Out of office: Hannover, Germany

 How do you get to Hannover? Is there a hub airport nearby and good road and rail connections?
Hannover is really hard to miss. It is less than a 20-minute tram ride from the international airport, which is one of the few German airports with growth potential. While the airport does not offer too many long distance flights, it is still among the top 10 German airports. There are two major highways connecting the north and south of Germany as well as east and west and plenty of high speed trains that stop in or pass Hannover, allowing convenient travel, whether you want to reach Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne.
 
Is the city well-served by public transport and taxi services? Are there any interesting ways of getting around?
We have everything we need and getting around the city is very convenient and easy. Trams, buses and subways all get you to where you want to be. International visitors will need to adjust to the fact that Uber remains barred from our streets, but Volkswagen has started its own ride sharing company: MOIA.
 
Could you recommend any business hotels in Hannover?
As in any major exhibition city, hotels of all types are abundant. If you are looking for something in the city centre, the Loccumer Hof is always a good option. The Kastens Hotel Luisenhof is Hannover’s only 5-star hotel and could not be more conveniently located.
 
What accommodation options are there for those travelling on a shoestring?
Even though Airbnb is not yet immensely popular in the city, you will certainly find cheap options there, and the same is true of hostels. Due to the many fairs and exhibitions that take place in Hannover, many people still offer rooms privately which is the perfect option if you don’t need to stay in the city centre.
 
Could you suggest any shared working venues for business visitors or coffee shops where they could catch up on paperwork?
Hannover’s co-working scene is dominated by Hafven which offers shared working facilities at two locations. There are some smaller venues and temporary project spaces by providers such as Regus.

If you do not want to stay right at the central station but would like a glimpse of the city, the Café Extrablatt is a good place to relax and get some work done if needs be. The chain Balzac Coffee has several well-equipped locations in the centre as well and should enable you to be productive.
 
With which industries is Hannover associated?
Hannover is a trade and exhibition city. In 2000, it was the first and last German host of the EXPO and it is home to major international fairs such as the CEBIT, the Hannover Messe and Agritechnica.

In addition, Hannover is home to several industries. Manufacturing (with an emphasis on the automotive industry) and insurance take centre stage and are supported by the service industry.

Which interesting businesses and organisations are based in Hannover?
Several multinational companies call Hannover home. You can’t talk about the city without mentioning Continental or TUI. However, Johnson Controls, Volkswagen and various insurance companies each employ more than a thousand people.

The Mittelstand, Germany’s dominant SME sector, is also well-established here. There are many small international companies with headquarters or subsidiaries in Hannover, and the well-known brands Sennheiser and Bahlsen are also from here.

Are there any major business events or conferences taking place in Hannover over the coming year?
In 2019, the Agritechnica returns to Hannover and the business calendar is dominated by fairs and exhibitions.
 
Could you recommend a venue for a lunch meeting in Hannover?
This is always a difficult choice in any city for me, but for Hannover I have to recommend the Rotonda near the Kroepcke. It has excellent Italian cuisine in a very enjoyable setting.
 
And where would suggest holding a client dinner?
This depends on the client and relationship, but if you are there to impress go to MARY’s. It’s an extremely classy venue, well located and leaves you wanting for nothing. If you are here in summer, ‘Die Insel am Maschsee’ is a wonderful alternative, either for lunch and dinner. It overlooks Hannover’s Maschsee, an inner city lake which is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike.
 
Where could visitors have drinks with colleagues after a day of meetings in Hannover?
During the summer, definitely one of the rooftop bars in the city centre or at the Maschsee lake. I am also a huge fan of Irish pubs and would personally head to The Harp.

If that’s not your style, try the Enchilada, in the heart of the Old Town district. It offers good drinks and decent food if you fancy a snack over a review of the day’s progress.

Are there any challenging aspects or downsides to Hannover for business travellers that should be taken into account?
There is only one thing to be aware of: the exhibition calendar. The city is immensely crowded on these occasions, there will be very little accommodation left at affordable prices and navigating the city can become burdensome. If you don’t have to travel to Hannover to attend the major fairs, then it’s better to save the trip for another time.
 
Tell us about Hannover’s unmissable attractions.
Hannover has lots of history. It was once a proud kingdom and history is apparent throughout the city. Like many other cities in Europe, Hannover was destroyed in the Second World War and few of its buildings remained unscathed.

Be sure to take a stroll through the old town and visit the ‘Marktkirche’. Both the old and the new town halls are impressive buildings that shape the city’s architecture and are always worth a visit. The Royal Gardens of Herrenhausen in the northern part of the city are a wonder to see.

If you are unsure where to go and what to do, follow the ‘roter faden’ (red thread). This will guide you to 36 unique and remarkable places in Hannover, ensuring you do not miss a thing within the city centre.

Could you share some local knowledge about Hannover’s hidden treasures outside of the tourist haunts?
The Eilenriede Forest is certainly a hidden treasure – at least, for tourists. It is the biggest inner city forest in Europe and one of the best places to relax in any season.

If you are interested in art, the Sprengel Museum should definitely be on your list. It is a small museum but offers an amazing set of exhibits around modern art and German Expressionism in particular. If you have more time at hand, do visit nearby attractions as well. 

Only 20 km south of the city, you find the Marienburg castle, the residence of the Guelph family. It is a sight to behold and offers a museum and restaurant for visitors. In addition, a 30-minute train ride will take you to Hildesheim, a small city that boasts two World Cultural Heritage sites and many more places to see.

Are there any unmissable activities that business travellers should incorporate into their visit?
Do take in any of the festivities taking place while you are here, whether the international firework competition or any of our fairs – these are always worth a visit. If you are a sports fan, Hannover’s football and handball teams are among the best in the country and their matches offer a unique experience.

Hannover is a hub that functions as the main intersection between Germany’s north and south and west and east, and travelling to other cities is quick and easy. I would recommend staying fairly close, however; for example, hiking in the Harz mountains in summer or skiing there in winter. While you are there, be sure to visit Goslar, a small city on the outskirts of the mountain range.

Are there any local dishes that visitors should try?
At any time of the year, you can get ‘Welfenspeise’, a two-layered dessert that is only made in Hannover. It was originally a homage to the ruling house of the Guelph family and is best served after a hearty meal.

‘Hannoveraner spargel’ is the local asparagus only available in late spring and is one of the region’s favourite dishes, known as ‘white gold’. One of the oldest businesses still in existence is the GILDE brewery and the local cuisine is closely linked to the brewery.

During the many festivities of the year, especially during the largest marksmen’s fair in the world, it is a custom to drink ‘Lüttje Lage’. The marksmen mix a special sort of beer with wheat liquor which they drink so that the liquor slowly mixes with the beer; it is reputed to be goold for their  aim. Even if you are not interested in taking part, this custom is amusing to watch.

What do you love about Hannover?
For me, Hannover is home. It combines culture and history and stands for the region. Personally, I enjoy the fact that it is not as big and crowded as the other major cities such as Hamburg. It also offers excellent employment options and spaces in which to relax and be yourself.

By nature, the people of Hannover are similar to their northern counterparts and nothing feels more like home than a friendly ‘moin!’, a local greeting, not to be mixed up with the Frisian greeting ‘moin moin’).

Why would you recommend Hannover as a place to do business? 
Hannover is small but well connected, both within the region and internationally. Depending on your industry, you will find many business partners in Hannover with an excellent international outlook.

Hosting almost 50,000 university students, Hannover offers a lot of potential for research-based businesses and access to bright young talent is a given.

Stephan Ziegler is Head of Corporate Relations and Marketing at GISMA Business School