16 November 2009

Domotex First Time Travel Tips

Jim GouldIf DOMOTEX 2010 is your first trip to Hannover, Germany, let me suggest a few first time travel tips and answers to the questions you might be asking yourself.


The weather in northern Germany in January is unpredictable. Generally it is cold, 40s F during the day, and often rainy. That said, I have been there on beautifully warm sunny days in the 50s, cold and raining in the 30s and during a snow storm. Try to check the forecast and plan to dress warmly to get to and from the show and evenings. Once you are at the Messe, the buildings are connected and there is little need to go outdoors.


Generally, people dress in “business casual” which to me means ties are not necessary even though some attendees will wear them. Ladies are always dressed stylishly in Europe no matter if they have on the latest fashion dress or jeans. If you take an overcoat or umbrella, it can be checked at the entrance and picked up at the end of the day. Wear comfortable shoes since the buildings are large and you will be on your feet all day walking.


The place where the exhibition is held is called the “Messe” pronounced “mess-ah” and referred to as the fairgrounds. Domotex is such a major event in Hannover, that most people know what you are referring to when you say the name. The fairgrounds are very large including 13 buildings and a million square feet of exhibition space. Different buildings highlight different product categories. Several are exclusively area rugs, some separated by country of origin. Others will show primarily carpet, laminate or wood. One area is called ContractWorld and focuses on products and services for the commercial market. When you arrive you will come in to one of a couple of entrances. It is my understanding that some have recently been renovated so we should all just follow the crowd into the show. The entrance is where you can purchase tickets and a show directory but if you sign up early enough to join the North American VIP Delegation, these will be provided to you at no charge.


Obviously the people in Germany speak German. At the show most exhibitors either speak English or have translators on their stands that do. Luckily, English has become the default language for all of the other countries that do not speak German. Often Europeans use different terms for products referring to wood flooring as 'parquette' (par-Ket), carpet as 'tapis' or sheet vinyl as PVC. Other products like laminate, cork, LVT are the same.


Most buildings have restaurants and depending on the building they may range from a stand up coffee shop to a sit down restaurant with waiter service. The food is generally European and I highly recommend the bratwurst dipped in mustard at one of the standup counters. Some of the exhibitors offer food to their customers as well as bottles of water.


I recommend not renting a car although parking is available at the show if you get there early each day. Taxis are available from the hotels to the show but getting a taxi in bad weather at the end of the day could mean standing in line for quite a while. Many nearby hotels have free van service for their customers; public transportation (tram) is available, free to fair goers. It runs from the lower tracks of the station at the entrance to the show and stops all over town.


The Euro, the standard currency throughout Europe, is worth about $1.50 which is historically high. Foreign currency can be changed into Euro’s in the airport, at your hotel or at banks at the Messe. Credit cards are accepted at most places however most taxis require currency. An exchange fee is charged and the exchange rate varies. Generally speaking the best rates and fees are on credit card purchases and at your hotel.

Let me know if you have any other questions since we want to make your trip as comfortable as possible. For information like show hours, exhibitors, etc., check the Domotex website.

For those of you for whom this won't be your first trip to Hannover, what would you add to this list?

I look forward to seeing you in Germany,


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Richard McKay said...

Great info - would also recommend booking a hotel close to the show.

Jim Gould said...

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I always stay near the Messe since most of what I do is located there. First time visitors that want to see Hannover can stay in town and take the train directly to the show. Those wanting a romantic experience should try the quaint town of Hildesheim. Rooms are more reasonable, it is a 20 minute drive to the fairgrounds and it is a wonderful little village that will delight everyone.

angelika said...

Great info,
It´s nice to stay in private accomodations too. Try bed+breakfast. It´s resonable in price (50-80 Euro/per night).
ex. accomodation in the city center, 2 tram-stops to mainstation (20 min. to fairgrounds) 70 Euro/per night incl.breakfast.
more information: angelikaut@gmx.de

Jim Gould said...

I just received a great question from a first time attendee that I should have answered in my first post. Credit cards are a great way to pay for anything in Germany. Most places accept American Express, Visa and Mastercard and the exchange rate you receive from a credit card company is much better than from currency exchanges, plus you get a receipt that is good for claiming VAT or just keeping track of expenses.

I suggest taking a little cash, Euros, with you if you can. That way you are not stranded at the airport in the wee hours of the morning when many overseas planes arrive. If you need to exchange dollars for Euros, usually your hotel has good exchange rates. There is also a full service bank on the Domotex Messe fairgrounds where you can exchange money.


Christine B. Whittemore said...

Jim, another suggestion I have is to go to an ATM machine once you are in Hannover to get local currency. That usually generates the best rates and also minimizes the transaction fees. Best, Christine

Jenny Tesar said...

During numerous trips to the Messe I stayed with a family in a private home in Pattensen. It was a wonderful accommodation and a great introduction to everyday life in the Hannover area. Much more interesting than being in a hotel! Jenny Tesar jetesar@sbcglobal.net