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Hoist the Colors, Matey

The first pirate ship to be made of five layers of Forex panels, this 47 m2 boat was large and powerful enough to board the 2016 ­International Tourism Exchange (ITB) with a menacing message: “We’re coming!” This band of dread holiday marauders moored their ship at the pier of the Berlin Messedamm, rolling three barrels of rum ashore for all sailors wishing to join the boarding party. And this showcase staged by the industry’s swashbuckling privateers of tourism went down as smooth as fortified cane juice with fair ­visitors. Johannes Meissner, a landlubber with satis&fy Berlin, found a treasure-chest full of inspiration for this Caribbean adventure in set-building: “Constructing an exhibition stand was something new for me, and the way it came together made it even more special.”

As every event manager knows, gearing up for a fair presents a very different set of preparatory challenges than, say, industry events. There’s no place to store stuff and no wireline Internet access. Even the power supply is out of the crew’s hands. And the buck never stops anywhere when one person is in charge of this and another of that. Complications abound. Fortunately, this wasn’t the first time Johannes and his people teamed up with the Berlin agency Albamy to handle events of this nature. 

The idea to build a boat straight out of the Golden Age of Piracy was born in the middle of a dreary Berlin November. It was to be manned by a crew of corsairs prowling the Seven Seas on the hunt for the best travel deals. Johannes says, “Albamy knew that with the many resources at our disposal, we could provide just the right support for the creative process.” Karben’s Creative department furnished a ­selection of realistic renderings to get everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal. A two-storey pirate ship got the nod.

Kay Ruchay, technical project manager at satis&fy Berlin, quickly brushed up on his 17th century shipbuilding skills, but his choice of medium, Forex panels, was rather more modern. Why rigid foam rather than wood? “Because this boat wasn’t built to float!” But it would have to float, figuratively speaking. The whole point of this exercise was to promote HolidayPirates GmbH’s website at ­Urlaubspiraten.de, so the ship needed to stand out with flying colors rather than going under in a vast sea of expo stands. Kay says, “The customer knew exactly what he wanted. And with us, he had a ­partner that could put his idea into practice as it was envisioned.” The Berlin-based startup’s management also brought on board a swashbuckling crew buoyed by youthful exuberance, brashness and bold enthusiasm to take the market by storm. 

That gambit paid off. The 75 m2 booth constructed of Speedwall components was an instant sensation at the ITB. The two-masted ship made a huge splash in hall 25, its weathered wood look a compelling illusion conjured by digitally printed adhesive foil. Such an unexpected site at a trade fair, the sea rover-themed booth was the runner-up for the Best Exhibitor Award in the Travel Organization category and one of the best designs at the show. On top of that, Kay says, “Many camera teams used the ship as the backdrop for their ITB reports.” Kay’s aluminum-Forex structure was strong enough to safely support a second floor. Visitors climbed the staircase made of Bütec components behind the ship’s façade to look out over the travel industry horizon from the captain’s bridge. The deck offered plenty of privacy to talk business while providing a lofty five-meter perch for watching the portside action. A huge 65 m2 digital print of a Caribbean sunset stretched across HD34 Eurotruss trusses captured that dream vacation vibe for visitors and sent out a powerful message: These buccaneers are serious about commandeering their fair share of the tourism industry spoils. 

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