When, on 25 August 1946, Mayor Kolb announced that “Frankfurt is going to be a trade fair city once again,” he did this because he believed that reconstructing the trade fair would help kick-start the rebirth of the entire city.
The Frankfurt Trade Fair, held from 3 to 8 October 1948, carried on the tradition of Frankfurt's international trade fairs held from 1919 to 1929, and 1,771 exhibitors, of whom 46 were from outside Germany, played the role of pioneers at the first event. A total of 32 different industries presented their goods, ranging from textiles and machines to foodstuffs, drinks and tobacco, over a total of 60,000 square metres of exhibition area in provisional lightweight constructions, tents or simply in the open air. More than 300,000 visitors were able to obtain a comprehensive overview of the full range of products on offer in the three western zones of occupation. The economic and psychological effects of the first autumn trade fair were enormous, both with regard to spurring foreign trade and for the reconstruction and expansion of the exhibition grounds.
There was yet another way in which the Frankfurt international trade fair played an important role in the birth of today’s Messe Frankfurt, for the increasing diversity of the products on offer quickly created a trend towards greater specialisation of trade fairs. The trend was kicked off in 1959 by Interstoff, a trade fair for apparel fabrics, and the first ISH followed in 1960. With Heimtextil, home and household textiles received their own trade fair in 1971, and the cancellation of the IAA in the same year led within a few short weeks to the development of Automechanika for automotive workshops and suppliers. 1980 saw the launch of Musikmesse, and in 1990, the International Spring Fair was reorganised into the Premiere and Ambiente trade fairs. In 1996, Premiere was split into Paperworld, Beautyworld and Christmasworld, while the Autumn Fair was rechristened Tendence. In 2011, Creativeworld was added with its own event brand and an expanded trade fair concept, and it now takes place regularly alongside Paperworld and Christmasworld. It is a process which continues today. Frankfurt’s trade fairs are continuing to develop, and new ones are being added. At the same time, the range of services offered by Messe Frankfurt is continually being expanded through digital facilities, offering essential added value to customers.
High-performance centre for global marketing
Centuries of development have transformed a bustling market for the medieval world into a high performance centre for global marketing. The world’s leading trade fairs for consumer goods, textiles, automotive technology, architecture and technology all have their home in Frankfurt am Main. Messe Frankfurt has exported successful brands such as Ambiente, Heimtextil, Automechanika, Light+Building and ISH around the globe, creating a global marketing instrument with the same high standard of quality for SMEs in particular.
Messe Frankfurt has become the city's “nerve centre”, a term that refers to its positive socio-economic impact. Trade fairs always generate additional sales for Frankfurt and the surrounding region – whether it be in the catering and hospitality trade, stand construction companies or the taxi trade. This means that Messe Frankfurt plays an active role in protecting jobs in the Rhine-Main region. This is evident from a study on the positive socio-economic impact of Messe Frankfurt conducted by the Ifo Institute for Economic Research, an independent institute at Munich University. The trade fair business is responsible for some 18,700 jobs in Frankfurt alone, as well as another 6,000 jobs elsewhere in Hesse, and a total of some 32,500 jobs in Germany as a whole. Messe Frankfurt generates purchasing power of 3.1 billion euros outside the company’s exhibition grounds, making it a true jobs engine for Frankfurt, Hesse and Germany – as a result, it helps bring stability, particularly in times of economic uncertainty.
International strategy for global business
A look back shows us that trade fairs are products subject to all manner of external conditions and internal factors, and numerous events in the trade fair’s more than 800-year history have proven this. The most important lesson is that traditional values and size alone are no guarantee of longevity or success, for trade fairs can very quickly become irrelevant when internal and external factors are not continuously reconciled. This is just as true today as it was 100 years ago.
Messe Frankfurt responded to the challenges posed by globalisation by promptly placing increased emphasis on investment in products and markets. The company held its first trade fair outside Germany, Interstoff Asia, in Hong Kong back in 1987, and in 1990 it established its first foreign subsidiary, in Tokyo. For more than a quarter of a century, Messe Frankfurt has been spanning the globe with its many brands. Moreover, it has been a model for success, as many of its events in other countries are – after the flagship events at our Frankfurt base – now the second or third biggest in their respective industries worldwide. Messe Frankfurt now has subsidiaries and branch offices in Stuttgart, Paris, Milan, Moscow, Istanbul, Atlanta, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, New Delhi, Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Taipei, Johannesburg and Dubai. In 2003, the Asian subsidiaries in China, Japan, Korea and India were united under Messe Frankfurt Asia Holding Ltd., which is headquartered in Hong Kong. A closely knit network of 57 international sales partners, covering over 160 nations and 29 subsidiaries throughout the world, forms the basis for Messe Frankfurt’s global orientation.
Today Messe Frankfurt is a global marketing and service partner for its customers. Messe Frankfurt is a name that stands for trade fairs and events of the highest quality and for outstanding customer service on a global scale. By pursuing a rigorous brand strategy, Messe Frankfurt has ensured that its international brands do far more than share a name with the flagship events in Frankfurt – they also share the same high standards.