At InnoTrans, it’s fun doing business with you

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trains magazine Editor Jim Wrinn is in Germany covering InnoTrans 2010.

Wandering around the InnoTrans trade show Tuesday, the first day of this week-long showcase of the world’s railway manufacturers and suppliers, I saw big business taking place. I listened to the head of Alstom Transport talk about replacing 1,000 locomotives in Russia over the next 20 years and watched his eyes light up at the thought. I saw makers of axles, wheels, springs — heck, entire railway systems — hawking their wares with high-tech displays that made this most mundane of rail equipment look beautiful. But I also saw something that’s missing at U.S. trade shows I’ve been to: fun.

Yes, people were actually enjoying themselves while they conducted business. A crowd gathered to watch two women in hot pants and a guy dance to the beat about the joys of a clear sealant that enables graffiti to be removed with water. One company built a mock roundhouse in which to entertain its guests. The Swiss brought a giant watch to remind everyone how punctual they are, and one company, H.F. Wiebe of Germany, which makes track maintenance equipment, brought an 0-4-0T, Emma, and steamed her up for the show. “It’s fun,” said Olfa Achim Dorrie, project manager for the firm’s international division.

Everywhere I turned good beer, wine, and champagne, flowed along with food. Apparently, the secret to making a deal here is simple: Show up with your coolest product, make sure you staff your booth with good-looking women, and provide food and beverage. “Nothing new in that approach,” the head of communications for a major supplier told me. She’s right, but it does work.

InnoTrans is just a fun show. The public’s invited this weekend. Isn’t it refreshing to see a relaxed setting in which railroad business can be done?

No these ladies are NOT going fishing. They're wearing the latest devices the Swiss have made to make sure track workers show up on dispatchers screens. Jim Wrinn photo

Need to make sure people show up for the grand unveiling of your new light rail vehicle. Dress up youngsters as elves and send them out with placards and brochures. Jim Wrinn photo

Want to make a point with your graffiti-proofing product: Send dancing spray painters out to do the job. It drew a crowd, every time! Jim Wrinn photo

 Want to pose with Siemen's new version of the ICE train for the German railway system. You'll get to pose with this high tech crew. Jim Wrinn photo


The Weibe Group takes a more traditional approach to public relations at trade shows, displaying this 0-4-0T, Emma, live and under steam. Jim Wrinn photo


Grocery shopping by rail on a Sunday night in Berlin, by Jim Wrinn (September 21, 2010)
Timing is everything, by Jim Wrinn (September 20, 2010)

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