Changing events sector opens up new opportunities

Results of German Meeting- & EventBarometer 2020/2021

Frankfurt, 5 May 2021

The German National Tourist Board (GNTB), the EVVC European Association of Event Centres and the GCB German Convention Bureau have presented the results of the new "Meeting & EventBarometer 2020/2021". The 2020 data for the meetings, congress and events market in Germany confirms how the events sector is changing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and reveals that the industry is currently in a transitional phase towards a new normal. From 2021 onwards, the market is expected to recover under changed conditions.

Like everywhere else in the world, the market for events in Germany plummeted in 2020: The number of face-to-face events and attendees fell by 70 percent and 86 percent respectively while the share of international attendees was at 2.4 percent last year in comparison to 10 percent in 2019. According to Petra Hedorfer, Chairwoman of the Board of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), Germany's position in the European market with respect to business travel nevertheless remains stable: "Despite Covid-19-related declines, we were able to keep our number 1 destination for European business travellers in 2020: With 5 million business trips, Germany topped the ranking, far ahead of France and the UK in second and third place. The current business year offers cause for cautious optimism. According to IPK International, 22 percent of foreign travellers worldwide are planning business trips this year. Germany can benefit from this, especially as a MICE location in international competition. 81 percent of respondents planning business trips to Germany want to take MICE trips, 36 percent traditional business trips."

Structural changes in the market

Both quantitatively and qualitatively, the German event market underwent structural change last year. Of all event types, business events in particular experienced a strong shift towards digital and hybrid formats. Overall, a considerable proportion of the face-to-face events planned for 2020 were rescheduled and held virtually due to the pandemic. Adding 2020’s hybrid, virtual, and face-to-face events, approx. 2.3 million events with around 234 million attendees took place in Germany in 2020, 0.8 million thereof face-to-face.

Shift in source markets

Due to the restricted air traffic and the cancellation of most international events, European source markets – in addition to domestic demand – initially gained in importance for Germany, with Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands occupying places one to three in the ranking of the most important source markets. An international recovery is expected in phases, with first the domestic market coming back, followed by European and finally overseas demand. However, according to IPK, a high intention to travel for business can already be seen in 2021 for some overseas markets, above all in Japan, China, the USA and South Korea.

Adjusting capacities to “New Now“

Event venues significantly reduced their capacity due to safety and social distancing rules. Losses resulting from this and the many event cancellations lead to a 70 percent decline in turnover. For 2022, turnover losses of only 17.7 percent are expected. "Event centres, conference hotels and event venues are adjusting well even under the more difficult conditions. With the appropriate safety measures, as well as the necessary technology and infrastructure for running hybrid and virtual events, venues are ready for a safe re-launch of face-to-face events in the 'New Now'," says Ilona Jarabek, President of the EVVC.

Outlook on future developments

With increasing market recovery, due to the steady progress of the vaccination campaign and the implementation of a digital vaccination passport, a cautiously optimistic forecast can be made for Germany as a meeting and congress destination. The surveys of the Meeting & EventBarometer confirm this: According to the respondents, face-to-face events will come back strongly by 2022 with a growing share of hybrid events, whereas virtual events will decline again. The current and coming year can therefore be described as transitional years on the way to a new normality.

"The study results clearly show how quickly organisers have been able to adapt to the challenges created by the coronavirus and have adjusted with virtual and hybrid events," says Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB German Convention Bureau. "The importance of the future role of business events as an instrument of corporate communication will continue to grow in the process across all formats. Suppliers and event professionals are ready to actively shape the 'New Now' in Germany as a meetings and conventions destination."


Notes to the Editor

The German Meeting- & EventBarometer
The Meeting- & EventBarometer is the only study that analyses the German event market in its entirety, looking both at meetings/conferences as well as at 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 2020/2021”, the project partners for the 15th time commissioned the European Institute for the Meetings Industry (EITW) to analyse the event market.

About GCB German Convention Bureau e.V.
The German Convention Bureau (GCB) is tasked with securing and further extending Germany’s position as an internationally leading and sustainable destination for conferences and meetings. Driving innovation in the meetings and conference sector, the GCB provides its members with premium market research data. The GCB develops target-group-specific marketing activities for international markets as well as for Germany and supports its members and partner in marketing their offering. The GCB’s 160 members represent more than 420 businesses and include leading hotels, convention centres, venues, municipal marketing organisations, event agencies and service providers within the German meetings and conventions industry. As “Strategic Partners”, Deutsche Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn and the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) support the work of the GCB. The IMEX Group is the GCB’s “Strategic Exhibition Partner”. MARITIM Hotels are a “Preferred Partner” and Frankfurt Airport Marriott Hotel - Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Center supports the GCB as a “Member in Focus 2021“. For more information on Germany as a destination for meetings and conferences, please see

About the German National Tourist Board (GNTB)
The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) is Germany’s national tourism organisation. It works on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) to represent Germany as a tourist destination and is funded by the Ministry in accordance with a decision taken by the German Bundestag. Working closely with the German travel industry and private-sector partners and trade associations, the GNTB develops strategies and marketing campaigns to promote Germany’s positive image abroad as a tourist destination and to encourage tourists to visit the country. The GNTB has 27 foreign agencies that cover more than 40 markets around the world. Its head office in Frankfurt, Germany, is home to strategic departments such as Business Intelligence, Business Development and Brand Communications for Destination Germany.

About the EVVC European Association of Event Centres
The EVVC European Association of Event Centres represents about 650 event centres of all kinds and sizes in Germany and Europe. Event organisers and supply companies supplement the association’s broad range, thus making the EVVC the most versatile communications network within the sector. Learn more:

Dr. Martina Neunecker

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