Such a serious crisis is always a matter of perspective. “The corona hit our industry like a meteorite,” says Reinhard Pfeiffer. Together with Stefan Rummel, he has headed Messe München since the beginning of July. The company has never had to lay off employees in its history – until the outbreak of a pandemic and the loss of 170 jobs. Business still hasn’t really shook off this impact.
“But even worse: in mid-2020, digital euphoria reigned. We will never need business trips again, we will never have to meet in person again, as many organizers, exhibitors and trade fair visitors thought back then, ”says Pfeiffer. It was bitter for a company that lives off the fact that hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world travel regularly to huddle in a few halls and discover new products. Instead, company representatives and customers sat opposite each other during videoconferences, which were often bumpy at first, until you became familiar with the technology.
Only a few were really satisfied with it. Soon they were looking for ways to reconnect personally. “Now we are experiencing a business return, we recruit employees from time to time,” says Rummel. “The Crown Period has shown that personal contacts between people cannot be digitized.” However, it may take several years before you can build back on your old successes. The Riem fair lost an average of 30 percent. exhibitors and visitors. However, those who come now are the decision makers. “It’s not ten people who travel there anymore, but two, but very often they are decision makers who are able to spend the money,” says Rummel.
Time and time again, one trade fair manager carries out the thoughts of the other. It happens automatically and smoothly. “The two of us form a team,” explains Pfeiffer, the new management style of the exhibition company. “We talk for half an hour each morning over coffee.” They both know: such dual leadership only works if you get along well – and clearly share responsibilities: Pfeiffer deals with the commercial side, Rummel deals with IT, strategy and digitization. When her predecessor Klaus Dittrich retired, they applied for jobs together. “We’ve known each other for over ten years and have grown closer during that time,” says Rummel, “and you believe him.
The team includes not only the top team, but also all 600 employees of the fair. As the number of managing directors has been reduced, the team must take more responsibility. “We want things to be significantly different than in the past, and that goes hand in hand with cultural change,” says Rummel. And Pfeiffer adds: “It’s a tour de force. We’re not as well tuned as the old band yet. At the same time, the strongest market autumn is ahead of us ”. Both have also set themselves ambitious goals: after two dry years, the company, whose largest shareholders are the city of Munich and the Free State of Bavaria, should emerge from the crisis and be in the black.
Construction work is currently underway on the exhibition grounds of the world’s largest construction machinery fair: Bauma at the end of October. The exhibition area is 614,000 square meters, or approximately 86 football fields, which can accommodate many multi-ton mining vehicles, crawler cranes and hydraulic excavators. This year, the focus is on vehicles that can drive autonomously on chaotic construction sites, and on career exchanges to attract young people to engineering.
Earlier, in mid-September, the Drinktec fair for beverage producers takes place. At the beginning of October, the Expo Real property fair is held again. Last year, it only occupied four halls due to Corona, but has now grown by more than seven due to high demand. Electronica and Ispo will appear in November – so the calendar of the fair is well filled.
It cannot be forgotten: after Andreas Gabalier’s performance in August, further gigantic concerts with Helene Fischer and Robbie Williams are planned. This resulted in honest harsh criticism from the hall operators in Munich, who suffered badly from the pandemic and were angry about unexpected competition. “We did it because Corona created a lot of demand for outdoor events and Austrian organizer Klaus Leutgeb came to us with that idea,” says Rummel. “But concerts are not our core business. Our site is mainly used for trade fairs, ”says Pfeiffer.
Outdoor concerts are not the only sensitive topic for both fair leaders: the IAA Mobility motor show with its exhibition areas in public places also aroused dissatisfaction, especially among the Greens and Reds in the city council: too big, too fat cars, too few alternatives to motorized transport private. Rummel, who was listening to the debate in the city council, defended the concept: “We’ve managed to give the IAA a new drive. nature of the festival “. But the city council wants to push the markets away from the square in front of the Feldherrnhalle towards Ludwigstrasse. According to Rummel, the VDA “was not satisfied”. But both managing directors are confident that a good solution will eventually be found.
With the IAA, it’s all a matter of perspective: “There are many topics that get the public’s attention,” says Rummel. “The IAA can do this without any problems.”