German meetings & events sector continues to grow


The results of the “Meeting- & EventBarometer 2017/2018” reveal the importance of digitisation and internationalisation for the German meetings, conference and events sector. The annual study is a joint project of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) and the German Convention Bureau (GCB) who presented the data today. 

Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the GNTB and Chairwoman of the GCB Administrative Board, analyses the significance of business events for business trips to Germany, saying: “31% of promotable business trips, i.e. trips that are undertaken to attend different types of business events including incentive travel, can be attributed to meetings and conferences. They, therefore, contribute significantly to the balanced result in this segment and have for years been a driver for business travel from Europe into Germany. Attending meetings and conferences also plays an important role for the 2.2 million business trips undertaken to Germany from overseas. In this context, Germany’s wide range of expertise in different industry sectors and fields of science considerably contributes to the country’s strength as a meeting destination, providing organisers with an ideal framework for their events.”* 

Growth in participants confirms the importance of events

According to the latest Meeting- & EventBarometer, events in Germany continue as a growing market: In 2017, the number of delegates attending meetings, conferences and events in Germany rose by 2.8% to 405 million participants altogether. The use of new technologies accounts for a noticeable shift in the market: Small meetings with up to 50 participants are increasingly being organised as virtual events, and the small drop of 1.7% in the total number of events to 2.97 million can be explained by the decrease in numbers of this type of meetings as conventional physical events. By contrast, mid-sized events in the 51 to 100 participants category grew by 2.7 percentage points.

EVVC President Joachim König comments: “The current analysis confirms a trend that we already saw in the previous year: For smaller events, organisers increasingly use virtual formats to enable exchange and networking. At the same time, tech tools also enrich physical meetings and conferences, resulting in an increase of hybrid events. Overall, the digital transformation is, therefore, an opportunity for anyone operating in the events sector and it can create new business models in a market that is growing on the whole.”

Hybrid meetings flourish

About 24% of German and international meeting and conference planners specified in the survey that they organise hybrid events, i.e., combining physical events with additional virtual components. As many as 26% of all meetings, conferences and events that these planners organise are hybrid ones. In addition, 12% of organisers put on purely virtual events with those accounting for 18.5% of all events they work on.

Internationalisation as a major trend

The ongoing internationalisation of the German events market in 2017 is another core result captured by the “Meeting- & EventBarometer 2017/2018”. Compared with 2016, the share of international delegates has again gone up – by 10.9% to a total of 36.5 million participants.

“The steady growth in international event participants in Germany by more than 150% over a period of twelve years clearly shows that the German meetings and conference market is considerably shaped by internationalisation. This result validates the GCB’s strategy to focus our activities on internationalisation and digitisation,” explains GCB Managing Director Matthias Schultze. “Based on these clearly defined fields of action, the GCB supports the meetings industry with numerous initiatives and measures that enable market players to take advantage of the opportunities that trends such as globalisation and the rise of virtual events create.”

Germany again leading internationally

These measures also contribute to securing Germany’s future position in the worldwide competition for meetings and conferences. In the latest International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) ranking, Germany is once again ranked as the number one association meetings country in Europe for the 14th time in a row. As in previous years, it comes second only to the USA globally. Based on the just-released 2017 ICCA statistics, 682 international association meetings took place in Germany in 2017.

Strong supply of venues

Germany offers event planners a wide and growing range of 7,405 event centres, conference hotels and event venues that cater for meetings, conferences and events and provide a seating capacity of at least 100 in their biggest room – an increase of 1.3% compared with 2016. This increase is attributed to a growing number of facilities in the event venues segment, including converted industrial spaces that are increasingly popular and particularly suitable for creative and innovative event formats.

*GNTB/World Travel Monitor, international press conference 2018

Meeting- & EventBarometer Germany
The Meeting- & EventBarometer is the only study that analyses the entire events market in Germany and looks at both meetings/conferences as well as the events sector. The survey thus provides significant information about the status quo of the industry. It is initiated by the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V. and the German National Tourist Board (GNTB). To compile the “Meeting- & EventBarometer 2017/2018”, the project partners for the 12th time commissioned the European Institute for the Meetings Industry (EITW) to analyse the events market.

For the full “Meeting- & EventBarometer 2017/2018” report, please see

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.