Why will people attend in-person events in the future?

With its new research focus 2022, the Future Meeting Space (FMS) innovation network looks at the reasons why people will in the future decide for or against attending business events in person. Under the headline “Redefining event attendance”, the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V. and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO are joining forces with their research partners to identify changing patterns of business travel and mobility. The innovation network’s new research phase thus directly ties in with the results of its last research on “Changing ecosystems”, which presents trend scenarios for the age of borderless communication and related recommended actions for industry stakeholders. The corresponding study is now available for download free of charge.

The event industry is facing enormous changes as diverse influencing factors create an increasingly complex environment. In its paper “Changing ecosystems – future scenarios for business events in the age of borderless communication”, the FMS innovation network lays out the changing demands placed on the events industry in the new ecosystem of events as identified in its 2021 research phase. More than 60 factors that influence ten key areas were analysed in detail, and the research process produced three trend scenarios, i.e., “Tried and trusted – renaissance of the real”, “Diverse and flexible – the global community” and “Green and aware – the net zero society”. The corresponding paper with recommended actions for the various industry stakeholders is now available for download free of charge.

Why people attend in-person events

The last FMS research made clear that people will continue to seek face-to-face meetings in the future and again travel more. However, they will choose these occasions more consciously than before the pandemic. The business events sector will therefore have to look at the question of why participants will in the future decide to attend meetings, conferences, and congresses in person. The FMS innovation network is addressing this issue with its new research topic 2022. “In the new ecosystem of business events, which is characterised by digital and hybrid formats as much as by the longing for authentic locations, emotional experiences and sustainably organised events, people’s motivation is also shifting when deciding for or against attending events in person,” says Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB. “Being aware of these motivations has enormous potential for industry stakeholders as it enables them to develop tailor-made offers.”

The aim of the 2022 research process is to develop different travel typologies or characterisations in the context of business travel based on the various reasons for people to attend events. In addition, different travel patterns will be analysed and tailor-made target groups and offers identified. Based on the resulting insights, recommended actions for the event industry’s different stakeholder groups will be formulated. “In the future, we can again expect people to travel more for business, but this will come with much more deliberate decisions whether to travel or not,” explains Dr. Stefan Rief, Head of Organisational Development and Work Design Research Unit at Fraunhofer IAO. “It will therefore be essential to distinguish between different travel typologies and to differentiate target groups more clearly in order to be able to come up with customised offers and develop new business models.”

2022 research phase with strong partners

For this year’s research, FMS will again work with a large and diverse group of research partners. The innovation network is currently supported by AllSeated GmbH, Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH, Bochumer Veranstaltungs-GmbH, Cologne Convention Bureau, Encore (represented by KFP Five Star Conference Services GmbH), EVVC European Association of Event Centers e.V., Jena Kultur, Leipziger Messe GmbH, Messe und Congress Centrum Halle Münsterland GmbH, Nürnberg Convention, Radisson Hotel Group, the 7 Cities and the City of Münster.