European Business: Mr. Coqué, three multi-purpose halls, 50,000 m² of surface area, 20,000 m² of exhibition space, twelve meeting rooms, more than 50 events per year – those facts leave no doubt about the importance of the Parc des Expositions de Metz. Why has Metz become a preferred destination for events?
Michel Coqué: First of all, it is the city’s exceptional geographic location that makes it unique. Metz is located in the north-east of France, in Lorraine, approximately 80 minutes from Paris by train and shares international borders with Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany. We are talking here about a population basin of 3 million inhabitants. On the Luxembourg axis, the purchasing power is one of the highest in Europe. It is simply a favourable economic environment.
European Business: In a nutshell, what does GL Events concentrate on and what are key figures of the company?
Michel Coqué: With a team of 40 employees we host events such as trade fairs, expositions, seminars, gala diners and general meetings and welcome more than 800,000 visitors a year. For 5,000 to 10,000 people we are able to find any solution.
European Business: GL Events is a major player in the event market; the company has offices and venues on five continents and in more than 20 countries. How does Metz fit into the international strategy of the global company?
Michel Coqué: GL Events works with many private and public customers around the world. The group provides comprehensive services encompassing designing and defining a project to the final implementation. This is exactly what we do in Metz. We benefit from ideal conditions to organize events. We have two different companies here with two different establishments, Metz expo events and Metz congress events. A highlight is the new Metz Congrès Robert Schumann that spans a surface area of 15,300 m². It was officially inaugurated in September 2018 and enables us to strengthen the city’s position as a highly attractive event venue.
European Business: What kind of events take place in Metz?
Michel Coqué: We have about 40 events per year. Currently there are two important trade fairs in the pipeline; the Urban space show for collectives and Agrimax that is the third biggest French event in terms of animal breeding. All year long we host flea markets that are increasingly popular; we have 16 flea markets that are great platforms for collectors of antiques, furniture, paintings, decorative objects, postcards, coins and various objects of curiosity. Other important events are the Bio & Co exhibition, a meeting place for organic food in Lorraine, for health and sustainable living, the Wine & Gastronomy show, the Salon Du Chocolat et Gourmandises or the SalonsCE Metz, a leading trade fair for the tourism, broadcasting and entertainment industry. The Foire International de Metz is always a real highlight and makes up 70% of turnover. 200,000 visitors come together at the largest international Fair in the city of Metz that lasts for eleven days.
European Business: How would you describe the business strategy?
Michel Coqué: Our biggest strength is our experience and expertise. We believe in cooperation and teamwork. Exhibition managers work with our marketing managers. We offer integrated services; three people work in marketing to help trade show managers. Marketing activities are provided internally by our teams. When it comes to communication things are a bit different. We sometimes work with freelancers, especially for the creative part of the event. Due to our geographic location, we bear a certain responsibility. Our teams are encouraged to influence the three neighbouring countries and to adapt marketing strategies. The first country participation is Luxembourg as it speaks French, the second Germany; yet, more in terms of exhibitors than visitors; Belgium comes third. One thing to stress is that digitization plays a crucial role these days when it comes to the organization of events, especially in terms of marketing. We have one event, a vintage market, that uses digital technologies only to promote the event. And the result is impressive. It achieved a higher turnover compared to the previous year. Interestingly, only one person is responsible for digital marketing. Fact is we are keen to not miss the boat when it comes to digitization.
European Business: Innovative technologies are essential to keep up the competitiveness. What are other ingredients of your recipe of success?
Michel Coqué: Again, the quality of our sites. The congress center is new and ultramodern and located right at the TGV station. We are positioned in the heart of Europe and easily accessible. These are unique assets. However, we are realistic enough to see weak points as well. One is the accommodation section that needs to be improved. For this reason, we are planning the construction of a new hotel. And there are further projects in the pipeline to enhance the attractiveness. Two more sites are not beyond the realms of possibility.
European Business: Last but not least, what do you personally associate with GL Events?
Michel Coqué: I have been working in the business for 20 years now; 16 years as its general manager. I really like the diversity of what we do, we deal with many different topics and inspiring challenges. I am from Metz and I am proud to work here, to be able to tell a story to the most passionate and creative people.