Cologne’s market for congresses and conventions is looking back at a generally constant event year. That’s the conclusion of the current TagungsBarometer, a survey of convention centres, conference hotels and event locations that is conducted regularly by the Cologne Convention Bureau (CCB) in cooperation with the Europäisches Institut für TagungWirtschaft (EITW). Approximately 48,700 events attended by a total of 3.82 million participants were held in Cologne in 2016. That represents a small increase by comparison with the previous year (+1.6 per cent and +1.7 per cent). The city also slightly expanded its number of event locations in 2016. It now has more than 95 event locations, 55 conference hotels and 19 convention centres. At the same time, there was an increase in the occupancy rates of these venues. In general, small and midsized events performed better in 2016 than they did in the previous year.

Sectors remained the same, shift in organizers’ countries of origin

As in previous years, more than three quarters (76 per cent) of the events were business meetings. Banks and insurance companies were still the main sectors in this category, followed by the medical and pharmaceutical sector and by communication companies. A total of 24 per cent of the events were held by associations and other non-profit organizations. The data concerning the international source markets of the event organizers deviates from that of the previous year. In 2016, Cologne was especially popular with event organizers from the UK; the country rose from third place in 2015 to first place in 2016. The second and third place were occupied by the Netherlands and Austria. France and the USA were in fourth and fifth place.


Fluctuations during the year — the outlook is positive

It is notable that the figures for the first half of 2016 are considerably less positive than the figures for the second half. This runs counter to the usual pattern, and it is corroborated by the perceptions of the congress and convention sector in Cologne. In the second half of 2016, there was an increase in short-term bookings for events which created a balance in the total annual figures. Stephanie Kleine Klausing, Director of Conventions & Marketing at the Cologne Tourist Board, is looking forward to another good event year in 2017.

Numerous scientific congresses will be held, including EUROMIT (International Meeting on Mitochondrial Pathology), the European ISSX (International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics) Meeting, and the convention of the German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (DGKJ). The year will also see the return of the fvw congress, as well as major trade fairs such as gamescom, dmexco and Anuga. “Cologne is a favourite location for events, and it’s going to stay that way,” says Kleine Klausing. “With our eyes on the future, we approve of Koelnmesse’s initiative to build the CONFEX® Hall, which from 2021 onward will offer space for events attended by up to 6,500 people. Cologne needs these capacities in order to establish itself as a congress and convention location over the long term.”