User Experience: It's all about the experience

Author: Matthias Schultze, Managing Director GCB German Convention Bureau e.V.

Only events that are charged with emotions leave lasting impressions. To create such a user experience is a key challenge for organisers. 

Technology, individualisation and social media have changed conferences, congresses and events. Face-to-face meetings and emotional experiences increasingly compete with digital media. As a consequence, the user experience more and more takes centre stage, alongside interaction, networking and knowledge transfer. According to ISO 9241-210, it comprises the perceptions and reactions of a person resulting from the actual and/or expected use of a product, system or service. We should not forget that this "emotional" user experience has not least become a key success factor because it can also considerably influence the image and reputation of event organisers.

Create incentives

In order to create positive user experiences it is essential to clearly identify the requirements that participants have and develop events that are based on that. In a nutshell, it is important to fulfil expectations in four areas: content, interaction, experience and location. At any time, the added value of an event in comparison to getting your information online needs to be clearly visible and noticeable. For instance, when meeting in person participants can grow their network but it also promotes personal communication and exchange. Plus, participants nowadays want to be actively involved, take part and have a say. Knowledge transfer therefore needs to be more interactive, collaborative, mobile and experience-oriented.

Know your participants

Knowing your participants' wishes and requirements and meeting them is vital because a good user experience doesn't just appear out of the blue. It is the result of thorough analyses since event participants can differ considerably, e.g., with respect to age, lifestyle, the phase of life they're in, but also in terms of their culture. Surveys, interviews and tests before, during and after events help to achieve differentiated results. If conducted by experts participant surveys of only a small number of people can already deliver valuable pointers in order to effectively improve the user experience.

The "Future Meeting Room" scenario shows how events can promote interactive knowledge transfer. It was developed by the "Future Meeting Space" innovation network that was set up by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) and the GCB German Convention Bureau.

The results of the research phase will serve as an instruction manual for the design of future-oriented organisational, technological and special future meeting spaces in phase 2 of the project.