Institute of Trade Fair Management

The Institute of Trade Fair Management and Distribution Research at the University of Cologne carries out both basic and applied research into trade fair management. It is driving the implementation of scientific results in practical application.

History and purpose of the Institute

The Institute of Trade Fair Management began its teaching and research activities in the summer semester of 2000. Since then it has offered the only university level education programme devoted to management in the trade fair sector.

The institute sees itself as the place where theory and practice come together. This combination is evident in the practical nature of its training programme as well as in the intensive research it does. It conducts both basic and applied research into trade fair management and drives the implementation of scientific results in practice. In November 2004, the institute carried out the first European benchmark study of trade fair companies. In 2009, it published a study on innovation in relation to German trade fair companies, a study of the market development and positioning of German trade fair logistics companies, and a dissertation on ways of maximizing profits in bilateral markets. The latter dissertation received McKinsey’s Marketing & Sales Award, which honours outstanding academic work in the B2B (business to business) segment. In 2011 a further dissertation was presented under the titled “The Configuration of Trade Fair Logistical Service Providers –an Empirical Study of the Global Market”.

In the 2007/2008 winter semester, the trade fair management profile group was established to enable the transition from the training programme set up in 2000 to the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programme format. The profile group gives students an extensive insight into trade fair professions through lectures, tutorials and applied research projects. It offers students in the Economics and Social Sciences Department a possible area of specialization as part of their Bachelor’s degree programme, which includes two such profile groups. Supervision will continue, in parallel, for students who began their studies in trade fair management under the original Diploma degree programme. As a result, it is possible to write Diploma degree theses, Bachelor’s and Master’s theses, and doctoral dissertations at the institute.

According to an alumni survey from 2009, students of the Trade Fair Institute had a particularly easy time getting a job. In fact, 90 percent of the graduates found a position in their desired profession within three months.

International Summer University (ISU)

The International Summer University for Trade Fair Management (ISU) is also an important bridge between theory and practice. The ISU was established in cooperation with the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) in August of 2006. This interactive and compact seminar, which is aimed at trade fair industry executives, is a platform for the exchange of ideas with colleagues and experts from around the world. “Excellence in Sales – Selling Excellence” was the motto of the fourth ISU, which took place at Koelnmesse from 13th to 15th June 2012. Well-known speakers from three different segments offered multifaceted views and perspectives of the trade fair industry: Academic professionals discussed current theoretical topics, business professionals provided insights into current trade fair practices, and “out-of-the-box thinkers” highlighted some innovative alternatives to traditional approaches.