#GCBInnovationWeek: The importance of being innovative

On the relevance of new ideas for business events


Innovation has become one of today’s buzz words. But what is innovation (and what isn’t)? And most importantly: Why must business event stakeholders concern themselves with innovation?

Let’s start off by taking a closer look at the definition of innovation. Merriam-Webster defines innovation as “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods.” Of course, Steve Job’s iconic presentation of the iPhone or Elon Musk’s companies SpaceX or Tesla will come to mind. But there are plenty of innovations that have changed their industries and society as a whole - from the telephone through GPS navigation to online streaming, to name just a few technological ones.  All in all, innovations can vary in size and scope, but they all share that they’re novelties in their fields.  

So what does this mean for business events?

We live in a fast paced and ever-changing world. Megatrends such as the technologization of the living and working environment, the increased importance and awareness of sustainability or the boosted interconnectedness of cultures and peoples already have tremendous effects on our personal and professional lives. These developments in society – and the changed demands stemming from them – make it essential to continuously reassess the status quo and find innovative solutions for all stakeholders of business events. This starts by looking at how event owners, planners and suppliers work with each other, obviously includes the attendee experience as well as delegate journey and ends with an event’s overall impact on all its stakeholders.  

What must we look at in particular?

Customer centricity will be one of the fundamental requirements for successful events of the future. On the one hand, this means that off-the-shelf events will have a harder time to attract participants and delegate journeys must be designed in ways that are seamless and ideally amaze attendees. On the other hand, we must also consider this approach in how we work with each other behind the scenes. Which methods and tools will help in making the planning and execution of business events as smooth and successful as possible?  

One of the key elements of creating customer or attendee centric approaches is to give participants the option of choosing how they want to attend an event. This can be on-site, virtually, as a combination or maybe something entirely new. Hybrid event formats have become increasingly prominent since they can combine the best of both worlds by putting a dual focus on face-to-face encounters as well as digital networking. However, even hybrid event formats must not become off-the-shelf solutions. We must consider each event’s audience and find ways to create inspiring atmospheres and ideal conditions for personal encounters. Depending on the audience, requirements and preferences may look vastly different, though.  

The dual focus and the chances stemming from it have also led to the GCB’s vision of “Meetings made in Germany connect the world – digital and face-to-face” as well as the successful implementation of the multi-site and hybrid conference “BOCOM – Experience Borderless Communication”, for example. Particularly BOCOM has highlighted the importance of trying something new. We put a lot of effort into exploring where other industries are at, cooperated with partners and speakers from other industries and identified many areas that continue to be promising for future events. 

Another aspect that goes hand in hand with the aforesaid is the event space itself. It does not matter whether we’re looking at physical or virtual event spaces. It will be essential to re-think and re-imagine what’s possible in order to create the most inspiring and welcoming atmosphere for the event audience. Since we’ve said that off-the-shelf events will be a thing of the past, this also means that venues, platforms and suppliers must provide more flexible solutions that will cater to different audiences.  

These are just three aspects that are set to play key roles in making business events and all of its stakeholders more innovative. What has become clear, though, is that in order to remain relevant and ensure the future success of business events, we must link these concepts with innovations. Since many of the megatrends’ challenges and opportunities cannot be answered by individual organizations, we believe in the importance of open and interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration. That’s why we’ve launched the open innovation platform Response Room and are continuously seeking the exchange with our peers from within and outside of the event space. Join the dialogue and play your part in creating the future of business events. 

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