Frankfurt, Germany has been called “the Crossroads of Europe” for centuries and for good reason. It’s been a major center of commerce and business since medieval traders came together to exchange goods and money from across Europe. Today, international trade fairs are still a core business of Frankfurt. Frankfurt am Main, as it is known within Germany, is also home to the European Central Bank, the largest German Stock Exchange and many business-to-business consultancies, making it a leading European city to do business.
Getting to Frankfurt is Easy
Frankfurt’s central location in Europe may have historically been responsible for its business boon, because it was a prime location for tradesmen to come together, but the modern investments in transportation infrastructure ensure that Frankfurt is easy to reach. Indeed, Frankfurt is a major transportation hub. No place in Europe is more than a few hours away by air, rail or autobahn.
The Frankfurt Airport is in the top 10 busiest in the world. If you find yourself with time to kill in the airport, the observation tower is a very popular attraction, and one-hour tours of the airport are available. Travel Maestro tip: Both of the two airports terminals have areas marked “International Meeting Point.” If you plan to meet someone there, be specific which one. The best way to get to city center is an 11 minute ride on the S-Bahn or taxi if you have a lot of luggage.
Furthering Frankfurt’s position as a major transportation hub, the main train station, or Hauptbahnhof, is one of the largest and busiest on the continent. It connects to the national and the international rail systems. Travel Maestro tip: Purchase a Frankfurt Card for one day (9.20 euros) or two days (13.50 euros) for unlimited travel and 50% off several museums and attractions. Available at tourist information offices.
For all the coming and going that takes place in Frankfurt, it’s actually a small, very accessible city. Many of the main sightseeing attractions are located within easy walking distance of one another. In fact, the city center can be crossed on foot in less than 30 minutes.
Doing Business in Frankfurt
The German character is stereotypically depicted as stolid and efficient. While this may be somewhat exaggerated, business demeanor in Germany does remain no-nonsense. The common greeting is a firm handshake for men and women, and family names, rather than given names, are typically used along with the titles Herr for men and Frau for women. Travel Maestro tip: In conversation it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss German craftsmanship, soccer or food, but don’t bring up World War II or ask personal questions about home or family. Germans tend to be more private than Americans.
One stereotype that does ring true is German punctuality. Be on time for all appointments, because your German colleagues will be! Most business meetings will be conducted in English, but if there’s any doubt, ask and have an interpreter lined up if necessary. Meetings generally have a formal tone and not much time is spent on pleasantries; discussions are brisk and to the point. Germans appreciate empirical evidence, so supporting information for your facts will look good. Because the city is so business-minded, there is a very competitive environment so you need to bring you’re A-game when doing business in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt’s ease of transportation, the number of international companies doing business there, and its relatively small size give it the feel of a global village. That’s not to say there aren’t crime issues – it’s still a large city, so use your street smarts. Take time to enjoy the multicultural variety of the city by visiting some of the 40 museums lined up along the southern embankment called Museumsufer. The city has invested over 200 million euros in this museum landscape in the past three decades. Travel Maestro tip: Most museums are free on the last Saturday of every month and closed on Monday.
The Frankfurt Zoo is one of the most visited in Europe. Its nocturnal house is a popular draw. A scenic way to see the city and the surrounding area is to take a cruise along the Main River, a tributary of the Rhine. Enjoy the excellent live jazz scene with an evening at Jazzkeller. A unique Frankfurt social event takes place on Friday nights at Friedbergermarkt Square where vendors set up stalls with beer and wine, bread and cheese, olives and hor d’oeuvres for tasting. Be sure to taste Frankfurt’s universal drink, apfelwein (apple wine) – you’ll find traditional apfelwein taverns in the pedestrian zone of Alt Sachsenhausen.
If you are attending one of the world-famous trade fairs in Frankfurt, have independent business there, or want to visit on vacation, the expert travel advisors at Covington Travel are ready to assist you with your reservations.