German Trade Shows in the Time of the Coronavirus

Author photo: Constanze Schmitz
ByConstanze Schmitz
Industry Trends

“Messefrühling” refers to Germany’s trade show spring, the traditional time when companies present new products and solutions. Marketing and production organize their activities around these events as they gear up to show and sell the fruits of the winter labor. In addition to showing new products, trade shows offer excellent networking opportunities.

The German trade show landscape is especially vast and varied. Some of the oldest, largest and best-known industrial trade shows take place at the many fairgrounds found in most German cities. Most famous is the Hanover Fair, the massive industrial trade show that has taken place in Hanover since 1947. Other shows focus on topics ranging from logistics and machinery to infrastructure and sensors and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. A large percentage comes from outside Germany.

And then came Corona…

In an unprecedented action, nearly all events were cancelled this year due to the threat of the coronavirus. Some were banned on short notice by official institutions, but most organizers reacted ahead of time and postponed or cancelled their shows. A few shows were postponed until later in 2020, adding to the schedule of events that normally take place later in the year. Some shows that only take place every few years rescheduled on a similar date in 2021.

In Hanover, the fair was postponed until July in the hopes that the threat will go away by then, but the organizers may have reached their decision too soon. By July, circumstance might not yet have returned to a state in which several hundred thousand visitors can safely be accommodated.

German trade show spring

Organizers of online platforms, manufacturers and service providers have turned to the digital world to compensate for the loss of exposure. Invitations for virtual shows, online press conferences and product presentations are flooding our mailboxes. Until now this digital way of presenting content and news has been marginal, so it will be interesting to see how well this offer is received by the industrial community and whether it influences future approaches to trade shows and industry events. Personally, I see it as a band-aid for now and a possible add-on in the future. I still prefer to see and experience real-life products in action and to do my networking face to face.


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