In spring 2020, the Stiegelmeyer team was literally sitting on packed suitcases to go to the Altenpflege trade fair – but then Covid came along. Two almost trade fair-free years followed, during which the longing for personal interaction with our customers grew more and more. Now, finally, this wish came true: at Altenpflege 2022 in Essen, Stiegelmeyer was once again present with an inviting booth, attractive products and many ideas for the future. The trade fair itself celebrated a strong comeback with 12,000 visitors, but how did it go at our booth? We talked about this with our Managing Director for Domestic Sales Ralf Wiedemann and our Head of Marketing Christoph Prevezanos.
How did you feel welcoming our customers again after such a long time?
Ralf Wiedemann: It felt like it had never been any different. I settled back into the fair very quickly. It was a good feeling to welcome the customers again. And I was very pleased that so many came, even though there are still great concerns in the care facilities because of the pandemic and the war-related crisis in Ukraine. Some visitors told me that they now have to pay huge sums for butter and other daily products in their facilities. Nevertheless, the mood at our booth was one of optimism. There were also many high-ranking guests to talk to.
Christoph Prevezanos: Our guests also felt comfortable with the health concept. Masks were compulsory in the aisles, and people were allowed to decide for themselves at the booths. I asked beforehand during every conversation whether we should take the masks off. Most of the guests were in favour of it and emphasised that they had been freshly tested – just like the Stiegelmeyer team. Everyone behaved very responsibly.
RW: One week after the fair, I am not aware of a single infection among our employees.
Until now, the Altenpflege geriatric care fair alternated annually between the German cities of Nuremberg and Hanover. Now Essen takes Hanover's place. What was the new city like?
CP: The food was very pleasant. The whole organisation went smoothly, there was always a contact person in the hall who really knew their stuff and could help with any problems. That is not a matter of course.
RW: I was also pleasantly surprised. I knew the site from my time in the sales force, which was a long time ago, and I remembered the stuffiness of the 1950s. Today everything is modern and in terms of size it suits the Altenpflege fair much better than Hanover. On the fairgrounds there, the fair was always a bit lost.
From which surrounding area did the guests come?
RW: From an amazingly large one. Our area sales manager Mr Enßle from Baden-Württemberg, for example, had a lot to do. Other guests came from northern Germany, Berlin or Dresden. It was a nationwide audience.
Which products were visitors to our booth particularly interested in?
RW: They were very interested in the nursing home products and less in our hospital beds. Among other things, we had a Puro, an Evario and the new Jovie infant bed on the booth, because we believed that in Essen there would also be the best conditions for hospital customers to come. But unfortunately this hope did not quite come true. However, there was one exception: the Evario hospital bed with integrated optional scales also appealed to very many guests from the nursing home sector. This is a topic we will continue to think about in the future.
Which products and ideas from the nursing home sector were particularly well received?
CP: The Elvido care bed with the new Out-of-Bed system was in great demand. We also showed design studies of new head and footboards on the Elvido and the Libra for the first time. There were new shapes, new upholstery and even solid decors that looked like denim or leather. There was a lot of interest, but of course tastes differ. The new quilted head/footboards on the Libra with a surrounding wooden frame were very well received. We conducted several surveys to find out what customers and partners thought of our new ideas. Guests were able to share their opinions directly on the fair monitors or on their smartphones. Many of them participated, which will help us a lot in our further considerations.
Digitalisation in the long-term care sector is a big topic. The Elvido in Essen was equipped with our modern Out-of-Bed system and additionally connected with a dashboard on which the nursing staff can see important status information about the bed. What did the visitors think of this?
RW: This was a major topic on which our team had many interesting discussions. Visitors were often impressed and left the booth with the good feeling that Stiegelmeyer offers great prospects for the future in the area of digitalisation. Even if customers are not yet interested in digital assistance systems today, they are increasingly inclined to buy an Elvido bed because with this model they keep all options open for retrofitting.
The centrepiece of the booth was a lovingly furnished family room, where the Jovie baby bed stood next to the Libra partner double bed. The latter is of course also very usable in geriatric care and rehabilitation clinics. How did the visitors react?
RW: Many customers confirmed that many couples are already moving into nursing homes now and that this number will continue to increase in the future. Some customers said, "Then we'll just push two single beds together." We were able to argue well here that the Libra partner is the better, more comfortable and standard-compliant alternative. Talking about comfort: an electric version of the Vitano bedside cabinet with integrated sockets, USB connections and an inductive charging station for charging mobile phones was also on display at our booth. This also appealed to many visitors. The Vitano is a hospital bedside cabinet, but many customers from the nursing home sector also said that more and more residents are bringing their smartphones with them to communicate with their relatives.
The Stiegelmeyer-Group presents itself worldwide as a strong provider of comprehensive solutions. In Essen, too, products were on display that are very interesting for tenders on international markets – e.g. the Basano ultra-low care bed and the modern, economical alternating pressure systems of our partner Novacare. Was there also an international audience for these at the booth?
CP: Yes, there were more international visitors than at previous Altenpflege geriatric care fairs. I welcomed guests from Spain, Italy and Great Britain, for example, and had many consultations in English.
Are there already any business successes to report from the fair?
RW: This much I can say: we have discussed up to 150 very important projects with customers.