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How the platform economy will influence the meetings industry

A new study that was initiated by the GCB German Convention Bureau analyses the impact, challenges and opportunities of the platform economy for the meetings and conference sector. The project “Platform Economy: New Players, New Markets, New Business Models – Evolution or Revolution for the Meeting World?” was jointly realised with German event industry partners, such as the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association Germany (HSMA), the convention bureaus of Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart (“7 Cities” group) and the Association of Event Planners (VDVO). Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO carried out the research.

Platforms as the digital economy’s core business model that enables direct, digital interaction between suppliers and customers is set to become a crucial challenge for the event sector in the digital transformation and will, at the same time, provide major opportunities. Against this background, the study looks at the question of how platforms will change the role of event planners and suppliers, e.g., event venues or hotels and event agencies, as well as of destination marketing organisations. Based on interviews with experts and focus group sessions recommendations for actions and future scenarios were developed.

 

Understanding AI and focussing on USPs

Recommendations for actions include to develop know-how on how algorithms function, the creation of virtual content by venue operators to enable quick access to relevant information for customers, data profiling and consistent customer relationship management. The experts questioned for the study stressed the key role of AI for platforms, saying that ongoing technological advancements will enable the handling of increasingly complex events via platforms. The study also outlines a possible future scenario involving highly advanced AI that enables powering a “Smart Meetings Assistant” to support event planners across the whole customer journey.

„It’ll be crucial that the market players on the one hand understand AI and algorithms and on the other effectively position their USPs along the customer journey,” comments GCB Managing Director Matthias Schultze on the study findings. “In this context, event planners will be presented with the opportunity to concentrate on essential planning and creative phases within event organisation and to implement their ideas while getting optimum support,” adds Dr. Stefan Rief, Head of Organisational Development and Work Design Research Unit at Fraunhofer IAO.

 

Planners and suppliers expect platforms to change how they work together

The focus groups with event planners and service providers revealed that both sides expect platforms to change how they work with each other. At the same time, the industry professionals assume that human contact will continue to be a preference when complex topics, event design, creativity and personalised requirements are concerned.

 

Illustration: GCB German Convention Bureau: results of first study on the impact of platforms on the organisation, marketing and running of events.