A Touch of German Innovation
Ralph Hendrich, General Manager of the Singapore office of German events company Koelnmesse, shares his thoughts on what the local MICE market can learn from its European counterpart.
What is the role of the Singapore office of Koelnmesse?
The Koelnmesse office in Singapore is the regional headquarters for our business activities in Singapore and Southeast Asia. In this role, we currently organise leading trade events in Singapore, Thailand, Macau and Japan as well as in other Asian countries.
What are the key differences between the Singapore and German MICE markets?
Germany is the number one global leader for international exhibitions with two out of three leading international trade fairs staged in the country. More than half of all exhibitors are international ones – out of which one-third stem from EU member countries.
The incentive and meetings market in Germany also enjoys a strong market position currently ranking at the number two spot in the world. Germany’s MICE market strength results from a unique set of strategic advantages that includes the country’s central geographic and economic position within Europe and the European Union.
Exhibitors and visitors enjoy a modern trade-fair infrastructure; a strong MICE customer service culture and a high degree of innovation in MICE-related services. Combined with easy market access, excellent travel networks and accommodation options as well as highly competitive pricing, this unique combination of success factors cannot easily be replicated.
How does that affect the way you operate?
As a leading German organiser, Koelnmesse emphasises a strong international focus as reflected in the international exhibitions established by us in key Asian markets like Singapore and Thailand.
In April, we concluded the IDEM Singapore with a total of 512 exhibitors from 38 countries showcasing their latest innovations in clinical dentistry, digital technology and patient care products spread over 18,000sqm of exhibition space.
A strong emphasis on high quality, strong customer orientation and focused market positioning at every event as well as a specific focus on the buyers clearly represents the distinctive “value-add” for all Koelnmesse events.
How can Germany’s tradeshow culture be applied to Singapore and Southeast Asia market?
As mentioned, the unique strengths of the German MICE industry cannot easily be replicated, but there are lessons to be learned: among them are the focus on long-term business development and the integration of key stakeholder interests as well as putting the customer at the centre of our activities. Koelnmesse strives to do so not only in terms of offering our customers “whatever they want”, but also by innovating our business platforms in order to offer customers “what they actually need”. Finally, Koelnmesse does put a high value on supporting our own staff to develop their capabilities and skill sets.
What are some of the key challenges you have faced in Asia, and how have you overcome them?
There is now heightened competition for all forms and sizes of MICE events across all Asian MICE markets. Therefore, Koelnmesse continues to focus on our core strengths by offering high-value business platforms within our key areas of industry expertise. At the same time, we recognise that the key to future sustainable growth lies to a very high degree in upgrading our skills as a company and innovating our products.