By Bernard C. Rangel
São Paulo can easily be labeled the trade fair capital of Latin America. Any company hoping to participate in this huge market will most likely exhibit their wares in São Paulo at some stage. The trade fair season runs from January through November, attracting millions of businessmen to the city every year.
In January it’s the rag trade that gets the ball rolling for the coming season. And each year that passes, this business gets more and more commercial, more sophisticated, and earns increasingly more revenue for the country. Though the eyes of those involved are focused on Brazil, funnily enough it is not just for the innovative fashion trends, the well proportioned models also get their fair share of attention. World fashion is still set in Europe, but the eye catchers are from Brazil.
The best thing about the trade fair business is the revenue earned by the nation. The list is long: revenues from transport, hotels, tourists, visitors, participants, taxes, sales, exportation, importation, language services, entertainment, restaurants, and stand erection. And more impressive still, are the sizes of the events and the large number of participants involved.
It’s as if the people involved all live in one town. Incomes are generated for models, fair operators, fair personnel, food services, printers, designers and so on. The amazing thing is that it is all so constant, as one fair ends another starts.
The IT fair follows the rag trade which in turn are followed by Design, Publicity, Advertising, Arts & Crafts, Medical, Dentistry, Plastics, Hospitality, Food, Steel, Architecture, Minerals, Books, Music, Cars, Boats, Footwear, Office Supplies, Dcor, Household Utensils, Haberdashery, Language, Beverages both hard and soft, Tourism, and Sports. Now that is really quite a long list, yes, there are more.
What’s comforting is that São Paulo can cater very well for both those exhibiting and visiting. The number of domestic and international visitors from other Brazilian states and other countries are responsible for generating 20% of the state’s GDP, just through the hospitality trade alone. The peripheral activities of the trade fairs economically survive very well in the trading months. Public and private transport is constantly in use by all those involved. This indirectly helps restaurants, nightclubs, discos, musicians and the logistics industry. The list goes on and on, but the ones mentioned are just to give you an idea of just how much money is earned, and how many taxes the state and federal governments get, yet still don’t know how to manage them. Makes you wonder about their capacity as money managers.
It is fair to say the trade fair business earns a huge amount of money. How do you get a piece of the action? Well that really depends on how hungry you are. As I always say São Paulo is a gold mine, you just have to wheel your wheelbarrow out everyday and find the right place to shovel in the gold. Yes, it’s as simple as that.
What I really find funny is how the EU has been unable to cash in on this money market. Are Europeans really that clever, or are they just hard workers? I personally think they like to push the bolder from the top. They want to join forces to become one market but at the same time they all want to go in different directions. Sounds a bit Polish to me.
The interesting part of the trade show is the expectation and anticipation of the unknown. You know where and why you’re going there, but you don’t know what’s about to happen. The variables are limitless.
So as you enter the grounds for the event, you wind your way around looking for a parking space in the endless row of parked cars. Parking your car already freed your wallet of a sum more than you were willing to let go of. As you walk towards the exhibition hall, your attention is drawn to the giant signs and banners of the biggest investors and sponsors. Each one trying to outdo the other competitor in size and new eye catchers. Brightly uniformed, shapely models mill around the crowds approaching and withdrawing with flyers provoking interest in the onlookers. The queue condenses and winds around the barricades set in snakelike formation. Last minute filling in of invitation forms changes the noise level of merry laughter and distracts even more the mood of the other fair goers in line. Then you dart from box to box, as directed by the admissions staff, finally receiving your fair-badge and neck strap and enter. Free, the condensed tube of people spreads out into the fair ground. Yes, the fun is about to begin.
You’re tagged and ready to be barcode-read at every exhibitors stand. All your data is there, name, company, position, the amount of times you missed work to go to a fair, and the persons that accompanied you. This IT age is fantastic. There are just so many useful applications for this data-boarded, boxed noisemaker it’s amazing. What’ll they think of next, on-line fairs! I think not, it’ll take away from the excitement of going to the fair.
As you walk by the endless row of boxes and stands you are hustled for your badge and handed colored folders, handouts, and giveaways with the hope of making you a future customer. The insistence and persistence of both attracting and avoiding participants and exhibitors, is like magnetic pulling and pushing. Maybe one of the reasons why this encounter is prolonged could be due to the empathy between those involved and smiles exchanged with instantaneous fantasy marriages and separations imagined. This all happens so quickly that it gets your adrenaline rushing through your veins and your excitement is heightened even further.
The exhibitors that provide cold cuts and drinks for the chosen visitors, is one efficient way of dealing with how to come down from this rush. Others crowd around the food services and dart about with full trays of food and drink, some spilling and others being knocked over. In short, here more money exchanges hands and company expenses are increased.
The complexity of the stands, of the more important companies is really remarkable. Enough money is spent on the creation, and the erection and maintenance of these truly wonderful eye absorbers makes you wonder what is really happening here. The company wants to sell you a great product, or are they warning you how much of the money you pay for their product is unreal to the cost value of the good. All kinds of tricks are used to include you in the dream and fantasy of associating yourself with their company. Egos are stimulated and the importance of being noticed and seen there are satisfying elements that fulfill some peoples dreams for a lifetime.
Then there are those exhibitors that just ignore and shun you away making you wonder if you smell or you’ve got bad breath. Even the models that have nothing to do with the product being exhibited have an effect on you, depending on how they look at you. Independent if you’re genuinely interested in the product or not. The emotions exchanged visually at fairs are truly amazing, as you have never even seen the person in your life before, but your whole future can depend on how that look stimulated or frightened you away from that stand. I’ve generally found that the models, both men and women, at the more expensive stands are really uptight and down right unfriendly. They seem to have personality complexes. They feel rich because of their surroundings, but they know they are poor as hell because they are there punting for a better place in life. Ah, life, what interesting things unfold as each day goes by.
You realize it’s time to leave as your task is done. Tired and worn out from walking round and round you head home, and your interaction during your visit sparks thoughts of hope and a brighter future. It may never happen, but there and then your most immediate task of returning home is so consuming that the comedown is almost immediate and reality sets in.
The best thing about fairs is that they are exactly the same all over the world. With exactly the same emotions and happenings exchanged and carried out, independent of country, or fair. Carbon copies of the same emotions and fantasies are repeated continually. It’s as if life has been scanned and we are just going through the motions of physically carrying out the set scenarios.