It will always be a physical event but the Salone del Mobile now makes the most of digital: Marco Sabetta explains what it means for visitors and exhibitors

The times when the Salone del Mobile destroyed the body as much as a marathon are over, promises General Director Marco Sabetta. And even those in which the post-show was a desperate hunt among notes, phrases memorized and business cards scattered here and there.

For a couple of years, digital services (finally, and as many hoped) have fully entered the Salone del Mobile strategy and are being exploited from multiple points of view to increase the value of the physical experience .

Read also: Salone del Mobile 2024, all the news

A turning point necessary to accompany the transition from fair to event and continue to ensure that the Salone del Mobile maintains the primacy that everyone recognizes: that of the most important event dedicated to design > in the world.

But what does it mean, in concrete terms, for exhibitors and visitors? We talked about it with Marco Sabetta.

The Salone del Mobile was a fair, today an event. What does it mean?

Marco Sabetta: “There was a time when people wrote at the fair. People came to sign contracts. And the return on the investment made in terms of orders was measured. Now it is calculated differently: that is, in relation to the contacts collected and their quality.

Understanding this passage was very important because it made us understand that what "sells" the Salone del Mobile is no longer so much the spaces but the possibility of meeting quality people. And on this, from Covid onwards, he has guided all our strategic investments".

Including the “people first” mantra?

Marco Sabetta: “Putting people at the center of the development of the Show – visitors and companies – was fundamental. Above all because it is not a slogan but a driver for the innovations we have worked on and are working on. All aimed at making the visit simpler, less tiring and more efficient: and taking home quality contacts and experiences".

What innovations are we talking about?

Marco Sabetta: “The most visible ones are the new layouts – developed starting from a long process of listening to all stakeholders and constantly evolving (read our in-depth analysis here, ed.).

In fact, we are working, again with Lombardini22, on a project that analyzes the perception of visitors during the visit using neuroscience. The data we collect will be used to further improve the exhibition offer which already today includes oases scattered along the route, places to stop, work or relax, recharge the batteries (those of the devices but also ours)".

And what are the less visible innovations?

Marco Sabetta: “The ticketing service, the QR code system, the content collectors such as the App and the website are fundamental.

Because, as we said, people come to the Salone del Mobile to obtain quality contacts. Knowing who arrives, when and what they do is fundamental information for companies.

Until a couple of years ago, however, the system for purchasing tickets for the Salone del Mobile used that of the Fair. Now, however, it is our property and all the data we collect belongs to us. And this, together with the QR codes and the possibility of giving companies information in real time about who is arriving in their pavilion, is a huge added value that was missing before".

Visitor side: how does digital services help?

Marco Sabetta: “Putting the visitor in the best conditions to visit the fair means making him struggle less: before, during and after the experience of the Salone del Mobile.

With the App it is possible to understand where the exhibitors are, arrange meetings with companies, plan routes. And, in the evening, review everything thanks to the QR Codes linked to the content. While during the year our website is increasingly present and becomes a constantly updated showcase for all exhibitors".

Companies must be involved in the exchange of digital content. Are they?

Marco Sabetta: “As always, some a lot, some less. But it is essential to move in unison and create community. For this reason, as part of the service we are also organizing webinars to highlight the added value of fully exploiting the digital tools we have developed for businesses".

Exhibitions, talks, installations: are they useful in the transformation from fair to event?

Marco Sabetta: “They matter a lot for some types of visitors, less for others. In general, however, the feedback was positive on Euroluce, where cameo exhibitions dotted the exhibition itinerary. However, at the Salone del Mobile 2024 we will have a different approach: two important installations, one at the International Bathroom Exhibition and one, by a very prestigious brand, in pavilion 5- 7(where there is also the SaloneSatellite); and an experience related to Food Design at EuroCucina".

What will the Salone del Mobile be like in ten years?

Marco Sabetta: “Physicist. Easier. More personalized. It's hard to get to the top but staying there is even harder. And we think that the people first approach is the right way to do it."