Trade fairs are by far the most important instrument in B2B communications. This is one of the main reasons why the exhibition business is one of the leading service sectors in Germany. It encompasses all companies, associations and persons that organise fairs or provide services for organisers and exhibitors. The sector also enjoys a high status internationally.
Exhibitions in Germany held their ground in 2018 with solid results despite difficult overall economic conditions. The year’s 178 international and national fairs had an average of 1.5% more exhibitors and around 1% more stand space than their respective previous events. Visitor numbers were just about half a per cent below previous levels. The reason for this is the continued high international attractiveness of German trade fairs: Participation from abroad increased significantly in 2018 - by 3% on the exhibitor and visitor side.
AUMA anticipates a further slight increase in exhibitors and stable visitor numbers for the 174 international and national fairs in 2019. Uncertainty exists primarily with respect to exhibition developments in the automotive sector.
To judge by its revenues, the German exhibition sector is a major player not only in Germany but also internationally. Four of the world’s ten highest-grossing trade fair companies are headquartered in the country. Sales in the trade fair sector have increased steadily for the past fifteen years, nearly without exception. From €2.3 billion in 2002, the sector reached its current record high of €3.9 million in 2016.
According to the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), there are around 1,200 exhibition venues worldwide and 31,000 exhibitions a year. Germany accounts for nearly 10 percent of the world’s exhibition market.
Twenty-five venues for international or national trade fairs in Germany have a combined hall space of around 2.8 million square metres. Ten sites each have capacities of more than 100,000 square metres, and five additional sites each have more than 50,000 square metres. Hall space is expected to grow only slightly in the coming years. Investments will be made primarily in quality. An additional approximately 380,000 m² of hall space are available at venues for exhibitions with regional focuses.
Nearly two-thirds of the leading global trade fairs in different branches of industry are held in Germany. The country is the world’s number one location for international trade shows. Under relatively favourable general economic conditions the fairs have again shown slight growth, with only the number of visitors remaining constant. The competitive position of trade fairs vis-à-vis other marketing media remains stable.
The international quality of exhibitors and visitors is one of Germany’s major competitive advantages over other countries in the trade fair business. The region encompassing South, East and Central Asia is a key engine behind the increased participation by international exhibitors. The number of exhibitors from Asian countries at German trade fairs increased by around 4.5% in 2017, and the number from EU countries rose by a good 2%.
International and national trade fairs in Germany are supplemented by a dense network of regional trade fairs for both trade and public visitors. Some 50,000 exhibitors and 5 to 6 million visitors gather at these events every year.
The 154 trade fairs with a regional focus posted an average of 1.5% more visitors in 2016, and a slight increase of 0.8% more stand surface area booked. The average number of exhibitors was the only key figure to show a slight decline.
German companies that exhibit at trade fairs in other countries ensure and strengthen exports of German goods and services. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) provides special support in this area to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) with its foreign trade fair programme. With a focus on trade fairs outside the EU, the BMWi coordinates the German Pavilions (joint presentations under federal auspices) with the umbrella brand name “made in Germany".
However, the number of trade fairs supported and participating companies has declined since 2014, because the budget provided was not increased accordingly despite increased participation costs.
The German trade fair companies in AUMA and FAMA organise around 300 trade fairs on six continents every year. Most of these companies apply proven strategies for leading trade fairs in Germany to selected markets in other countries. All key figures for
German trade fairs abroad have increased on a regular basis – taking interval-based fluctuations into account. This trajectory is expected to continue in the years to come. AUMA supports these trade fairs in other countries with its quality label “German Trade Fair Quality Abroad".
AUMA MesseTrend 2019 survey – Graphics
Five hundred representative German companies that exhibit primarily at B2B fairs were queried in November 2018 as part of the 2019 AUMA MesseTrend survey. More than one quarter of these companies plan to increase their investment in trade fairs both in Germany and abroad for 2019/2020, and 56% plan the same level of investment. The companies plan to increase their trade fair budgets by an average of 3% for the same period of time. The 2019 AUMA MesseTrend survey was commissioned by AUMA and carried out by Kantar TNS.
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