Messe München faces major challenges in the age of digitalization. The focal points of the transformation: establishing year-round platforms, creating a new identity as a driver of innovation and pressing ahead with global expansion. The company is committed to sustainability, completion of the exhibition grounds and commercial independence achieved through the repayment of loans provided by owners. As it moves into the future, Messe München will acquire strategically important events inside and outside Germany.
Klaus Dittrich became Chairman and CEO on January 1, 2010. Under his leadership, Messe München has continuously strengthened its competitive position. Efficiency and growth programs have helped strengthen the company’s home market and promote international growth. Dittrich’s management strategy has paid off: Messe München is evolving into Germany’s most profitable trade fair company and has finished in the black for seven consecutive times.
2010 was the best year in the Group’s history with record sales (€301.8 million) and profitability (EBITDA of €80.4 million). Methodical internationalization combined with efficiency and growth programs underpin the company’s success. The driving forces behind 2010’s performance: bauma, ISPO MUNICH, IFAT, EXPO REAL and electronica along with bauma China.
Record space, record exhibitor totals, the highest rate of international participation: The outlook for bauma in 2010 was filled with nothing but superlatives for months before the trade fair opened. Then, an ash cloud coughed up by the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull grounded international flights. Applying unconventional ideas, Messe München helped exhibitors and visitors with their journey to Munich and work at their booths. As a result, bauma went off nearly as planned.
Geothermal energy instead of natural gas: Starting in the fall of 2011, Messe München began to use this form of energy to heat its halls and buildings. Geothermal energy is fed into the trade fair network by a geothermal unit located in the eastern part of the exhibition grounds. Messe München is the world’s first trade fair company to use renewable energy to produce heat. It also expanded the pace-setting role it plays in environmental and climate protection in the trade fair industry.
Sustainable business practices became a key focal point of Messe München: The things that played a key role in the planning, construction and operation of the New Messe München became a visionary principle: environmentalism combined with efficiency. One example of this approach: the world’s largest roof-mounted photovoltaic system on the trade fair halls and the natural-gas-fired co-generation station at Messe München.
After achieving success in China and India, Messe München continued to expand its international network in the construction machinery sector. To carry out the first bauma Africa, the subsidiary Messe Muenchen South Africa was established in 2012: The premiere in 2013 was an unmitigated success. Two years later, food & drink technology Africa was held in Johannesburg.
In 2013, Messe München’s sales broke the €300 million barrier—the highest level ever achieved in the company’s history up to then. A powerful trade fair program, including eight world-leading exhibitions, produced record numbers for exhibitors, visitors, internationality and space. Messe München was sold out three times in terms of space in 2013.
By 2013, ISPO MUNICH had long been one of the major events in the international sporting-goods industry. But it took a huge stride forward in 2013 and became the largest ISPO ever held: 2,481 exhibitors from 52 countries. More than 81,000 professional visitors from 109 countries. Action, fun and innovations included. At the same time, ISPO Beijing has turned into the leading sports business platform in the Asia-Pacific region.
The multifaceted location in northern Munich marked its 20th anniversary in 2013: Acting as a trade fair center, event location and business site, the MOC Event Center is the perfect place for trade fair organizers as well as trade association and business customers. The Order Center that is open year-round serves as a meeting point for the international sporting-goods and shoe industry. The MOC attracts up to 370,000 visitors annually.
Messe München celebrated its 50th anniversary on Apri1 1, 2014: five successful decades of company history in which Messe München became a global leader in the trade fair industry. The mission of Messe München remains unchanged from its very first day in business: generating momentum for the economy of Munich and Bavaria, a fact that was highlighted in an anniversary study conducted by the ifo Institute for Economic Research.
The world’s leading trade fairs in Munich—complementary events in regional markets: Messe München’s international business activities have become a key pillar for the company. Four new international trade fairs were held in 2014 alone: Indian Ceramics in February in Ahmedabad, followed by food & drink technology Africa in March in Johannesburg and Seismic Safety in April in Istanbul. And not least: the acquisition of India Lab Expo in Hyderabad.
By 2014, the trade fair location of Munich was growing faster than the entire German market: In response to this dynamic growth, Messe München decided to build two new halls, C5 and C6 with a total of 20,000 square meters of exhibition space. The construction costs of €105 million were covered completely by Messe München’s own budget. Construction began in the summer following bauma 2016.
Messe München expanded its business to Russia in December 2015: The company further increased its globally leading position as an organizer of construction equipment trade fairs by acquiring CTT Expo Moscow, an event that is known today as bauma CTT RUSSIA. The transaction, the largest such deal up to then in the company’s history, reflected Messe München’s systematic commitment to internationalization.
“If we can help, we will help,” CEO Klaus Dittrich said: Fast help was needed when tens of thousands of refugees arrived at Munich Central Station on the weekend of September 5, 2015. In a matter of hours, employees of Messe München turned two trade fair halls into temporary accommodations for refugees. The site was used to house 17,000 people for two weeks.
Munich’s transportation infrastructure increasingly reached its capacities, particularly when trade fairs are being held. A four-track expansion of the line between München-Ost and Markt Schwaben as well as a regional train stop at Messe München could provide some relief. The proposal was strongly supported by the non-partisan S-Bahn-Bündnis Ost (Regional Train Alliance East), a group that Messe München initiated in 2015.
Connecting women in the business community—this was the mission of this Messe München initiative: The group is made up of female executives on the top-management level and female entrepreneurs in the area of business, politics, science, media and culture. “ Connecting Women” was set up by Monika Dech, Deputy CEO of Messe München, and the entrepreneur Margit Dittrich.
The construction of Halls C5 and C6 as well as of the Conference Center North represented an investment in the future of the trade fair location of Munich: The groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 28, 2016, and the cornerstone was laid on December 1, 2016. The complete expansion of the site was designed to create desperately needed space where Messe München could hold its world-leading trade fairs bauma, BAU, IFAT and ISPO MUNICH starting in 2018: 18 halls with 200,000 square meters of exhibition space.
Messe München achieved unprecedented economic strength: The company enjoyed its most successful year in the company’s history in 2016. Messe München’s sales broke the €400-million barrier for the first time. It finished in the black for the seventh consecutive time. Consolidated sales totaled €428.1 million, €75 million above the record total generated in 2013.
The Group had created such a good position that it was able to finance its major investments solely from its own budget. Such investments included the acquisition of Fenestration China—an event known today as BAU China—at the end of 2016. Messe München established itself in the world’s largest construction market when it acquired the leading trade fair for facade elements, windows and doors in China. The transaction represented the largest acquisition ever made in the company’s history.
Digitalization is reshaping the trade fair business from the ground up. Messe München set up its own Digital Division at the beginning of 2017 to better seize the opportunities created by digital change. The new division was given the job of developing smart services and attractive digital products and business models and integrating digitalization throughout the company.
Messe München expanded its leading position in the area of construction machinery trade fairs once again at the beginning of 2017: Messe München became a partner of M&T Expo in São Paulo, the largest construction machinery exhibition in South America. As a result of the long-term partnership with Sobratema, the Brazilian association for construction and mining technology, Messe München’s bauma network is now located in all of the world’s strategically important markets.
The building’s shell was completed and roof framework finished: Messe München celebrated a traditional topping-out ceremony for Halls C5 and C6 with Conference Center North on June 20, 2017 . Everyone pulled together for the event: Klaus Dittrich and representatives of the company’s four owners—the Bavarian state capital of Munich, the state of Bavaria, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Chamber of Trade for Munich and Upper Bavaria—jointly heaved the topping-off wreath into place.
It was time for celebration at Messe München once the European Outdoor Group (EOG) made a decision in February 2018: Messe München was named the new event partner for the sporting-goods trade fair named OutDoor. Munich’s innovative concept beat out the previous location in Friedrichshafen and Messe Hamburg. The premiere of OutDoor by ISPO was held in the summer of 2019, from June 30 to July 3.
Bits & Pretzels, one of the leading start-up festivals in Europe, had been held since 2015 as a guest event on the exhibition grounds. But the situation changed in 2018: Messe München acquired a 10 percent stake in the start-up conference and became its partner. CEO Klaus Dittrich said Bits & Pretzels and Messe München perfectly complemented each other: “Start-ups and trade fairs stand for innovation in equal measure and connect people.”
The timing was perfect: The c ompletion of the exhibition grounds occurred during the company’s anniversary year. The site was completed in accordance with original plans exactly 20 years after Messe München relocated to its modern exhibition grounds in Riem. The festive opening of Halls C5 and C6 and the Conference Center North on December 13, 2018, marked another milestone in the company’s success story.
Young employees at Messe München began in 2018 to help prepare the company’s experienced managers for the company’s digital future. In this process, the company set up a visionary reverse mentoring program in which Chairman and CEO Klaus Dittrich also took part. The program attracted international attention and was honored with an UFI human resources award in its very first year.
Record results in the home market and abroad: 2019 was a year of superlatives for Messe München. Consolidated sales climbed for the first time to a level of about €480 million—an all-time record. The highlight of Munich’s trade fair calendar in 2019 was bauma: 3,700 exhibitors on 614,000 square meters of space and 620,000 visitors produced the best results ever achieved in the 65-year history of this world’s leading trade fair.
At the beginning of 2019, Messe München paid back a business loan totaling about €520 million that was extended in 1996 by the state of Bavaria and the Bavarian state capital of Munich for the purpose of erecting the new exhibition grounds in Riem. Repaying the loan enabled the company to strengthen its equity position and to become debt-free in 20 years.
Seven subsidiary events of Munich’s world leading trade fair IFAT were held around the world: three versions in China alone, including the premiere of IE expo Chengdu. Two events were held in India, including the premiere of IFAT Delhi in India’s capital. One IFAT event each was held in Turkey and South Africa. The IFAT network perfectly reflects Messe München’s international strategy.
U.S. President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama opened the start-up conference Bits & Pretzels, a trade fair in which Messe München holds a stake, in September 2019. The tremendous keynote address given by Obama on the theme of leadership generated a maximum amount of media attention and underscored Messe München’s commitment to being the host of world-class events. The vision: connecting global leadership.
Corona appeared to be far away when digitalBAU celebrated its successful premiere in Cologne’s trade fair halls in February 2020: The new dialogue platform for the construction industry opened a new chapter for Messe München and its industry partners. digitalBAU focuses on developments, trends and services for the construction industry’s entire value chain.
It was a historic moment for Messe München: On March 3, 2020, the German Association of the Automotive Industry selected Munich as the home for a completely redesigned version of the IAA motor show. Bavaria’s capital edged ahead of its competitors with the help of its attractive event locations, exceptional transportation infrastructure and expertise in the organization of major events.
IAA concept launch was held on July 1, 2020.
A new study by the ifo Institute for Economic Research on the indirect profitability of trade fairs and congresses confirmed the economic impact of Messe München for the city of Munich and surrounding areas once again. The study reviewed the period of 2016 to 2019: The increasing level of internationality in the trade fair business led to a significant percentage gain in induced sales: more international exhibitors and visitors—more purchasing power.
During the corona crisis, Messe München worked night and day to develop new digital and hybrid event formats and platforms that would enable exhibitors and visitors to attend trade fairs and network in spite of restrictions that had been imposed on intercontinental travel. Messe München organized a number of online events between July and September.
While the pandemic forced entire industries to network virtually in the home market in Munich, the first in-person events were held in China in compliance with strict corona prevention and hygienic rules: Three leading international trade fairs organized by Messe München shrugged off the challenges of the corona crisis:
The 2020 business year was shaped completely by the corona pandemic: Even though sales fell, Messe München remains confident about the future: The company is doing business from a position of strength and began to focus on the digitalization of the trade fair business at an early stage. After canceling 20 of its own domestic and international events, Messe München quickly organized innovative digital events as replacements. The refinement of the company’s business model will lead the way out of the crisis.