Klaus Dittrich, chairman and chief executive of Messe München, delivered the traditional press conference a few days before the start of its Ispo Munich trade show. He began with some bad news, reporting that a worker had fallen from a ladder during the setting-up process and succumbed to his injuries.

Fortunately, there was better news at the conference. Starting next Sunday, Ispo Munich will break a new record for the number of exhibitors. This year, there will be 2,943 of them from some 56 countries, up from 2,801 last year. Of the new total, 334 will be first-time exhibitors, out of whom 41 will be exhibiting in Health & Fitness, 57 in Outdoor and 90 in Winter Sports. There will be two new halls, C5 and C6, for a total of 18, spreading over 200,000 square meters.

Going through the list of exhibitors at the fair, we notice the comeback of Oberalp, the parent company of Salewa, Dynafit, Pomoca and Wild Country. On the other hand, Amer Sports and some of its brands, including Atomic and Salomon, are not showing, but Arc'teryx and the recently acquired Peak Performance are there. Another brand of the group, Suunto, is exhibiting under the name Movesense by Suunto.

The outdoor section of the fair is occupying four halls – A1 through A4. Symmetrically, snow sports are featured in the halls B2 to B6, but many high-end skiwear brands are in Hall B1 as before.

Digitalization, individualization and women will be among the major topics at the fair. For the past ten years or so, digitalization has been a major theme at Ispo Munich, leading to the development of the Ispo Digitize platform. The next frontier, which remains somewhat controversial in the industry, is e-sports, which is now represented at the fair.

According to Dittrich, a brand becomes more attractive if it allows customers to personalize its products. Aside from customizable running and hiking shoes, an interesting example of this will be the Original+ ski developed by an Austrian start-up, which uses artificial intelligence for the purpose. It won the Ispo Brandnew award.

Ispo Munich will be catering to the women's market through a series of speeches in the Women's Lounge. Ispo revealed at the conference the results of a survey conducted among 800 vendors and dealers. It showed that 94 percent of the vendors involve women in the product development process, and that 66 percent offer women-specific products now. Out of the respondents, 46 percent said that women have gained in importance as a target group over the past two years, but only 22 percent of them said that they have female decision-makers.

This year, Ispo kicks off just two days after the end of the Outdoor Retailer & Snow Show in Denver. Tobias Gröber, head of the Ispo Group at Messe München, shared with us his wish for better scheduling in the future, adding that discussions on the matter were underway with his colleagues in the U.S. Ispo Munich will nevertheless be welcoming more exhibitors from the U.S. this year than last.