German Know-How Goes Global | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 31.05.2002
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German Know-How Goes Global

Germany's reputation for impeccable discpline and organizational skill has meant profits and global reach for the country's trade fair organizers.


Packing them in

Germany's well-known organizational discipline has joined German cars and beer as a quality brand in recent years.

The country's major trade fairs have begun expanding into the world in recent years with enormous success. Germans organized 160 fairs across the globe last year, up from 20 a decade ago, according to the country’s trade fair association.

Major trade fair companies like Messe Hannover AG and Messe Frankfurt GmbH have opened up offices across Asia, Europe and North America. The result has been both an increase in the number of foreign customers to German fairs and an increase in the demand for those fairs outside of Germany.

"The basic reason is that we have good standing with out clients and exhibitors in the German shows," said Sven Pruser of the Messe Hannover AG. "They recognize our brand as one of good quality."

A worthwhile investment

Cebit 2001

Cebit - Logo, eilende Messebesucher

Hannover AG, which puts on some of the world's most well-known trade fairs, has seen its business double in foreign countries in the past four years, Pruser told DW-WORLD. Last year, they brought their highly successful CeBIT computer trade fair to Shanghai and Istanbul, the first time the fair was held on foreign soil (photo).

The cost for such an undertaking isn’t small. Pruser estimates the company can spend anywhere from half a million to $4 or 5 million (4.2 to 5.3 million euro) to put on each foreign fair. Last year, the company made 38.8 million euro from their investment, an increase of 12 percent from the previous year.

But even if the profits don’t come in as high as expected, Pruser says expansion into foreign countries is a long-term goal.

"Of course, we would love to have profits, but that is not that important or as much of the focus as our competitors," Pruser said. "The other philosophy is long-term thinking."

A piece of Frankfurt across the globe

Eröffnung der Frankfurter Buchmesse

Photo from the 52nd annual Frankfurt Book Fair in 2001

In keeping with that philosophy German companies like Messe Frankfurt GmbH have set up outposts across the world over the past few years. The offices help them gauge economic climate as well as keep in close contact with their clients.

"You are closer to the market, to the heartbeat of the market," said Alexander Medjedovic, general manager of Messe Frankfurt GmbH in Istanbul, Turkey. "You are closer to the customers, to the exhibitors, visitors, journalists, much closer to the partners in the market."

The result is increased business when Messe Frankfurt GmbH puts on a fair back in Germany. Last year, the company earned 321 million euro, a good return on the 800 million euro the company has invested in foreign countries over the past decade.

German know-how

The demand will most likely continue to be high, given the German reputation for putting on good fairs, which dates all the way back to the 13th century. Emperor Frederick II granted protection to traders traveling to Frankfurt’s first-ever fair in 1240 and proclaimed the booming town on the Main river the world’s first trade fair city.

Now, a number of German cities, including Hannover and Frankfurt, have taken on that title. It's one that's well-deserved.

"The fairs are developed in a very good and systematic way," Medjedovic told DW-WORLD. "I think they listen to the market players ... as well as the consumers."

Germany's well-known discipline and organization also sets it apart from competitors in England, France and Italy. The reputation is a profitable one for both sides.

"Turkish businessmen trust German fairs and are willing to make a big investment in German fairs," Medjedovic said. "They have the trust that the return on their investment will be very high."

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