photokina Suspended – After 70 Successful Years

November 27th, 2020 icon / message-square 4
photokina Suspended – After 70 Successful Years

This is one sad news. But in these weird times it was somewhat apparent that this could happen. The prestigious photokina at Cologne loacation has been suspended until further notice.

In 2019 the world of trade shows was a very differnet one. NAB, IBC, CineGear, CP+.. the list goes on. 2020: nothing but yawning emptiness. Each and every show dropped out of the 2020 show calendar, one after the other. COVID-19 became a global pandemic and trade shows became a dangerous place to be. Read our coverage of the cancellations of some of the biggest trade shows in 2020: NAB, CineGear, IBC, CP+.

The prestigious photokina at Cologne location is up and running for 70 years now. For the last 20 years or so the show was held every two years at Koelnmesse convention center. In 2020 the show wanted to shift to a yearly event but this plan is appearently off the table.

photokina Supended due to Corona Virus and Market Decline

If you visit the photokina website, you won’t find any news on upcoming show dates but this statement only:

Together, we can look back upon a successful, colourful and innovative era: 70 years of photokina in Cologne. Since 1950, for generations it has been the top address for photography, video and imaging. Given the current developments in the imaging market, we have no choice but to suspend implementation of photokina at the Cologne location for the time being. This step is a very difficult one for us to take. What remains are the tremendous memories – and the images of many generations. Thank you for 70 years together.

Digging a bit deeper, we find further evidence that not only the corona virus, but also the continuing decline of the imaging market as a whole is being held responsible for the hard cut. From the press release:

Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, the imaging market was already subject to strong upheaval, with annual declines in the double digits. The momentum in this direction intensified massively in 2020, most recently reporting a decline in the 50-percent range.

Further Developements

I think we’re wittnessing a trend here. Big trade shows need large numbers of exhibitors and even larger numbers of annual visitors in order to run a profitable business. As the example of photokina shows very clearly, this business model appears to be at least questionable.

NAB Show
NAB Show in April 2020 Canceled due to Coronavirus. Image credit: Jakub Han / CineD

Global enterprises as well as local businesses needed to adapt to the new order of marketing for 2020. Many virtual shows were held, product launches on YouTube and Facebook were no longer out of the ordinary. And these marketing efforts seem to have worked quite well. So why would a company want to go back to fixed trade show dates and pay the (sometimes very steep) premium for a booth on the showgrounds – not to mention the cost of the booth itself, staff, transportation and so on.

Maybe we’re witnessing a transitional phase here. Away from global-scale trade shows with fixed dates and towards lots of smaller (online-)events held by the individual companies. And maybe that’s not so bad for us filmmakers, even though I naturally feel sorry for the companies behind these shows.

Link: Press release

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end for trade shows in general? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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