Right now, the event industry is in the middle of a period of profound change. Looking further ahead, what role will business events play in the corporate communications mix of the future? This was the key question examined in the third and recently completed research phase of Future Meeting Space, an innovation network set up by GCB German Convention Bureau and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. The results were presented at an online event streamed live from Messe Frankfurt on February 22 to an audience of several hundred people around the world. Among the essential findings was that events are set to become an increasingly important element in the communications mix of organizations. At the same time, events will become increasingly hybrid in nature. This in turn will require that each of these worlds – digital and analogue, virtual and real – is perfectly staged, emotionally rich and creatively combined with one another. In a highly digitalized world, however, people also crave authentic experiences in real places. In particular, face-to-face meetings continue to play a vital role on the international level. To date, it has proved impossible to recreate this chemistry via a virtual platform. Such events still demand a degree of personal, physical interaction.
The growing relevance of business events as authentic communications tools
Going forward, events will no longer be isolated occurrences, divorced from all other communications tools. Instead, they will form part of a multisensory, omnichannel marketing strategy. In the future, rolling events will take place in a kind of nonstop loop, building their own community 365 days a year and generating a continuous brand visibility. “This study gives stakeholders guidance on how they can use business events as a marketing tool for their own specific ends,” explains Matthias Schultze, managing director of GCB. “Authenticity is key here. It forms the foundation for a unique, emotionally laden experience that forges close, long-term bonds between participants, irrespective of whether they are there in person or just virtually.”
New challenges for event organizers, venue providers, agencies and marketing organizations