Personal communication is in demand

According to AUMA, the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry, there was a positive basic mood amongst exhibitors at most German trade fairs in 2013, not least due to the relatively good economic climate. At the same time, the key indicators for international and national trade fairs, i.e. visitor numbers, exhibitor numbers and stand space, each grew by around 1%. “Personal communication obviously remains in great demand,” said Walter Mennekes, Chairman of AUMA at AUMA’s annual press conference in Cologne on 5 June, 2014. He added that dialogue with customers is increasingly gaining in importance in marketing. It is not just about informing customers, but also about understanding and learning from them. Trade fairs remain the perfect platform for this. The 139 international and national trade fairs in 2013 had 0.7% more exhibitors than the corresponding previous events. That is only a slight slowdown in growth compared to the previous year (+2%). The number of foreign exhibitors showed above-average growth of 3.2%; this was particular due to Central and Eastern European countries, whereas the growth from Asia declined slightly. The stand space grew by 1% in line with exhibitor numbers. The number of visitors increased by 0.5% following a decrease of 0.5% in 2012. However, only a few trade fairs reported significant growth. Visitor numbers at the vast majority of events remained largely constant. On average, capital goods trade fairs reported somewhat below average results, having previously often been the drivers of growth. According to Mr Mennekes, the growth potential in many sectors has been exhausted or a large number of trade fairs reached the limits of their hall capacity. Most consumer goods trade fairs performed marginally positively despite the frequently difficult situation of bricks-and-mortar retailers. The international shows for the general public had largely good results. The 139 international and national trade fairs in Germany reported a total of 166,444 exhibitors, 6,696,994 m² of stand space and 10,065,153 visitors. AUMA expects an increase in exhibitor and visitor numbers of around 1% for 2014. The AUMA chairman: “If the economy continues to do well, more could even be possible.” The number of foreign exhibitors at German trade fairs significantly increased again in 2013. In total, nearly 95,000 foreign exhibitors participated in the 139 international trade fairs in Germany. They accounted for 57% of the total participation. This is the first time in years that non-EU European countries rather than Asian countries have been the drivers of growth. The number of exhibitors from non-EU European countries increased by 7%, which was the highest growth of all regions examined. German trade fairs saw 12% more exhibitors from Turkey and 13% more from Russia, for example. A high rate of growth was seen in EU member states in the east and south of Central Europe, such as Poland (+15%), Hungary (+10%) and Slovenia (+20%). The number of exhibitors from other European countries increased by around 4%, while there were around 3% more from EU member states. The number of Italian exhibitors increased by 4 % to over 12,000. This meant that it regained first place after a year’s break, which was mainly due to the exhibition schedule (the PRC was able to take first place as the largest exhibitor country in 2012 for the first time). The success of German trade fairs is also due to excellent trade fair infrastructure, said Mr. Walter Mennekes. This applies both to the quality of the halls and to the transport infrastructure. However, as Mr Mennekes said, keeping up this standard requires forward-looking investment planning and considerable funding. He said that the trade fair companies have recognised this fact. Speaking about different aspects of the activity of German trade fair organizers, the AUMA chairman underlined that product and brand piracy continues to cause significant problems for German companies. Copies are frequently discovered at trade fairs in particular. As Mr Mennekes said, this means trade fairs as a marketing tool often wrongfully come under debate. That is why German trade fair organisers very intensively support German exhibitors in the fight against product piracy. He added that AUMA also advises exhibitors on the legal action they can properly take in such cases. Organization of trade fairs abroad is a very important field of business activity for German organizers. The number and size of trade fairs abroad continues to grow significantly. According to Dr Peter Neven, Managing Director of AUMA, a completely new level has been reached in the last five years. There were almost 110,000 exhibitors at the 277 trade fairs last year (2009: 75,000 exhibitors). The number of visitors increased to around 7.5 million in 2013 (2009: 5.5 million). The number of visitors at trade fairs in 2013 grew by 7.1% compared to the corresponding previous events and visitor numbers rose by as much as 10.2%. Dr Neven stated that this shows the unbroken momentum of German trade fairs abroad. He added that German organisers have now also reached a strong position in comparison with their international competitors. These are primarily British companies that frequently experiment in new markets, but also quickly withdraw if unsuccessful. He said that German organisers operated on a longer term basis here and are therefore seen as reliable partners. Source: AUMA – Association of the German Exhibition Industry;