PowerGen used to be ten years ago a respectable exhibition with tenths of manufacturer, operators, engineering companies. In the last session organized in Vienna, under the strange name of “Electrify Europe”we witnessed a Zombie event. What is a Zombie event? It looks like it is alive, but it goes nowhere, and the place is unexciting. Despite worthy ideas, Electrify Europe , or Powergen was dying in Vienna, and we received such feedback from desperate exhibitors.
PowerGen has everything to succeed in Vienna: a great location, many interesting exhibitors, some speakers, and even a free open bar! Why was Powergen so boring? Why this exhibition will merge with the Utilities next year? And what was the feedback from the exhibitors?
First let’s look at the good points: meetings with procurement departments of engineering companies, presence of commercial sections from embassies, and a free open bar.
Several large EPC welcome suppliers at Powergen, including Oschatz, Bertsch Enery, Sumitomo SHI, Wood, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, MHPS and Sammet. The representatives were highly qualified and target oriented. That was perfect for new suppliers to start their integration in the supply chain. But the large EPC, including Technip, Fluor, Tecnicas Reunidas, Siemens, Hyundai…were not here.
Next, a specific place was dedicated to the commercial section of foreign embassies, including Iran, Malaysia, India, Hungary, Japan…but often the representative was not here, and we faced an empty booth with brochures. Powergen had a good idea to bring embassies but an empty booth gives the feeling of waste of time from the exhibitor.
Finally, Powergen involved a wine maker that promoted its products by offering free wine all day long. This was a great idea, both for the wine maker and the attendees, who could enjoy business meetings with local wine.
Then let’s look at what went wrong. We apprehended three weaknesses: the layout, a poor quality of speakers, and the lack of public.
The layout of Powergen did not make any sense. Suppliers and buyers were mixed, whatever was the energy field. There was a sensation of being in a Tetris game: fill the space as much as you can. Representatives from Poland, USA, Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany, Spain, France, UK, Austria, USA, Russia, Korea, Japan, indicated the interest of the international community in Powergen. In particular the Polish booth was the most noticeable with their major engineering companies, and even the Korean Nuclear Partners attended Powergen, not far from the Finnish booth that was showcasing biomass and renewable energy expertise. This was like a buffet without any specific direction. At the end we take everything but there was no trend.
Next, the seminars were terrible. The sound system, in such large hall was poorly organized, not efficient for the audience, and annoying for the visitors. Furthermore, the quality of the speakers was not up to international standards, same feeling: quantity over quality. Especially the Cybersecurity was really boring. I remember a speech given by the head of the cybercriminal department of the federal police in Munich during Eurosafe 2016. Every word was gold. Here…we needed coffee to stay awake. When Powergen is organizing such important event, the speakers should be above the level of the public.
Finally, with so many exhibitors (even if the number is decreasing year after year) and so few visitors, we had the feeling of boredom and emptiness. This was the main critic we heard by tens of exhibitors, the lack of visits. We believe the lack of positioning is the issue. When there is no specific target and outcome, and Powergen just capitalized on existing clients to create a patchwork, the result is obvious: disappointment. We could see many exhibitors behind their computers working, as there were no visitors.
This is maybe the reason Electrify Europe, is being rebranded Powergen and will merge with the Utilities event in 2019. Pennwell wanted to create several events, but succeeded in disappointing the public and most important their clients and their brand.