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Events during - and events after Corona: Digital jury session of the German Design Award 2021
Digital jury session of the German Design Award 2021. © German Design Council. Photo: Daniel Banner

At the first Stream Conference “Paths to the Future” of the “Convention Wiesbaden Campus”, renowned experts exchanged views on successful events after Corona.

Events after Corona: "Paths to the Future" - Summit in Wiesbaden
“Paths to the Future” – Summit in Wiesbaden. Image rights: Peter Krausgrill.

Communication can give hope and reassurance in times of crisis and disaster. But at the present time, when event halls, cultural halls, concert halls, exhibition halls, congress centres, museums and theatres remain closed as places of exchange, they cannot fulfil this important role as before.

On 11 and 12 February 2021, the streaming conference “Convention Wiesbaden Campus” invited over 35 renowned speakers to discuss the future of the event industry and events after Corona under the motto “Paths to the Future” (“Pfade in die Zukunft”). Among them were journalists, entrepreneurs and industry experts. Over 450 interested people took part virtually in the two days of the online event.

The invited speakers from business, the press and politics included Dr Matthias Alexander (editor FAZ), Christiane Appel (editor-in-chief m+a report), Markus Beckedahl (founder and editor-in-chief of netzpolitik.org), Helmut M. Bien (Managing Director Westermann Kommunikation, curator), Jürgen Boos (Director and Managing Director of Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH), Lutz Dietzold (CEO German Design Council), Lidewij Edelkoort (trend researcher and analyst), Robert Sarcevic (Director/Head of Fairs, Siemens’ Global Business Services), Stephan Wilhelm (Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering), Olaf Zimmermann (Managing Director Deutscher Kulturrat e.V.) and many more.

To the overview of all speakers (German).

Events after Corona: Paths into the future

In a total of eleven themed panels, speakers discussed strategies for the future of the industry and looked at current challenges and solutions. The traditional events industry has come to a standstill in many areas as a result of Corona, and schedule shifts, constraints as well as digital alternatives are causing prices to fall and weakening the previous structure. It is clear to all involved that there is no longer any “business as usual” and that new models are needed. The future of the IAA and the Book Fair in particular depends on agile further development. Therefore, a stable network for the exchange of ideas is especially important now to get the industry through the crisis.

The crisis as an opportunity

The unclear outlook is a major challenge across the industry. Where trade fairs and congresses are postponed or cancelled, agility is required. It is important to react successfully, for example with digital events. Because now it is particularly important to maintain proximity to one’s own customers and to build new relationships, as traditional market shares are shifting dynamically. Flexibility in action and thinking and the ability to look beyond one’s own nose, for example by opening up new disciplines, technologies and methods, are the order of the day.

It is important to successfully use digital possibilities for networking
It is important to successfully use digital possibilities for networking. © German Design Council. Photo: Daniel Banner

In his presentation, Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council, explained possible crisis strategies. Existing networks can be led into a digital environment, because: “Where networks exist, they can also be applied digitally,” said Dietzold. Younger target groups in particular can be reached well via digital formats. It is important to communicate in a content-oriented way: the content must be the focus. Participants can also be provided with digital material to support their own presence and networking. The possibilities range from cooperative social media work to usable text and image content to film material.

The current shift towards online events in turn facilitates participation in international congresses and trade fairs that would be difficult to reach physically. This allows for a greater breadth of one’s communication and offers new opportunities to network with international companies and personalities. At the same time, it is important to differentiate markets and react flexibly to which region events can take place in which form – purely digital or hybrid. The crisis can be seen as an opportunity.

It’s the collaboration that counts

In the future, events after Corona will be multi-media and the success of an event will no longer be determined by the number of visitors alone, but by the encounters and networking opportunities that a congress will provide.

The digital possibilities for networking are not a permanent replacement for direct exchange, but they are a valid supplement. However, the lack of contact at trade fairs, as well as the periods in between, can be successfully and profitably bridged cross-medially, because trade fair visits and digital networking will together create a new landscape of togetherness in the future.

You can watch Lutz Dietzold’s panel on YouTube:

Video recording of all panels can be found on the omepage of Wiesbaden Congress & Marketing GmbH (website in German).

Learn more about “Paths of the Future

Learn more about the conference “Paths of the Future” (website in German).

Convention Wiesbaden Campus
“Convention Wiesbaden Campus” – paths to the future. Photo: Wiesbaden Congress & Marketing

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