The German Convention Bureau (GCB) is focusing on digitisation and internationalisation to woo new customers.
The strategy is the result of the GCB’s research into megatrends as part of its 2013 study Meetings and Conventions 2030 which identified globalisation and technology as key factors set to impact the future of the meetings industry.
The GCB’s new strategy will support the country’s leading position as a meeting and conference destination. The country has maintained its top spot within Europe for international association congresses for 11 years.
The bureau will carry out market research to assess the potential of source markets, particularly the BRIC countries. Other measures include forming strategic international collaborations, such as the recently formed European National Convention Bureaux Alliance.
In the field of digitisation, the bureau aims to identify new opportunities, such as virtual participation in events and the move towards hybrid meetings. The GCB’s Meeting & Event Barometer 2015 identified technology as one of the leading factors why planners continue to choose Germany.
The work on digitisation will be underpinned by online marketing and workshops in collaboration with new partners. The GCB’s website is being re-jigged to make it easier to use.
Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) and chairman of the GCB Board, said: “The German Convention Bureau successfully incorporated expertise, sustainability, and innovation as its main themes in all its activities. With a focus on internationalisation and digitisation as key areas for action for the event industry, the GCB is now developing a strategy to meet the future challenges faced by its members and partners.”
Matthias Schultze, managing director, said: “The GCB‘s comprehensive strategy is designed to open up new international customer groups for meetings and conferences in Germany and ensure a wide digital reach.”
Call in the experts
The GCB has identified six areas of expertise it wants to tap into to exploit meetings potential: medicine and healthcare (including fields such as medical technology and the healthcare industry), transport and logistics (including automotive engineering, transport system engineering and aerospace), chemicals and pharmaceuticals (including disciplines such as life sciences and biotechnology), technology and innovation (from mechanical engineering and IT to microelectronics and nanotechnology), energy and the environment and financial services.
A new film launched by the GCB explores each sector in a two-minute snapshot along with how meeting planners can benefit from these areas.It explains how organisations planning events in these sectors can work with local companies and experts to arrange site visits, networking events, recruit expert speakers and additional participants, as well as explore venues and sponsorship opportunities.
In 2014, the number of international meeting guests in Germany reached 25.6m, up 9% over 2013, with the market for technology, innovation and medical meetings particularly strong. More than 383m people overall participated in meetings in Germany, representing a 3.3 % growth over 2013 and the sixth year of consecutive growth.
The number of conference hotels, centres and venue spaces grew to 7,152 across the country, up 1.7% from last year. Additionally, 3.04m conferences, meetings and events took place in Germany in 2014, up 1%. Germany again tops the International Congress & Convention Association’s (ICCA) annual rankings. The 2014 report on the international meetings landscape and survey of the top international association meeting destinations ranks Germany first in Europe and second worldwide (only behind the US) for the 11th consecutive year.
The report also indicates that, of the international association conferences hosted in Germany last year, 8% are from the UK and 10% from the US.
More than 30% of international conventions in Germany are in the sector of technology and innovation and 23% in medicine and healthcare, matching Germany’s significant expertise and experience in industries such as Tech, Green Tech, Automotive, Pharma, Medical, R&D and more.
German venue operators believe this industry know-how is a strong draw for many associations. Munich is set to host an international conference for UK-based society MICCAI. The 18th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention took place 5-9 October 2015 with 1,000 international participants. Hamburg is set to welcome around 5,000 delegates to a major international logistics event organised by a UK events company – Intermodal Europe is held on 17-19 November 2015. Another major convention with around 5,000 participants is the 1st Congress of the European Academy of Neurology (EAN), taking place 20-23 June 2015 in Berlin.
New kids on the block
The Bodenseeforum Konstanz is due to open this autumn situated directly on the Seerhein, close to Lake Constance. Construction is in progress for the Rhein-Main-Hallen in Wiesbaden, due to be completed in early 2018 while The Congress Center Hamburg (CCH) will undergo refurbishments from 2017 and will be open for business again in 2019.
A new main building was opened at the World Conference Center Bonn (WorldCCBonn) in June 2015. Following the construction work and investments costing around €100m in Bonn’s former government district, the conference centre offers relaxing views of the Rhine, high-quality facilities and state-of-the-art equipment. Alongside the Waterworks and the plenary building, the new main building can accommodate up to 5,000 people. The large hall can be expanded, and the main building can be booked in combination with the plenary building.
This autumn event planners will be able to use Kongresshalle am Zoo, Leipzig, a venue for meetings and conventions in a historic setting. After extensive restoration and reconstruction since 2009 costing €370,000, the 19th-century building has been restored and is run by Congress Center Leipzig.
Another venue for business events in Berlin is set to open at the end of 2015 – the new Titanic Business Hotel on Berlin’s centrally situated Chausseestrasse. The hotel has a total event space of 2,500sqm for meetings and other events, with a ballroom of 1,800sqm.
Gerrit Jessen, regional managing director for MCI in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, said: “The GCB’s strategy of focusing on six main industry and service clusters perfectly mirrors what clients will be looking for in the future.The results of the Meeting-& EventBarometer show that for 82% of event organisers it will become increasingly important to network with industry experts based around the meeting venue. This is where Germany can deliver.”