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With 362 Million Delegates, the Meetings Industry is Becoming Increasingly Important

Outstanding business results and cautious optimism for the future. These are the main themes emerging from the Meeting & EventBarometer 2013, the definitive study on the meetings market in Germany. According to the study, 362 million participants attended meetings and events in Germany last year, 7.2 per cent more than in 2011. The number of events grew similarly by 9.2 per cent to 2.97 million over the same period. There has also been a rise in the number of suppliers operating in the sector. Thanks to steadily rising demand over the past three years, event organisers can now chose from 6,939 venues, an increase of 4.9 per cent on the previous year.

The annual Meeting & EventBarometer is the only study that researches the entire German meetings market – including conferences as well as other events. The initiators of the study are the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), the GCB German Convention Bureau and the German National Tourist Board (DZT). It was carried out by the European Institute for the Meetings Industry (EITW).

“With 362 million delegates - that is 4.5 times the population of Germany - the German meetings industry has done more than simply improve on its own previous results. It is now also making an ever-larger contribution to the wider economy. Thanks to the increasingly international nature of meetings and conferences, the industry is now becoming a showcase for Germany as a destination as well,” said Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB.

Further confirmation of the German meetings industry’s status comes from the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) and its latest destination rankings, based on data from international association conferences. For a ninth consecutive year, Germany occupies first place on the European list. In global terms, Germany is once again in second place in 2013, behind the USA and ahead of Spain. The ICCA’s figures show that a total of 649 international association conferences were hosted in Germany during 2012, 72 more than in the previous year.

Looking ahead with cautious optimism

Within the results of the 2013 Meeting & EventBarometer there is evidence of cautious optimism over the future of the sector. A majority of the event organisers questioned expect their budgets, and therefore the orders they place, to remain constant in 2013. 24 per cent of organisers are anticipating an increase in the number of events.

Quality destinations and German business climate: the most important factors for the changes seen in 2012

According to 31.7 per cent of suppliers, factors relating to their geographical location made the most significant impact on their business during 2012. Nearly a quarter (24.7 per cent) put the increased number of bookings down to Germany’s business climate, while 23.2 per cent identified factors related to the conference facilities themselves. Germany’s comparatively strong economic position is therefore reflected in the strong results from the meeting and conference sector. “Only eight per cent of suppliers in Germany are currently seeing any effects on their order books from to the problems in the global economy. But we must keep in mind the fact that the German economy is not insulated from external issues; it is highly interconnected with the rest of the world. Ultimately, an ailing global economy is bound to have an effect on the events industry across both Europe and Germany,” warned Joachim König, President of the EVVC. Even in difficult economic circumstances, the sector must therefore continue to work hard to maintain its status as a global leader.

Moderate budget increases

Almost half of organisers say that their budgets increased moderately in 2012. Categorising events by budget size reveals that the proportion of events with budgets over €500,000 rose from 41.8 to 46.5 per cent.

Rising demand for medium-sized events

Overall, the total number of events increased by 9.2 per cent, i.e. more quickly than the rise in the number of delegates. Thus, in terms of pure numbers, conferences and events were slightly smaller on average than in the previous year. This is mainly down to a slight drop during 2012 in the number of Mega-Events with more than 5000 delegates. On the other hand, the proportion of medium-sized events, with between 50 and 250 guests, went up from 36.7 to 40.6 per cent.

Bavaria and Berlin: the most popular destinations

The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which includes both Cologne and Düsseldorf, boasts the greatest number of event venues, followed by Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hessen. In the list of most popular destinations for organisers, Bavaria remains out in front, ahead of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hessen. In terms of cities, Berlin is the favourite among event planners, followed by Munich and Frankfurt. Looking at the cities in combination with their wider surroundings, Munich and its hinterland moved into the lead for the first time ever, overtaking the Berlin/Potsdam region. Cologne-Düsseldorf was in third place on the list, ahead of the “Rhine-Main” area around Frankfurt.

Positive trends across all categories of event venue

In conference hotels, the number of events rose by six per cent compared to the previous year. With a 66.1 per cent market share, these hotels catered for the most events in Germany. However, since their capacity means that they generally play host to smaller seminars, conferences and conventions, conference hotels lie in second place in terms of numbers of delegates, on 18.9 per cent (+2.8 per cent). Congress centres reported greater year-on-year increases, seeing 15.1 per cent more bookings than in the previous year.

Despite this, in terms of numbers of events, their 20.7 per cent market share leaves them well behind the conference hotels. But because their average number of attendees is considerably higher than that of conference hotels, these centres are dominant in terms of numbers of delegates, with 64.3 per cent of the market. In absolute numbers of attendees, they achieved growth of 6.5 per cent. Although the figures show it to be a much smaller market, special event venues also recorded particularly pleasing results. Here, the number of events increased by 17 per cent, whilst the number of participants rose by 15.5 per cent.

Meeting & EventBarometer Germany

The Meeting & EventBarometer is the only study that researches the entire German meetings market – including conferences as well as other events – and provides a meaningful in-depth analysis of the industry. The initiators of the study are the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), the GCB German Convention Bureau and the German National Tourist Board (DZT). In 2013, these partners commissioned the European Institute for the Meetings Industry (EITW) to place the meetings market in the spotlight for the seventh time.