Ten Questions with InnoTrans' Kerstin Schulz

May 27, 2020
Kerstin Schulz, show director of InnoTrans, discusses the transition of InnoTrans 2020 to InnoTrans 2021, as well as the new elements that will be debuting at its next gathering.

InnoTrans 2020 was gearing up to be another successful gathering in Berlin, with exhibition space all but sold out, a new hall debuting in 2020 and new developments for young professional, among other enhancements. The the novel coronavirus pandemic hit and, out of an abundance of caution, the Senate of Berlin banned all large gatherings of more than 5,000 people, forcing the trade fair to reschedule for April 2021. Kerstin Schulz, show director of InnoTrans, answered Mass Transit's questions about the quick rescheduling of the show and what attendees can expect when the conference reconvenes in 2021.  

Mass Transit: InnoTrans 2018 was a record-breaking event with more than 3,000 exhibitors and approximately 160,000 attendees. Does the InnoTrans team feel pressure to meet or exceed the quality event that was delivered in 2018?

Kerstin Schulz: InnoTrans has grown steadily from event to event. This is impressive but understandable for us too. The answer is: no. We simply continue to develop InnoTrans steadily and thus enable organic growth, which ultimately reflects the importance of such a global marketing platform for the mobility industry, especially for rail transport. Our latest innovations include the Bus Display and the Mobility+ theme, which will be on show for the first time as part of the exhibition at the forthcoming InnoTrans, which will take place from April 27-30, 2021, in Berlin.

Mass Transit: Unfortunately, the world has been deeply impacted with spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). InnoTrans 2020 quickly was rescheduled and pivoted to InnoTrans 2021. What kind of an effort did rescheduling the event require?  

Schulz: The postponement of InnoTrans to April 2021 was of course due to circumstances. We are very pleased that we were able to offer the vast majority of our exhibitors an adequate alternative with this very complex and complicated measure.

We have received a great amount of positive feedback, both on the rapid implementation and on the date itself. This is within a manageable timeframe after InnoTrans originally planned for September 2020, specifically six months, but at the same time it offers sufficient planning security for all those involved. In addition - and this is also a very important aspect - there is sufficient time to get back to the September 2022 timetable. In consultation with the associations, we had also given the exhibitors more time than usual to explore how to deal with the new situation.

All in all, we are very pleased that the majority of exhibitors welcome the new date in April 2021 and will be able to use the classic marketing platform of the trade fair as a new start after Corona. Of course, it was clear from the outset that some companies in the industry would not yet be able to participate in April 2021, or would not be able to participate at all, due to the Corona crisis and its effects. This is a great pity for the companies affected and we try to support where we can. All in all, this has reduced the excess demand that we recorded at the beginning of the year, but we will still be able and obliged to use the entire exhibition grounds in Berlin to accommodate all exhibitors. We are especially looking forward to the premiere of hub27.

Mass Transit: Does InnoTrans 2021 plan to incorporate additional cleaning or other safety protocols?

Schulz: We will all have to live with changed rules of conduct for some time to come, and this naturally also applies to trade fairs. As profane as it sounds, but essentially it means keeping your distance, washing your hands and disinfecting. Whether additional measures will still be necessary in a year's time is difficult to say at the moment - as with all aspects of the corona period, by the way. In any case, we will continue to follow the recommendations of the experts, especially the health authorities, with whom we are in close contact anyway.

Mass Transit: Due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic’s impact to the global economy and the transportation sector, does InnoTrans 2021 anticipate any residual impacts to attendance or exhibitors?

Schulz: But yes, anything else would be unworldly. The economic effects are there and some companies, as mentioned above, cannot take off at this point, even if they want to.

But quite honestly, Corona or no Corona, in the end, all we see here is an acceleration of the development, as we have observed and expected it anyway. In concrete terms: with increasing globalization, concentration is also increasing in the mobility industry. A major merger, for example, may well be imminent.

The pleasing and continuous growth of InnoTrans is not essentially due to the fact that the individual exhibitors have continued to increase their stand areas. Rather, it is due to the influx of companies from the international arena who have had to make the move into the global market. The market is finite and InnoTrans will be able to keep up with the current quantity. This applies to exhibitors and visitors alike. The crisis will only accelerate this.

Before Corona, despite the additional 10,000 m² (107,639 sq. ft.) of hall space made available by the new hub27, we were still not able to meet the high demand, but this is now starting to make sense. But we will still need the space.

Mass Transit: Among the highlights of each event is the large number of launches surrounding innovative products and services. Why do you believe InnoTrans is an ideal platform to introduce these to the mobility market?

Schulz: InnoTrans is the perfect platform where products become known worldwide. Based on the experience of past events, exhibitors have now adapted their innovation cycles to the trade fair. At InnoTrans world premieres, innovations and visions of the future are presented to the public and the international media and trade press, because everyone who is interested is at the same time and place at InnoTrans in Berlin.

Mass Transit: New to InnoTrans 2021 is the Mobility+ section. Why was this added and what can attendees expect to see and learn from exploring it?

Schulz: With the new Mobility+ theme area in the Public Transport segment, InnoTrans is aimed specifically at providers of supplementary mobility services. This is a fundamental issue for the future of mobility, especially in conurbations, and one that will be with us for a long time to come. For the last 500 meters to the destination, mobility services such as shared or combined mobility, i.e. by car, bicycle or e-scooter, as well as digital information, booking and payment systems, right through to travel agencies, are becoming increasingly important. At InnoTrans, the suppliers meet a high-caliber trade audience, especially the many international transport companies, which are simply the linchpin of mobility. Exhibitors such as Uber, ViaVan and ioki, for example, show how strongly the market in this segment has developed in recent years. We are delighted that the Mobility+ Forum will also provide trade visitors with a venue for exciting specialist presentations and visions of the future.

Mass Transit: InnoTrans 2021 will have a new hall, hub27. What does that mean for you as Director of InnoTrans?

Schulz: Well, apart from the described urgent need for space that we had and have, this exhibition hall is one of the most state-of-the-art and column-free exhibition halls in Europe. For InnoTrans it also offers a direct rail link. The hub27 will not only be a highlight of the next InnoTrans because of its occupancy. Here is a little insider tip: on the Roof Top of the hub27 there will be a Panorama Cafe/Viewpoint with a breathtaking view of the unique open-air and track area.

Mass Transit: Are there other additions that attendees can expect to see at InnoTrans 2021?

Schulz: Plenty! First and foremost are the world premieres, new products and further developments of the exhibitors. Some of the other highlights will be the Eurailpress Career Boost - in 90 seconds to a dream job, the 2nd HackTrain Hackathon during InnoTrans - in 48 h over night to new approaches/solutions, Science Slam - for the poets among the experts, International Bus Forum - all about the news in the e-bus sector. The Rail Leaders' Summit, organized by DB + BMVI, which brings together around 400 international transport ministers and directors general of transport companies, Travel Catering - comfort when travelling, E-buses driving around the Summer Garden and much more.

Mass Transit: InnoTrans Campus drew approximately 3,800 students to the trade fair in 2018, do you expect another strong showing from students in 2021 and why is the trade fair a must attend event for this demographic?

Schulz: With the InnoTrans Campus we want to make it even easier for young talents to get in touch with start-ups, universities and global players in the mobility industry. Direct and uncomplicated. Where else can students obtain a comprehensive overview, if not at the world's leading trade fair, which covers the entire mobility market. From theory to practice, so to speak. We have repositioned the InnoTrans Campus in hall 21e, as it consists of several different areas. The RecruitingLAB offers ideal networking conditions. Directly connected to it is the new "Talent Stage," where exhibitors can provide information about prospects in their companies. The Career Point marking on the exhibitor stands has proven its worth. This marker helps junior staff to identify which companies are currently looking for specialists.

But we go one step further. With the new Eurailpress Career Boost, young talents can get their dream job in 90 seconds. Together with Eurailpress, this will take place for the first time at InnoTrans 2021 on the Talent Stage in the RecruitingLAB on April 28, 2021. The new InnoTrans recruiting concept offers five applicants from each of five categories (technical professions, engineers, IT experts, operational professions and commercial professions) the opportunity to introduce themselves to potential future employers in 90 seconds. After the pitch they will be given the opportunity to ask three questions of the applicant. I guess it’s going to be an exciting way to start a new career.

Mass Transit: There has been much discussion of transport’s role in environmental protection, how will InnoTrans 2021 add to the dialogue?

Schulz: The theme of the Opening Ceremony of InnoTrans is “The future of mobility in times of climate change.” The industry, politicians and transport companies will discuss that topic there. Since climate protection plays a role in all areas of life, this topic will certainly also be a major focus for InnoTans exhibitors. The EU Commission wants to tackle climate protection more consistently with clear targets. This will show whether the industry can implement this and in what form. We can look forward with eager anticipation to the approaches for climate-friendly mobility at InnoTrans.


U.S. and Canadian companies interested in attending InnoTrans can purchase discounted tickets via this link https://csg-av-usa-innotrans.shop.secutix.com/
For any questions related to exhibiting or attending please contact our North American contact representative:
Mary Jo Balve
[email protected]
About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.