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.
After 2020, Germany as a trade fair venue had to contend with massive economic slumps in 2021 as well, due to the the Corona pandemic. Of the 380 planned trade fairs, only 100 could be held in the third and fourth quarter. At the international, national, and regional trade fairs held in Germany, 1.3 million square meters of exhibitor stand space, 36,000 exhibitors and 2.1 million visitors were counted. Comparing 2021 with an average year before the Corona pandemic, there were around 85 percent fewer exhibitors and 87 percent fewer visitors at German trade fairs. The exhibitor stand space rented showed a deficit of 85 percent. This means that 2021 was even worse than the already appallingly bad year of 2020.
In international comparison, too, the German trade fair industry is highly esteemed. Four of the ten largest trade fair companies in the world are based in Germany. In the international turnover ranking, five of the top 10 trade fair organisers are from Germany - measured by turnover before the Corona pandemic.
According to the international trade fair association UFI, there are around 1,360 trade fair venues worldwide and 31,000 trade fairs per year. Germany’s share of surface area is eight per cent.
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 390,000 m² of hall space are available at venues for exhibitions with regional focuses.
According to the organisers' plans, 370 to 380 fairs were to be held in 2020 and 2021. More than 70 per cent of the fairs had to be cancelled or postponed due to Corona. All in all, the German trade fair organisers recorded sales losses of 65 to 70 per cent in each year respectively.
After 2020, the international and national trade fairs in Germany also had to contend with massive economic slumps in 2021 due to the Corona pandemic. Of the 198 planned fairs in this category, only 49 could be held in the third and fourth quarter.
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. Despite the worsening economic conditions, they again grew slightly in Germany compared to their previous events, with only the number of visitors remaining constant. The competitive position of trade fairs vis-à-vis other marketing media remains stable.
Internationality on the exhibitor and visitor side is the most important advantage of German trade fairs in global competition. For many years, the decisive growth driver in international participation on the part of exhibitors was the region of South-East-Central Asia. Almost 31,000 exhibitors (+11.9%) from Asian countries came to the trade fairs in Germany in 2019. The number of exhibitors from EU countries fell by 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 55,000 exhibitors and around 6 million visitors gather at these events every year.
The 52 trade fairs with a regional catchment area recorded a total of almost 10,000 exhibitors, 374,000 square meters of stand space and 764,000 visitors in 2021. Originally, 181 fairs in this category were planned, but 129 were cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.
In addition to participating in trade fairs at home, German businesses also make considerable use of trade fairs abroad. German companies participate in an average of ten fairs every two years: six in Germany and four in other countries. A good third (36 Percent) of these companies selected trade fair locations in Europe in 2017/2018, and 24 Percent overseas. These figures are from the 2019 AUMA MesseTrend, a representative survey (carried out by TNS Emnid) of 500 German exhibiting companies.
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 Climate Action (BMWK) 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 BMWK coordinates the German Pavilions (joint presentations under federal auspices) with the umbrella brand name “made in Germany".
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 2020 survey – Graphics
A few months before the Corona pandemic, in November 2019, 500 representatively selected German companies that primarily exhibit at business-to-business fairs were surveyed. The result once again impressively showed the fundamentally strong anchoring of the trade fair as an instrument in German companies. According to the survey, 29% of exhibitors wanted to spend more money on trade fair participation in 2020/2021, 53% wanted to invest about the same amount, and only 17% planned to spend less. These were the findings of the AUMA MesseTrend 2020, a survey conducted by Kantar TNS on behalf of AUMA. But even in this survey it became clear that real experiences and virtual reality will complement each other in the future - at least on exhibition stands of German exhibitors. For the time of the Corona pandemic and beyond, a considerable strengthening of this development is expected.
Trade fair participation in times of Covid-19 pandemic
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