InnoTrans’ Kerstin Schulz: 2021 a “Unique Opportunity”

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Kerstin Schulz, Show Director of InnoTrans, discusses the transition of InnoTrans 2020 to InnoTrans 2021, as well as the new elements that will be debuting at its next gathering, with Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono.

RA: InnoTrans 2018 broke records, with more than 3,000 exhibitors and approximately 160,000 attendees. InnoTrans 2020 was sold out, exhibit-wise. What are the expectations for the rescheduled 2021 event, given budget constraints across all sectors as a result of COVID-19 business impacts?

Schulz: The reactions of exhibitors to the postponement of InnoTrans until April 2021 were largely positive. For us, direct communication with the exhibitors during the postponement was a top priority from the very beginning. Of course, there are some companies in a difficult economic situation because of COVID-19 and may not be able to participate at the next InnoTrans. The vast majority of exhibitors, however, considers InnoTrans 2021 as a unique opportunity to jumpstart their international sales. As of now, InnoTrans numbers for 2021 are comparable to the 2018 level. We are also seeing additional, new registrations from companies who will be taking part for the first time.

RA: Will rescheduling 2020 to 2021 impact 2022, given that InnoTrans has always been every 24 months, and the spacing (provided 2022 is unchanged) is shorter by 7 months? Do you think your clients will adjust budgets for this? If so, why?

Schulz: We discussed the postponement and the new dates with our partnering associations and the global market leaders beforehand. Our objective was to have enough planning security for an InnoTrans 21 in view of the coronavirus crisis, but at the same time to create enough time to get back into the planned schedule as quickly as possible. With a good one and a half years, we have achieved this. This gives the companies enough time to prepare themselves and adjust their budget planning accordingly.

RA: What are InnoTrans 2021 safety protocols, including cleaning and social distancing? How do you expect to socially distance tens of thousands of people, if that is necessary?

Schulz: We certainly all have to live with the coronavirus for some time to come and will have to make adjustments in all areas of life. Therefore, it will be essential to wear face masks, wash and disinfect hands and keep proper distance. With 42 exhibition halls and extensive outdoor areas, we are fortunate to have a fairground that provides sufficient space to maintain the required safety distances. Other important factors for staging our event are good ventilation and contactless access to the exhibition halls and passages as well as open doors to avoid touchable surfaces.

Messe Berlin is currently planning a very detailed hygiene and safety concept in close consultation with the local health authorities which will be communicated very soon. We are obviously living in fast changing times, which makes it difficult to predict today what the situation will be like in April 2021. We will closely observe the safety situation and make adjustments when necessary.   

RA: New to InnoTrans 2021 is the Mobility+ section. What does this entail?

Schulz: Mobility+, InnoTrans is aimed specifically at providers of supplementary mobility services. This is an important topic for the future of mobility, especially in conurbations, and one that will be with us for a long time to come. For the last 500 meters to your destination, mobility services such as shared or combined mobility, i.e. by car, bicycle or e-scooter, as well as digital information, booking and payment systems are becoming increasingly important. At InnoTrans, suppliers meet high-caliber trade buyers, especially the many international transport companies, which are quite simply the linchpin of mobility. Exhibitors such as Uber, ViaVan and ioki will showcase how strongly the market in this segment has developed in recent years. Accompanying the exhibition area, the Mobility+ Forum will feature keynote speeches by experts who will analyze and present the diversity of the topic in detail.

RA: Tell us about hub27, the new exhibit space.

Schulz: The new hub27 exhibition hall offers many advantages.  Apart from the high demand for exhibition space that we have at InnoTrans, the hub27 is one of the most modern column-free exhibition halls in Europe. The hub27 will not only be a highlight at the next InnoTrans because of companies that are placed there but also because of its direct link to the open-air and track area which always generates great interest. Here is a little insider tip: on the roof of hub27 there will be a panoramic café/viewpoint with a breathtaking view of the unique open-air and track area.

RA: What are your expectations for North American (U.S.-Canada-Mexico) participation, given that Railway Interchange 2021 comes six months later? Have you been working with RSI, RSSI, REMSA, AREMA, AAR, ASLRAA, APTA, etc. to attract exhibitors?

Schulz: The North American participation has been growing steadily since InnoTrans began. We were able to welcome well over 50 North American exhibitors to InnoTrans 2018. American companies in particular take advantage of the international market exposure that is unique to InnoTrans. Here they meet international trading partners who are essential for business outside their own country. We have been working closely with North American associations for many years and REMSA, RSI, APTA and CARS will each send delegations to InnoTrans 2021. The cooperation also extends to the InnoTrans Career Award where winners of the respective North American Career Awards will travel to InnoTrans to experience the superlative show live.

U.S. and Canadian companies interested in attending InnoTrans can purchase discounted tickets via this link:

For all questions related to exhibiting or attending, contact North American contact representative: Mary Jo Balve, 732-933-1118, [email protected].

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