Germany: Vouchers still very popular

Unlike in other countries, there is generally an admission charge for trade fairs in Germany. Exhibitors therefore traditionally invite their favoured customers to the fair free of charge by sending them a voucher.

Messe München: The acceptance of vouchers differs greatly from fair to fair. (Photo: Messe München)
Messe München: The acceptance of vouchers differs greatly from fair to fair. (Photo: Messe München)

“The admission ticket voucher is still an important marketing measure,” says Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf. “It accounts for 30 to 65 percent of visitor numbers on average, a proportion that has remained pretty stable over time,” reports Dornscheidt. Visitors can redeem their vouchers either online or offline at the venue. There are also voucher codes. Exhibitors can send these in an email or include the code on an individually designed, printed invitation. Smaller exhibitors also do this at the Düsseldorf trade fair centre. “A mong the trade fairs with a high proportion of admission ticket vouchers are wire and Tube, which run concurrently,” explains Werner Matthias Dornscheidt. For this trade fair duo, the amount the exhibitor has to pay is slightly under what visitors without a voucher have to pay if they buy in advance – but significantly under the price at the door on the day (

In Munich, the voucher price is also less than the admission price – although there are considerable differences from one event to another. The take-up of vouchers also fluctuates greatly from trade fair to trade fair . “It varies from around a quarter of visitor numbers to 95 percent of them,” says Sigrid Heiss, head of marketing at Messe München. The use of vouchers is particularly well-established for technology trade fairs. As far as the Munich trade fair centre’s executives are concerned, the art of good visitor marketing is about finding the right mix: “On the one, hand there are active exhibitors that invite prospects and customers in order to meet them at the trade fair,” explains Heiss. “For them, the digital or printed voucher continues to be the best option – offering virtually unlimited scope for design,” she adds. “On the other, we also have to do our bit as the organiser to bring in new visitor target groups.” The majority of trade fair exhibitors make use of the offer: “the online vouchers, in particular” (www.messe-mü


Messe Berlin is in agreement about the importance of vouchers for business-to-business trade fairs. Ultimately, they allow business relationships to be developed and consolidated at the fair . “Among other things, that creates the basis for selling a product,” emphasises Michael Hofer, head of the press and public relations department at the Messe Berlin group. “At our B2B trade fairs, the proportion of visitors who have vouchers is very high,” explains Hofer. “At InnoTrans, for example, it’s around 85 percent.” For the participating exhibitors and their customers there are different options, depending on what the organiser offers . “They include sending admission ticket vouchers by post or email,” continues Hofer. They can also be redeemed either on the Internet or at the trade fair centre.” However, unlike for B2B trade fairs, the Berlin trade fair company does not believe that vouchers are a suitable marketing measure for consumer fairs (   

Photo: HMC
Photo: HMC

At Hamburg Messe they also see a big difference between B2B trade fairs and consumer shows. Nevertheless, the admission ticket voucher is available for both types of event. “On average, visitors to our B2B fairs redeem over 70 percent of the exhibitors’ invitations ,” explains Karsten Broockmann, head of the press and public relations department. “In the case of consumer exhibitions, the figure drops to between 5 and 20 percent,” he continues. An HMC admission ticket voucher can also be converted into a valid ticket online. This gives the visitor direct access without having to wait. “Offline, the visitor can redeem the voucher at the trade fair centre’s ticket office. The admission ticket voucher itself is printed,” Broockmann. “There is a section of the ticket where exhibitors can add their logo and their own copy” (

At the dual wire and Tube show in Düsseldorf almost two-thirds of trade visitors have vouchers. (Photo: Messe Düsseldorf)
At the dual wire and Tube show in Düsseldorf almost two-thirds of trade visitors have vouchers. (Photo: Messe Düsseldorf)

Companies exhibiting in Frankfurt use the voucher tickets for their customer loyalty schemes . “At our own events, admission vouchers are among the most popular marketing measures with exhibitors,” declares Kai Hattendorf, vice-president of corporate communications and marketing at Messe Frankfurt. “That applies across all industries, and there are no signs of it changing,” says Hattendorf . Depending on the trade fair and their stand size, exhibitors either receive a contingent of voucher tickets or they can order the vouchers . On request, the contingent can be increased in size. “Around a third of companies of all sizes exhibiting at our own events in Frankfurt made use of this marketing measure in 2012,” adds Hattendorf. On the marketing website set up specifically for Messe Frankfurt exhibitors, admission ticket vouchers can be ordered and designed individually ( As a general principle, not all voucher tickets are used by the trade visitors, and exhibitors only have to pay for the vouchers that are actually redeemed.


Author: Peter Borstel

This article was published in TFI issue 1/2013


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