Matthias Schultze, managing director of the GCB German Convention Bureau, shares his research into the industry’s future potential and reveals the top three opportunities organisers should pay attention to
The main goal of our Future Meeting Space (FMS) innovation network is to provide insights for the events community and practical guidance on how to build sustainable businesses that are fit for our changing world.
Our latest research on “Changing Ecosystems – Future Scenarios for Business Events in the Age of Borderless Communication” therefore puts a spotlight on the future potential for business events. From the list of opportunities identified, I have chosen three to take a closer look at.
1. Refocusing the “customer is king/queen” principle
As in-person business events will continue to play a significant role in social interaction, knowledge sharing and customer relationship building, it is key to provide attendees with a personalised experience and home in on individual requirements.
User-friendly design is not only restricted to the actual event itself but, in addition, applies to arrival, departure, registration and a possible extended stay in the respective location.
It is also important to remember that what is perceived as exclusive or luxurious has changed in recent years. Special and authentic experiences and moments are of more value than just “superficial things” that are associated with a certain price tag.
Giving attendees the opportunity to participate in the development of events is another way of focusing on their needs. Involving them from the start with live surveys, online pools and other opportunities to contribute creatively during the organisation of events will strengthen attendees’ emotional attachment and give them a real sense of involvement.
Finally, technology plays a part in getting the renewed customer focus right. For example, by developing smart tools that use data to provide personalised recommendations so that people can find the events that are most suitable for their requirements.
2. Rethinking mobility
Mobility plays a major role in the entire delegate journey of event attendees. Easy and convenient means of travel are therefore essential to attract sufficient attendees on-site in the future.
This includes the use of smart mobility tools that enable easy switching between means of transport, e.g., from planes to shuttle busses and sharing bikes. Ultimately, it is about providing personalised transport options that can be selected and booked beforehand.
Another interesting concept related to the time attendees spend travelling relates to so-called third places: when work is done neither at the office nor from home, but in cafés, means of transport or at railway stations.
Just like attendees increasingly expect to be provided with suitable workplaces at events, local and especially long-distance transport could be designed with a view to integrate spaces that support working on the move.
A last thought on mobility concerns sharing. Particularly, shared micro-mobility has become very popular in cities. Applying the idea of sharing the journey to an event can not only address sustainability issues but also support the key event success factor of networking.
Carpools reduce costs and emissions by turning individual transport into a public or semi-public means of transport, and creating a network to get to an event, especially when covering the last mile, enables attendees to get to know each other prior to events and enhance general engagement.
By the way, meaningful “event carpools” require more than coordinating time and place. Attention should be paid to putting together a group that matches people based on interests and professional skills.
3. Harnessing the local character
When people can attach emotional experiences to learning, they retain more of the new information.
To be successful in the future, events will need an overall script to support this effect and the places that host them can contribute considerably to creating stories that stick.
What’s typical for a region makes for unique moments. This could be a particular natural treasure or innovative entrepreneurs who have deliberately chosen the location in question. Maybe there are micro trends to be explored and local organisations to be visited for inspiration.
Regional storytelling provides plenty of room to get creative, be it integrating locally designed products in the event venue or offering seasonal food and drink from local producers. Particularly the latter can be used as a means of communication and even contribute to the topic of your event.