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June 13 2017Exhibition industry

German trade fair organisers post record sales in 2016

  • ​​​Further increase in number of exhibitors at German trade fairs

  • AUMA chairman Mennekes: Fairs need free trade worldwide

Trade fair developments in Germany have not been significantly impaired by the more difficult foreign trade conditions. The 186 exhibitions held in 2016 again showed slight growth over their respective preceding events – despite uncertainties due to the upcoming Brexit as well as protectionist tendencies in major foreign markets. Last year’s especially strong trade fair programme also promoted record figures for the industry as a whole. This is evident from final evaluations made by AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry.

   

The 186 international and national exhibitions held in 2016 registered an average of 1% more exhibition space than those in the preceding year (2015: +1.1%). The number of exhibitors grew by 1.5% (2015: +2.0%), with the number of international exhibitors up by 3.9%, hardly less than in previous years. The presence of German companies declined by 1.8%, up from a decline of 2.7% the year before. The gap between these two tendencies therefore appears to be slowly closing. Although the volume of domestic participation decreased due to factors such as mergers as well as acquisitions of smaller and medium-sized companies, trade fair organisers also succeeded in attracting new companies to the medium of trade fairs. As a result the very high level of nearly 80,000 participations by German companies was essentially maintained.

In this context, it is positive that in particular service providers who have used trade fairs to a relatively small extend thus far plan to be much more involved in the future. That at any rate is one result of the “AUMA MesseTrend 2017” exhibitor survey carried out in late 2016. The number of visitors to international and national exhibitions remained essentially constant at a very high level, dropping just 0.2% (2015: +2.6%). In the words of AUMA chairman Walter Mennekes, “The online world, which is ultimately anonymous, is evidently running up against limits at least in B2B communications. Enough space therefore remains for the trade fair medium, which is the most important instrument for personal communications, to expand further. There is currently no sense of any crisis in the trade fair industry.

2016: Record year due to exceptionally strong trade fair Programme

Record results were posted in 2016 in nearly all key areas throughout the industry, in large part due to a convergence of several major investment goods fairs which are held at multiple-year intervals. Some 192,000 exhibitors booked nearly 7.6 million m² of stand space, both figures the highest ever. The total number of visitors – a good 10.5 million – was the only figure to have been exceeded before, almost a decade earlier.

Due above all to this strong trade fair programme in Germany, preliminary results show that organisers posted record sales of 3.8 billion euros. The highest previous figure in this area was attained in 2014 with 3.45 billion euros. In the current year sales are expected to reach only around 3.5 billion euros due to a smaller domestic trade fair programme.

The positive general mood in the German trade fair industry is likely to continue over the entire current year. The 164 international and national exhibitors planned for 2017 are expected to again show increases of approximately 1% in both the number of exhibitors and the total stand space. Average visitor numbers will probably remain constant.

Fairs need free international trade

According to AUMA chairman Walter Mennekes, “Further positive developments for German trade fairs as international marketplaces will depend on whether worldwide trade continues to be largely free of additional restrictions. It is therefore of all the more concern that a growing number of countries have concrete plans to shield their do-mestic economies from high import levels. The German trade fair industry expects its government to clearly oppose such tendencies.”

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© Messe Düsseldorf/Constanze Tillmann

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