CIM 2020/5 Focus

Light and shadow

// Katharina Brauer

Social distancing rules reinforce the need for networking. Industry associations, virtual events and apps strengthen bonds within the events industry.

Together strong: Study tour “Event design beyond borders”; Lake Constance, 2019 Photo: Thomas Loris

In this together. “No one is safe until we are all safe,” was the résumé of the 12th World Health Summit (WHS), which mobilised more than 6,000 participants from over 100 countries taking part online from 25 to 27 October 2020. “Only by working closely together, we will be able to come out of this crisis and only together we will be able to improve global health, our common noble goal,” emphasised WHS President Detlev Ganten. The pharmacologist and former CEO of Berlin’s Charité university hospital underlined the key takeaway of the WHS: “Education is the best prevention.” Those who understand the routes of infection keep a physical distance.

The events industry, which has been massively affected by this necessary distancing rule, is committed to its common goals and spoke with one voice at the concerted #AlarmstufeRot campaign on 28 October 2020 in Berlin.

In its Meetings Industry Manifesto for the global business events industry published in July 2020, the Joint Meeting Industry Council (JMIC), a network of 18 industry associations worldwide, outlined ways that events contribute to economic recovery and social renewal in the post-COVID-19 era. “This is a great opportunity for us to explain to governments, not just the direct economic benefits of business events but also their long-term legacy impact on the knowledge economy within their destination,” says Imex CEO Carina Bauer in a webinar on the JMIC Manifesto. The business events industry has the potential to stimulate society in its transformation process necessitated by the pandemic.

A joint presence of the German agencies of twelve congress and event destinations in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East is the aim of the Destinations Circle platform. On the first virtual MICE platform planners of international events were able to learn about the latest offerings and news of the twelve partners online on 25 November 2020.

Locations Rhine-Main-Neckar also took place as an exclusively digital event on 4 and 5 November 2020 with the digital twin of Mannheim’s Rosengarten Congress Center as its venue. “Together with the exhibitors and partners, we want to show that there are trade fair and event concepts that can continue to work within the framework of the current rules,” explains organiser Nicole Stegmann. “The virtual replica of Rosengarten generated perfect trade fair vibes and enabled me to establish contacts and participate in live chat groups through my avatar,” says Silke Fontius. The officer of Rhine-Neckar Convention Bureau says that Locations was a success both for her own stand and for the stands of twelve CVB partners.

“The COVID-19 crisis has definitely strengthened solidarity among our members as well as in our network. More intensive ‧communication with virtual meetings every three weeks has also contributed to the positive approach,” says Fontius. CVB Rhine-Neckar has even been able to welcome four new members since the beginning of the pandemic.

ProfTreff 2020, hosted by the Munich Congress Alliance and City of Munich, shows that the networking spirit is very important in times of social distancing. On 6 October 2020, 80 scientists met representatives of Munich’s meetings industry at Gloria-Palast cinema in Munich, while 100 guests attended the event digitally. The event with the motto “Future. Now. Live Meets Digital” was initiated by trendhouse event marketing.

The 2nd Female Future Festival, which was originally scheduled for March 2020 in Bregenz, welcomed 600 attendees as an exclusively digital event on 1 October 2020. At Austria’s largest event for women, which focuses on job opportunities, future, innovation and career, the attendees were able to network via an app named “Events Vorarlberg”. The app was provided by Convention Partner Vorarlberg, which wants to “enable meaningful encounters”, says managing director Urs Treuthardt. Convention Partner Vorarlberg is a member of the BodenseeMeeting network, which promotes the common MICE spirit in its micelab:explorer research modules and adapts it to the demands of the new zeitgeist. The results of the third explorer event have been incorporated into the micelab:extract “I & We”, which is now available as a book. There, micelab:bodensee curator Michael Gleich explores how a solidarity ‧system can change under increasing pressure, and whether a feeling of solidarity can also be created in virtual spaces. “Corona provided more light and more shadow at the same time,” is his ‧preliminary conclusion.