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Interview with Wolfgang Marzin, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Messe Frankfurt GmbH

Wolfgang Marzin has been President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Messe Frankfurt GmbH since April 1, 2010. After studying business administration specializing in foreign trade, Marzin started working at the Munich International Trade Fair and Exhibition Service in 1990. Afterwards, he worked at the Munich Trade Fair, the Düsseldorf Trade Fair and the Society for Craft Trade Fairs. From 2004 to 2009, he was Chairman of the Board of the Leipzig Trade Fair, before switching to Messe Frankfurt.

© Messe Frankfurt

What are the advantages that the Frankfurt location offers to you?

Situated in the center of the financial and business metropolis Frankfurt am Main, the exhibition grounds are some of the largest and most modern in the world. The exhibition venue not only has excellent international air, rail and road transportation connections – it is also very well connected to public transportation. The central location of the exhibition grounds means that our customers are close to the events and to Frankfurt’s city center after their visit.

The customers of Messe Frankfurt value the high functionality of the halls and conference premises are very functional, which offer the ideal environment for very different events. The company also operates two congress centers: the Congress Center and Kap Europa. The exhibition grounds offer more than 400,000 square meters (4,305,564 sq. ft.) of hall area and almost 60,000 square meters (645,835 sq. ft.) of open space. The blueprints of renowned architects such as Helmut Jahn, Oswald M. Ungers and Nicolas Grimshaw have given the Frankfurt exhibition grounds a distinctive look with an architectural style that blends in with the modern Frankfurt cityscape. Hall 12, operating on the western grounds since September 2018, forms the cap stone of free space development there. Now, all the halls on the exhibition grounds are linked by the three kilometer long (1.86 mi.) Via Mobile, the glass roof covered transportation system with moving walkways and escalators, which now connects all the halls on the exhibition grounds.

 

 

How do Frankfurt am Main and the State of Hessen benefit from the trade fair?

Every year, events held under the Messe Frankfurt umbrella generate 3.6 billion euros in Germany according to a study of Munich’s ifo Institute – and Frankfurt accounts for half of it, 1.8 billion euros.

Of all trade fair locations in Germany, Messe Frankfurt triggers the highest economic effects with its events. For Hessen, this results in an additional annual purchasing power of 600 million euros, not counting tax revenues and the annual distribution to the members of the City of Frankfurt and the State of Hessen. Of the 657 million euros nationwide, Hessen accounts for 176 million euros, in Frankfurt this amounts to 32 million euros.”

Of the more than 33,000 jobs created nationwide by the trade fair events, Frankfurt accounts for roughly 18,500 of them. The hotel and restaurant industry benefits especially strongly from Messe Frankfurt with one-third of all jobs.

 

Would you call Frankfurt a “trade fair city”?

Yes, by all means, because Frankfurt has been known as a trade fair venue for over 800 years. The first written document that mentions a trade fair in Frankfurt dates back to the year 1150. Kaiser Friedrich II officially launched the Frankfurt Autumn Trade Fair on July 11, 1240 with a letter and seal. By imperial privilege, the merchants traveling to the fair were placed under the Kaiser’s protection. Frankfurt’s trade fair privilege was signed by the cosmopolitan Staufer during the siege of the Italian city of Ascoli. The history of Messe Frankfurt on the current Rebstock grounds, repeatedly modernized until the present day, began in 1909 with the inauguration of the Festhalle. In 2018, more than two million visitors and about 41,000 exhibitors came to the 300 trade fairs, exhibitions, congresses, conferences and all kinds of events taking place at the Frankfurt location.   

 

How international is Messe Frankfurt?

Starting with the successful leading trade fairs at the home location, the company is present for its customers in about 50 locations around the world with its brands and brand families, using the well-known product groups and nomenclature. In 2018, almost 102,000 exhibitors and roughly 4.5 million visitors came to the 490 worldwide events under the corporate umbrella.

With tailor-made solutions and concepts, the individual events are coordinated in time and space to the various regions. The corporate group has an efficient global network consisting of 30 subsidiaries and over 50 sales partners in charge of 188 countries.

The international involvement contributes to the Frankfurt events. More than three quarters of exhibitors and over one-half of visitors at the corporate group’s trade fairs come from outside of Germany. These are international dimensions that lie well above the average in the trade fair sector. Regarding the IFFA – the leading international trade fair for the meat industry – that just ended, 70 percent of visitors came from abroad. Regarding the ISH – the world’s leading trade fair for water, heat and air conditioning – 190,000 visitors from 161 countries came in March, thereby raising the trade fair’s international character by 48 percent to a new record level. The clearly enhanced international character was also evident on the part of the exhibitors, as 66 percent of them came from abroad.

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