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Virtual Batibouw floored by technical problems

Batibouw at the Heysel complex, in real life, as it used to be. © Batibouw

This year’s edition of the building, renovation and home improvement trade fair Batibouw, due to be fully virtual because of coronavirus restrictions, is down today for the second time, because of technical problems.

Batibouw was due to open online yesterday, but failed to appear. Technical problems, said organiser Frédéric François. Today the same thing happened.

A welcoming message reads: “TEMPORARILY CLOSED. Our virtual platform is experiencing technical difficulties at the moment. We apologise for the inconvenience and recommend that you book on Monday 1 March.”

The problem appears to be one of website capacity, François said. The website crashes when too many people are on the site at any one time. The problem first appeared on Saturday, and it was decided to keep the site closed on Sunday too, to allow the developers to remedy the problem.

Companies taking part agreed, preferring a website that is fully functional over one that opens a day earlier but continues to experience problems that might see visitors leaving for good, never to return.

Last year 257,000 people made the trip to Heysel for the fair, 10% down on the year before. Not all visitors pay for their tickets, thanks to gifts from friendly exhibitors and various promotions, but many do. And this year ticket income will be zero.

An attempt will be made to relaunch the website tomorrow morning at www.batibouw.com. The exhibition is due to run until next Sunday, although the organisers will look into a possible extension to compensate for the down-time.

This year’s show covers three main themes: flexible living conditions, digital construction and the importance of water.

The organisers appear to have done everything to compensate for the difficult circumstances of the time – a trip to Batibouw is a hands-on and face-to-face experience, hardly to be approximated by a series of images and a chatbox.

For that and other reasons, only half as many exhibitors are this year taking part, despite the fact that the construction and renovation sectors are expecting 5% recovery this year after last year’s 3.8% downturn, and even more business in renovations, especially to come into line with new environmental requirements.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times