¡°China is such a huge potential market¡±

Western companies really should be at China Fish, says EFTTA CEO Jean-Claude Bel.

What prompted this latest agreement with China Fish? For example, have EFTTA members been pressing for more help when visiting China?

No, nobody had pressed us to do this. I had an open discussion with Li Jiang, the President of China Fish, in the summer and the question rose up: what more can we do for our members? We also wanted to find a way to promote our own services, of course, so this was perfect. As members probably remember from last year, EFTTA had a small stand hosted by China Fish to promote EFTTEX and EFTTA to Chinese companies as well as other people that don¡¯t normally attend our show. The idea came to set up a bigger stand and use it as a lounge to increase our visibility at China Fish. We have also offered the same facilities to China Fish for EFTTEX.

Why is a lounge area so important for western companies visiting China Fish?

Some visitors were very pleased last year to see that we were at China Fish, and some of them used our stand area to run meetings, but the space was very limited. Of course, a lounge will not change their lives this year, we just want to make it earlier by offering a more comfortable place than the bars or the restaurants to sit down and have meetings. It helps to have a gathering place that is easy to locate, and where you can find free interpreter facilities for short meetings, get internet access, and print out documents without waiting to be back to your hotel¡¯s business centre. Visitors might also want to leave belongings there during the show. It is not that important, but it is an extra benefit we can deliver for free to western companies. It¡¯s important they see EFTTA working on their behalf.

Do you expect more western visitors to travel to China Fish following this announcement?

Certainly not! They will visit the show because they need it for business reasons, not because EFTTA has a lounge there.

So what is your message to western companies considering China Fish but who may be more concerned about cutting costs next year?

I¡¯m convinced western companies should strongly consider exhibiting at China Fish. China has huge potential as a market of the future, so just think of the power of being there this year to show your products and establish your brands. And remember, there will be buyers there that do not attend EFTTEX.

Some European companies have had a presence for several years and I¡¯m sure many will be returning this year. That tells you all you need to know about the possibilities. They would have given up long ago if it wasn¡¯t such a positive experience.

Manufacturers and strong parent owners should explore the possibilities of selling their western-branded tackle in China. After all, it works in other industries. You only have to walk past the shops in Hong Kong or Shanghai to see that.

A small stand is not expensive and your flights and hotels are already accounted for if you are visiting the show. It can be a great opportunity for a small investment¡ªand it could be better still. For 2010 EFTTA is considering setting up a Western Pavilion or a Western Village. We haven¡¯t agreed precise details yet, but discussions have already started with Chin Fish.

Will there be any special requirements to gain access to the lounge this year?

No, we will warmly welcome everybody there!

And this extra presence will also help promote EFTTA. How important is that for the Association?

Absolutely, this is a good platform to promote EFFTA to the buyers who don¡¯t visit our show normally. It is also a good platform to promote EFTTEX to potential exhibitors, Chinese or not, and potential members as well. We should be proactive, visible, and deliver to our members as much as we can everywhere we can.

Likewise, do you expect the ¡®eastern¡¯ lounge at Valencia to attract more Asian companies?

No, for precisely the same reasons that the EFTTA lounge won¡¯t attract visitors on its own. Again, the China Fish lounge will help promote their show and also deliver assistance to Chinese exhibitors who have made the effort to come to EFTTEX. Sometimes they find it difficult for language reasons to communicate or solve a problem, so a visible base is the perfect solution. China Fish can use it to promote the show in a more efficient and convivial way to potential visitors and exhibitors.

Does a similar agreement exist with the other major international trade shows? ICAST? The shows in Japan and Australia? Would you press for something similar or is there less need at these shows?

This is quite new. Today, there are no similar agreements with other shows as far as I know. But I¡¯d be happy to offer the other association the opportunity to join us in China Fish and have a common lounge. It makes sense and gives western business more synergies there.

As far as hosting China Fish is concerned, I think the need depends upon the numbers of exhibitors and visitors form China. ICAST, JAFTMA and the Australian show are more domestic in outlook and so have limited numbers of exhibitors from the Far East. But I¡¯m definitely happy for us all to share a lounge together at China Fish. Message passes! 

Booking are now being taken for EFTTEX and western companies will also be making plans for China Fish. What is your message for any company considering their marketing budgets right now?

Well, the economic situation is becoming slightly better, although the tough times are not over yet, I appreciate that. For those companies that have remained active, it is important not to give up on those past efforts. Instead they should continue with their proactive attitude to confirm their positions.

Those that have cut marketing costs need to check if what they think they saved is not the same as the losses they have incurred, both in terms of sales and their standing in the market. Are they going to survive another year doing nothing or not enough? Markets and customers have very short memories. EFTTEX is the right place to get pleasure in 2010. It will be the show¡¯s first time in Spain, which will be warm and welcoming. But don¡¯t think of EFTTEX 2010 as a purely Spanish orientated show. Sure, there will be a lot Spanish visitors but above all and as always, EFTTEX is the number one pan-European event for our Industry.

Angling International , November 2009 issue 22