What makes Fakuma tick?


On paper, Fakuma shouldn't work. Friedrichshafen, Germany, and environs, which include nearby Switzerland and Austria, is a lovely spot for a relaxing three-day weekend, but an international plastics trade show?

Situated on the northern shore of Lake Constance, with Austria a short trek east and Switzerland due south, Friedrichshafen is surrounded by a beguiling tapestry of apple orchards and picturesque villages. It has earned a historical footnote as the place where Ferdinand von Zeppelin built his dirigible factory at the end of the 19th century. The Zeppelin Museum recounts the rise and fall, if you'll pardon the expression, of this erstwhile form of air travel. Like all German cities of a certain size, Friedrichshafen has a messe (the English equivalent of convention center does not do justice to these sprawling spaces), but Düsseldorf, Hannover or Stuttgart, this is not.

Hotel rooms in town fill up well in advance of Fakuma, so exhibitors and visitors scatter throughout the countryside in a radius of several miles to find lodging. Again, these gasthouses can be quite charming, but not what one might classify as accommodations for the well-heeled business traveller.

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