Interview with Toni Laznik, CEO at ICM Slovenia on the occasion of the partnership with Bulgarreklama Agency

Automation & RoboticsInterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 3/2011

Mr. Toni Laznik
CEO at ICM Slovenia

Dear Mr. Laznik, could you please present the history of your partnership and your plans for future cooperation with Bulgarreklama Agency, Sofia, Bulgaria?
I have known Bulgarreklama and the Ivanov family since many years, as we have been in the Exhibition business for over 20 years. Few years ago we started with the idea of how our long experience in the exhibition industry and our friendship could bring more benefits to our businesses (organizing exhibitions) and also to our partners - exhibitors & visitors. Our long and fruitful communication has resulted into these new for the Bulgarian market exhibitions in the industrial sectors.

As a result of your cooperation INTER EXPO CENTER (IEC) will host new technical exhibitions next year - IFAM, Intronika, MachTech & Metal and Plast Bulgaria. Most of them are completely unknown to the Bulgarian market, so could you please present their main concept to our readers? What will be the new concerning MachTech & Metal as it will be the third edition of MachTech?
ICM is a 100 % private specialized company for organizing B2B trade fairs, events & conferences. In this focus we developed a few of our B2B trade fairs. Specific for all our B2B trade fairs is that we tailored them on demand of exhibitors and visitors and therefore we use the principle of modules. So we have module or ’Platform for exhibitors’, then we have Platform for Education, which means Business Forum, Workshops, Conferences etc., Platform for Young Entrepreneurs  and a few others,  which became very useful during the years. We offer them to axhibitors and visitors as an added value to the basic modules: IFAM - which covers the fields of automation, robotics, mechatronics, sensor technology, vision systems, production informatics; INTRONIKA is also a  B2B trade fair which focuses on professional and industrial electronic, components, communication, etc. Both B2B exhibitions have been  organized in Slovenia very successfully for a few years now. In February 2011 we launched them - both - also very successfully in Serbia.

PLAST is a B2B trade fair devoted to plastic and rubber industry developed and launched very successfully in Serbia and the region together with the specialized B2B trade fair METAL, which is focused on foundry, tools, welding, machineries, ore, etc. We found great potential in merging both B2B exhibitions with the aim of optimizing synergies for exhibitors and professional visitors. All our trade fairs are modular, as already mentioned. We offer to all professional visitors ’free of charge’ attendance at the Business Forum where exhibitors present their novelties, products, services, success stories and innovations.One of the most important achievements of our exhibitions is that they attract more than 87% of the top management, decision makers and even owners, who have the power to decide! Joining MachTech & METAL is the first step in our efforts to support metal industry not only in Bulgaria, but also within the region. We are working very intensively in this field and already have agreed with Fiera Pordenone to offer to few exhibitors from our MachTech & METAL exhibition a free overnight stay in Pordenone at their B2B exhibition Samumetal in February 2012.

Could you point out some specific features of these types of professional exhibitions in Slovenia, Serbia and Bulgaria? How would you estimate the technical level of their participants and visitors?
Of greatest significance for this type of b2b exhibitions is the aim of fulfilling the expectations of exhibitors and visitors. They both need to make business and exhibitions are the unique and right platform for ’face to face’ meetings,  presentations and negotiations - of course, if  both decision makers and management are aware of  how important their presence at the exhibition is.  Professional visitors are coming with a clear idea of what they need and what answers they are looking for. To achieve these results we aid them though many activities such as: direct mailing, invitations, Golden Coupons for free access after registration of professional visitors, keeping  them informed about the activities which exhibitors are preparing for them, etc.

ICM is helping young entrepreneurs participating in the exhibitions with a number of initiatives. Could you describe some of them?
Yes, we believe that partnership is not just selling and buying. It’s growing up with business and  strengthening with the years. So we have decided to offer many benefits to young entrepreneurs at their start - because we also started like this and we know very well how difficult each start is! We offer from discounts for exhibition space to marketing or business packages, consulting and education within the Business Academy, etc.

Tell us more about your intention for establishment of Business Academy. In what way the Bulgarian exhibitors could benefit from this initiative?
We started the ICM Business Academy in Slovenia  8 years ago and there we developed a few topics to help companies, so they successfully prepare for participation in an exhibition, how to attract and invite the right visitors. Recently we launched also the basics of project management in exhibition (marketing) industry. As a start of all these topics we used the Faculties of the Universities and other High profile schools. Now, two years later, we already have the first highly positive results.

The aim of the Business Academy is to teach old and new exhibitors how to exhibit, when to take the decision for participation, how to invite visitors, how to build the booth to attract the sight of the visitors when entering the hall - in general how to use trade fairs as the most efficient platform for their promotion, so that they get their ROI (return of investment).