Event Photography Stories by
The Expat Expo in Switzerland is the brainchild of Ed and Melanie McGaugh. They are in their 14th year of this trade show and it is run 4 times a year in 4 different cities, namely Zurich, Zug, Geneva and Basel. It is an English-speaking expo and the aim, as the name suggests, is to help expats with the process of settling into a new country and all that it entails.
For the last three and half years I have been the event’s official photographer and my brief is to capture the mood of the exhibitors, the ambiance of the venue and the general traffic flow of the visitors. It is a great day out for expats in the areas. The Exhibitors range from large corporate financial institutions to a small family business that make organic skin care products. Every expat from all over the globe that can converse in English will flock to this expo to find the latest products and/or services that will fit their needs. There is even the faithful bouncy castle for the children of the expats. This allows them to have a 10-minute coffee and just soak up the atmosphere. The bouncy castle has been a permanent fixture at these expos, and it is run by a fabulous children’s party organisation that manages to keep themselves busy for the rest of the time running birthday parties for the expat community as well as the Swiss.
This is not an exclusive ‘only expats are welcome’ event. On the contrary, Ed and Mel embrace Swiss visitors, Swiss exhibitors and Swiss sponsors. In fact, often on my rounds during my shoots I meet many of the Swiss attendees and tend to engage on the current topics of the day. Usually that is local news, but in this current climate, all anyone wants to talk about is Brexit and what is going on there. I’ll leave that to the politicians to answer.
The most recent expat expo was in Zug Lorzensaal, Cham. This tends to be the smallest of the expos and expectations are managed as such. However, this time it was a very different expose to the norm. There was a certain buzz in the air and a rejuvenated feeling amongst the Exhibitors and visitors. Zug 2019 was the launch of the Swiss Edition of the Sovereign Magazine and unbeknownst to many of the exhibitors, there was a wicker basket for them to drop their business cards, with the chance of winning a featured article in the next edition of the magazine. When the exhibitors became knowledgeable about this potential win, they flocked to Sovereign Magazine section of the expo in search of this wicker basket. What amused me was the enthusiasm of the exhibitors to displace their business cards into the basket. I even observed a couple businesses putting more than one business card in, presumably to increase their chance of this fabulous win. Who wouldn’t?
Back to the expat expo and this recent Zug 2019 show. For those who want to soak up the ambiance of the expos, with a view to visit the next one, please take a look at the YouTube video created of the show
Sovereign’s first edition of Swiss Magazine featured Ed and Mel as The Trailblazers, one of the most remarkable expat stories ever told. If you want to obtain a copy of the edition mentioned in the YouTube video, contact the Sovereign team on the channels given in the video.
At this show, there were many of the regulars that would exhibit year on year and there were new and up and coming businesses that were there for the first time. The old guards were the insurance and financial management companies, the corporate event tour companies, the general holiday companies and international schools. Some of the new exhibitors were companies like Legends the pie company, handmade jewellery and soap companies or those who provide bespoke services for your child’s development. That is just a handful of organisations mentioned. There were many more, in fact there were over 80 exhibitors. We were lucky in the Zug 2019 expo. The visitors and other Exhibitors were entertained throughout the day by Steven Knight from Swiss Prime International with his bagpipe! Steven has played for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo as well as for the Royal family at Buckingham Palace, Palace of Holyrood House, Balmoral Castle and International tattoos in Basel Switzerland, Kuala Lumpur and many others. Steven is a great addition to the expos and I have seen him play there a few times now. Always capturing those moments to share thereafter.
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All in all the expos are a great day out to see what is out there for the expats in terms of services, products and even social activities. Ed and Mel have created a community that gets more and more vital as we see the many changes around us. They were and are the originators of such expos in Switzerland. Others have since tried to replicate their model, some have been successful with the niches they have created and others have fallen by the wayside due to their lack of gravitas, professionalism and commercial pull that is still the preserve of Ed and Mel and the Expat Expo.
More and more expats are being created and as a result more needs are being generated and businesses, organisations, social bodies and even governments will have to fill that need. It’s an opportunity and is clearly how things are slowly changing. I look forward to the many tales and stories that will be written in the Sovereign Magazine from the expat community about their businesses, their transition, their advice to others, their triumphs or even just their journey. We look forward to being lost in the page-turner of their struggles and opportunities seized. How individuals, businesses and even families mange throughout this change, giving hope to those who are contemplating this transition from where ever they may be across the globe. So it is a vibrant time for us all and stay tuned into Sovereign as they cover many of these stories that we all can relate to. Sovereign is on a journey of its own and becoming an expat as well. Take that journey with us.
About Elaine Pringle-Schwitter
A dual British/Swiss citizen, Elaine Pringle-Schwitter works predominantly between her two home countries. After two decades in the corporate world in London, Elaine changed paths and is now an award winning photographer who has had photographs published in several major publications.
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