The SilverDoor guide to exhibition centres around the world

Muscat’s new Convention & Exhibition Centre (OCEC) has recently opened its doors, in a move which spells big business for Oman. The world class facility will play host to a range of international, regional and national conventions, as well as business events, and is expected to attract over 450,000 visitors in its inaugural year. Its features include a tiered auditorium, capable of holding 3,200 people, and more than 22,000 square metres of column-free exhibition space.

The new exhibition centre joins a list of 400+ others around the globe, including ExCel London, and the Messe Frankfurt. Given the great potential for trade and networking, convention and exhibitions centres are hugely popular among business travellers. In the U.S. alone, direct spending on conventions, conferences and congresses stood at $72.90 billion in 2009.

One of the objectives for people travelling on work is to attend meetings, exhibitions and conferences. Whether for an overnight stay, or a 6 month fixed term contract, it’s possible that a business traveller will be called to upon to visit a convention venue.

SilverDoor provide corporate accommodation in touching distance of many of these – and at rates far more cost effective than hotels. To demonstrate this point, we’ve drawn up a list of the world’s top conference centres, with details of the serviced apartments nearby. Also included in the list are the must-see shows/events for business travellers to keep on their radar:


The finance capital of Europe is home to ten major convention and exhibition centres, including Alexandra Palace and One Great George Street. With strong transport links and a number of company headquarters, it’s no surprise the city continues to draw an international following of vendors and sponsors.

Exhbition Centre: ExCel London

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An international convention centre located on Victoria Dock, providing 100,000m² of multi-purpose event space. The exhibition building itself is broken up into various rectangular, sub-dividable halls, with an additional three sets of function rooms, used for presentations, seminars and small-scale meetings. The site also features six hotels and over 30 bars and restaurants. Major events have included the British International Motor Show, Grand Designs Live and The MCM Expo.

When to visit:

19th October – 20th October – Apps World Europe

The only function dedicated entirely to apps from conception, investment and startup, to marketing, design and development. Key themes for this year’s event include: Bot World, Startups, Mobile Marketing and Developer.

Where to stay:

Lanterns Court, Canary Wharf, London

Nearby Canary Wharf is only 12 minutes from ExCel London by train, and has upwards of 52 recommended serviced apartments.

Lanterns Court provides serviced accommodation within a three minute walk of Canary Wharf tube station, and Heathrow Airport can be reached in less than an hour by car.

These one and two bedroom apartments come with wireless broadband and a digital TV. Each fully equipped kitchen includes a washer dryer and dishwasher.


Germany’s fifth largest city is a global hub for culture, commerce and tourism. Many of the world’s leading banks have HQs there, including the European Central Bank, and KFW.  It also has one of the busiest airports in the world by passenger traffic.

Exhibition centre: Messe Frankfurt

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Frankfurt’s premier convention centre is one of the largest in the world, and a go-to venue for big events. Its ten exhibition halls, and adjoining congress centres cover an impressive 592,127m².  What’s more the venue is only 15 minutes from Frankfurt International Airport by car. Its vast array of trade shows cover automotive, computing, technology and engineering industries.

When to visit:

16th November – 20th November – Frankfurt Euro Finance Week: the trade show

Europe largest conference for the finance and insurance industry is now on its 19th run. In a week dedicated entirely to networking, meetings, discussions and expert analysis, Brexit talk is set to feature, as is dialogue around green finance.

Where to stay:

Frankfurt Messe Apartments, Messe, Frankfurt

These serviced apartments are just a minute’s walk from the Frankfurt Messe Exhibition Grounds, the Congress Centre and the city centre. On-site parking is available at an additional charge.

On-site facilities include a fitness area with a sauna and whirlpool, four meeting rooms, a restaurant and a garden terrace.


Capital of the Lombardy region in Italy, Milan is a densely populated metropolitan area with an estimated population of roughly 1.3 million. It boasts art, culture, entertainment and is world renowned for its fashion.  Among its major landmarks are the Milan Cathedral, and Sforza Castle – where you’ll find Da Vinci’s famous painting, The Last Supper.

Exhibition centre: Fiera Milano

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Italy’s most important trade fair organiser hosts an average of seventy shows annually, which attract as many as 30,000 visitors. Fieramilanocity and MiCo are two of its two of its main convention centres, and the Fieramilano fairground is one of the largest in the world. Prominent events include Salone del Mobile, BIMEC and the International Tourism Exchange.

When to visit:

2nd April – 4th April 2017 – Borsa internazionale del turismo (BIT)

An international travel fair which brings together tour operators and travel lovers alike. First established in ‘80s, it provides a meeting point for decision makers and buyers across a variety of industries.  The show’s four main focus sectors are: Leisure, Luxury, MICE and Destination Sport, with further themed areas including, Bit of Taste (food and wine) and I Love Wedding (dedicated to honeymoons).

Where to stay:

Cherubini Apartment, Wagner, Milan

Cherubini Apartment provides serviced accommodation just a one minute walk from the nearest Metro station, and 10 minutes by train to the Fieramilano fairground.

The property includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms, laundry facilities and a fully equipped kitchen.


Shanghai is one of four direct-controlled municipalities in China, and contains the world’s busiest container port. Currently ranked 16th in the 2016 edition of the Global Financial Centres Index, it’s an important commercial hub which relies on foreign investment. The city’s extensive public park system includes Shanghai Botanical Garden and People’s Square Park.

Exhibition centre: NECC Shanghai

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Short for, the ‘National Exhibition and Convention Center’. This large complex provides 400,000 m² of indoor exhibition space and a further 100,000m² of outdoor display areas. Co built by the Shanghai Municipal Government and China’s ministry of commerce, it plays a keen part in the country’s economy.

When to visit:

1st December – 2nd December – Business of Intellectual Property Asia Forum 2016

A must – visit event for research and development firms, as well as designers. BIP Asia invites intellectual property professionals from around the globe to discuss the latest developments in the industry, as well as explore opportunities for collaboration.

Where to stay:

Residence Shanghai Apartments, People’s Square, Shanghai

Less than a mile from the NECC are these spacious air conditioned apartments, which contain a fitness centre, steam room, sauna, swimming pool and restaurant.  On-site parking is available at the property for an additional charge.

France’s capital city is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, known for its culture and high fashion. Millions flock there each year to see attractions such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Disneyland Paris is also hugely popular among families. The vast majority of the city’s economy comes from services and commerce, with finance & insurance accounting for the largest sectors of activity in the central business district.

Exhibition centre: Paris Nord Villepinte

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A large building complex, close to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, with eight halls totalling 246,000m2 in convention space.  The centre can be reached via Parc des Expositions station, and is a popular site for international professional and consumer exhibitions, including Expofil, Intermat, Maison & Objet and SIAL.

When to visit:

23rd April – 28th April 2018 – Intermat

Intermat is major trade exhibition for building and civil engineering sectors, which takes place every three years.  Manufacturers have an opportunity to showcase their construction machinery and provide live demonstrations of products like mechanical diggers and mini-excavators. In 2015 alone, the event drew 1,350 exhibitors.

Where to stay:

Paris Saint Denis Pleyel Apartments, Saint-Denis, Paris

Saint Denis is a mere 20 minute drive from Villepinte, which makes it an ideal location for anyone visiting the Paris Nord centre.

For a quick journey in, book a stay at the Paris Saint Denis Pleyel Apartments, which offer on-site parking and close proximity to the local business district.


A rich history of art and architecture make Barcelona a truly cosmopolitan part of Spain’s Catalonia region. An important economic and tourist centre, the city was, in 2009, ranked Europe’s fourth best city for business. Nowadays, Barcelona also has a reputation for being a leading smart city, by virtue of its innovative projects like organic waste recycling and a superblocks housing initiative designed to reduce ecological footprint.

Exhibition centre: Fira de Barcelona

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Barcelona’s main trade fair institution dates back to the early 1930’s, and provides 400,000 m2 of exhibition floor space for companies to showcase products, and exchange business ideas. Each year, the venue puts on roughly 500 events, with delegates arriving from 43 different countries. Alimentaria, Carbon Expo and Construmat are three of Fira de Barcelona’s main shows.

When to visit:

27th February – 2nd March 2017 – Mobile World Congress

The world’s largest mobile industry gathering needs no introduction, and annually sees representation from manufacturers, technology providers, vendors and content owners. 2016’s show, themed ‘Mobile is everything’, attracted more than 100,000 participants.

Where to stay:

Camp Nou Apartment, Les Corts, Barcelona

Just 2.7 miles from Fira, The Camp Nou Apartment is both a smart and convenient option. The property includes two bedrooms, laundry facilities, a fully equipped kitchen and a private balcony.


With a population of over 2.7 million, Chicago is the third most densely-populated city in the United States.  It’s also an international hub for industry, telecommunications technology, and transportation.  Known colloquially as “the Windy City”, its various major league sports teams are hugely popular among tourists, as is the famous Millennium Park.

Exhibition centre: McCormick Place

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North America’s largest convention centre is a state of the art group of buildings located south of downtown Chicago. Each year attracting roughly 3 million visitors, it has 170 meeting rooms on site, and assembly seating for 18,000 people. The Chicago Auto Show, which takes place each February, is arguably the centre’s most significant event, with an annual attendance of more than one million people.

When to visit:

20th May – 23rd May 2017 – National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show

An essential trade show for hospitality professionals and restaurateurs. 45,000+ food service buyers rely on face to face interaction with potential sponsors, who in turn, use the opportunity to drive traffic to their booths.  Education sessions provide all the industry news and hot topics, and attendees also have the opportunity to browse speciality areas and pavilions.

Where to stay:

Magnificent Mile Apartment, Centre, Chicago

Magnificent Mile Apartment provides corporate serviced accommodation on Michigan Avenue, close to Grant Park and Millennium Park.

The property is a five minute drive from the McCormick Centre and Navy Pier. Just one street away is a selection of large grocery shops and restaurants.


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About the Author

Anton Constantinou

As Content Writer, Anton is responsible for producing content to engage and educate business travellers. As well as blog writing and posting on social media, he's in charge of pulling together editorial for SilverDoor's commercial partners.