So this happened at my house about two weeks ago…
I will be traveling for an event called Creativeworld at Messe Frankfurt, the massive exhibition center in (you guessed it) – Frankfurt! I’m not kidding about the massive part, either. Messe Frankfurt consists of 10 trade show halls plus a Congress Center, and spreads over 578,000 square meters. It’s so big that it is served by two train stations – one U-Bahn and one S-Bahn – that are a part of the city’s public transport network, for ease of access of attendees.
All of this space lends itself to the hosting of epic events. Messe Frankfurt is home to the Frankfurt Auto Show, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and Musikmesse, all of which are the world’s largest shows of their kind.
So what exactly is Creativeworld?
Creativeworld is an international trade venue for the creative hobbies, and arts and crafts industries, that takes place from Jan. 25th-28th, 2014. Exhibits at the show include the areas of:
- Decorative crafts
- Graphic and artists’ requisites
- Handicrafts, textile design
- Hobby and crafts
In 2013, 236 exhibitors from 25 countries exhibited, and the event was attended by over 7200 visitors. Over 40% of attendees came from outside of Germany, traveling from 79 different countries. 180 companies from outside Germany have already registered to exhibit in 2014.
A survey of last year’s attendees showed that 33% identified as being part of the retail sector and only 10 percent of the show’s trade visitors attended with the objective of conducting purchases. This meshed with the exhibitors, only 35% of whom said they attended with the objective of making sales at the fair.
If they aren’t buying and selling, what are attendees doing at Creativeworld? For exhibitors, the most common answers were “initiate new business relations” (81%) and “cultivate existing business relations” (71%). For attendees, the most popular answer was “view, get to know innovations” (55%). “Achieving an overall impression of the market situation” was a popular answer with both groups. In other words, Creativeworld is far more than a buying and selling marketplace to those taking part. It’s focused on relationships and ideas.
Among the highlights of the Creativeworld exhibits are two special sections: the Trend Show and the “Creative Hands” exhibits. For the 2013 show, the Trend Show theme was “Fantasy Garden” with a focus on three specific trends: Romantic Look, Modern Decoration, and Geometric Work. (No theme has been announced for 2014.) In addition to exhibits, the trend show includes a hands-on area for attendees to try out the year’s latest trends themselves.
The “Creative Hands” exhibit section, which debuted in 2013, will return for 2014. This handicrafts exhibit and competition will be themed this year with “My Bag” – the search for the perfectly designed handcrafted bag.
But Creativeworld is just one piece of the puzzle of what is happening that week at Messe Frankfurt that is of interest to the creative industry. While Creativeworld takes place, two other large shows will also be in progress at the Messe (fairgrounds): Paperworld and Christmasworld. These shows are “sister shows” of Creativeworld, and Creativeworld attendees may attend these shows all on the same ticket as well.
Creativeworld actually occupies one and a half floors meshed into the middle of the related products of Paperworld, which is a marketplace for paper, office supplies, and stationery, including school supplies. Christmasworld is the most massive of the three simultaneous shows, with nearly 1,000 exhibitors displaying celebratory goods for holidays and events of all kinds (not just Christmas).
And here’s why I have a role to play at Creativeworld: Something new is coming to Creativeworld in 2014! The show is instituting a partner country program, the first partner country for Creativeworld is the United States. The U.S will be represented by at least 25 exhibiting companies in its own section, as well as by representatives of the U.S. taking part in a special series of Creative Talks. I personally will be taking part in two of these talks, one panel and one seminar, as a representative of the U.S. creative industry media. (Watch for more details soon!) Both NAMTA and the Craft & Hobby Association are partnering with Creativeworld to represent the U.S. market at the 2014 show.
At the Fair: To accommodate the international audience of attendees, English is the second official language of Creativeworld. The website is available in English, and events like the Creative Talks are translated into English for attendees to listen to through a headphone translation system (for those events that aren’t actually presented in English such as my seminar will be since I don’t think my two years of high school German 25 years ago is going to quite cut it with the natives!)
Cash sales and sample handouts are not permitted at the trade fair, and the event is open only to trade visitors.
Messe Frankfurt provides free WiFi throughout the fairgrounds for the use of visitors and exhibitors. For exhibitors who require more reliable bandwidth, Messe Frankfurt can create custom internet solutions.
Transportation: Frankfurt is a very convenient European destination for U.S. attendees. Frankfurt Am Main is one of Europe’s largest international airports with regular direct flights to many U.S. international connecting points.
Europe is renowned, rightly so, for its public transport. Once on the ground in Frankfurt, the Messe Frankfurt grounds are a little less than a 20 minute train ride from the airport by U-Bahn or S-Bahn (with a change at Frankfurt’s main central train station). All advance tickets to Creativeworld (except for complimentary ones) include free travel on the RMV regional public transport network that includes the S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains as well as trams and buses that cover Frankfurt and its suburbs.
Tickets: Tickets to the show are available for purchase at pre-show discount prices on the Creativeworld website. A season ticket good for the duration of the Creativeworld/Paperworld/Christmasworld shows, which includes free travel during the show on the local RMV regional public transport network, costs €42 (aproximately $56 at today’s exchange rate). Daily passes are €20, and a two-day pass costs €30 (both of which also include the local transport network as well while they are valid).
Passes are also available for purchase on-site at the box office at a higher cost. Tickets purchased on-site only include return transportation from the Messe Frankfurt grounds.
Exhibiting: Stand rent for the 2014 show starts at €183/sqm, plus fees and VAT. Visit the Creativeworld website for more details.
Sightseeing: It would be depressing to go all the way to Europe and see nothing but a hotel and convention center, right? Fortunately, there is plenty to see in the Frankfurt area.
First, a warning – although this area has easy access to many attractions (such as Rhine boat tours) that are lovely in warm weather, January is most decidedly winter in Frankfurt, with temperatures that would not be out of place in New York or other northern U.S. cities. Many attractions like the boat rides shut down or limit their hours this time of year (or you might just be miserably cold trying to sightsee) so choose wisely.
If your goal is to see some real German history, you’ll probably want to leave Frankfurt itself. While it does have an “altstadt” anchored by the Romer building only a few train stops from the Messe, most of what you will see are historical restorations that were rebuilt after WWII. Due to its concentration of industry, the city was pretty much leveled by Allied bombers during the war, leading to the rebuilding that created one of Germany’s most modern cities today. The city is home to some interesting museums though, including the Goethe house, home of one of Germany’s greatest writers.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go far to find German landmarks that were left relatively untouched by the war. Within the local RMV rail network covered by the Messe Frankfurt tickets, the suburban towns of Kronberg and Bad Homburg are well regarded for their historical architecture. Mainz is also within the network, about 20 minutes from the airport by train, and home to a large collection of historical churches and buildings. That city is also home to a host of musuems, including several devoted to locally discovered Roman artifacts, and one celebrating Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press (who lived here), so there’s plenty to do indoors when it’s cold.
For those willing to travel outside the local RMV network to see some history, a jewel awaits just 50 minutes away by rail from Frankfurt’s main train station: Heidelberg. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, Heidelberg and its Schloss (castle) are picturesque in winter especially if there is snow on the ground if you are willing to brave the cold for a walkabout. The castle can be toured after riding up the hill to it on a funicular train (included in the price of your ticket) and is also home to an Apothecary museum on the history of medicine.
Make your phone smart: Messe Frankfurt has Navigator apps for the Creativeworld, Christmasworld, and Paperworld shows available on the Apple App store and the Google Play store. The FRA Airport, Frankfurt Bahn, and Frankfurt City Walk apps also look like they will be useful for show attendees – check them out if you are attending!