July 21 2020

GCB General Meeting 2020: Creating a Hybrid Future

Connecting participants virtually and face-to-face

The GCB German Convention Bureau’s General Meeting on June 29th 2020 was a first: In addition to the face-to-face event at the Estrel Congress Center in Berlin, GCB members were also able to attend the event virtually for the very first time - the GCB’s first hybrid General Meeting was born.

Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB, explained the event’s concept as follows: “Our first hybrid general meeting was our response to our members’ different needs in the “New Now”. Attendees are no longer looking for a single, monolithic Delegate Journey, but rather a simultaneous mix of analogue, hybrid and digital formats. We wanted to enable all of our members to participate according to their personal preferences.” The legal foundation for this event was created both by Berlin’s Senate, which allowed events with up to 150 participants in June, as well as the German federal government, which, in the context of the coronavirus, made virtual general meetings possible for the first time. Additionally, the GCB’s cooperation partners played crucial roles in the event’s success.

Safe and successful convening at the Estrel Congress Center in Berlin

The annual meeting of the European Association of Event Centers (EVVC) took place in the same setting and at the same time as the GCB’s general meeting. This enabled the utilization of shared infrastructures. For example, the team at Estrel Berlin developed a comprehensive safety and hygiene concept for the event’s face-to-face component. Among other things, each seat was equipped with and attached to small coffee tables, which also served as spacers between the attendees. The Estrel Berlin team also made extensive arrangements in order to avoid queues, maintain safe distances and provide hygiene at the highest level at the event’s catering. WR Events’ Kinexon SafeZone also helped to maintain safe distances. So-called SafeTags were distributed at the event’s registration and were attached to the attendee’s lanyard. All SafeTags were set up to communicate with each other and detected whenever the minimum distance of 1.5m was not maintained. Whenever this was the case for more than six seconds, an acoustic warning signal was sounded and all of these critical interactions were recorded in encrypted form to enable the tracing of possible chains of infection.

Virtual attendance in the Virtual Venue

The GCB and EVVC also utilized the Proske Virtual Venue for the event’s virtual elements. Participants were able to meet in the virtual event house’s different rooms, follow the general meetings and directly partake via the chat and comment function. On top of that, the event technology firm Kickelhain ensured the flawless live streaming of the event and the technology provider SwarmWorks’s services enabled the participants to cast their votes both securely and legally on site as well as online.

Hit the right nerve with hybrid format

The event’s concept was very well received and implemented by all participants and partners. This was also reflected in the participants’ positive feedback. Matthias Schultze said: "We have received a lot of positive feedback. The number of registrations for the face-to-face event in Berlin as well as for the virtual format show that we have hit the right nerve with this year’s hybrid format."