Key Influencing Factors on Future Meetings
Research launched by GCB and Fraunhofer IAO
Business events are, and always have been, platforms for innovation, creativity and much-needed change. Now more than ever, as we begin to adjust and enter the post-pandemic era, we all find ourselves in the same position, asking the same question – what does this next chapter look like? Whether a global brand or a family-owned shop, businesses worldwide are reimagining the future of meetings, conventions, congresses, alike.
Launched by the GCB German Convention Bureau and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO in 2015, the Future Meeting Space (FMS) innovation network, in collaboration with 14 research partners, has entered the next phase of discovery, research, analytics and opportunity for change realized through the Future Meeting Space 2021 research project. Its main research focus is to analyze the changing ecosystem of events, with the overall goal to study potential outcomes and new opportunities emerging from this change.
As its first outcome, the current research has identified 10 topics that are expected to influence the future ecosystem of events and the changes that our business model will encounter. Those topics include:
- Habitat and Real Estate
- Working World
- Policy Framework
- New Technologies
- Future of Knowledge
- Event Formats
For each of the 10 topics, the research has identified several influencing factors and among them, as highlighted in the graphic above, certain key factors: Mobility is predominantly influenced by business travel; urban escape, smart cities/regions and downtowns are impacting on habitat and real estate, while environmental awareness, climate change and Generation Global are influencing developments within the field of sustainability. Home office, workcations and flexibilization were identified as key factors for the working world, while one of the most prevalent factors impacting future societies will be diversity. Furthermore, sharing economy, platform economy, and digital competence are key factors for the market field, as is lifelong learning for the future of knowledge. Within the topic of new technology, virtuality, social networks, and hybrid events are major influencing factors to be considered.
Undoubtedly, all 21 key factors across the 10 topics will play a crucial role for the everchanging event landscape and therefore, for the ecosystem of future business events. Considering the research compiled thus far, I would like to expand on three of the topics and their implications in more detail.
Mobility, sustainability, and new technology as three major topics
To begin with, our work and private life is undergoing lasting change due to the coronavirus pandemic. Our mobility has been drastically impacted as we now work from home, communicate virtually, and replace our daily commutes and business trips. Despite the countertrend of the need for personal encounters, the implementation of new technologies and linking of individual mobility options into a compact network support the general change in mobility moving forward. Without a doubt, the key factor driving the change in mobility is business travel. As we begin to look ahead, business travel will imply new means of communication, the search for sustainability such as the use of public transport and eco-friendly scooters, hybrid business events, and flexibility in business travel with the option to utilize digital platforms.
Another major topic, sustainability, will not only impact and change the way we operate in the business world moving forward, but it is of increasing importance worldwide. Key influencing factors on sustainability are environmental awareness, climate change, green tech, and Generation Global. To keep the ecosystem as a place where people can live for the benefit of future generations, sustainability has been the guiding principle underpinning political and economic decisions for years. Driven by the younger generation, Generation Global as our future workforce is a key factor within our research. These new generations have a global mindset and conscious consumer behavior focusing on the concept of a more sustainable and just economy. This will in turn lead to increasing awareness for efficient products, innovative technology, and sustainable travel, among other additional factors.
A third topic to be examined more closely here is new technology. Even prior to the start of the pandemic, digitalization and new technologies fostered the development of event formats that are independent of space. The pandemic accelerated the shift of events to the virtual space and to hybrid events. After having witnessed how effectively technology has changed the way we work, it is without a doubt that virtual communication platforms and VR/AR technologies are here to stay. A key influencing factor of this are hybrid events. Our business ecosystem has adjusted and adapted to the everchanging world of technology, and we continue to find more and more technological options that cater to our individual needs.
Hybrid events are more commonly seen now and allow more people worldwide to gain access to insightful meetings, conventions, and events through the combined virtual and physical platform space. Prior to the normalization of hybrid events, businesses had to use resources to send employees to numerous locations and spend valuable money to be a part of events. Thanks to the latest technological advances, our business ecosystem can continue to expand to a much larger audience, offering the option of attending virtually.
Outlook: Developing Scenarios
Since the launch of Future Meeting Space in 2015, results so far include two innovation catalogues summarizing new and future technologies, six future meeting scenarios and the description of a potential future meeting room. The research network also produced studies on the requirements for inspiring events as well as on the future role of events in the communications mix of organizations. Moving forward, the Future Meeting Space innovation network is investigating which influencing factors will have a real impact on the event world of tomorrow as well as the interactions between these scenarios, followed by a plausibility check by the project group. The GCB and the Fraunhofer IAO will present the results of this research by the end of 2021.