Everything about technical communication in Stuttgart
Topic of the conference
Tekom stands for technical communication. It’s the largest professional association for technical communication in Europe – at least that’s what they say on their website. But for me, the fair they organise is not only about technical matters. It’s also about the companies which operate in the localisation and translation business, and about networking with fantastic people during the event and then having fun after it closes and the parties begin. It’s about awesome opportunities to learn from your peers and to meet existing or potential clients. This was my first Tekom fair and I’m glad I decided to go there. Keep reading to find out why.
The fair was accompanied by the tcworld conference but, since I didn’t attend that, this review is only about the fair and the associated networking events. The only thing I can say about the conference is that most of the presentations were in German and naturally they were related to topics connected with technical communication.
Stuttgart, Germany. International Congress Center (right next to Stuttgart airport).
A city with not so many tourist attractions but with good connections to many must-see places in Germany and beyond.
Industrial companies, technical writers, software companies with a focus on technical writing, translation agencies and consulting companies to publishers, printers and associations.
My motivation in going there
As a technical translation vendor, I’m always interested in events like this. And what’s more, at least two German translation companies I’ve been cooperating with for many years were going to have a stand there (and I’d never met their team in person). Looking at the list of exhibitors, I thought that this was a place I had to be so that I could learn something and try to gain new clients and partners.
What I liked about the exhibitions
Three huge pavilions of the congress centre were filled with hundreds of exhibitors, mostly from Germany (but also a few from several Asian countries, Austria, Ukraine and elsewhere). I liked the fact that the exhibitors were, in most cases, grouped by their main business activities. So there was a vast area for software developers who specialise in technical writing, sectors for translation companies (who often also offer technical writing), educational institutions, translation associations, and so on. It was quite easy to browse around all the stands.
I discovered many interesting things about technical writing, exchanged business cards with various translation, software and technical firms, and found out valuable information about several associations (such as GALA, BDÜ [Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators] and a couple of Chinese and Japanese associations). I also had a nice conversation with a lady from the European Commission and showed her my new multilingual picture book.
One of the great things was that when the fair packed up we could still continue networking as many of the exhibitors had organised quizzes, or offered plenty of free beer (it was Germany, after all) and other beverages and snacks.
What I didn’t like about the exhibitions
Probably the only thing I didn’t like was the fact that my German was not up to scratch at an event where the focus of the fair and the accompanying conference was on the local region. But it only motivated me to start learning German.
Another thing which wasn’t so good for the visitors just to the fair was that they couldn’t officially go to any of the evening parties as they were only for those attending the conference.
Anyway, on the whole, I’d say that the event definitely had everything you could wish for from a trade fair, and even more.
My score for the exhibition: 4.5 out of 5.
Access to information
It was a well-prepared event with everything in perfect order, just as you would expect from a German event.
The programme, venue, transport details, etc. were all comprehensively described on the official website, though the site did have rather an old-fashioned feel to it with its brochures to be downloaded. There was also no event app, which was a big oversight for a fair and conference focusing on technical communication.
My score for ease of access to information: 4 out of 5.
Business opportunities and networking
Tekom is actually all about networking. First of all, we could make new contacts by going around from stand to stand, but there were also quite a few networking events throughout the day and into the evening, plus a couple of lively parties for those attending the conference. The second one, in particular, was a lot of fun as it featured a performance by a local pop and rock band, who played lots of classic hits.
To sum up, the fair was an incredible opportunity to meet a lot of people from technical communication businesses. For me, it was invaluable to be able to discuss cooperation with both LSPs and direct clients and I came away with the feeling that it had really been worthwhile attending this event.
My score for the networking: 5 out of 5.
Willing to visit again?
My overall score for the Tekom fair: 4.5 out of 5.
Places I enjoyed visiting in Stuttgart and beyond
Frankly speaking, I didn’t find many places of interest in the centre of Stuttgart. There’s just the main shopping street of Königstraße, some old edifices and a palace. The most famous attractions of Stuttgart are located further away from the centre.
The Mercedes Benz and Porsche museums are some of the coolest places in the city, where you can indulge yourself learning about the history of these luxurious cars and even buy a retro or brand-new model if you so wish. A curious fact is that almost every vehicle on the streets of Stuttgart is either a Mercedes Benz or a Porsche. Of course, the locals are proud of their hometown manufacturers but what also matters is that in Germany it’s a popular incentive for employees to get a company car – and both manufacturers have their headquarters in Stuttgart.
I would also recommend visiting the beautiful Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, not far away from Stuttgart. But, unfortunately, I didn’t have time for it myself as my journey didn’t actually end in Stuttgart.
My next stop was the pearl of Bavaria – Munich. And this is a city that really does have a lot to offer. Some of the attractions I loved most in Munich:
- Undoubtedly the Old Town – especially Marienplatz and its gorgeous town hall with the dancing and jousting clockwork figures. The exquisite buildings, the enormous gothic Frauenkirche, the glorious Asamkirche, Michaelskirche and many other churches and palaces all make this an unforgettable part of the city not to be missed.
- The Olympic Park – with the BMW museum, Sea Life centre, TV tower, stadium, lake with birds and the Walk of Stars where famous national and international musicians, sportsmen and other superstars have left their handprints in concrete.
- The English Garden – with the manmade river, the Eisbach, which forms waves over one metre high. It’s no surprise that this spot has become the world’s largest city centre surfing location.
My final stop was in Salzburg, Austria, which is about two hours away from Munich by train.This is a picturesque city surrounded by mountains but one day is enough to explore it. When you’re there, it’s a must to climb up to the fortress overlooking the city and stroll through the Old Town with its medieval and baroque architecture. Salzburg is also famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and one of the locations where the famous musical “The Sound of Music” was filmed. You really can feel the spirit of music all around you in Salzburg.