German trade fairs continued their trajectory of growth in 2015. The 164 international and national trade fairs were attended by
almost 173,000 exhibitors, 2% more than at the respective previous events. 1.1% more exhibition space was booked, covering a total of 6.25
million m². The number of visitors rose by 2.6% to a figure of now almost 9.8 million. This means that German trade fairs have confirmed their role as one of the most important sources of information for decision-makers. This was emphasised by Walter Mennekes, chairman of AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, at the annual press conference on 25 May 2016 in Berlin.
In 2016, the key industry figures are likely to increase by another 1 to 2%. Although digital media are available around the clock, they are not automatically used to make complex decisions. Tools which are based on personal contact still have a strong role to play. This was also revealed by an AUMA survey of 1,000 decision-makers in German industry. However, the AUMA chairman said that trade fairs have not just held their ground in the competition between different media. Today, the German organisers have a much broader international profile than they did just a few years ago. On the one hand, the number of participants attending German trade fairs from all over the world is growing at an above-average rate. In 2015, 5.6% more foreign exhibitors came to Germany; the increase from Asian countries was actually as much as 10%. Even the EU countries, which already have a strong presence at German trade fairs, recorded an increase of 4%.
As a result of the broad international presence, trade fairs in Germany are relatively immune to economic problems in individual regions of the world. In addition, many exhibition companies now have such a strong presence with their own trade fairs abroad that this can even compensate for weaknesses with individual domestic trade fairs.
This is why the German organisers face the future with cautious optimism. New trade fairs are being developed and also new areas of business, particularly in the field of digital services. Moreover, by 2019 Germany’s exhibition centres will have invested around 900 million euros in modernising their facilities and in individual expansions.
On the issue of digitisation, the AUMA chairman emphasised: “It is not about digitising the trade fair itself. The organisers agree on this point because trade fairs depend on reality, on real contacts and real products, particularly also on new products. For trade fairs are increasingly revolving around tomorrow’s products, processes and services.”
Although individual companies from the consumer electronics sector, for example, present new products at elaborate corporate events, this only involves a small percentage measured against the total number of innovations. Showcasing new products at trade fairs is still very much relevant for small and medium-sized enterprises in particular, and many large companies in the business-to-business sector still utilise the trade fair as a platform for doing this.
The managing director of AUMA, Dr. Peter Neven, said that innovations are still the central focus for exhibitors and visitors alike. Studies conducted by AUMA reveal that more than 80% of exhibitors want to present new products at trade fairs. And around two thirds of all trade visitors want to see and judge innovations for themselves at trade fairs. That makes this the most important objective for visitors.
Provisional calculations suggest that in 2015 sales by the German trade fair organisers, including international business, congresses and services, amounted to 3.4 billion euros. Dr. Neven stated that for 2016 sales of at least 3.6 billion euros are expected due to the strong schedule of domestic trade fairs.
In 2015, foreign trade fairs by German organisers generated exhibitor and visitor numbers that were roughly equivalent to the levels of the previous events, even in light of difficult prevailing conditions, for instance in Russia, Brazil and Turkey. This was stressed by Marco Spinger, director of the Global Markets & IT division.
However, this area of business achieved an impressive level overall. For example, the 295 trade fairs in 34 countries were attended by almost 119,000 exhibitors and 7.8 million visitors. In 2016 the number of trade fairs will rise to 317. New exhibitions are scheduled in particular in China and India (6 each) and in Brazil, Iran and the USA (3 each).
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Download: JPG-file / EPS-file
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