Q&A: Behind the Scenes of INTERMOT 2022

Alexander Wolff, director of INTERMOT, discusses how preparations are coming along.

In just over five months, the doors will finally open again for INTERMOT, the International Motorcycle and Scooter Fair held in Cologne, Germany. From Oct. 4-9, 2022, the latest motorcycles, e-bikes, scooters and e-scooters, as well as the most important developments in electric mobility, parts, accessories, clothing, travel and touring, heritage, customizing and workshop equipment, will be showcased on the Kölnmesse exhibition grounds. Alexander Wolff, who has been the director responsible for INTERMOT at Kölnmesse for a little over nine months now, and his team are now in the critical phase in which all the measures put in place are being finalized.

Below are five questions for Alexander Wolff, director of INTERMOT at Kölnmesse, about how the preparations are coming along.

INTERMOT 2020 was unable to go ahead. The event will take place in October for the first time in four years. How did you make use of the time between events, and what can we expect from the trade fair?

Wolff: That’s true — due to COVID, we have been unable to hold any motorcycle trade fairs in Cologne since 2018. But this is all the more reason to look forward to this October. We are very excited about the event. INTERMOT 2022 will be the first large motorcycle trade fair this year to give motorcycle enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the new vehicles and other products introduced over the summer in the flesh. And yes, we made good use of the time we had. We scrutinized every detail and took into account the changes that have taken place in the two years of COVID. As a trade fair organizer and industry expert in one of the most important motorcycle markets in the world, we believe we are obligated to provide a world-leading industry platform that involves the entire industry. Consequently, we have developed a future-oriented concept that will reinforce the status of INTERMOT as an international business and event trade fair for the world of motorized two-wheelers for a long time to come. We plan to bring the central ideas of innovation, community and lifestyle to life and explore them in six different theme worlds under the overriding guiding theme we call the WORLD OF INTERMOT: the WORLD OF eNNOVATION, the WORLD OF 125cc, the WORLD OF SHOP@INTERMOT, the WORLD OF PARCOURS, the WORLD OF TOURING and — last but not least — the WORLD OF HERITAGE AND CUSTOM. All the important developments and trends will be included and presented in these theme worlds.

In the last two years, the industry — and above all, the vehicle manufacturers — have presented their new launches to the community digitally, with much success. How do you convince them of the value of trade fairs as a marketing tool?

Wolff: It’s true that the last two years have accelerated a development that has led to more and more manufacturers breaking new ground and presenting their latest vehicles and other products digitally. That will undoubtedly happen in the future too. But when it comes to a product with a high emotional content such as a motorcycle, you can’t compare seeing it on a screen with experiencing it live and in-person at a trade fair. INTERMOT will be the first trade fair where these new vehicle launches will not only be viewable on-screen but also available for motorcycle enthusiasts to experience in person. And that is precisely the unique added value that trade fairs offer: direct, personal contact to the community and potential customers, integrated into a live experience. 

All the same, solely in-person trade fairs seem outdated and digital features indispensable. Have you adapted to these changes and needs?

Wolff: Digital features are undoubtedly indispensable these days. I absolutely agree with you there. But can it be proved reliably that digital presentations are really the be-all and end-all? That is without question true in times when in-person events are unable to take place, but is it also true when that is no longer the case? I think that the true answer is, as always, somewhere in the middle, and a mix of an in-person trade fair and a digital presence meets both needs.

But to come back to your original question — yes, we are also well positioned in that regard. On the official press day, all presentations will be streamed live and viewable worldwide. We will also produce and play additional videos clips featuring all the new launches and developments that were presented on the press day and the first day of the trade fair. In this way, we can also reach the motorcycle enthusiasts who are unable to be there in person, which is both in our interests and the interests of the exhibitors.
One of our customers’ key objectives in attending the trade fair is to build international networks and make contacts. We will help them to achieve this online. INTERMOT exhibitors and visitors can use the INTERMOT app for this purpose. They can search for contact persons, get in touch with them and arrange meetings in a targeted way.

You mentioned the unique experience offered by trade fairs. INTERMOT visitors want to see the new launches and be entertained at the same time. Apart from the exhibitors’ presentations, what can we look forward to?

Wolff: INTERMOT will again offer exciting visitor experiences. As part of the WORLD OF PARCOURS, visitors will get the chance to shift into gear and experience the fascinating world of motorcycles live. Here there is something for everyone: a first ride on a 125cc bike for newcomers with and without a driving license, a lap on a big bike, or a round on an e-bike or e-scooter offering an up-close taste of e-mobility. Our exhibitors also know and recognize that trade fairs such as INTERMOT can develop from a simple trade fair to an experience that triggers strong emotions among visitors. Only an in-person trade fair gives you the chance to touch, feel, try out and test-ride the new vehicles.

With the “WORLD OF SHOP@INTERMOT,” we are offering all visitors unique added value. Motorcycle enthusiasts can get kitted out with new gear for the coming season at the trade fair. And, as part of the WORLD OF TOURING, visitors will not only be able to try out the bikes but also discover personal accounts of exciting rides, receive planning tips and view all the accessories needed for a motorcycle journey on-site. And, as if that weren’t enough, at INTERMOT 2022, visitors will be able to delve into the WORLD OF HERITAGE AND CUSTOM in all halls and at many exhibitor stands. This theme world will be the stage for classic and retro bikes, bikes and accessories with a ’70s look and feel, spectacular designs, unique bikes and custom-builds.

As things stand today, is INTERMOT an international industry gathering or a national event open to the general public?

Wolff: INTERMOT is and remains a leading international motorcycle trade fair for the industry, but at the same time, it is an event open to the general public that motorcycle enthusiasts from Central and Western Europe flock to. A glance at the figures from the last INTERMOT backs this up: roughly 50,000 trade visitors from nearly 100 countries and approximately 220,000 motorcycle enthusiasts came to Cologne. That is and remains the benchmark that we want to build on, even if the situation this year is different to what it was four years ago. But once again: The only way to make a combined business and public event work is to create a platform with an international focus — for our exhibitors, for our trade audience, for the motorcycle community and not least for ourselves. Only on an international platform can companies present themselves directly rather than via the retailers, and only here can trade visitors meet the contact persons they need to meet to enter into business exchanges. And only here can motorcycle enthusiasts find such a comprehensive range of new products in all industry segments.

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