Dubai (Middle East Franchise Expo), Milano (Salone Franchising), Abu Dhabi (International Franchise Conference & Exhibition) and Milano again (Host hospitality fair).
Events and exhibitions are undoubtedly very important occasions for companies and entrepreneurs interested in creating new synergies, giving birth to new ventures, expanding their business and meeting new partners and strategic suppliers.
Choosing to take part in certain initiatives rather than others, as exhibitors or as simple patrons, is not a trivial decision and denotes a very precise vision of professionalism as well as a strong inclination to seize the current trend in the reference markets.
Last October, we participated in three exhibitions: the ‘Middle East Franchising Expo’ in Dubai, the ‘Salone del Franchising’ and ‘Host’ hospitality fairs, both in Milan. Read more at Hospitality and Franchising. Last November we partecipate at the International Franchise and Conference Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
In addition to our work at these events, we studied, reasoned and synthesized collected data into three infographics that summarize and compare our overall experience at the Middle East and North Africa fairs with the Italian ones.
MEFE is a premier event dedicated to the franchise sector in the Middle East and is organized by MENAFA – the Middle East & North Africa Franchise Association of franchisors, franchisees, and service providers and where our CEO Norman Cescut is Ambassador to Italy.
In a span of two days, around 2,500 people visited the stands of 60 exhibitors in search of information, business ideas, business cards, brochures and inspirations.
The event saw the closing of 11 official contracts – a very positive signal that confirms, if necessary, how beneficial the economic situation in certain territories is and how many opportunities are up for grasps for those who decide to focus on creating an original and well structured brand.
The food sector continues to be the most attractive option for investors; more importantly, it produces the maximum proposals – a growing trend that openly negates the popular opinion held by many who bet on the explosion of the ‘bubble’ in this sector.
We enjoyed and appreciated the event particularly because it was reserved entirely for professionals looking to explore, conduct and grow their business. Stands selling trinkets, gadgets and other equipment, often seen at other business fairs, were totally absent.
Now we come to Milan.
As indicated in the infographic, the event was held over four days and attracted around 13,500 visitors. In our view, a noteworthy aspect of the fair was that seminars and training courses were available for free.
We smiled a bit at the little pacific invasion of food trucks, definitely catchy and cute (we have spoken about them here – Italian Street Food – From Street Corner to Mainstream Culture), but also a symbol of Italian increasingly stagnant economy that promotes the development of business, albeit with low investment and lack of far-fetched planning.
However, the interest in franchising is undeniable, especially if we look at the annual turnover figure of 23 Million Euros. Over 180,000 human resources are employed in the industry; the sector has 33% women entrepreneurs; plus, opening a franchising business calls for a minimum initial investment of only 25,000 Euros.
An alternative solution to buying a Franchise is to build a new brand from scratch. This requires testing the business model, doing development work and taking advantage of the great attraction that ‘Italian style’ enjoys around the world, particularly in emerging countries.
As for Host, the numbers were strikingly different: more than 150,000 visitors, of which 40% were foreigners, compared with nearly 2,000 exhibitors, with a high percentage of Italian brands. We were impressed by the increased focus on the environment, sustainability and recycling, found in several proposals. This year, however, we recorded a low rate of innovation in both concepts and technologies, compared to the previous years.