Cebit organizers silent on midway visitor numbers

Top executives of Deutsche Messe say they are pleased with the first few days of Cebit 2009 but won't disclose visitor numbers at the clearly smaller event.

Top executives of Deutsche Messe say they are pleased with the first few days of Cebit 2009, but won't disclose visitor numbers at the clearly smaller event.

"We are satisfied with the strong start to Cebit," said Ernst Raue, a board member at Deutsche Messe, speaking at a news conference at the fair.

The organizers usually supply visitor numbers for the first few days of the show at the news conference, but this year all they would say is that numbers are down from last year's event.

"It's consistent with what we expected," said Raue, who declined to specify those expectations.

Instead, he stressed repeatedly that the quality of visitors has improved upon that of previous years.

"We need the right visitors and these are the type that have been coming," said Raue.

He said most exhibitors are happy with the event and are generating more sales leads than before.

"CIOs [of German companies] are all here. That's never been the case before. Cebit is becoming like a home to them," said Raue.

Cebit has been shrinking in recent years as it has undergone the transition from a mammoth and all-encompassing IT show to an event more focused on the business-to-business audience. The global economic crisis that hit in late 2008 dealt a heavy blow to the 2009 event.

In October as stock prices plunged and exchange rates registered large changes, more than 1,000 companies called Deutsche Messe to cancel their participation in this year's event.

Many of those came from Asia, especially Hong Kong and the IT industry centered around the Pearl River Delta, said Raue. The result is clear to see at the show. Around 200,000 square meters of exhibition space are occupied, a 20 percent drop on last year's event.

Cebit 2010 will take place from March 2 to March 6, which is one day shorter than usual. The final Sunday has been cut-off the schedule to better accommodate exhibitors, who want to return home before the new work week begins.

As to the shape of next year's event, Deutsche Messe wouldn't be drawn on any expectations for the show.

"We can't say how next year's Cebit will look. All I can say is it will be different," said Raue.

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