If you were wondering which of the European technology shows to visit or exhibit in, I would recommend you visit one, or both, depending on what your product is. Although CeBIT was more oriented towards computer products, and IFA was concentrating on audio, video, and other home appliances, the creation of mobile phones and tablets has actually merged all, and now you can find certain similar things in both shows. Currently, if you want to get into the mobile phone business, or the computer and technology business, I would definitely recommend CeBIT. If you want to get into audio, video, or Apple accesories, choose IFA.
European Technology Shows: Why I Prefer CeBIT to IFA (as a visitor)
Fantastic fairground organization: The Hannover fairground were designed with the visitor in mind. Everything is easy to find: toilets, places to eat, halls, exits…. I wish all the European technology shows would learn from them!
At IFA, there are halls at different levels, and I couldn’t find anywhere to eat, just a restaurant for those who had bought a trade visitor ticket.
Reseller Planet: This area is for trade-only visitors and is where the real action (=money) is. Exhibitors know that the visitors are serious people interested in doing business. The area is spacious and one can walk around comfortably.
What I Dislike About CeBIT
High hotel prices: If you book early you might get a bargain, but the normal price is always above 250 euros/night.
Cold weather: It can be very cold in March, although the last few years have had good weather.
No free trains: Public transportation was free (included in the CeBIT ticket), until the 2015 show, where everyone had to buy train and bus tickets from machines. No one I know was happy with this. Helpful teenagers were hired to assist, but it was one step backwards. In the coming years, the organizers want to return to the original arrangement, but they want to raise the price of the entrance tickets.
What I like about IFA
Reasonable hotel prices: There are so many hotels in Berlin, that the prices remain stable, and you can always find last minute accommodation.
Good weather: September is a great month to move around with a full-sleeves shirt. Some people were even feeling hot in the 2014 exhibition.
Cheap tickets: It is best to buy the tickets for end-users. The ones for trade visitors are more expensive are hardly worth the extra euros. All you get are some free magazines, coffee and drinks, and a fast-lane access. In fact, if you really want to save on the tickets, you can take advantage of the 3 for 2 offer on their website. Or you can haggle, and make new friends with the “independent business people” who will offer you tickets while you walk to the entrance, from the train station. These are generally youngsters who have received complimentary tickets, and want to sell them cheap, to make some euros.
What I dislike about IFA
Fairgrounds: The layout of the halls is on various levels, and hard to cover properly and easily.
Very Poor Reseller Area Space Allocation: The reseller area is where European wholesalers invite their customers to their booths, and for drinks and food. During the 2014 IFA show, it was hard to move there, because aisles were very, very narrow, and visitors and exhibitors were too many, for the limited space assigned to this group of exhibitors.
Limited Restaurants: I found it hard to find a restaurant. There were a few buffet and small fast food places located between halls, but I was looking for a sit down lunch, away from the sight of people running back and forth.
Oriented towards German end-users: Many German exhibitors who sell directly to consumers, exhibit in this show, so be prepared to meet lots of end-users while you browse through the halls. Affordable tickets means literally everyone is welcome, and that’s how they can easily hit the 200,000 visitor mark every year. Many end-users are very keen to buy samples from exhibitors, on the last day of the fair. This is a major advantage for those exhibitors who want to travel light, at the end of the show, especially if they have to cross the Atlantic to go to the US, or take various flights to go to the Far East.
So, to summarize, both are leading European technology shows. In both you will find manufacturers of certain mobile phones, tablets, and their accessories. You won’t find other computer items (e.g. monitors, computer accessories, spare parts) nor mobile phone distributors at IFA, but you will definitely find them at CeBIT. IFA, is great to look for any audio and video products, as well as all kinds of high quality Apple accessories from manufacturers from all over the world, and consumer electronics. If you can’t make up your mind as a visitor, go to both, and enjoy. If you’re a trade visitor or exhibitor, try to see where your product (or the product your looking for) would fit nicely.