Wolfgang Marzin: Frankfurt Trade Fair – a solid business partner in the Hessian business region

Frankfurt is considered to be one of the most important financial locations in the world and is a central transport hub for Germany and Europe. This status quo has its origins in Frankfurt’s tradition as a com­­mercial and trade fair centre. The flow of money and goods in the Middle Ages formed the basis for Frankfurt as a fi­­nan­­cial centre and a transport hub. As early as 1240 AD, when Frederick II res­­cued the trade fairs of the Free Imperial City of Frank­furt by privilege, the first events benefited – on Frankfurt’s Römer­­­berg – from the central location of this commer­­cial centre. Frankfurt is one of the world’s oldest trade fair centres and even today, our ex­­hibitors and visitors from all over the world still ap­­preciate the geostrategic USP. In the wake of globalization the position for us as a trade fair company has even gained in im­­portance because this is where the easy-to-reach meeting-place for business­­people from the economic powerhouses of Asia and North America is situated. Some 72 per cent of our ex­­hib­­itors come from abroad, as do some 47 per cent of our visitors – no other German trade fair location even re­­motely reaches these figures. This typifies the company and, at the same time, charac­­terizes Frank­­furt’s image as a sophisticated, internationally oriented metro­polis. The Messe Frankfurt is a motor for business promotion both within the borders of the Rhine-Main region and beyond. It guarantees socio-economic effects worth billions, makes profits, pays taxes and creates and safe­­guards jobs. Up to two million trade fair visitors come to Frank­­furt each year.

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There is hardly any other city like Frank­­furt in which the development of trade fairs has been historically inextricably linked so much with the development of the city itself. To­­day the city and the trade fair con­­stitute a sym­bi­­otic part­ner­­­ship. The best example are the long-term master plans for position­­ing Frank­­­furt as a commercial, cultural and trade fair cen­­tre. In the de­­velopment of the new Eu­­ro­­pa Quarter­­­, the trade fair centre also plays a crucial and integrative role in the mas­­ter plan of town planner and archi­­tect Prof. Albert Speer. Today the land where Frank­­furt’s for­­mer goods railway station and shunt­­ing yards used to be is one of the most significant inner-city development areas in Ger­many.
When the goods station and the neigh­bour­­ing shunting yards were released for devel­­op­ment in 2000, the opportunity of a cen­­tury offered itself to the Frank­­furt Trade Fair. This vacant area of land in a very desirable area of Frankfurt has been im­­proved consid­­erably from the point of view of infrastructure. In cooperation with the City of Frank­furt, the plans for the extension of the trade fair centre have been accelerated.

Together with the firm Albert Speer & Part­ner, the Frankfurt Trade Fair started in 2000 to prepare a master plan of the future de­­sign of the grounds of the trade fair centre. Hall 3 was completed in 2001, the Forum in 2001, the Depend­­ance in 2005, the Car­­go Center in 2007 and Hall 11 and the Portal­­house En­­trance (formerly the West En­­trance) in 2009. From a town planning point of view, the last two pro­­jects in par­­ticular on the grounds of the Frank­­furt trade fair were an initiative ­pro­­ject for the overall devel­­op­­ment of the adjoining Euro­­pa Quarter.

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As deeply as the Frankfurt Trade Fair is root­ed to its hometown, it plays an equal­­ly ag­gres­­sive role in the worldwide “cham­­­pi­­ons’ league” in the top few po­­si­­tions. The “made by the Frankfurt Trade Fair” events are backed up by a network with 28 subsidiaries, five branches and 52 international marketing partners, which are responsible for trade fairs in 150 coun­­tries. More than half of our 90 trade fairs are now held abroad, where we earn about a quarter of the group’s recent earnings around 450 million euros. Since 1987 we have exported our solid trade fair brands to the world, thereby generating growth. These overseas events also interact to bring new exhibitors to our trade fairs in Frankfurt. In doing so, the group pursues a strategy that offers medium-sized com­­panies in parti­cular a global marketing instrument with the same high standards in the growing regional markets around the world. The core of our international suc­­cess is the leading trade fairs in Frankfurt linked with a con­­sistent marketing strat­­egy. Auto­mech­­anika and Heim­­textil, Musik­­­mes­­se, ISH and Ambiente – brand names such as these are top international events in their respective sectors.

We also regard ourselves as a global player with a continuing responsibility as a cor­­po­rate citizen and want to help make Frank­furt’s fu­­ture as a place to do business a successful one. We also do this by follow­­ing the study by Albert Speer & Part­­ner entitled “Frankfurt for Every­­body – Pros­pects for Action for the Free International City of Frankfurt am Main”.

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As in the past, our company will actively sup­­port the reinforcing of Frankfurt’s role as a free, open and active city, as the lo­­ca­­tion of an internationally signi­fi­­cant busi­­ness, science and creative hub and as a city with a high level of environ­­men­tal efficiency and a tradition of cul­­ture and education. We see many parallels in the core issues con­cern­ing commercial, sci­­en­­tific and ecolog­­ical sustainability. These include reinforcing economic power through the use of our leading trade fairs. As a market­­place for technology, con­­sum­­­er goods and textiles, these issues enjoy the highest level of international famil­­iarity. This, in turn, promotes the international orientation of the city’s population.

A further example is the development focus on environmental efficiency. The Frankfurt Trade Fair fulfils its ecological responsibility not only as a trade fair op­­er­­ator but also by organizing trade fairs with ecological themes in Germany and abroad. We also feel a re­­spon­­sibility towards the develop­ment focus on education and sci­­ence. In supporting the Frankfurt Trade Fair
En­­dowed Professor­ship of Inter­­na­­tion­­al Economic Policy, we not only sup­­port the tradition of Frankfurt companies which have supported the Goethe Uni­­ver­­­­­si­­ty since its foundation, we also build a bridge be­­tween academic research and the every­day work of the international trade fair sector.

Wolfgang_Marzin_Messe_FrankfurtThe author be­­gan his career as a pro­ject leader at the Internationaler Messe- und Ausstellungsdienst in Munich. Followed by positions at well-known Fair-Trade Organizers in leading positions. Wolfgang Marzin is chairman of the executive board of Messe Frankfurt (Frankfurt Trade Fair).