From a German city to the global stage, Messe Frankfurt is a prominent player around the world offering a world-class venue in Frankfurt
Messe Frankfurt is the biggest exhibition organiser with its own venue in the heart of Europe. The city’s long love affair with exhibitions dates back to the Middle Ages. In 1240, several Frankfurters travelled to the Italian town of Ascoli to ask Emperor Friedrich II to grant their beloved city the right to hold autumn fairs. The meeting was a success and they proudly returned to Frankfurt with his signature.
Whilst it was many thousands of years ago when the Orient came up with the concept of a trade show, or ‘bazar’ as they called it then, it is fair to say that the concept of a professional trade show in the Occident was truly established in Frankfurt.
Things have changed a lot over the centuries. Thanks to the city’s expertise and reputation as a place to trade and do business, it has developed into a leading global hub for the stock exchange and financial markets. Currently in the process of building Hall 12, Messe Frankfurt is soon to cover over 592 thousand square metres of indoor and outdoor space, making it the world’s largest trade show and conference organiser with its own venue.
Some of its buildings have even become architectural landmarks in Frankfurt: Hall 2, known as Festhalle, is a historic structure built back in 1907. Hall 3, by comparison, is one of the most modern show halls around – built in 2001 by British architect Nicholas Grimshaw, it broke the world record for the largest pillar-free exhibition hall of its time. The Torhaus is home to the administration of Messe Frankfurt and is a prominent building clearly visible from the motorway to travellers arriving in the city.
While Messe Frankfurt hosts many of its own large-scale trade shows with over 4,500 exhibitors, it also welcomes guest events from other organisers. In particular, it prides itself on offering sustainable high-end event services to guest exhibitors, such as top-quality catering and state-of-the-art digital support. The sheer scale of the venue and the fact that it’s located right in the heart of an up-and-coming dynamic area of Frankfurt means it offers enormous flexibility for all kind of event formats – from trade shows to conferences and even concerts.
That said, Messe Frankfurt hasn’t just focused its efforts on home turf. In the late 80s, it was one of the first exhibition organisers in Germany to understand the challenges and opportunities posed by globalisation and rapidly developing markets, such as China or India. Leveraging leading brands, it launched trade shows around the globe and exported exhibitions to developed and emerging markets. Today, Messe Frankfurt plays in the big league of global exhibition organisers. In total, it operates 30 subsidiaries worldwide – some of which, such as Messe Frankfurt Hong Kong, have become key players in the markets in which they operate. Messe Frankfurt’s strategy was to tailor the main show to suit the industry requirements of local markets while still supporting the mother brand back in Germany.
It could have been feared that a strategy to launch shows in other countries might cannibalise the mother show, as they would effectively be launching a direct competitor into an adjacent geographical market. Messe Frankfurt’s international strategy showed the exact opposite was in fact true. Running a portfolio of shows in different markets created synergies that strengthened the original show. By going global, they gathered knowledge and skills about how to best serve international exhibitors and visitors, offering them a compelling proposition not only to join their local show, but also to attend the original Frankfurt Messe to bolster their international trade links.
In this way, Messe Frankfurt’s internationalisation strategy has strengthened its home region. The shows in Frankfurt attract an international audience from both exhibitors and visitors. This positive result highlights the importance of running and further developing a venue in Frankfurt that has the latest technology, the best customer service, and the flexibility to accommodate events of all kinds.
It’s clear this German trade show giant is a global player committed to promoting Frankfurt’s business interests. However, its relationship with the city goes much deeper than that. The organisation is also involved in a range of local and regional initiatives to support the development of the region and surrounding areas. For instance, Messe Frankfurt is a member of the United Nations Global Compact and has furthermore established many measures to lower CO2 emissions over the years to come.
Messe Frankfurt’s success at home and abroad is no surprise. Its internationalisation strategy focused on growing the company globally while still nurturing the home region is an excellent approach. This, coupled with its flexibility to host events of all kinds, its outstanding customer service, its cutting-edge technology, affordable hotels nearby, and excellent city infrastructure, has helped it to become a truly world-class venue upholding the highest of industry standards.
Matthias Tesi Baur