Three words summed up the VicenzaOro September event for Marco Carniello, global exhibition director for the jewellery & fashion division of the Italian Exhibition Group: trust, loyalty, and, perhaps most importantly, magic.
With Sept. 13 marking the last day of the fall show, Carniello can look back on a highly successful gathering of more than 1,000 exhibitors from 30 different countries—something that felt like a dream when the coronavirus shut down the world and dramatically changed the format and feel of the Italian Exhibition Group’s (IEG) boutique event.
But much like the golden, glittering wall and gold carpet that led buyers, exhibitors, and media into the show, VicenzaOro is shining again with what Carniello loves best: A sense of community among the people inside that venue, all coming together to celebrate jewelry and an industry that is growing stronger after a long two-plus years of challenges.
IEG reported Sept. 13 after the show’s close that VicenzaOro’s overall visits were up 10% compared to 2019; foreign attendances were up 20%. More than half [51%] of the total attendance was international from 124 countries worldwide.
Carniello says VicenzaOro’s organizers feel both lucky and thankful for so many people coming together for the main event and VO Vintage, both of which were buzzing during the opening days of the show, with people buying, swapping stories, and coming together during informational sessions to learn.
VicenzaOro is best described as a boutique event, Carniello says, because its relatively smaller size creates connections that feel, well, magical to him.
“We all went through two years where there was a kind of drama—no one knew where to go, what to do. Visibility of your future was so short. Everyone was looking at tomorrow or next week,” Carniello says. “We managed to organize shows that usually take six to nine months, and we did it in two or three months, thanks to a special connection that we have with the community of exhibitors and buyers.
“We kept communicating with them and sharing opportunities, but most of all sharing our vision of what we believed could happen in the future and what kind of options we had for them,” Carniello adds. “In these two years, we created a kind of magic connection with them, and they’re now feeling we did it together. They feel more ownership of the show, and I feel it. There are no walls between them and us. They trust us, which is the most important thing.”
Evolving VicenzaOro into the show it is today had to happen with a bit of innovation, willingness to change, and effort on everyone’s part, Carniello says. Adding special moments—like the golden wall that greeted guests—and being able to bring back key areas such as the Design Room are what made this show particularly memorable for Carniello.
“We are investing a lot into these experiential things because COVID accelerated everything. Everyone had a huge adoption of online tools. If you look at efficiency and effectiveness, a Zoom call is much more efficient. Why should you go take a flight and come here, spending two to three days more than the actual time you’re focusing on your business? Why? Because the time you’re spending here is converting more,” Carniello says.
“You’re getting better information, you’re getting more business, you’re converting more leads into clients. We’re very focused on this because we don’t think [VicenzaOro] is a substitution for a Zoom call,” Carniello says. “We know we’re effective and an investment that has the right return.”
What’s next for VicenzaOro, IEG, and Carniello? He says it is working on building up the industry’s connection to younger workers, finding new talent, and developing the show even further.
“I’m always thinking and generating ideas,” Carniello says. “What I’m enthusiastic about is these areas of involving more of the young people, the younger generation. Having young designers is very important. One of the needs of the industry is having younger people—in the factories, designers, in the companies. For some reason, the jewelry business is not as sexy for some young people—they try to be lawyers or other professions. Now, we’re focusing a lot on the technical high schools, the young people there, to show the opportunities in this industry. You are creating something that is going to be international. You can do very well financially. We take responsibility to make the industry healthier and better. In the long run, if the companies don’t have new people working there, all of this business could disappear.
“There are many new things we are working on, especially on the discovery side. We like to make value—people discover something new here. They have so many sources of information, but we need to work on our selection of products to make sure they feel every time they come here, they discover something new,” Carniello says.
“There’s something every time you turn the corner. The discovery part is part of the experience we want to provide. Plus, it’s important for the business—they need to come here to be inspired. They can go back and find new focus. That’s an investment for the future.”
Top: A glittering gold wall and golden carpet greeted attendees at the VicenzaOro September show, which organizers say brought a sense of magic to the event, as people were excited to gather again and celebrate jewelry and the industry (photos courtesy of Karen Dybis).@jckmagazine
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