Next year two new meeting venues will open in Frankfurt and Berlin: Kap Europa for mid-sized conferences and the CityCube for large events.
On the outside the white Kap Europa in Frankfurt already looks as if it could welcome its first guests. But it will still take a good six months until it can open its gates. The first events will not take place in the venue next-door to the gigantic Skyline Plaza shopping mall until early June 2014, as there is still a lot of work to be done inside. But with an attentive eye you can already recognise quite a lot. The top floor with the largest hall - almost 1,000 square metres - seems to be almost finished. Right next to it you can already enter the roof terrace. It offers stunning views of the MesseTurm, which temporarily held a European title in the 1990s: that of tallest building on the continent.
Kap Europa isn't out to break such records. Its maximum capacity is for 2,400 delegates. With a space of 7,700 square metres on four levels Kap Europa will fill a gap – that between the existing Congress Centre of Messe Frankfurt and the local hotels. In brief, it offers a new option to organisers seeking a medium-sized auditorium with sufficient break-outs. And it is gaining much attention. Almost daily Claudia Delius-Fisher, Director of Congress Frankfurt, and her Sales Manager Christine Grimm guide potential visitors through the centre. And first bookings for large events have already trickled in: In September the 24th German Skin Cancer Congress will take place there, one month later the 40th Federal Congress of the Association of German Railway Engineers.
First and foremost, Kap Europa is to target new users, and not so much conferences accompanying trade fairs. But those responsible have left a bit of leeway – each level offers access possibilities for a car. After all, Frankfurt hosts the International Motor Show for Passenger Vehicles every two years. And, in any case, flexibility is key: Individual areas can be used for meetings but also as foyers for receptions. Some rooms are partitionable and some back walls can be integrated flexibly in an event concept for projections. This is in line with the approach of making the most of the floor space of 3,650 square metres – and letting in as much natural light as possible. Moreover, Kap Europa has already received an award for its high ecological standards from the German Sustainable Building Council (www.kapeuropa.de).
In the German capital there is another building that looks almost ready to open – CityCube Berlin. The multi-purpose exhibition and convention centre will soon be able to host events with up to 11,000 attendees. Progress on the “alternative” to the International Congress Centrum (ICC), which is up for a renovation, has reached a new milestone. In mid-October the management reported that the building was “weatherproof”. Apart from a few openings for material supplies the roof and weather façade of the new convention and exhibition centre are now finished. Simultaneously, work on the interior is continuing round the clock: escalators and lifts are being installed and office spaces fitted out. While technical facilities are being added in many areas at the same time. However, the planned opening may be postponed by two weeks to May according to the Berlin media.
The plan is that ITB in March 2014 will be the last event hosted by Messe Berlin itself to take place at the ICC. After that, a few guest events may still be staged there. Major challenges lie ahead during the transition phase. After events kick off at the CityCube the ICC will be more or less closed down. The move from one venue to the other is to happen preferably without losing any customers. Like all major projects there will be a trial phase for the CityCube between completion and full operation. This phase is to ensure that all processes work smoothly for all kinds of events right from the start, running the entire gamut of logistics – from infrastructure through technical systems to catering for conferences, trade fairs and shows.
For 2014 the CityCube is nearly fully booked, as the Congress Director of Messe Berlin, Ralf Kleinhenz, announces. And the agenda for the following years is also filling up rapidly. Berlin is particularly in demand for large medical congresses. So, nothing will keep the doctors away: In this segment the CityCube already has bookings for up to 2020 (www.citycube-berlin.de).
The meetings business has become more dynamic in many regions of the world – as can be seen in the Far East. In the Korean capital Seoul, for example, an increasing number of foreign organisers are staging conventions. One very recent example is the stock-listed US company Mediabistro. Its Inside 3D Printing Conference & Expo will take place at the country's largest convention and exhibition centre, Kintex. The high-calibre event will be staged next year from 18 to 20 June. “We are honoured that Kintex has chosen not only to host Inside 3D Printing,” points out Alan M. Meckler. “But also to be our partner in producing the event,” says the CEO of Mediabistro. He emphasises that this will be the first major congress and trade show on 3D printing in Korea. In general, Kintex has been very successful with its conference business for some time. For 2014 numerous further meetings have been confirmed. They include the International Symposium on Robotics and the Korea China Japan Congress for Ophthalmology. And, in late March there will be another absolute highlight: Gastech, the world's premier natural gas conference and exhibition, which is the leading international meeting place of gas industry professionals and always held in a different location. In addition, Kintex' management has identified a new future-forward potential it wants to exploit more strongly, as it sees a medium-term trend towards increasingly custom-made events for companies. These corporate events may be an additional field of business in future and complement trade fairs (email@example.com).
Author: Peter Borstel
This article was published in TFI issue 6/2013
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