Copyright: Krakowiak

Three things we learnt from #DigiDay 2017

Or: What the MICE sector can learn from Ketchup bottles

On 7 December 2017, about 120 MICE professionals delved deep into the digital future of meetings, congresses and events. Almost twice as many participants as in the previous year had followed the GCB's invitation to the second edition of the "Digital and Innovation Day" in Frankfurt.

Die Location – der 16. Stock des Westhafen Tower in Frankfurt – bot beeindruckende Ausblicke auf den Main und die Hochhauskulisse.
Die Location – der 16. Stock des Westhafen Tower in Frankfurt – bot beeindruckende Ausblicke auf den Main und die Hochhauskulisse.

Digitalization: Challenge and opportunity

"The digital transformation is a process that affects every part of society, including the meetings and conference industry," so GCB Managing Director Matthias Schultze in his welcoming remarks. Digitalization is a challenge for the MICE sector: "It is vital to look at every part of a business and not just at technology, but also include the corporate culture, channels, corporate communication or strategy," he stressed, and went on to highlight the aim of the event: "We want to go on a journey with you while at the same time go on a journey on behalf of you. Today's event aims at supporting you in advancing and implementing the digital transformation in your organisation."

Event marketing expert Michael Heipel, who hosted the day with its varied programme, worked with the interactive event tool Slido that the attendees used at the end to sum up the event, with three core insights coming to the fore:

No 1: Even in times of digital transformation, it's still all about people

At the beginning of her keynote speech, Silke Hoersch, Executive Director Marketing and Business Development at Ungerboeck, showed two Ketchup bottles, a traditional one made of glass and a plastic squeeze bottle. Why so? "The glass bottle puts brand recognition centre stage while the practical squeeze bottle is all about user friendliness," explained Silke Hoersch. Relating to digitalization this means that "one shouldn't do things just for the sake of being digital but always ask: What do our customers want?"

This focus on the user continued in the panel discussion "Digitalization - take the chance!": "It's about understanding how people want to live in this increasingly digital world," said Dr. Torsten Wingenter, Head of Digital Innovations at Deutschen Lufthansa AG, while Manuel Gerres, Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures GmbH Managing Director, stressed: "We need to learn to make technology easily accessible!"

No 2: Let go and just do it!

Focussing on your customers means to involve users as early as during the development of digital tools. Miguel Neves, Digital Content and Community Manager at IMEX Group, encouraged the listeners to test their products: "It's all about taking on the customers' perspective and think how they would think. Don't wait until your design is 120 % perfect - get it out there at 80 % and test it!" Lufthansa manager Dr. Wingenter agreed: "It's important to play with technology and learn step by step."

Dr. Holger Feist, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and Acting Executive Director Marketing and Communication at Messe München GmbH, presented Messe München's blog about a trip to the Silicon Valley as a project that was very much characterised by spontaneity and still - or maybe exactly because of that - turned out to be a big success. His advice: "Let go and just do it!"

No 3: Digitilization needs to be part and parcel of strategy and corporate culture

All #DigiDay17 attendees agreed on one thing: Without a strategy, nothing works, and a new kind of corporate culture is just as important. Katharina Hochfeld, Head of the Competence Team "Diversity and Change" at Fraunhofer IAO, explained why, saying that the digital transformation fundamentally changes the structure of work, e.g., through networking, more flexibility and new room for manoeuvre: "What does that mean for hierarchies and management? What are the consequences for remuneration?" were some of the questions that this keynote speaker raised in her presentation.

"New Work" models and digitilization in particular challenge existing silos, a term that also frequently cropped up in workshops and the conversation between attendees in the breaks between sessions. It refers to a traditional way of working that lacks interconnection and a networked mode of operation. Overcoming silos is also closely related to different work space arrangements. Corresponding ideas and offers were presented by Sabine Sauber, Head of Marketing at Design Offices.

Conclusion: There's still a lot to do!

Summarising the event in the evening, Matthias Schultze said: "We have come a long way today but there's still a lot to do." He highlighted upcoming GCB offers that discuss similar topics, such as the Meeting Experts Conference (MEXCON) 2018 (20 & 21 June) at RheinMain CongressCenter Wiesbaden, focussing on "Industry Challenges - Ready for the Future?". Plus, registration for the next "Digital and Innovation Day " on 5 December 2018 is already open. Early bookers can take advantage of this year's price until the end of 2017.

Information on MEXCON 2018

#DigiDay18 information and registration

Digital beacons of the MICE sector

Leipzig 360°: The partners of the congress initiative feature a variety of venues and services on their website that can be viewed through panorama images and, using VR glasses, even in 3D.

"Valley 16": Six top managers of Messe München GmbH visited Silicon Valley companies in October 2016 and spontaneously set up a blog to write about their experiences. The project received the German Online Communication Award 2017.

Virtueller Showroom CCH: This virtual showroom provides event planners with access to the new CCH - Congress Center Hamburg even before its opening in 2019. To make this possible, Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH has equipped the showroom with detailed 3D renderings and an interactive hologram.

"The topics of the talks were so varied that every interest was covered. The workshop I attended was very professional and definitely provided me with input that I can use in practice!"

Oliver Edwards, Conference & Touring, C&T GmbH

"I thought it was very beneficial to look a digitilization in all its facets and from every angle: Where am I - what can I still add?"

Elisabeth Stasch, Stasch Event & Travel GmbH

How digitilization came alive at DigiDay17

Science-Slam: "Smartest ideas & hottest trends - the digital future of MICE

EventMobi: Event app and platform for the entire event planning, from registration to feedback and user statistics
UCM.Agency: Efficiency through flexible staff solutions for events
Spacebase: Providing unusual meeting venues worldwide
MATE: "Autopilot" for networked guest and staff management as well as venue and catering selection 

Interaktive Workshops:

Influencer marketing in the MICE sector with Florian Bauhuber (Tourismuszukunft)
GO LIVE - real time communication for your event with Günter Exel (Tourismuszukunft)
From customer to content journey: AccorHotels 360-degree communication case study, with Sybille Milka-Böhm (Accor), Thorsten Habermann (Accor) and Michael Heipel
Event design via Visual Thinking: #EventCanvas with Gerrit Jessen (MCI)