Matthias Schultze
How to plan your future-proof event in seven steps 
Matthias Schultze, Managing Director GCB German Convention Bureau e. V.  about the Future Meeting Space project.
The results of the Future Meeting Space research project speak for themselves: Digitisation and the way we are using technology has dramatically changed what attendees expect from events. What worked in the past, won’t work for much longer.
As a hands-on guide, the partners of the research project have developed a toolbox that helps event planners and venues implement one of the six Future Meeting Room scenarios that have come out of Future Meeting Space initiative. Read our step-by-step guide to identify which scenario meets your requirements and how to turn it into a successful event!
Step 1: Who are your stakeholders?
Before choosing an event format and planning accordingly, you need to clearly define who your target group is. What kind of challenges your target group is faced with, what motivates these people to attend your event and what might prevent them? Apart from developing buyer personas you can also use methods of meeting design, such as the event canvas, to define your target audience.
Step 2: What are your goals?
What kind of behavioural changes would you like to see in your target groups after attending your event? What do you as the organiser and your immediate stakeholders expect from the event? Of course, there’s a difference between presenting a new electric car to a wide audience or wanting to commit the management team to a company’s new corporate strategy in the context of a closed-door meeting.
Step 3: Which Future Meeting Room scenario is the best for your goals and target groups?
The Future Meeting Space project has defined six main meeting scenarios for our industry that meet the demands of the future. Choose from the list below which one works best for your stakeholders and goals:
1. Interactive Forum: This is a logical evolution of conferences as we already know them, however, enriched with many more interactive elements and small-group work instead of lecture-style presentations. Works best for groups of 50 to 200 participants
2. Multisite Conference: The combination of multiple event locations and simultaneous events is ideal if attendees from different geographical regions are not able to all come together in one place, be it for time or budget reasons.
3. Co-working Conference: This format supports creative processes when the output of a meeting is not 100% predictable. Co-working Conferences can take up to seven days and have developed out of BarCamp and Hackathon events. They allow attendees to use free time during the event for their everyday work tasks.
4. Unplugged Conference: This format is all about the conscious shutting off from all external influences of the modern world. Attendees literally unplug which allows for a more intense knowledge transfer and lasting effect.
5. Hybrid Conference: Virtual and physically present delegates communicate live about the same topics. This type of event allows for the broadest possible distribution of knowledge.
6. Virtual Goes Live: Here, online communities meet in the real world. The physical meeting is organised online, and since participants already know each other from the virtual world, they will reach results faster.
Step 4: Which venue allows for the implementation of your chosen scenario?
Meeting planners often start at the end – first, they choose a venue, then the concept – when actually it needs to be done the other way round. A hybrid conference, for example, needs a completely different venue than an unplugged conference. Co-working conferences require a lot of space for spontaneous work groups and seating arrangements that reflect the informal nature of proceedings. Interactive forums need considerably more breakout rooms than conventional lecture-style conferences.
Step 5: What kind of tech tools are needed?
The chosen scenario defines which types of technology you will have to use at your event, be it live streaming or polling, access to documents via cloud technologies or different kinds of projection technologies.
Step 6: How does your chosen format affect event marketing?
In comparison to a conventional conference, a multisite conference can much more focus on regional marketing. The “Virtual Goes Live” format requires building up and engaging with an online community prior to the event. An unplugged conference has a different USP than a co-working conference which needs to be considered when marketing such events.
Step 7: How to achieve a lasting effect?
Based on your goals, you’ll need to ask yourself for each scenario how to make the effect of your event last longer and beyond its actual duration. In this context, the customer experience is key, i.e. how can you offer attendees added value that goes beyond the event itself, such as networking offers, additional content or preparing your event’s results in an engaging way.
Follow these seven steps in order to develop and implement events that stay ahead of the curve and consider the changing requirements of a digital world.
Innovation network FUTURE MEETING SPACE
The innovation network “Future Meeting Space” was created by the German Convention Bureau (GCB) and the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. It looks into trends, innovations, and societal developments and their possible influence on the meetings industry.
w w w. future-meeting-space. com
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