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New Event Formats and what they mean for business networking
by Mark Kessels
Tags: Event Networking, Event Planning

New Event Formats and What They Mean for Business Networking

Participative event formats and meeting design are hot topics, not only just before the IMEX. What effects do such trends have on business networking?


For some time, more and more event managers have been concerning themselves with the topic of meeting design. There is still however no clear description of what meeting design actually means. In any case, it means to design meetings, conferences and events in such a way that they reach clearly defined goals and to be designed toward the requirements of the target group(s).

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with meeting design trends in the B2B segment and also consider to what extent contact initiation between service/product providers and their interested parties can be improved using meeting design technologies. 

The German Convention Bureau, in cooperation with Fraunhofer Institute and further partners, has started an interesting, broad project that concerns itself with what the Future Meeting Space will look like. It tries to research the influences of technology on event design.

Based on diverse social and technological trends that will influence meetings, the research team has developed 6 scenarios of what events will look like in the future.



So where do business networking and matchmaking fit in to these scenarios? Let’s see which event formats GCB believe will be probable in the future. 

Interactive Forum

"An event with 50-200 guests starts with a collective presentation, following which individual topics will be discussed in small groups. The interaction of participants is of primary focus.” This is the scenario that we already experience at a lot of conferences.

Using targeted, software-supported matchmaking, events of this type can be prepared efficiently as it allows contacts and combinations that make sense for both parties to be found prior to the event.


Spatially Distributed Congress

"Several regional events take place simultaneously and equally at several locations. The events are broadcasted and thereby communication is achieved by doing so. This scenario is particularly beneficial regarding time efficiency, safety and the creation of an experience/adventure."

There are also examples of this already, including the FRESH Conference, an event geared towards event planners. This solution obviously leads to savings on travel and accommodation costs.

For many participants, business networking is one of the most important goals of the event. This is easy to solve at each of the individual locations, however event organizers of a spatially distributed congress would need to think of a good concept to enable overall networking between locations. Technology could of course help to do so.

Co-Working Congress

"An event that lasts several days offers enough time and space to construct and maintain a sustainable network, as well as allows enough time to complete the usual daily work tasks. The short-term design and time efficiency make this scenario particularly attractive."

Briefly put: you meet and work together (or separated from each other) at one location. This would be an ideal case for business networking and matchmaking, as how else would you get to know potential business partners more intensively? 

Totally Analogue

"The analogue event deliberately takes place somewhere remote. The goal is the focus on content where a connection to the world outside plays no role whatsoever. A scenario that particularly covers requirements regarding safety and an extraordinary experience."

Each trend creates a new anti-trend and this is how this event format can be considered as a continuation of closed meetings in the digital age. Definitely an interesting format that is rather geared towards existing communities (e.g. business clubs, leadership teams etc.). 

Hybrid Event 

"A real event is also placed in a virtual room. The existence of a parallel, digital world enables participants to be both physically and digitally present. The scenario is therefore time efficient and experience-rich. "

This is exactly the approach of business matchmaking offers such as Converve. Using defined parameters and interests, you can find suitable business contacts in both the real and virtual world. 

Virtual Goes Real

"A community that exists exclusively in social media meets outside of the networks to get in contact personally. A scenario that unites interaction elements with a short-term nature and experience value".

What can develop out of such a concept can be seen at the Online Marketing Rockstars event in Hamburg: A festival that was created out of an online community and in the meantime draws 15,000 visitors annually to Hamburg. Matchmaking takes place online in this event format, but the real meetings deepens contacts and relationships!

Bottom Line

Event formats in the future will focus considerably stronger on interaction rather than on information. Information is everywhere and accessible around the clock, whereby interaction and networking are the major disciplines of events. 

If it is your job to unite providers and potential consumers, projects such as Future Meeting Space help to keep an eye on trends and relevant developments. 



By Mark Kessels

Mark found the potential of combining technology with events so fascinating that he founded an event technology company 10 years ago. The innovative entrepreneur hangs out with his dog Mylo in his free time and loves to travel.

About this blog

Whether you are an organizer or participant in a networking event: With the Converve platform, you can optimally prepare for tradeshows, conferences and other events. Here you will find useful information and tips.

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