I always love to get insights from VicenzaOro's frontman, Marco Carniello. One of the things that stands out is his razor-sharp focus and genuine interest in people. On Sunday 10th of September, at 9:00 am in the morning, I had the pleasure to interview Marco about VicenzaOro.
Whenever I speak with Marco Carniello, I'm struck by his modest, engaging demeanor. But make no mistake, this man possesses a razor-sharp focus and a genuine appreciation for teamwork. He never talks about himself; it's always about his team. Just observe how few people at the top do that. This apparent lack of ego is a welcome detail in a world where people love to get credit for what actually took a team to accomplish.
If you've seen Marco Carniello walking around the trade fair, you couldn't have missed him; this cycling-loving Global Director of Fashion and Jewelry for IEG, the trade show organizer, seems to know everyone. Marco is a shining example of a modern leader, empathetic and engaged, yet with a razor-sharp vision and clear goals. He never talks about himself but always about his Golden Team of colleagues, and he doesn't hesitate to highlight the roles of others.
In this interview, I sat down with him in the Welcome Lounge. A German colleague is listening in, and an American "classic model" and influencer, Manon Crespi, is getting everything ready to shoot an Instagram reel with Marco shortly. Michela Moneta, his right hand for all things regarding trade media and press, keeps track of time and answers.
The first question is more of an observation. Friday was noticeably less crowded than in previous editions on the same opening day. Marco folds his hands and smiles. "Well observed! We see a decrease in attendance in this edition; it's a quieter start. We had significant increases in previous editions, even a +20%. We currently see a +9% increase, but we expect that number to decline slightly towards the end of the show (numbers at the end of the VOS23 exhibition show us a positive 6%). But this is fine because when you have a shockwave, even a positive one like in recent times, it causes various issues. The entire supply chain can be affected, and products may not make it to the stores on time."
"The market is consolidating; it might feel different from the party vibe we had, for example, in January," Marco laughs, "but it's much more sustainable now."
"We also expect less purchasing; inventories are still sufficient in many cases," says Marco Carniello. However, buyers, retailers, and wholesalers are still coming to VicenzaOro. This is essential because they come to us for inspiration, to see where the market might be heading in the next 18 months, and what the trends are. We pride ourselves on being a platform for interaction in the industry. We create a healthy and positive environment. We're here for the community that people form within an industry.
Marco's eyes light up, and he sits up straighter. "Look, we like to consider ourselves a platform of opportunities. That doesn't just mean a new transaction. We're a platform for high-quality information and education. We're also the networking platform. That's why we invest heavily in events both at the fair and around it, like the many Happy Hours (with DJs, music, drinks, and snacks outdoors), especially in the city of Vicenza, where there's so much to do. The unique value is that we create the right conditions for opportunities in many different ways."
I asked Marco Carniello what three things he hoped VicenzaOro visitors would take away as a feeling. He jokingly says he wants to focus mainly on business, hinting at the innate Italian flair for expressing emotions. That they've become more inspired, that they've made at least one valuable new contact, and that they've discovered one new supplier. The average buyer stays here for two days, so we hope our hashtag #discovermore has worked for them. We work hard to become the showcase for trends. Our marketing team is very active in strengthening this image online and offline; down to the smallest details, he points to a blue moving ornament everywhere at the fair. We want to be a cool, hip, and vibrant environment. That's why we're increasingly branding ourselves as a company. We want to be synonymous with the word "trends." He laughs and says, "It must be our Italian character!"
We want to be a benchmark for operational excellence. We have to be fully effective. Vicenza is a small city; we're not really equipped for large groups of people. There's no airport here, no 5-star hotels. That's why it's up to us to ensure that the visitor's journey goes as smoothly as possible when they decide to come here. And that's reflected on our website; all the information is geared towards making it as easy as possible for the visitor. Marco emphasizes what is often underestimated: the appreciation for the effort people put into attending a trade fair. There must be a sense of ROI for the visitor, and the VicenzaOro team clearly feels that responsibility.
Interested, I inquired further about the benchmarking Marco Carniello mentioned earlier. How does he actually do that? "We mainly look at trade shows like JCK (USA) and Hong Kong and sometimes borrow their innovations, and they sometimes borrow ours. We actually want your experience," he nods towards us and the visitors in the lounge, "to be at least as enjoyable as at those fairs, but ideally even better. We don't see ourselves in competition with those fairs but more as 'co-opetition' (as in Dubai, where VO is part of the fair). It's important to keep moving, to innovate because trade shows are an older business model."
That's why we're constantly testing new formats like VO'Clock, where the watch community has already connected online well in advance and where we provide the opportunity for a physical gathering. We never force the topics that the various authorities and experts bring to the stage. We're not the authority; we're a platform.
To have a reason to exist, a platform like a trade fair must provide what the visiting jewelry or watch professional needs. The fair has noticed a demand for more pearls and is discussing this with Japan. A good mix in the different halls is essential and a reflection of what buyers are looking for, says Marco Carniello. "We actively seek feedback from buyers," he nods. We host 400 of them and offer various loyalty programs to thousands of others. Feedback is hugely important to Marco and his team because everything ensures that the buyer at VicenzaOro finds exactly what they need. This affects the admission of new exhibitors.
Next year, VicenzaOro celebrates its 70th anniversary. How it will be celebrated will be revealed to the press in a special moment in mid-October. We're excited and eagerly looking forward to January 2024!
Next dates of VicenzaOro
19-23 January 2024
6-10 September 2024