by Patrick Hoffnung, CEO European Convention Center Luxembourg & Sven Bossu, CEO AIPC
Let us start with the good news: organized events are taking place again throughout Europe and the smiles on the faces of the participants are a clear indicator that the need for meeting face to face is very high. At the same time, both organizers and convention centers need to work harder to convince participants to join the events physically. One way of doing so is by offering a new type of experience by making full use of all the assets of a destination.
After 18 months of digital interaction, organized events are back, albeit very often smaller in size. There are several reasons for this decrease in participation: there are still travel restrictions in place (both on country and company level), budgets have suffered and—most importantly—people must be offered compelling and convincing reasons to make the journey, as most events now offer the possibility to join digitally. Why would you take the trouble of going to a venue if you can attend in the comfort of your home office?
The key reasons for doing so are, of course, always linked with the content of the conference, the business benefits, the opportunities for sharing knowledge and networking, etc. All these elements are under the control of the event organizer. However, we do believe the convention centers can make a (big) difference when it comes to making the case for the participants to join physically: by offering experiences which complement or re-enforce the core value proposal of the organizer.
To do so successfully, there must be a thorough and joint understanding of the profile and the needs of the participants. A radiotherapist going to a medical conference is likely to have different needs and expectations than a senior banker attending a fintech exhibition or a young entrepreneur involved in a hackathon during an event for start-ups. The better the understanding by the convention center, the more tailormade solutions can be defined.
At the European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL), the leadership fully understood this need and developed with its local partners a full suite of offers for event organizers and participants. The location of the convention center gave it a clear advantage to do so: close to the heart of the historical city, surrounded by a concert hall, a museum for modern art, a shopping center and a wide range of hotels, bars and restaurants. All these stakeholders were convinced that by working together, a win-win situation could be created for both the individual companies and Luxembourg as a destination.
As a result, the ECCL and its partners can offer both organizers and participants unique experiences, from combining the participation to a conference with attending a classical concert, upgrades in hotels, stunning social events in the modern art museum, discounts in restaurants, etc. And all of this within walking distance of the convention center, turning the entire area into an event plaza.
It is also important to note that the offer will be in “continuous construction.” By closely monitoring and sharing the results, for example: the percentage of the participants taking up one or more elements of the offer—the ECCL and its partners can fine tune and improve the offer, based on datapoints collected (while, of course, respecting all privacy rules).
With this offer, the ECCL wants to provide organizers the opportunity to offer something unique to their communities and make the case for making the journey even more compelling. Other convention centers and destinations worldwide are taking similar steps and we truly believe that these efforts will make a difference in bringing back conference and exhibition participants, to the benefit of all involved.
Holding a degree in Tourism Economy and having 35 years of experience in the MICE business, Patrick Hoffnung’s (pictured left) career started in France, followed by positions in Polynesia and Italy. Since December 2013, he’s CEO at Luxembourg Congrès and manages the European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL). Till 2019, he combined this role with the presidency of Cluster MICE Luxembourg, promoting the country. Contact him at email@example.com.
Sven Bossu was appointed as AIPC’s first CEO in May last year. Prior, he was the managing director for innovation at ESTRO, the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology, and spent eight years at SWIFT, organizing the world-renowned SIBOS conference. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AIPC represents a global network of more than 190 leading centers in 64 countries with the active involvement of more than 1,000 management-level professionals worldwide. It is committed to encouraging and recognizing excellence in convention center management, based on the diverse experience and expertise of its international representation, and maintains a variety of educational, research, networking and standards programs to achieve this. For more info, visit aipc.org.
This story originally appeared in the Nov./Dec. 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 20. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_nov-dec_2021