As is actually the case in all areas of public and economic life, the trade fair sector has been marked by cancellations, postponements and financial losses in recent months. But this is only one of many chapters in an eventful history of the Frankfurt trade fair venue, which will last for exactly 780 years on 11 July. For on 11 July 1240, Emperor Frederick II granted the trade fair privilege to the City of Frankfurt am Main, marking the birth of Messe Frankfurt - and thus also the international character with which the Main metropolis can adorn itself today. Over the course of 780 years, Messe Frankfurt has developed from a medieval marketplace to a global player - and in the process has experienced and overcome many a crisis as well as successes. This is a good prerequisite for things to start looking up again after the Corona crisis.
On the occasion of the fair's anniversary, Lord Mayor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board Peter Feldmann said: "The fair is a driving force for the development of our city. Nowhere else are trade fair and city history so closely linked as in Frankfurt. The trade fair privilege granted by Emperor Friedrich II was the historical origin of a continuing success story that began 780 years ago around the Roman Emperor. From the beginnings at that time, the largest operating trade fair company in the world has developed over the centuries. But even after 780 years of success, the trade fair remains true to its long-standing tradition of trade and internationality in its home city of Frankfurt.
Immediately after the 780th anniversary of Messe Frankfurt, the first trade fairs are held again after several months of worldwide lockdown. In Germany, too, trade fairs are slowly and carefully starting up again - in strict compliance with sophisticated safety and hygiene precautions. Smaller events are already taking place again on the Frankfurt exhibition grounds, and trade fairs are also planned soon: the first is Nordstil in Hamburg in September, followed by the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. For many of Messe Frankfurt's own events postponed worldwide, alternative dates are planned for 2020.
"We are very pleased that personal encounters on our platforms will once again be possible bit by bit. The worldwide resumption of event operations shows how flexibly we at Messe Frankfurt can respond to challenges. Adapted to the respective regulations, we are in a position - regionally, nationally, European, international - to offer our customers the appropriate stage worldwide", says Wolfang Marzin, Chairman of the Board of Management of Messe Frankfurt. "Over the past 780 years, it has been demonstrated time and again how important trade fairs are, especially in times of crisis, in order to promote economic recovery. And we are receiving clear signals from our customers that meetings and dialogue are indispensable in real life".
A look back in history shows that trade fairs as a mirror of the economy are always confronted with crisis situations. For example, as early as 1635, the spring fair in Frankfurt had to be cancelled - the reasons for this were the
effects of the Thirty Years' War in connection with the outbreak of the plague in Frankfurt. Even then, measures to contain epidemics included closing the border, health certificates, passwords, entry and exit controls and quarantine measures. However, the importance of trade fairs as a central element of economic development was already known back then. For example, preparations for the International Import Fair, which took place in October 1919, followed by the Spring Fair in 1920, also began immediately after the end of the First World War.
During the Second World War, the exhibition grounds were destroyed to around 95 percent. The direct reconstruction was regarded as an important signal for Frankfurt as a trade fair venue. With the Frankfurt trade fair in October 1948, trade fair operations continued, in part still in provisional lightweight halls, tents and in the open air.
72 years later, the worldwide spread of the corona virus since the beginning of the year has once again posed a challenge to the events industry. "The trade fair landscape will change as a result of the corona crisis," says Marzin. "Topics such as digitalisation and security will play a central role. However, the biggest success factor in the trade fair sector remains personal encounters, for which we have been creating a framework with Messe Frankfurt's platforms for 780 years. After all, the need for personal contacts is even stronger now than it was before.
We would also like to congratulate Messe Frankfurt on its birthday and look forward to seeing what stories will be written here in the coming years and centuries.
You can also find further information at www.messefrankfurt.com