The most important rule in event management: stay innovative!

Matthias Schultze is Managing Director of the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V. and an absolute professional in the field of "hybrid events" and event digitalisation. In the following interview he analyses the current challenges for event organisers due to the Corona pandemic and makes it very clear what is needed to survive in the event industry in the future.

About Matthias Schultze:

Matthias Schultze Portrait

What does the Corona pandemic, especially with the recent "lockdown light", mean for the events market in Germany?

Organisers, location operators, hoteliers and service providers have taken responsibility in recent months with convincing hygiene concepts and have shown how safe meetings under pandemic conditions are possible. In particular, hybrid event formats that combine presence and online participation and use a wide variety of new technologies have developed and spread very strongly in recent months.

After this restart of the German meetings and conventions industry in the summer of 2020, the initiated recovery will now be delayed for the time being. This is also shown by the new Meeting & EventBarometer special edition, for which the European Institute for the Meetings Industry EITW analysed the current market data on behalf of the GCB and EVVC.

"We are not in a sprint in terms of recovery, we are in a marathon."

However, Germany as a conference and congress location is well positioned for this marathon. In addition to its positioning as the world market leader in business travel and attendance at professionally motivated events, Germany's excellent image as a travel destination and business destination worldwide is an important cornerstone for recovery to Corona. As the latest survey by IPK International on behalf of the German National Tourist Board GNTB shows, Germany enjoys the highest level of confidence as a travel destination in times of pandemic in an international comparison. In the latest ranking of the Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brands Index, Germany also ranks first for the best image worldwide, just as in previous years. These and many other data and evidence-based facts are the basis for strategic decisions as well as for the development of new products and services.

Share of hybrid events 2018/2019
Share of hybrid events worldwide 2018/2019

The share of hybrid events has experienced enormous growth since the beginning of the Corona pandemic. What can these formats achieve? And will this development continue in the future?

Conferences, congresses and events are platforms for the exchange of experiences and ideas. They provide valuable impulses for political, economic, scientific and social processes. In all likelihood, the Corona pandemic will not change this fundamental function. However, the way we meet is changing permanently. Hybrid events have been used for some time, but have experienced dynamic growth in recent months. They enable a dual focus on face-to-face meetings and virtual networking that will continue to be relevant in the future. On the one hand, it is about bringing people together for face-to-face events in an inspiring atmosphere. On the other hand, it is increasingly important to also include those participants who cannot be there in person and on site - be it for time, economic or other reasons. This digital extension of events not only increases their reach, but can also create incentives to be there again in person next time.

"Technological innovations only develop their special effect in combination with the "human touch" and a consistent focus on the needs of the participants.

This approach is also pursued by the GCB with its vision "Meetings made in Germany connect the world - digital and face-to-face".

Experiences with hybrid formats in the time of the pandemic

Both the GCB and its members and partners have broken many new ground in recent months - also in the field of hybrid events. One special format was the hybrid, spatially distributed congress "BOCOM - Experience Borderless Communication" on 3 September. Several hundred participants were networked at four different locations in Europe and virtually via a livestream from all over the world. The more than 30 speakers at the all-day event were also spread around the globe - from Shanghai to Madrid, Paris, Tel Aviv and New York City. The content of BOCOM, which was also scientifically accompanied by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and funded by the German Federal Foundation for the Environment, focused on questions concerning the future of communication and collaboration. By the way, the presentations and discussion rounds are available on demand at We also held the GCB General Meeting in a hybrid format for the first time at the end of June.

"Our key concern here was to cater to the different needs of our members at the 'New Now' and give them the choice of being there in person or virtually."

And that went down very well: We had more participants this year than ever before. In the future, there is no longer a need for a single, monolithic Delegate Journey, but a simultaneous offer of analogue, hybrid and digital formats with an absolute focus on the needs of the customers and participants.

What are the most important questions and challenges that the event world should deal with in the future?

The most noble task of the event world is innovation. Open and interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration are key to driving innovation.

"The time for going it alone and isolated solutions is over."

Individuals have ideas, but it is only in interaction with other people and their perspectives that a solution emerges. Where people work together and exchange ideas, inspiration for new things emerges. The more open this process and the more diverse the participants, the greater the space for innovation. Especially in times of crisis, innovation is indispensable and a real investment in the future. Creative approaches for the future are also the focus of the Future Meeting Space innovation network, which in 2021 will address a new research topic and thus a new challenge: the changing ecosystem of events. In the post-Corona era, places for events need to be completely rethought. Factors such as digital and hybrid formats, the increasing relevance of sustainability or changed physical space concepts play an important role. The aim of the research is to analyse challenges of change, to develop usage scenarios for real, hybrid and virtual meetings in such a changed ecosystem and thus to contribute to securing Germany's excellent position as a meeting and congress location in the long term.

Conclusion: Innovation and digitalisation also go hand in hand in the event industry

For its future, the event industry should definitely take advantage of digitalisation so that Germany continues to be one of the top addresses worldwide. Especially now in this crisis, it is becoming increasingly obvious how enormously important digital and hybrid events are for the future.

Read our blog article on to find out exactly how such a "hybrid event" can be implemented. Stay healthy and innovative

From |2020-12-01T12:44:35+01:0026November 2020|General, Event|0 comments

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Yvonne is responsible for Marketing & PR at C³ Chemnitzer Veranstaltungszentren GmbH.
E-mail: | Phone: +49 (0)371 4508-648

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