The operator of one of Europe’s newest
convention centres has offered a glimpse into the tough trading conditions faced
by meeting venues - despite sales rebounding to historic highs.
Hamburg Messe und Congress (HMC),
which runs the Convention Centre Hamburg (CCH) on behalf of the city, posted the
second highest revenues in the group’s history, €108.7m, but still made a €15.2m
Some of that can be put down to the
Omicron variant of Covid-19, which forced a number of cancellations in the first
quarter of 2022, when only one trade fair took place at the venue.
But it was only one of several
external factors creating a challenging headwind for venues.
Most publicly funded convention centres are designed to run at an operating loss, the trade-off being the receipts they generate for the city in business tourism. Even so, HMC chief finance officer Uwe Fischer pointed to a string of challenges facing meeting venues right now.
“The impact of the pandemic, supply
chain disruption, the Russian attack on Ukraine and the enormous inflation
rates, especially in the services sector, are felt in many places and will
continue to affect us in 2023 and probably in the coming years, as well,” he said.
HMC, which also runs the trade fair
grounds, had expected €122.8m in ‘pandemic-adjusted’ sales for the
year 2022, but downgraded to €97.1m to account for the continued
effects of Covid-19.
This year, HMC is expecting sales of €73.1m,
the highest it will ever have recorded in an odd year. But because of high
leasing and write-down costs for the exhibition halls, along with rising
personnel, maintenance and energy costs, the annual result is once again
predicted to be negative.
But there was some good news.
In its first year, the CCH hosted 42
events, with a heavy slant towards medical association conferences, of which a
fourth were international. And after a wobbly start, there was strong momentum
in the second half of the year with back-to-back events. Across all its events, including 12
trade fairs and 30 guest events, HMC welcomed 10,083 exhibiting companies and
488,675 guests, including 66,115 participants in 2023.
“I am very proud of our staff and
thankful for this great year. Despite the high workload, the enthusiasm about
being able to resume operations was palpable among our visitors, exhibitors,
and colleagues throughout our exhibition halls and at the CCH,” said Bernd
Aufderheide, president and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress.
There are currently 41 confirmed
bookings for the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg, including the world's
largest congress on allergy and clinical immunology, the annual congress of
the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), which will
take place in June at the CCH in a hybrid format. Approximately 8,000
participants from around the world are expected onsite and online.
AMI editor James
Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international
association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation
for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk,
read, listen to music, and drink beer.