Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB German Convention Bureau, shares his thoughts on trends set to hit the meetings industry next year
1. Areas of expertise: Companies and associations are increasingly selecting destinations and venues that complement their own industry focus; by doing so, they can tap into local expertise, resources and talent that add value to their meeting’s focus and attendees’ professional development. As a result destinations, such as Germany, are putting their areas of expertise at the heart of their marketing campaigns, highlighting the added value to organisers.
2. Sustainable development: Sustainability will remain a guiding principle to influence all areas of meeting planning, from construction and renovation of venues, to transportation, food and entertainment. One aspect of this development is the increasing “regionalisation” of meetings, with meeting organisers increasingly working with local suppliers and involving local and regional audiences.
3. The Sharing Economy spurs innovation: Sharing economy businesses are becoming ever more prevalent in Europe. Companies have long been aware of this new trend – for example, car companies have discovered car sharing as a lucrative business model. The Federal Association of Car Sharing speaks of a new “culture of mobility” and observes a growing interest in it on the part of German motorists. At the beginning of 2015, more than a million participants were already registered with approximately 150 German car sharing providers. Hotels are addressing this trend by redesigning properties to emphasise welcoming communal areas, enabling mobile-based concierge services, offering bespoke guest experiences through design, dining and music, and providing free high speed internet. Orbitz, AMEX and Hyatt have all recently announced partnerships to jump into the shared economy ring with others likely to follow.
4. The Future of Meetings: Ground-breaking innovations are around the corner: Robot bartenders that receive orders via apps, self-driving cars that drop off delegates and park themselves, live digital translators, at-exhibit holograms for items that don’t travel well, 180o /3D projection – all of these technologies are either here right now, will be available to planners soon, or are on the drawing board and radar screens of meetings industry visionaries. In 2015 the GCB, European Associations of Event Centers (EVVC), and the world-renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) teamed up on a leading-edge research project – the Future Meetings Space. Working with meetings experts, academics, business leaders and others, the project aims to capture what meetings could look, sound, feel, and work like in the years ahead. The highlights of this project will be published in a Future Meetings Space Innovation Catalog with further developments due in 2016 including meeting scenarios and focus group data.
5. Second-Tier Destinations are Winners: With an ever-increasing eye to cost and in the quest to try new destinations, “second-tier” cities will continue to be increasingly attractive to planners and delegates. Not only do places like Nuremberg, Leipzig and Stuttgart offer lower costs and ease of travel access, but they also deliver high quality conference centres and venues, rich cultural scenes and extensive industry expertise in key sectors such as social justice and international law, R&D, pharma, automotive, innovation and more. Planners looking for top-notch ROI shouldn’t rule out world-class “second-tier’ meetings destinations.