional hall, Hall 8, to the exhibition area, which now covers more than one million square feet. Most of the new hall will be dedicated to products for security, but we’ll also keep an eye on hunting and sport shooting.

How has the show evolved over the years? What lessons are there to be learned from looking back?

2018 marks the 45th anniversary of IWA OutdoorClassics. It all started in 1973 with around 100 exhibitors and 2,000 visitors, mostly from Germany. 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.

A scene in Umarex’s vast stand at IWA 2017

Is there any big event or upset that sticks in your mind from previous shows? What’s the story you tell people about the show at dinner?

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 splendor 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.

IWA is Europe’s biggest show – Are there any challenges that come along with running a show on such a large scale?

Actually, IWA OutdoorClassics is one of the biggest trade shows for this industry in the world. People are coming to Nuremberg not only from Europe, but from around 120 countries. The history of IWA OutdoorClassics is very closely connected to the history of NürnbergMesse, both the trade show company and the exhibition center itself. Although everybody working here for IWA OutdoorClassics will tell you this show is one of their favorites, our portfolio contains more than 120 national and international trade shows and conferences of all sizes. Everybody here adds a lot of knowledge and expertise, helping to run events as smoothly as possible, no matter what size.

The show is still growing and will welcome some 50,000 visitors this year

Last year you had more than 4000 additional visitors, an increase of about 8 per cent. Do you think IWA will continue to grow at that rate?

Any trade show is always defined by the businesses that meet there. They always depend on 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.

What are you doing to support individual exhibitors in such a fast-paced, competitive environment?

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.

What’s the business philosophy behind IWA? How does it translate into practice?

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. Although the sector of firearms and accessories is and will always be, the nucleus of the show, we expanded the range to areas like animal watching, country style fashion, or bushcraft.

What’s your criterion for success? What are the goals you’re hoping to achieve?

IWA OutdoorClassics now is around in its fifth decade as one of the two most important trade shows of the industry in the world. This combines a lot of experience and tradition with a commitment to always being up-to-date and ready for the future. We want everybody to look forward to each new show, and to keep up the feeling of being like one big family; here, you don’t meet business partners only – here, you meet friends.

It’s obviously an incredibly uncertain time for British businesses in the European market. What do you think the future is for those relationships?

The United Kingdom has a rich tradition in hunting and outdoor activities, and is one of the most important nations when it comes to exhibitors and visitors of IWA OutdoorClassics. We strongly believe that this well-established relationship will continue, no matter what changes the market brings.

What’s next in the IWA story? Any big plans you can reveal for 2019?

The biggest plan is always to make IWA OutdoorClassics not just some show, but an event you just can’t wait to attend again – so: welcome to Nuremberg!   


Comments are closed