this tete-e-tete, Gerald Bose, CEO of Koelnmesse GmbH talks about trade fairs
industry world over.
Headquartered in Germany, the Cologne
trade fair company was established in 1922 through the initiative of the city’s
then-mayor and later German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer. In 1924, the first
spring trade fair was successfully conducted in newly-built halls in the Deutz
district on the right bank of the River Rhine. Today, the Koelnmesse Group is a
legally and economically independent business enterprise with around 700
employees all over the world. A broad network of 11 subsidiaries and
representative offices in more than 80 countries is available to serve
exhibitors, visitors and the media. The Cologne exhibition centre is the fourth
largest in the world.
Gerald Böse (47), CEO of Koelnmesse
GmbH since March 1, 2008, has dedicated his entire career to the Trade Fair
Business. After gaining his degree in business administration, Mr Böse worked at
Messe München for four years before moving to the IGEDO fashion fairs in
Düsseldorf in 1992. In his role as a managing director, he assumed
responsibility for the company’s internationalisation and sales activities as
well as corporate planning in 1995. Beginning in 1999 he built up the New Media
department at IGEDO, which opened up new business areas for the company with the
founding of the media trade fair OMD in 2000. In early 2006 he was named
Executive Director of Karlsruher Messe- und Kongress- GmbH and of the Neue Messe
In this tete-e-tete, Gerald Bose talks
about trade fairs industry world over.
Q: It’s a great moment for us
to have this talk with you, How is Koelnmesse doing?
Koelnmesse is one of the world’s
biggest trade fair organizers. Our unique selling points are our flexibility,
strength of service, very wide-ranging international mix, successful trading and
communications platforms, a closely knit network of international branches and
one of the world's most modern trade fair grounds. We set out every day to add
to these strengths.
We are also highly innovative when it
comes to the consistent development of our events. We adapt exhibitor and
visitor concepts, structure and calendar, fringe programme and PR activities to
the needs of the market and our customers from around the world on an ongoing
basis. We never stop adding to our portfolio and, with 77 trade fairs and
exhibitions, 2009 is the busiest year yet in the 85-year history of Koelnmesse.
Besides the leading international trade fairs in Cologne, our 30 overseas events
are door-openers for our customers to the growth markets of the global economy.
In short, Koelnmesse is well equipped to face the challenges of the
international trade fair business.
2009 had been the busiest year yet in the 85-year history of Koelnmesse’
-Interesting! Then, how about the upshots of economic turmoil?
We do not see ourselves confronted by
a general crisis in the trade fair sector – neither in the industry as a whole
nor in Cologne. On the contrary: surveys confirm that trade fairs are actually
growing in importance compared to other marketing and communication channels.
That said, the global financial and
economic crisis is impacting individual sectors, which inevitably affects the
events associated with them. They are up against a highly competitive
international trade fair market which, especially in Germany and Europe, remains
highly dispersed. In the medium and long term, only top-notch events at good
quality trade fair locations will hold their own on the market.
In this respect, Koelnmesse, and
Germany’s trade fair “world champion” are in an excellent position. Like no
others, German trade fairs represent event expertise and industry know-how. The
crisis is an outstanding opportunity for us to demonstrate this virtuosity to
Q: We appreciate that spirit.
So, what has/will help your group to win over the situation?
The effects of the economic and
financial crisis on trade fairs in some industries has been evident since the
beginning of 2009 and will undoubtedly still be felt up to mid-2010. And yet
Koelnmesse’s entire portfolio has developed positively. Also and especially in
times of crisis, it is clear that trade fairs work. Across the board, our
customers have ended Koelnmesse events in excellent spirits and in some cases
with orders at very healthy levels. Our leading international trade fairs have
provided the impulse and direction for the industries attending and resulted in
Q: And, how have strategies and
ideas for successful exhibiting undergone transitions at Koelnmesse matching
pace and need of time?
There is a saying that time is money.
And that applies especially to the trade fair business. Koelnmesse, with its
leading international portfolio of around 40 services sets the standards. Our
services enable exhibitors and visitors to concentrate fully on the main issue:
doing business. We not only organize their travel and accommodation for them,
Success offer gives them the very
latest in contact management, beginning long before the fair and giving them
efficient ways to prepare for it and follow up leads afterwards. Then there is
new media like the Mobile Exhibition Guide, a navigation system we operate on
our extensive grounds – the fourth largest in the world – that takes visitors
straight to the stand they want via their Blackberry.
Q: That’s encouraging I must
say! Delving out more details, we wish you acquaint us with information on the
emerging trends and traits the trade fair industry could possibly adapt in years
Three developments will mark the
trade fair business of the future:
a) International growth: the money in
our business is being increasingly earned overseas. At a time when established
markets are losing their share of business, once the economic crisis is past,
developing countries will continue their strong growth. With 11 subsidiaries and
representative offices in more than 80 countries, Koelnmesse is in a good
position. In fact, almost half of our 70-plus trade fairs and exhibitions are
now held abroad.
b) Concentration: The market share of
the 20 leading providers in the trade fair business, among them Koelnmesse,
continues to grow steadily. Successful innovations and the relocation of events
to Cologne demonstrate the location’s strengths. These include the leading
INTERMOT, gamescom and dmexco trade fairs.
c) Convergence: Media companies
continue to expand their trade fair activities, above all where they have access
to publications focusing on the trade fairs in question and with it the power of
the press. To this end, Koelnmesse is entering into effective partnerships.
Q: ‘Power of press’- agreed!
The pen is proving mightier than sword.
Now, turning to topic of challenges
besides recession: Mr Bose, do you think there remains some, averting tradefair
industry’s good growth?
One of the greatest challenges is
undoubtedly posed by global pricing pressure due to trade fair overcapacity,
some of it subsidized. At the same time, trade fairs must hold their own against
the new communication and marketing instruments appearing all the time. They
will achieve this since there is no other medium that is as efficient and
Q: Many efforts are taken by
the policy makers and government bodies to cushion the industry. Do you think
they had worked adequately to benefit?
Naturally, business promotion is in
our interests. Our main purpose, not only in times of crisis, is to promote the
business of the sectors attending our events. In turn, our leading international
trade fairs give individual companies and whole sectors alike an effective
recovery package under a wide range of macroeconomic conditions.