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GaLaBau is still the sector’s leading trade fair – but … !?

GaLaBau was a success. The leading trade fair for all things playground-related is virtually unrivalled.


And what precisely was a Malaysian fresh water pearl necklace manufacturer doing in hall 1?
Ideas from the playground equipment and leisure facility manufacturing sector.

From 12 to 15 September over 61,000 visitors (up from 60,127 in 2010) streamed into the NürnbergMesse trade fair centre in order to find out more about the latest trends and products in the sphere of urban green and open space design, construction and maintenance at GaLaBau 2012. German Golf Course Conference and PLAYGROUND special exhibitions in hall 1 and hall 4A respectively also posted impressive visitor figures. “At the end of four exceptionally busy days we can now confirm that the 20th edition of GaLaBau was a resounding success! The atmosphere in the exhibition halls was superb and the stands were packed. An array of innovations was unveiled and a host of direct deals sealed. The combination of the earth-moving and maintenance demonstration areas in Dutzendteich park was very well received,“ says Rolf Keller, a Member of the Management Board of NürnbergMesse. There were a total of 1,156 exhibitors, 22 per cent of which were from outside Germany, in twelve halls.

The Bad Honnef-based Federal Association of Garden, Landscape and Sports Facility Contractors, the honorary organiser of the event headed by August Forster, was delighted with the reaction of exhibitors and the overwhelmingly positive response of trade visitors to the leading sector trade fair. ”Green is a real success factor! The 20th edition of GaLaBau impressively cemented the position of this popular international trade fair as a vibrant market place for our industry. Only here in Nuremberg can sector companies find such a diverse and concentrated range of stimuli for the successful further development of their activities on the market,“ says BGL President Forster. He explains: ”Based on brimming order books and rising demand for green construction services, many companies struck deals for new machines and equipment at the trade fair itself. We are very confident that our sector will post a good five per cent increase this year on the record turnover of more than EUR 5.5 billion attained in 2011.“

One in two visitors holds a senior position in their company, according to the preliminary results of the visitor survey conducted by an independent market and opinion research institute. This means there was a substantial year-on-year increase in the number of decision-makers present at GaLaBau. Around 80 per cent of trade visitors are involved in procurement decision-making at their companies. Most visitors were from specialist green and open space construction companies, sector planning agencies and public bodies, architect and planning offices and the motorised equipment sector. The 1,156 exhibitors travelled from 32 countries to Nuremberg, with Italy (50), the Netherlands (45), Austria (39), Belgium (18), Czech Republic (15), Switzerland (12), France (9) and the UK (8) especially well represented.

Ideas for GaLaBau 2014 come from the playground equipment and leisure facility manufacturing sector.

Trade fair statements

Albrecht Rieger (BSW GmbH):
“BSW: a thumbs-up for effective trade fair communication. For BSW GaLaBau kicked off a new kind of trade fair communication. The trade fair is an opportunity for a communication campaign with a strong customer focus which begins months in advance, intensifies in the run-up to the event and culminates at the trade fair. This meant that BSW's customer advisers arrived at the event with a full appointments diary, with passing visitors completing the picture. The motto playscaping proved so powerful that BSW will be continuing with this project beyond GaLaBau and making it a focal point of its communication in future.
In addition to the discussions with customers arranged in advance, it was the increased number of international visitors who made GaLaBau particularly interesting for BSW this year. Particularly promising arrangements were made with companies and architects from Eastern Europe and Turkey. It was clear that quality is also a priority in international markets, so exhibitors from East Asia, who were present in greater numbers this year, did not provide serious competition.
For BSW GaLaBau remains an important trade fair: the trade fair management team did its homework and catered for a specialist international public. Our only quibble is that the trade fair could have provided better support for our communication activities in advance of the event. Because trade fairs are no longer the essential marketplace that they once were. There are now numerous equally powerful marketing instruments available, it’s just a matter of choice.“

Ulrich Scheffler (Lappset Spiel-, Park-, Freizeitsysteme GmbH):
“We can look back on a successful GaLaBau with very interesting visitors from the domestic and international markets. We also made very good use of our stand as a port of call for our distributors from around the globe. Overall the flow of visitors in the hall dropped off far too early in the afternoons and the reasons for this decline need to be investigated. The marked decline in the importance of GaLaBau to the German market also appears to be continuing. The number of key exhibitors for the German market is continuing to fall and the visitor structure is becoming distinctly regional. GaLaBau, with its focus on the green space sector, should not be seen in contrast or as a rival to the FSB since the latter is sports-focused, of global importance and has a catchment area of some 20 million inhabitants within a radius of 100 km. This development should be interpreted as a reflection of the evolution of the sector. Markets are changing and there are, for example, new kinds of fashionable sports that are practiced outside play areas. A redesign of hall 1 for GaLaBau 2014 would help if the decline in visitor numbers is to be stemmed.“

Jens Zumblick (SIK-Holzgestaltungs GmbH):
“We were undoubtedly successful in reaching local authorities and garden and landscape designers, our main target groups. We also achieved good results in the areas of housing construction and gastronomy.
The numerous contacts established with international visitors were a great source of satisfaction. We had visitors from virtually every corner of the globe. These visitors‘ requests were so specific that we can expect to significantly expand our international activities going forward.
GaLaBau is the leading trade fair in our sector and there is no comparable event.
This made it all the more remarkable that so many leading German
and European manufacturers stayed away. Instead we are seeing an increasing number of competitors from Eastern Europe and Asia with product designs familiar from the 80s and 90s. It is unlikely that visitors will come away with a favourable impression of the quality level of the central European market. Surely we don’t want this to happen?“

Bernhard Felthaus (Berliner Seilfabrik GmbH & Co.):
“This edition of GaLaBau was a resounding success for BSF! Supported by our own advertising and invitations, we managed to convince many planners in advance to pay us a visit at our stand to find out more about our innovative offering. As a result we hosted numerous existing and prospective customers, local authority and landscape architects at GaLaBau 2012. The number and quality of the contacts at the BSF stand was good to very good and the information on offer undoubtedly played a significant role. There was also considerable interest from abroad, both from specialist planners and sales partners and potential customers. For future editions it would be good if the significant gaps in the list of German exhibitors could be filled so that decision-makers in planning offices can gain an impression of the real breadth and quality of our domestic offering. We are very happy for visitors to have the opportunity to compare us with our international rivals. However, it has to be a fair contest and we will continue to do all that we can to defend ourselves against infringements of competition rules and patent breaches. – The fruitful dialogue between the trade fair, the market players, the BSFH and the trade press must continue in future!“

Holger Aukam (espas GmbH):
“Will GaLaBau remain the number one trade fair for our sector? It will but it is a shame that more and more German companies are giving way to foreign firms. This weakens the event we have built in recent years!
The trade fairs could improve communication between themselves. The Economy meets Community trade fair was staged in the Austrian town of Tulln on the same dates. This is also an attractive market for me. As a result there were fewer Austrian visitors at GaLaBau.
But the GaLaBau team did its homework: there were plenty of local authority decision-makers – one of my favourite target groups - at our stand.“

More opinions on GaLaBau

Torsten Hanings (Hags mb-Spielidee GmbH):
“The quality of the visitors to our stand was very good. Lots of decision-makers, though I had the impression, without carrying out a conclusive evaluation, that there were fewer visitors from the planner target group present than usual. There were also international contacts though fewer than at FSB.
It remains to be seen whether GaLaBau will remain the number one trade fair for our sector, though I harbour strong doubts. All the while the number of leading German companies and international global players continues to diminish, to be replaced by Asian and east European manufacturers, the interest of visitors will continue to wane, with the number of remaining exhibitors eventually dwindling as well. We heard many customers express their disappointment at the absence of so many of the major players. Instead these manufacturers advertise with special price campaigns and letters rather than incur the cost of an "expensive trade fair appearance", preferring to pass on the savings made to customers in the form of discounts.
Even if an association can only exert minimal influence on a company's decision to take part in a trade fair, every effort must be made in future to attract more members.
The withdrawal of producers means the trade fair is being forced to fill the empty stands with more and more non-sector exhibitors. It's certainly a novel experience to stand in a hall with Malaysian freshwater pearl necklace manufacturers.
The idea of a travelling trade fair needs to be mooted again so that other regions are also opened up and visitors from more parts of the country can attend.“

Ralf Engelhardt (Brügmann TraumGarten GmbH):
“As this was our first involvement we are not in a position to compare with previous events. Brügmann TraumGarten was primarily targeting customers looking for smaller play facilities authorised for public use at entry level price both for their own use and for further distribution. We are very satisfied with the level of interest shown. Moreover, we were pleasantly surprised by the strong interest shown in our range of modern, easy-care privacy fence systems: we hadn’t intended to showcase this product area in the hall and the panels were erected primarily to mark the boundary of our stand. GaLaBau in Nuremberg remains the most appropriate event for Brügmann TraumGarten to showcase its product range.“

Mario Hampel (ESF Emsland Spiel- und Freizeitgeräte GmbH & Co. KG):
“Local authorities and architects were key target groups, particularly local authorities rather than landscape architects. At our stand 80% of visitors were regulars and 20% were new customers. We were also delighted to welcome private bodies (museums and leisure parks). We are very satisfied. The number of international visitors at our stand was up compared with two years ago and these also included some of our local dealers (Israel, Denmark, Russia, Benelux, France). As a result we were able to engage in fruitful conversation on projects and working together. New contacts were also established with a view to expanding our sales network (Spain, Norway, Sweden, Iran), but not all of these were useful.
GaLaBau’s reputation as the best trade fair for our sector rests on its high quality. It just needs to maintain this standard! The “good“ manufacturers need to stay loyal to the event and not withdraw if the presence of cut-price Asian companies in ever larger numbers is to be avoided. And the event must also be affordable for small companies or the stands and exhibits will become smaller and less interesting.“

Tim Baumgarten (Kaiser & Kühne Freizeitgeräte GmbH):
“We enjoyed a very positive and highly successful GaLaBau 2012. We estimate that visitor numbers at our stand were even higher than in 2010, when we also attracted very large numbers. As in previous years, the number of visitors to our stand was especially high on Thursday, Wednesday and Friday. There was also unexpectedly strong visitor interest on Saturday until the end of the event at 16:00.
We were particularly popular with representatives of local authorities from throughout Germany. And that really does mean the ENTIRE country. In addition we received a large number of enquiries from foreign representatives/customers. These are set to evolve into very interesting new partnerships. The level was just as strong as in 2010. Contacts were made mainly in North America and the Middle and Near East as well as in Europe.
In our view GaLaBau remains the leading trade fair in our sector and that is why it continues to garner the most interest.
The absence of many leading play equipment manufacturers was striking. This naturally diminishes the appeal of a trade fair for customers and interested parties.“

Madeleine Schoepplein (Gummiwerk Kraiburg Relastec GmbH):
“We can look back on a highly successful GaLaBau 2012. The event, which is a firm favourite with an ever increasing number of our existing customers from around the world, also yielded many new contacts. And while two years ago most visitors were from the regions and neighbouring countries, this year we also attracted many from much further afield including the Near East, Asia and the Americas. Unfortunately a few exhibitors from our sector with an international profile, and which could have pulled in visitors, were notable by their absence. Instead we are seeing an increasing number of exhibitors from Eastern Europe and Asia. It would be nice to see all the leading players from the European sector present again at the next edition of GaLaBau.
Naturally it would be easier for many to make this decision if GaLaBau were to become established as the leading trade fair.
In comparison, last year’s FSB was certainly well visited overall but in our view the hall for children's playground equipment and accessory products was not properly executed and could be more attractive.
We look forward to exhibiting at the next GaLaBau and would very much like to see it take place every two years as the leading trade fair for our sector. With the right mix of exhibitors offering top quality products another successful event is guaranteed.“

Reinhard Bojahr, Gunhild Hinney (Procon Play and Leisure GmbH):
“We only decided at the last minute to take part in GaLaBau in
Nuremberg. The clinching factor for us was that our “SUREPLAY partners“
also wanted to participate. Trafik & Fritid AB and Lekplatskonsulten from Sweden, CHP of Norway, Sport-Zone from Denmark, Vienna-based ALGEBRA GmbH and Fallschutzbelag AG from Switzerland are our license partners for our impact-absorbing surfaces and also hoped for the interest of visitors, in particular planners and architects.
Our stand was well-visited and as a company we can look back on a largely positive experience overall. All our target groups including architects, local authority decision-makers and business people from the leisure parks industry were represented. Our Scandinavian partners met potential customers from their respective countries. Also striking was the large number of visitors from Israel and countries such as Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary.
On the downside, there were few trade visitors on Saturday; instead there were private individuals spending a pleasant day at the event with their children – possibly with the added bonus of promotional gifts – and who may have picked up a few tips for their garden in the other halls. In our view the last day was completely superfluous.
And one more observation: trade fair staff were a little uncooperative, for example, when stands were being taken down at the end of the event
: no vehicles were permitted to park by the hall for loading from 16.00, not even cars. Some thought needs to be given to this for future editions because exhibitors need to be able to start taking down their stands and removing their belongings promptly if a trade fair ends at 16.00.
After an absence of several years, GaLaBau 2012 certainly whetted our appetite for the next edition.“

Views from the international and domestic spheres

Michael Philipp (Obra Design Ing. Philipp Ges.m.b.H. & Co.KG.):
“Our stand was only visited by a few of our target groups. Once again the numerous contacts with potential international partners were welcome, since increasing exports and tapping into new markets are priorities. There were few promising firm sales contacts made. Most visitors to the stand were existing customers and few new clients were secured. We feel we now have a pretty good idea which local authorities allow representatives to visit the trade fair and which ones don't. This means you always see the same old faces. This year we noticed an especially large number of representatives of component suppliers trying to sell their products. This got a bit irritating at times.
The number of international contacts was more or less the same. While there were lots of East Europeans present a few years back, now there are mainly people from the traditional Western European markets again.
In our view GaLaBau is likely to remain the leading trade fair for the play equipment sector in the medium term though it's worrying that more and more large companies are no longer taking part. However, this appears to be in line with a general move "away from trend fairs“ because these companies weren’t at FSB either, for example. With their current offering Asian companies still can’t compete with the European market. So it remains to be seen whether they will return in future if, as seems likely, they enjoy little success.
But we will certainly be remaining loyal to GaLaBau in the medium term at least. The FSB isn’t really an alternative because in our experience it yields even less attractive contacts. It is also a long way away for us geographically, which makes exhibiting expensive.
We think it would be more efficient to stage the special Playground segment just from Monday to Friday. Saturday is of absolutely no benefit for the sector because almost the only people here are garden and landscape designers, most of whom aren't direct customers.“

Martin Malleier (Holzhof Srl):
“We had important target groups at our stand. We were seeking fresh international contacts, for example - and met plenty of new ones. There weren't many visitors from Austria because a municipal trade fair was taking place at the same time near Vienna. Unfortunately! Hungary, Poland and the Benelux countries were well represented.
GaLaBau is sure to remain the leading sector trade fair, in particular for German exhibitors given the abundance of local authority decision-makers, architects and landscape designers who attend. But FSB is also a key event for us. Holzhof is represented at German trade fairs every year and it is ideal that the GaLaBau and FSB take place in alternate years - and also complement each other.
We would like to see fewer exhibitors from South-east Asia because there were poor copies of our products on display again this year!
We noticed that international customer numbers were especially high on Wednesday and Thursday. The Nuremberg site is very good for us, the people are very friendly and the city is lovely.“

For diaries: the next edition of GaLaBau takes place from 17 to 20 September 2014 in Nuremberg.

Please visit www.playground-landscape.com to read more manufacturer statements (Playfit, SOR, Proludic, Trofil, SMG, Hauraton, Sport Thieme) on the GaLaBau trade fair.

Photos: NürnbergMesse, TM




Renate Zeumer (playfit GmbH):
“Just like the 2010 edition, GaLaBau 2012 was a resounding success for playfit. Unlike at previous events, visitors seemed to be up to speed with the “exercise course" concept. Visitors from all areas, from local authority representatives to garden and landscape designers, had really got to grips with the subject and asked specific questions, tapping into the manufacturers‘ wealth of experience for planned projects.
Of particular interest was an academic study commissioned in 2011 by the Hessen Regional Ministry of Social Affairs on the impact of exercise courses on the health of older people.
The substantial increase in recent years in the number of companies manufacturing outdoor fitness equipment was also reflected in the wide range of exercise courses showcased at the event. This was great for visitors, who gained a good overview of the different types of equipment available and the wide range of quality features. Unlike a catalogue, the trade fair offers the opportunity to take a close look at differences in quality and design.
After six years on the market it was especially gratifying for playfit to receive direct feedback from our customers on the quality of equipment and service for products already supplied.
We are already looking forward to new developments in the lead-up to GaLaBau 2014.“

Patrick Dubert (S.O.R. Schulz e. K. Die Edelstahlprofis):
“At this year’s GaLaBau local authorities and other interested visitors had the chance to find out about another four items of outdoor fitness equipment that we have developed. Once again we had a very positive response from visitors from Europe and the US while we also dealt with enquiries from South American and Australian visitors. As a result we are already looking forward to GaLaBau 2014."

Ralph Käfer (Proludic GmbH):
“We approached local authorities and landscape architects in advance and invited them to the trade fair. We enjoyed positive feedback from visitors and welcomed many of the customers to whom we had sent invitations. We made more or less the same number of international contacts as at GaLaBau 2010 and were also visited by our representatives in Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria and Belgium. We also had visitors at the Proludic stand from Belgium, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Iran, Israel, Canada, South Korea, Luxemburg, Austria, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. GaLaBau will remain the leading sector trade fair. However, the organisers need to ensure that the event does not degenerate into an employment exchange - lots of exhibitors from South Asia only come in order to look for representatives. Customer contact is of secondary importance. Our company considers FSB to have a more international character since international visitors to our stand at the 2011 edition accounted for over 60% of the total. GaLaBau is more domestic, with international visitors to our stand representing around 25% of the total. Saturday is the worst day of the event for us. It might be worth considering closing Hall 1 with the special Playground section on Friday evening.“

Eike Wedell (Trofil Sportbodensysteme GmbH & Co. KG):
“This was the second time Trofil has participated at the GaLaBau, but the first time that we have consciously prepared ourselves for the GaLaBau topics and playground requirements.
Evidently we created much interest and discovered possibilities with specific topics such as fall protection: artificial turf in and for the comfort zone as part of outdoor furniture, which onlookers obviously perceived to be useful. The natural feel shouldn’t be lost in the process.
We managed to obtain a number of new contacts almost totalling our pre-existing contacts. We were able to build up a list of many new contacts in neighbouring countries, which we would take as a small indication of how the GaLaBau helps shape future trends abroad, too. This is where innovation is expected and delivered! There has been a sharp increase in the trend for the creation of private installations. This market seems, for whatever reason, to really start to develop now. I really wouldn’t like to speculate as to why.
There has also been a change of views amongst garden landscape architects along these lines. Private customers also want innovation in their gardens. It begins with giant model railways (the space in-between naturally filled with artificial turf) and stretches all the way to swimming ponds, where artificial turf and wood come together to form a synergy.
We’re already looking forward to the next GaLaBau with many individual solutions and ideas.
From our point of view it is continuing to develop from an event for the modern masses to one for the individual class, which we want to serve and are in a position to do so. We are ready and eager to meet any customer wishes. A trade fair should provide incentives, and demonstrate and promote progress. I believe that GaLaBau was very successful in achieving this in 2012.”

Jochen Bäuerle (SMG Sportplatzmaschinenbau GmbH):
“The GaLaBau trade fair was not a huge success for our company. There were too few patrons there who were interested in sport construction, and scarcely any club managers or department heads from the sport sector visited. As a manufacturer of niche products, we no longer view GaLaBau as the important trade fair that it once was. As far as we’re concerned, it focuses too heavily on landscaping. The FSB trade fair in Cologne is far more important to our sector.”

Petra Pahl (Hauraton GmbH & Co. KG):
“Only those who have tried something personally themselves can judge it and form their own impression. This is exactly what Hauraton enabled the visitors to their stand at this year’s GaLaBau in Nuremberg to do. They were asked to try their hand themselves when it comes to drainage installation. The GaLaBau pro Martin Seidemann demonstrated how with the light yet at the same time very robust Recyfix Pro and Dachfix Resist channel drains. The exhibition thereby provided practical relevant answers for visitors and was consistently met with interest by the knowledgeable public. The lively demonstration of the exhibits made the advantages of the plastic channel drains easier to experience and was cause for many productive conversations.
We were happy at having such active visitor interest at our trade fair stand. Our participation at the trade fair was a success thanks to the numerous customer appointments arranged in advance of the fair and the exceptionally inquisitive public.”

Marco van Riesen (Sport Thieme GmbH):
“Sport-Thieme is very happy with the trade fair at first sight, with full judgement being reserved for later after sales analyses have taken place. Basically though, as we were probably the only ‘non-manufacturer’ there, we are satisfied with how things went, particularly with the interest shown in our Adventure Tramp and our Outdoor table tennis table. As far as I am aware, we will also have a presence in Nuremberg again in 2014. What’s important for us in Nuremberg is also maintaining contact with existing suppliers and discovering new products for the market. Our first concern is, of course, to cater for our customers and new customers.”


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