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Koelnmesse re-start: Fully back on track for trade fairs

Boost in digitalisation, energy and new motivation palpable

"With Anuga, we passed the trial by fire with flying colours", according to Koelnmesse President and Chief Executive Officer Gerald Böse. "The world-leading trade fair for the food and beverage industry felt almost as though it was back to normal: Successful business, the hustle and bustle in Deutz and the jumble of international languages we have missed for so long - complemented by new, digital experiences." There were more than 70,000 trade visitors from
169 countries and upwards of 4,600 exhibitors in attendance at the first hybrid Anuga (9 to 13 October 2021). And the results speak for themselves: International trade fairs are possible once again, and Germany as a location for trade fairs remains a leader in global competition. This is an important sign - not least for the regional economy.

Three hybrid trade fairs - Kind + Jugend, the dental trade fair IDS and Anuga - have already successfully been held since early September at the trade fair venue in Cologne, with trade fair stands and customers both on site and online worldwide. FSB and aquanale are additional leading international events currently under way. According to trade fair head Böse: "The pandemic represented a test for Koelnmesse, with all-digital events that set the bar, such as gamescom and DMEXCO. But as this experience showed: The future will be hybrid events that combine digital reach with physical encounter." The aim of Koelnmesse: To make trade fair participation even more valuable for customers with the addition of new digital services and formats.

The mood has consistently been a positive one at all of the autumn events held thus far. At Anuga, for example - the world's largest trade fair since the pandemic - exhibitors had excellent conversations with customers to report, along with the high quality of trade visitors. Buyers in the industry also confirmed the profitable time spent in extensive personal conversations. The hygiene concept instituted at Koelnmesse and the policy of limiting admission to those who had been vaccinated, had recovered from COVID-19 or had tested negative, were a success, offering a safe setting for business. With test centres on the trade fair grounds, international guests who had been vaccinated with vaccines not approved in the European Union had the opportunity to attend the trade fair as well. At the same time, Koelnmesse decisively drove the optimisation of processes, teaming up with its software partners Ubirch and Corussoft to come up with a solution: Anyone with his or her COVID certificate in the EU DCC standard can link it directly to their trade fair ticket in the trade fair app. This accelerates admission controls and minimises waiting times.

Business in trade fairs and congresses: A significant economic force
Koelnmesse had to prove itself in the crisis that brought it to its economic limits. Almost all employees are still on board, demonstrating even greater team spirit in recent months. The re-start was eagerly awaited, not just by the Koelnmesse staff and customers, but also by service providers, the hotel sector, the hospitality field and the entire tourism sector, not to mention the entire array of Koelnmesse partners: "Koelnmesse had been forced into idle mode", as City of Cologne Mayor and Koelnmesse Supervisory Board Chairwoman Henriette Reker pointed out. "But that is just apparently what was going on, because a great deal has taken place in the background through advances in digitalisation and throughout the trade fair grounds. Now, after some 18 months, this work has stood the test: Koelnmesse is back, and Cologne is back on track for trade fairs. The trade fair and congress business offers platforms for presentations and interaction, attracting numerous people to our region from all over the world, securing jobs in all sectors involved and enjoying a correspondingly high relevance for our city and the entire region."

The new Hall 1 was placed in service for the first time at Anuga; during the summer months, Koelnmesse had laid the cornerstone for its new event location, Confex. Böse: "We made our preparations during the pandemic, and today we are ready for a new era in trade fairs. Specifically, we continued to push ahead with investments in our trade fair grounds. We are creating flexible structures for hybrid use, including the new Confex, which will make a massive contribution towards fuelling the events industry in the region. We want to quickly get Cologne back into business as the location of our world-leading trade fairs and to reinvigorate our role as an ambassador and economic engine for the region."

"Transform": Koelnmesse accelerates its transformation
The main theme of this year's Anuga was "Transform". This same approach can be applied to Koelnmesse itself. Koelnmesse Chief Operating Officer Oliver Frese: "The pandemic increased the visibility of the need for global transformation and placed the focus on evolving customer needs. Even before COVID, we had been concentrating on keywords such as 'eventisation' or 'experience'. And even prior to this, we had set ourselves the goal of providing target-group-based responses to these changes. The pandemic was ultimately an accelerator for our redesign and our processes. An essential component is the hybridisation of our events, but also the expansion of our portfolio." With an eye to the year ahead, Frese is looking forward to six premières: polisMOBILITY in May and Anuga HORIZON in September in Cologne, as well as four new events abroad, with ISM Japan, ORGATEC TOKYO and Kind + Jugend ASEAN in Bangkok in April, together with h+h americas in Chicago in June 2022.

Koelnmesse takes a positive view of the future
There are additional highlights in store, with FSB and aquanale (26 to 29 October 2021) and the Cologne art fairs (17 to 21 November 2021). These will be followed in the new year by imm cologne (17 to 23 January 2022) and ISM and ProSweets Cologne (30 January to 2 February 2022). Even with a global economy set to continue showing the strains of the pandemic, one thing is clear: Trade fairs are highly effective catalysts for the economy; they are a source of impetus with an immense public appeal for all of the sectors involved - now, after the pandemic, more than ever before. Böse: "Our objective is to meet our customers" needs, now and in the future; this is what we are working each and every day to accomplish. We view the transformation of our business model as an opportunity to rethink the way we organise trade fairs and events."

About Koelnmesse:
Koelnmesse employs around 1000 people. As a city trade fair in the heart of Europe, it occupies the third largest trade fair grounds in Germany and, with almost 400,000 m² of hall and outdoor space, is among the top ten largest trade fair grounds in the world. Each year, Koelnmesse organises and manages around 80 trade fairs, guest events and special events in Cologne and in the most important markets all over the world. Its portfolio reaches over 54,000 exhibiting companies from 122 countries and around three million visitors from more than 200 nations. Until 2034, Koelnmesse is investing more than 700 million euro in the development of the trade fair grounds into the most extensive investment programme in its history, to allow it to cover all event formats in the future.

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