Business events in the age of borderless communication

Future Meeting Space presents scenarios for the new ecosystem of events

Frankfurt, 15 December 2021

In its 2021 research phase, the "Future Meeting Space" (FMS) innovation network, initiated by the GCB German Convention Bureau and Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, focused on the key topics and factors that impact the new ecosystem of events.

Today, the FMS research partners are presenting their findings online, including scenarios for the future of events. The full study will be available for download shortly.

The ecosystem of events will undergo profound change in the future. New technologies, climate change, new forms of mobility and our more flexible way of working will have a lasting impact on the events world. New requirements will need to be considered and new attendee expectations will have to be met. Against this background, the FMS innovation network has assessed more than 60 influencing factors in ten key areas, i.e., mobility, our living environment, sustainability, the working world, society, the market, political framework conditions, new technologies, event formats and know-how. "Hard" factors such as the use of new technologies were included in the analysis, as were changes in awareness and attitudes of society or certain groups.

"We are facing a complex future in all areas of life, be it economic, ecological or social aspects," says Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB. "Business events serve as platforms for solving complex issues. Our FMS research results show that events will become even more relevant in the future. Sometimes they will manifest as small face-to-face set-ups, sometimes they will take place in the digital space and sometimes they will involve experts from all over the world. However, whichever shape or form they take, they will always be authentic and organised in sustainable ways. With its results, our innovation network is making a significant contribution to securing Germany’s position as a top destination for conferences and congresses in the future.“

Changed events ecosystem with three future scenarios
The core outcome of the fourth FMS research phase are three scenarios: "Tried and trusted - renaissance of the real" describes a return to what is familiar and has proven to work in the past. For business events, this means that face-to-face meetings are and remain the be-all and end-all. The "Diverse and flexible – the global community" scenario represents the opposite: Meetings, conferences and congresses become experimental spaces where new things are tried out with actively participating event attendees. Digital tools make it possible to bring people from all over the world together for events with comprehensive participation options. The third scenario, called "Green and aware – the net zero society" , is based on sustainability as the guiding principle of all actions. Event attendees by now expect all-encompassing sustainability concepts implemented in transparent ways.

New opportunities for all stakeholders
All three scenarios are ideal, self-consistent types and should therefore not be seen as competing alternatives to each other. Rather, it is to be expected that, in different areas and at different times, combinations of individual factors of each scenario will become reality. "We started the current research phase in a time of fast and constant change. The pandemic was already in full swing, and events were mainly virtual or hybrid," says Dr. Stefan Rief, Head of Organisational Development and Work Design Research Unit at Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. "It quickly became clear that there would be fundamental and sustainable changes in the ecosystem of events. With the results we’re presenting now, we want to offer guidance and inspiration to harness the opportunities currently opening up for all stakeholders who are shaping the business events of the future space."

The full study “Changing ecosystems - future scenarios for business events in the age of borderless communication“ will be available shortly as a free download on

About Future Meeting Space
The FMS innovation project was launched in 2015 by the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V. and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO with the key goal of developing a vision for how people will meet in the future. This includes developing practical, hands-on tools for meeting planners and suppliers to help them get ahead of the curve. Results so far include, from phase I, an “Innovation Catalogue” round-up of new and future technologies, six “Future Meeting Scenarios” as well as the description of a possible “Future Meeting Room”, and from phase II, a report on how to create engaging events, including an overview of different attendee types, event success factors and recommendations for actions. In phase III, the innovation network looked at the future role of events in the communications mix of organisations. Research partners of the fourth research phase, which looked the changed ecosystem of business events, are AllSeated (Virtual Venue Partner), Bayern Tourismus Marketing, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Hospitality, Encore, EVVC European Association of Event Centers, Jena Kultur, Cologne Convention Bureau, Nürnberg Convention, Radisson Hotel Group, 7 Cities, Stadt Münster/Münster Marketing and Weframe AG. In addition, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) supports the FMS innovation network as a Strategic Industry Partner.

About the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V.
The German Convention Bureau (GCB) is tasked with securing and further extending Germany’s position as an internationally leading and sustainable destination for conferences and meetings. Driving innovation in the meetings and conference sector, the GCB provides its members with premium market research data. The GCB develops target-group-specific marketing activities for international markets as well as for Germany and supports its members and partner in marketing their offering. The GCB’s 160 members represent nearly 400 businesses and include leading hotels, convention centers, venues, municipal marketing organisations, event agencies and service providers within the German meetings and conventions industry. As “Strategic Partners”, Deutsche Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn, and the German National Tourist Board (GNTB) support the work of the GCB. The IMEX Group is the GCB’s “Strategic Exhibition Partner”. MARITIM Hotels are “Preferred Partners 2021” and the Frankfurt Airport Marriott Hotel - Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel & Conference Center supports the GCB as “Member in Focus 2021”.

Dr. Martina Neunecker

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