CarraraMarmotec 2005 will be held in Marina di Carrara, Italy, from June 1 to 4, and the show's organizer has been hard at work with a worldwide promotional campaign to ensure a positive turnout. The exhibition, now in its 26th year, provides a forum for all members of the stone industry to promote new products, form business contacts and observe the latest developments in technology.

Since the end of last year's exhibition, organizer Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) has launched a publicity campaign through Italian and foreign trade publications -- with special attention being given to the U.S. market. For the first time, ads for CarraraMarmotec appeared in U.S. architecture magazines, including Architectural Record.

Additional campaign efforts included IMM representatives being present at well-known international exhibitions around the world, and participating in conferences, workshops, seminars and meetings with trade associations. Through a targeted mailing campaign, the promotional activity was expected to reach more than 50,000 people across the globe, reported IMM.

To have a better understanding of what expectations visitors have when attending CarraraMarmotec, the show organizer conducted a visitor survey during the 2004 edition. This included face-to-face interviews with 1,000 attendees -- 60.6% Italian and 39.4% foreign. The foreign visitors interviewed came from 90 nations, with 48% being European and the other 52% coming from other continents.

The survey objective was to produce a CarraraMarmotec visitor profile, analyzing behavior during the visit, identifying expectations, evaluating what services were used, and checking the efficiency of the communication tools used for promoting the exhibition. Overall, the survey received positive feedback. A total of 67% of interviewees gave a positive rating to CarraraMarmotec. Foreign visitors were more satisfied, with 73% giving an opinion of “good to excellent,” while among the Italians the opinion of “good to excellent” was 63%. “These are positive results, which put together with the signs of sector revival, allow us to say that Carrara is reconfirmed as a high-level international meeting point, with people coming from all over the world,” said Paris Mazzanti, general manager of IMM.

The 2004 edition of CarraraMarmotec consisted of 730 exhibitors, and 80% had confirmed early on that they would be participating in this year's show, according to IMM. Also, last year's event drew 18,022 attendees, which was a 2% increase from the previous year, statistics illustrate. Of these visitors, 4,180 were foreign, hailing from 90 different countries. There was a strong presence from France (10%); Germany (7%); Spain and Switzerland (5%); the U.S., Great Britain and Brazil (4%); and India, Belgium, Tunisia and Hungary (3%), with the remaining 35% coming from other countries.

“[This is] a very satisfying result -- if we take into consideration the sector's domestic situation, which highlights some very important elements,” said Giancarlo Tonini, president of IMM. “The first is that the geographical origin of [visitors] is also connected to the promotional activity that we carried out in areas of particular interest, such as the Near and Middle East and Eastern Europe, with a boom of visitors coming from a few countries in the Mediterranean area. This world-wide influx trend of [attendees] has been consolidated, with a significant increase for those operating in the 'historical' areas of extraction and use.”

Schedule of events

With the fair complex including two conference halls, which can hold anywhere from 30 to 700 seats, CarraraMarmotec 2005 will be complete with several conference programs and presentations. Among the topics discussed will be trade issues, which will be based on a survey conducted by the Foreign Trade Council on the current aspects and developments of the U.S. market.

Also, the schedule will include the annual technical workshop “Pietre che fanno architettura” (Stones that make architecture), during which the Marble Architectural Awards (MAA 2005) will be presented. This year, the competition focused on works completed in the Far East. The winning architects will be present to illustrate the current trends in the use of marble in far distant lands.

The latest edition of Stone Sector, the book by IMM that publishes all the figures of the world's stone market, and the Guida alla Marcatura CE dei Prodotti Lapidei (Guide to the EC Marking of Stone Products) will also be presented during CarraraMarmotec 2005. Additionally, the conference “Reimpiego e Ripresa Estrattiva dei Marmi Apuani: l'evo Medio” (Reuse and new quarrying of Apuan Marble: The Middle Age) will provide a retrospective view of the quarrying industry and the use of white marble.

Another special focus of this year's show will be the “Idea e Prodotto” exhibition (Idea and Product), which is now in its third year. The event was developed in conjunction with the Chambers of Commerce of Carrara and Lucca and the trade associations. Described as a “fair within a fair,” the exhibition covers more than 21,000 square feet and will showcase trade associations and vocational schools, as well as many of the most significant handicraft businesses, according to IMM. These craftsmen will show their most important works, including sculptures, statues, decorative items and mosaic designs. Students will also demonstrate their skills by creating mosaics and other artistic pieces on site.

IMM recognizes the assistance of the Region of Turkey, ICE, the Foreign Trade Council, Toscana Promozione, the Province of Massa Carrara and the Municipality of Carrara, as well as Cassa di Risparmio di Carrara -- the only bank sponsoring CarraraMarmotec 2005 -- with putting together a successful agenda for this year's exhibition.