Region/Countries: Europe, Germany Industry: Multiple Sectors Date: June 2017

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: WEDC can assist companies with identifying a trade show that fits their objectives, and with 150 to 170 shows per year, Germany offers many prime options.

More than 50 percent of all leading trade fairs globally take place in Germany—between 150 and 170 shows a year, with more than half of the nearly 10 million exhibitors coming from abroad. Trade fair organizers register a combined turnover of more than €3 billion annually. The German shows reflect a high level of competition, giving companies the ability to observe the latest products and innovations in their industries and to analyze competitors. For a successful trade show experience, it is essential for exhibiting or attending companies to be well prepared.

First and foremost, firms should check which of the trade shows offered in Germany are best to visit for their specific products or services and objectives. The Association of the German Trade Fair Industry ( provides a platform on which German shows on the national and international level can be searched by keywords and industry sectors.

Before a trade show visit, business objectives should be set. Businesses can obtain important information for planning purposes by searching for products, services, exhibitors and events on the trade fair website. Due to time constraints, companies should prioritize beforehand which stands and events to visit. German trade fairs provide exhibitor lists online. International fairs publish them up to eight months in advance, whereas regional fairs may release exhibitor information only two months before. The lists should be checked regularly after publication, as new firms may be added until shortly before the trade show starts.

After identifying interesting products and exhibitors, firms should set up meetings in advance, either by using the appointment setting systems of the fair organizer or getting in touch with the relevant parties directly. This will also help a company to learn about the people attending the show – usually exhibiting companies send their sales personnel rather than purchasing staff. Moreover, it is advisable to print a list of the halls from the website to be able to make notes where meetings take place. Catalogues listing all the exhibitors will also be available at the show itself.

In addition, events offered in conjunction with the fair, such as speeches by important industry figures and seminars during day, as well as networking events in the evening, offer opportunities to make connections and gain industry knowledge. An overview of the program for each trade fair can be found on the trade fair’s website. Upon request, it may also be possible for visitors and exhibitors to hold a presentation on a relevant topic in order; this can help to build awareness for the company.

Businesses should bring plenty of business cards and brochures, preferably in German, to be given out. At German fairs it is common to directly approach people, exchange business cards, and hold conversations if time allows for it. At the event, taking the initiative, introducing oneself and giving out business cards and brochures is critical for the success of the visit.

After a trade fair visit, it is crucial to follow up with contacts made. The shows provide companies with a first contact opportunity, but they need to build the business relationship afterwards.
Hotels and flights should be booked as early as possible. In the case of big events such as Hannover Messe, it is recommended to book a stay at least six months in advance.

WEDC can assist in identifying the right trade show in Germany, as well as elsewhere, and in setting up pre-arranged meetings.