Sophie Castagné, Director of the GIE Objectif Transport Public

The European mobility exhibition Transports Publics took place at Paris-Porte de Versailles 10–12 June 2014. Promosalons talks to Sophie Castagné about this recent session.

How would you describe your show and what were the highlights of this recent session?
Transports Publics is a relatively new exhibition which has quickly become the major event for the mobility sector. This sixth show already brought together 250 exhibitors and 10,000 trade visitors. It was a success despite the French rail and taxi strike, which made getting to the exhibition quite difficult. There was even an increase in the number of countries represented, from 53 two years ago to 58 this year. We are very pleased with the way things have developed and with the success of this last session.

The two major highlights are the high calibre of our visitors and the comprehensive, varied range of products and services showcased.

Nearly 52% of our visitors are high-level decision-makers such as MDs, and 25% are engineers and technicians, so a good majority are decision-makers or buyers. A large number of French national and regional political stakeholders also visit the show.
The equipment showcased at Transports Publics is quite specific and represents large-scale capital expenditure. Investment in public transport is itself onerous with long-term building projects involving elected representatives and public consultation and affecting the infrastructure. So it’s a high-level exhibition with a strong political element… that’s the best way to describe it.

Add to this the fact that the exhibition has become the European “public transport marketplace” – the place where players from the sector come to see innovations and competitors’ products, and also to seek new business, meet their customers and sign contracts, like at any trade show.

The discussions and panel sessions are also very popular with visitors and add real value to the exhibition. The key speakers at these events are the world’s leading experts in their field.

We hope to develop this European transport culture further and make Paris a forum for debate about how the public transport sector can develop in big cities around the world, from India to Mexico and the USA.

What international development strategy have you adopted?
Our international strategy is based on the very simple principle of mobilising intermediaries.

Objectif Transport Public is a small French company which brings together elected representatives responsible for transport and French operators. To develop internationally we have to rely on intermediaries. In practical terms, that means working very closely with the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) which has a network of members in 92 countries, as well as organising an exhibition promotion committee. This committee brings together the main European political and institutional associations in the sector, like for example the Italian association of public transport operators and the association of regional transport representatives in the United Kingdom.

Also, for the first time this year our ‘guest of honour’ was from outside Europe, which opened a lot of doors for us: Curitiba, Brazil’s fifth largest city.

Transports Publics calls itself the “European mobility exhibition”. Do you plan to broaden the scope of the show in the near future?
Our growth is measured, partly due to our budget, but also because we have not yet tapped the full potential of the European audience.

We prefer to expand steadily and safely. It is important to invest in areas that promise the most profitability; we can’t transition from a small-scale exhibition to a full-blown international event without going through these absolutely necessary phases. For the time being it’s a European exhibition developing in Europe.

Promosalons has been supporting you for several sessions. What message, if any, would you like to pass on to the local offices that have worked with you?
Yes, seven local offices have been helping us promote the exhibition in Europe for the last five sessions, and it’s a very important collaboration for us. Promosalons is crucial to Transports Publics; in fact this is why I put myself forward to sit on the Board of Directors in 2013… I wanted to get more involved.

This year unfortunately, I think because of the difficult economic climate, the overall number of European visitors has fallen slightly. It’s a situation that affects us all, but particularly in our sector. Transport industry stakeholders are tending to focus on the problems in their own country and are staying at home.

The Promosalons representatives are committed and work hard for us. They know that we attach great importance to targeted promotion and knowing our audience well. It is therefore important to work with databases that are always up-to-date and easy to use.

We also really appreciate hearing proposals for new initiatives. Promosalons encourage us to consider new ideas, to be creative and inventive. All the same, it’s important to bear in mind that the extent of our investment demands the maximum return quantitatively and qualitatively speaking.

We expect a lot from the local offices… they are the representatives of our exhibition in the international arena.