Trade fair business in Munich has found its former dynamism again. Following the shock-induced paralysis of the pandemic, the events have not emigrated to the Internet. Quite the opposite: The principle of live trade fairs won out. Messe München made an even better new start to 2022 than the projections in December suggested: EBITDA improved by 156 million euros after the pandemic deficit, from minus 33 million euros in 2021 to a plus of 123 million for 2022. That means Messe München is back in the black and making a profit of 52 million euros. It is above the market average with revenue of 413 million euros. This success is also continuing in 2023, setting new records.
“Trade fairs are simply systemically relevant,” say Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel, the co-CEOs of Messe München: “For exhibitors, they continue to be an indispensable marketing and sales tool that can’t be replaced digitally.” That’s also confirmed by the impressive balance sheet figures for 2022, when trade fairs were allowed again. While Messe München posted a deficit of 33 million euros during the coronavirus-impacted year 2021 due to the closures, it achieved an EBITDA result (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in 2022 with a plus of 123 million euros: a leap of 156 million euros into the black, leaving a profit of 52 million euros. “We want to strategically invest this profit in personnel, digitalization, the exhibition grounds and in debt reduction,” as Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel explain.
At the new start in 2022, we had a packed trade fair calendar with 17 of our own events in Germany, 21 abroad, and 88 guest events. In 2022, the exhibitors and visitors came back stronger than expected to the 126 events in total in Munich and abroad: 29,000 exhibitors and 1.4 million visitors to Munich, and 2,800 exhibitors and 162,000 visitors to the events abroad. It was clearly noticeable that exhibitors and visitors from Russia, Ukraine and China stayed away due to the coronavirus restrictions in China and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In addition, Messe München suspended its operations in Russia.
This restart of trade fairs in 2022 was no flash in the pan, since the upward trend is continuing seamlessly in this year, as confirmed by the highly successful start to 2023. It’s also tangible that everyone has a need to catch up. “The first trade fairs of 2023 ended in Munich and abroad with record figures for exhibitors and visitors that we hadn’t expected so soon,” according to the co-CEOs. Their plus points: Messe München is a platform for drivers of innovation. What’s more, it is a sought-after partner worldwide and reliable service provider for trade fairs and major conferences. Here’s how 2023 got underway:
“People’s appetite for trade fairs is great, as is their desire to present themselves on platforms like trade fairs and to visit them,” according to Messe München co-CEOs Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel, commenting on the positive trend: “Trade fairs have a core expertise. They continue to be in demand when complex topics are involved that require explanation. When it comes to that, in-person trade fairs and face-to-face conversations are unbeatable.”
The 2023 trade fair calendar is full: 15 events in Germany (ten of them in the first half of the year), 40 abroad, and 91 guest events at the main exhibition grounds, the ICM International Congress Center München, or the MOC in Freimann.
Coronavirus was not the only challenge for trade fair business in Germany and abroad: the war of aggression against Ukraine, inflation, disrupted supply chains, or political events in China. “These effects have an impact on our company, our customers, the value chains in industries, and hence also our trade fairs,” according to the co-CEOs Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel: “After all, trade fairs are also seismographs of political, economic and social developments.”
Messe München is responding to that by focusing on its core business and on digitalization, and a broader focus on new growth markets abroad. These include Southeast Asia, the U.S., and South America. Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel: “China is and will remain an important growth market for Messe München. Overall, one of the lessons learned from the new challenges is that we need to avoid dependencies, which is why we are diversifying our international strategy.”
Messe München is focusing on organic growth, in other words, on strengthening its own trade fairs and acquiring new guest events.
One positive effect of the pandemic years is that coronavirus is a trend booster that has placed greater focus on digitalization and sustainability. “We view digitalization as an addition before, during and after trade fairs,” according to both co-CEOs: “We believe in trade fairs in person and will expand them digitally, for example, with industry platforms. After all, digitalization provides us with an opportunity to further improve and personalize the customer experience.”
Examples of industry platforms are BAU Insights, the first personalized and interactive information platform for the construction industry. It extends the physical trade fair BAU to 365 days a year. Or digitalBAU, a conference and network platform. Dr. Pfeiffer and Rummel know: “Trade fair organizers used to be space rental companies. Today, we are multifunctional and reliable service partners for the customer journey.”
In this favorable situation, Messe München is optimistic as it moves into the second half of 2023.
“Trade fairs create experiences and show the world of tomorrow today. Competition is intensifying and, in light of the global challenges, we need to remain very vigilant,” say both CEOs Dr. Reinhard Pfeiffer and Stefan Rummel in summing up: “Our exhibitions play an important role when it comes to connecting people with their ideas and wishes, driving forward innovations, and promoting economic growth. The trade fairs offer unparalleled opportunities: the chance to meet in person, share knowledge, present products and services, and enter into long-term partnerships—trade fairs are simply systemically relevant.”
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