For a long time Germany was considered the number one trade fair country. But today there is growing international competition, primarily from Asia where large exhibition complexes are being built in record time. This forces German exhibition companies to develop new strategies.
Hamburg Messe und Congress (HMC) became aware of this development at an early stage and made it a key pillar of its growth strategy to form cooperation partnerships. Potential partners not only include businesses but also other national exhibition companies with whom HMC competes in other areas. For example, HMC has been cooperating with Messe Frankfurt in organising the retail buyers’ fair Nordstil, which fills 80 per cent of the exhibition halls twice a year. The importance of these cooperation partnerships for retail in northern Germany as well as for the exhibition companies in Frankfurt and Hamburg is clear from the involuntary “record” we have set: While most trade fairs in Germany had to be postponed, cancelled or held digitally between March 2020 and the beginning of 2022, four out of the five planned Nordstil events took place physically at the Hamburg exhibition campus and were well-attended. The fair benefited significantly from its scheduling: In most cases it coincided with periods of relaxed restrictions while other events often fell victim to lockdowns.
Another cooperation partnership was established in 2019: With therapie Hamburg, Leipziger Messe and HMC staged a powerful industry fair and conference for physical, massage and balneotherapists in northern Germany. This event for Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Bremen takes place annually at the Hamburg exhibition campus. Its concept is based on therapie Leipzig, the leading national industry platform for therapy, medical rehabilitation and preventative care.
Our cooperation with Messe Stuttgart, which was initiated in 2021, the year under report, follows a slightly different pattern. As part of this cooperation, the Swabians have taken on the role of long-term organisers of the oohh!FreizeitWelten travel and leisure time fair at the Hamburg exhibition campus. This means that Hamburg Messe und Congress retains ownership of the brand and receives a share of the proceeds while trade fair operations are entirely in the hands of our Stuttgart partners.
This partnership benefits from synergies which create new growth opportunities for Hamburg. As the organiser of the holiday trade fair CMT in Stuttgart and Nanjing, China, Messe Stuttgart has been a partner in running the tourism trade fair “Touristik & Caravaning Leipzig” since 2018. The combination of long-standing experience, excellent industry contacts and the option to offer three attractive German exhibition sites in Stuttgart, Leipzig and Hamburg is a perfect solution in economic terms.
The ITS Congress celebrated a successful double debut: It took place in Hamburg for the first time, and it was the first event to take place at the new CCH. Nobody had expected the leading international industry fair for smart traffic and transport systems to break all records in the midst of a pandemic and cause such an international stir. With more than 13,000 guests, around 4,000 visitors on Public Day in the exhibition halls, and 400 exhibiting companies occupying nearly 40,000 square metres, the ITS World Congress, themed “Experience Future Mobility Now”, had never before in its 35-year history counted as many participants as on 11 to 15 October 2021.
No wonder the organisers, ERTICO, ITS Hamburg 2021 GmbH and the City of Hamburg were more than happy: “The high number of visitors confirms the general interest in the topics of the World Congress and the accompanying industry exhibition. This event has demonstrated how future mobility can be more efficient, more comfortable and more climate-friendly,” said Hamburg’s First Mayor, Dr Peter Tschentscher. Now the goal is to continue many of the projects launched in Hamburg, he added. Harry Evers, Managing Director of ITS Hamburg 2021 GmbH, was especially impressed by the interest shown by both industry experts and the general population. It proved that the decision to offer a tangible ITS World Congress for everyone to experience was right, he said.
The first edition of PHOTOPIA Hamburg from 23 to 26 September 2021 proved, despite the pandemic, that Hamburg is able to provide the platform photography deserves. In the end, the festival with the theme #shareyourvision was much more than the sum of what its roughly 50 exhibiting companies had to offer. HMC has created a new and inspiring event, including a varied accompanying programme at the exhibition campus and throughout the city. PHOTOPIA Hamburg brought the multifaceted fascination of photography to life.
The exhibition hall concept with its industrial-style design composed of 350 shipping containers, a homage to the time-honoured port city, was extremely well received. In addition to stage appearances by the honorary patron of PHOTOPIA, Ellen von Unwerth, and the legendary photographer Jimmy Nelson, many top-ranking professionals provided insights into their work during the two-day Creative Content Conference. Around 40 speakers shared know-how about professional photography, artificial intelligence and neuromarketing. Partner organisations included Photoindustrie-Verband (Photo Industry Association), Online Marketing Rockstars and the Reeperbahn Festival.
The PHOTOPIA journey continues from 13 to 16 October 2022. For all those who cannot wait: The makers of the festival have created PHOTOPIA 365, a networking platform for the community to continue sharing ideas and images and benefit from exclusive offers throughout the year.
When Hamburg Messe und Congress opens its doors for the Polaris Convention from 28 to 30 October 2022, this will be the second premiere of the year 2022, following FUTURE MOVES in May. Even in 2021, the year under report, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, HMC had taken the bold step to stage a debut, PHOTOPIA Hamburg. What is common to all three events is that each one represents a new event format.
The Polaris Convention is a community event showcasing leisure activities such as games, content creation, esports, Japanese pop culture and even cosplay to a broad public audience. As the organiser, HMC is working with RCADIA Hamburg – Esport & Gaming and Super Crowd Entertainment to create a series of esport tournaments, an online game aligned with the convention, and a special programme on the streaming website Twitch, in addition to the three-day community convention. No comparable event of these proportions has ever been hosted in Hamburg. There is plenty of interest: Shortly after the plans were made public, numerous major figures from the gaming scene registered to help plan the Polaris Convention.
“A cool theme and a fantastic format. Both are great fits for HMC and Hamburg,” said HMC CEO Bernd Aufderheide happily. The gamer community also benefits from the location of the exhibition halls being close to some of the city’s most creative districts, he added: “Work and party – the conditions couldn’t be better for Polaris.”
A congress centre and eleven exhibition halls in the middle of the city, with an expansive park right at its doorstep: Very few cities can compete with that. When Professor Johann Georg Christian Lehmann planted the plane tree later named after him on 6 November 1821 on the occasion of the founding of the Botanical Garden, he made Hamburg history.
Today, the 47-hectare park Planten un Blomen (“plants and flowers” in northern German dialect) with its colourful flower beds and theme gardens, wide lawns and idyllic small lakes is a popular recreation area. Visitors of the CCH and the exhibition halls can take a break in Hamburg’s “green lung” to recharge and catch a breath of fresh Hamburg air, whether with a morning jog, during their lunch break, between event sessions or after work.
Places no one should miss include the palm house and Europe’s largest Japanese garden which includes a teahouse. Every summer there is a programme of regular water and light concerts on the park lake as well as numerous music and theatre performances and reading sessions. Visitors exploring the park will discover many little miracles. The Lehmann Plane, by the way, can still be found at the park entrance, just a few steps from the north exit of the Stephansplatz underground station.