German events market undergoes digital transformation

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The German event sector has become more diversified and is increasingly influenced by digitalisation and internationalisation, according to a new report.

The Meeting & Event Barometer 2018/19, produced by the German National Tourist Board (GNTB), European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) and GCB German Convention Bureau, found that the country’s meetings market is seeing more hybrid meetings and an increase in the overall number of attendees, with sustainability a top priority.

GCB managing director Matthias Schultze said: “The latest figures show that the event market is becoming more heterogeneous and increasingly diversified. This trend manifests itself in new event formats in venues that cater for the changing requirements brought about by our new, more flexible and cooperative ways of working. Diversification also means that we see more hybrid events with digital elements as well as new marketing tools and a growing number of international attendees. Suppliers in the German event community adjust their activities accordingly which is reflected in the growing importance of digital marketing and sales.”

Based on the overall number of people attending meetings, conferences and events in Germany, the report confirms the sector as a growth market – up 1.6 per cent to 412 million attendees. The growing number of attendees is juxtaposed by a slightly decreasing number of events which means that more attendees take part in fewer and mostly medium-sized to large events. In an increasingly varied market, this trend was already visible in last year’s Barometer results and is partly caused by the use of new technologies, with smaller meetings moving in the digital space.

With different types of events showing different growth rates, the “congresses, meetings and seminars” category is again the by far most important type of event in Germany, accounting for 60.9 per cent of all events and displaying above average growth of 3.1 percentage points in comparison to the previous year.

On average, 9 per cent of attendees (37.2 million) are from abroad, equalling an increase of 2.1 per cent in comparison to 2017. Since the first Barometer analysis the number of international event attendees has almost trebled, from 14.3 million in 2006.

The survey covered 7,472 event centres, conference hotels and other event venues and showed a growing share of these spaces working with dedicated sustainability management systems; 40 per cent last year compared to 27 per cent in 2011.

The overall number of venues has slightly increased, with event venues exhibiting the strongest growth. This includes former industrial sites, providing ideal surroundings for creative and innovative formats as well as being able to offer the appropriate tech infrastructure for hybrid events.

The growing importance of hybrid events as a combination of conventional in-person attendance and the integration of various digital tools including online participation of remote attendees was underlined with an increase from 2017 to 2018.

EVVC vice president Jan Jansen said: “As the latest research results of our joint ‘Future Meeting Space’ innovation network have shown, it is crucial for the success of events that they leave a lasting memory – and the integration of innovative and digital elements can help achieve this.”

The digital transformation has also changed how event venues market their offerings, with online activities and digital elements, such as listings on online marketplaces, by now taking up more budget than conventional marketing tools.

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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