Guest blog from: Matthias Schultze, Managing Director GCB German Convention Bureau e. V.
In the digital age, everyone is talking about the user experience and the event industry makes no difference: The success of meetings and conferences crucially depends on how well organisers can meet the different requirements of attendees to create engaging experiences. In consequence, venues – be it hotels, congress centres or other sites – are asked to re-calibrate their offers and put the users, i.e., participants, at the core of what they are doing.
Positive user experiences first and foremost require knowing what attendees want to configure the right type of event. In this context, the second research phase of the “Future Meeting Space” innovation alliance sheds light on what it takes to create successful events by focusing on different attendee types and success factors for events. Looking at questions such as the effects of different methodical and tech elements on different types of attendees, the study has produced some central answers: To satisfy attendees, event planners should focus on knowledge transfer as well as surprising (disruptive) elements, plus individually respond to the requirements of different attendee types.
Success factors to consider
Topping the success factor list, no doubt, is knowledge transfer which has a huge influence on attendee satisfaction: Learning something new that can, ideally, be put into practice when back at work makes participants happy. The study also shows interesting correlations between knowledge transfer and the use of inspiring (interactive!) formats as well as higher attendee satisfaction levels when events are perceived as innovative. The prominence of the “disruption factor” is also noteworthy. The clear message we get from participants is that surprising event elements that disrupt in a meaningful way create long lasting memories, i.e., more successful events. At the same time, it is surprising that certain factors matter less than sometimes assumed, e.g., networking is not affected by attending events alone or with a colleague nor by the length of an event.
What do these success factors mean for venue providers? Essentially, taking a close look at your current set-up from the perspective of (changing) user requirements is key now to assess where adaptive measures and changes might be necessary. This includes:
As organisers are increasingly aiming at creating memorable experiences for their participants, emotional elements become more prominent. Venues should be able to come up with relevant offers for their clients that consider the disruption success factor. Creative ideas that work for the respective event/theme could make all the difference. This includes room set-up (e.g., out-of-the ordinary instead of conventional seating), sound effects or lightning.
Networking as a key success factor influencing attendee and hence, your client’s satisfaction and should not be left to chance. Obviously, it is up to planners to ensure appropriate formats and sessions that are conducive to people striking up connections. However, venues can contribute considerably to creating these environments and be as proactive and prepared as possible to provide lounge areas, room dividers, communication corners and networking areas that go beyond just a few bar tables in the catering area.
3. Interactive knowledge transfer
As stressed before, successful meetings and conferences revolve around successful knowledge transfer. Attendees take part because they want to learn and again, planners are asked here to work with appropriate formats and methods. Therefore, as a venue provider, don’t be surprised if your clients ask for design thinking equipment and spaces that are appropriate for interactive sessions. In this context, run-of-the-mill furnishings will not suffice anymore. Beanbags, deckchairs, stools, (interactive) whiteboards, any kind of presentation equipment – be prepared and have the rights partners at hand, where necessary.
Innovation matters for attendees and is transported through innovative formats including the corresponding use of new media tools and interesting technologies. Those need to be used in a sensible and effective way. It is not about tech gimmicks for their own sake but about adding value to the user experience. Venues can differentiate themselves if they are not only able to offer their clients the necessary tech equipment and staff that are skilled in new technologies but also if they are flexible and ready to meet “innovation requirements” even if they come up at short notice and unplanned.
To sum up, flexibility and agility as well as the ability to anticipate requirements will be key for venues in future. More complex and more personalised needs user-side lead to event set-ups that go way beyond the one size fits all approach of the past. Taking a customer-centric view is more important than ever. Understanding changing event formats and hence evolving organiser requirements will enable you to be a valuable partner capable of adding extra value – and thus be best prepared for the future.
More information on: www.future-meeting-space.com
Event success factors: Video on YouTube
Presentation at Ungerboeck Unite EMEA
On April 8, Matthias Schultze will present the second project phase of the “Future Meeting Space” at the Ungerboeck Unite EMEA Conference in Vienna.
The Ungerboeck Unite EMEA Conference will take place from April 7-9 at the Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel.
More information on the conference: http://conference.ungerboeck.com/emea/
About our guest blogger:
Matthias Schultze, Managing Director, GCB German Convention Bureau e.V.
Matthias is passionate about driving change and innovation, focusing on future proofing meetings and events as vital platforms for knowledge exchange. With a degree in business administration, he started out in hotel and congress management at Hilton International in Germany and has now almost 20 years of management experience, including as CEO of the World Conference Center in Bonn, which is part of the United Nations Campus. In 2010, he took up his current role as managing director of the GCB German Convention Bureau that represents and markets the German meetings and conference sector on a national and international level, with offices in Frankfurt, New York and Beijing. Together with industry partners, Matthias has initiated various projects, such as the “Future Meetings Space” innovation alliance, that focus on the opportunities and challenges brought about by the digital transformation.
GCB German Convention Bureau e. V.
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