Huge halls and imposing exhibition areas – the dimensions of the fair in Milan are gigantic. This is one of the main reasons why every two years it is the venue for one of the biggest heating and air conditioning fairs in the world – the Mostra Convegno Expocomfort (MCE). Then some 155,000 trade visitors come to the fair complex. Marta Caronni takes it all in her stride. As Head of Marketing & Sales Support at ista in Italy, she has been responsible for the fair stand for more than ten years now and is surprisingly relaxed about the whole event. Two days before, it was quite a different story.
For the night before the opening day Marta Caronni got a call from the fair organisers. A forklift truck had driven into the brand-new fair stand and brought down one of the partition walls. This news would have left many an organiser gasping for breath. Marta also felt her heart miss a few beats. “But before panic starts to get to me, I always take a few deep breaths,” she says. “After all, if there is one thing that my many years of experience at ista have taught me, it is that there is always a solution for everything.”
Marta is a veteran at ista in Italy. Her father is actually one of the founders of ista Italy and brought Marta on board from the very beginning. Marta, who was originally a programmer by profession, has been working at ista since 1993 and has lived through all the company renamings. She has changed jobs and roles in the company as frequently as the company has changed its name: from the position of assistant to order handling, controlling and now marketing and sales support – Marta has worked in nearly all departments and is today the longest-serving employee at ista Italy. No wonder she keeps a cool head even in seemingly hopeless situations.
“We decided to give our visitors something concrete. This makes us stand apart from most of our competitors.”
And this case is no different. The next morning, when the fair begins, the stand is just like new and has plenty to offer: On several prominently displayed tablets, visitors can try out and test the ista Property Manager Portal for property management, where initially digital bills are stored and archived, as well as ista connect, the tenant web portal which visualises heat and water consumption, therefore giving users a continuous insight into their consumption behaviour.
“We decided to give our visitors something concrete. That makes us stand apart from most of our competitors,” says Marta, delighted with the decision. “Many companies rely on the tried-and-tested exhibition of hardware. We have that as well – but set in the floor in a very modern display.” Marta points to the stylishly illuminated heat cost allocators inserted into the floor.
These exhibits also include the new product, ista aperto – a heat cost allocator specially tailored to the Italian market and offering customers high flexibility thanks to a modular system. “That’s what our customers want: choice. And that’s what they get with our product portfolio,” says Marta, pleased with the result. “We want to make it as easy as possible for them to meet the statutory requirements which come into force in Italy on December 31, 2016.” That’s the date when all property managers and owners have to have multi-family buildings equipped with metering technology to permit individual consumption billing.
“The international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the creation of ista aperto was unique.”
Thilo Kirchinger from Corporate Marketing & Business Development at ista International praises the cooperation between his Italian colleagues and the central departments: “The international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the creation of ista aperto was unique. The various departments involved managed to develop a strategy, a business concept, product and software solutions as well as a sales and pricing concept – all in just five months. You can only do that if everyone pulls together.”
And the name was changed again just before it went on exhibition at the fair, Marta reports. The experienced organiser also handled that with ease. But although it’s all routine for her now: she was still nervous and hardly slept before the first day of the fair. Now, on the second day, she is already much more relaxed and looking forward to three more days packed with visitors in Milan.
Picture credits: Fabrizio Conti, ista