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Knowledge transfer is key, says German Convention Bureau

Knowledge transfer is the key to successful events according to new research by the German Convention Bureau (GCB).

And event planners should also concentrate on surprising or disruptive elements that bring about a change, plus individually respond to the requirements of different attendee types.

The GCB presented the results of its Future Meeting Space research project at the 2019 PCMA Convening Leaders conference in Pittsburgh, providing insights into attendee types and success factors as well as recommendations for action.

The survey found that there are six attendee types. They represent different degrees of tech-savviness, they differ in their communication behaviour, and are either more or less career-focused and can be found in different levels of their organisation. Depending on the attendee type, age and gender also come into play.

Analysis of the survey data identified six success factors for events. It found that satisfaction is largely influenced by the knowledge transfer and disruption: attendees are happy with events if they learned something new that they can apply in their everyday work and if events surprised them or triggered changes. Networking, interaction and use of digital technologies are further success factors.

Based on the attendee types and success factors, the research partners developed a number of recommendations for planners, including dedicated support for more introvert or less tech-savvy attendees, as well as tips for creating events that strike a balance between time spent on organisation and what is gained from them. The research partners also recommended the use of new and innovative formats and technologies as well as visualisation aids and interactive formats to foster knowledge transfer. One interesting result of the study is the importance of disruptive elements: events that change organisations create lasting memories.

“The study has identified realistic attendee types as they currently exist. It also highlights the most relevant success factors and reviewed some common assumptions about the effects of certain factors,” said Dr Stefan Rief, head of the research unit for organisational development and work design at Fraunhofer IAO.

Matthias Schultze, GCB managing director, added: “As our analysis has proven, knowledge transfer is important for events. Building on that, the planned third Future Meeting Space research phase will look at the primary role events play as trendsetters for business and science.”