EVVC Management Conference in Bregenz and Lindau

"Tradition with future"

"Tradition with future – new thinking, new acting, new approaches" was the motto of the 18th Management Conference of the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC), which took place at Bregenz Festival House from 17 to 19 September 2017 and was attended by about 280 participants.

Festspielhaus Bregenz Bühnenturm Ausschnitt mit Himmel © Dominic Kummer

Vice-president Ilona Jarabek (Music and Congress Hall in Lübeck) and the new team at the Frankfurt office headed up by Linda Residovic consciously chose this motto for the conference, to stress the need to combine what is long established with what is new, and thereby promote positive tension and intensive communication among participants. It was in this spirit that Jarabek welcomed the participants as they gathered for stand-up coffee on the first day of the event. "Events with tradition and modernity can make an important contribution to understanding within Europe. Without tradition the future is unimaginable," Jarabek said.

Dealing with uncertainty and unfamiliarity was a central theme of the keynote speech by extreme mountaineer and management consultant Rainer Petek. He urged his listeners to be courageous, to say goodbye to what doesn't work and retain what has proved effective. "Uncertainty is an invitation by the future to make something great out of it," Petek declared. Only a combination of high dependability and a willingness to experiment leads to success, he said, adding that the event industry had to continue to develop and to consider how events can help create sensational experiences. "With things getting more digital, analogue experiences are becoming increasingly important," Petek noted.

Open Space and interactive event formats

The main item on the agenda of day two of the conference was an Open Space meeting. In a three-hour window, participants talked about a whole range of topics together with their colleagues – including wireless LAN, data protection, marketing strategies and the possibility of EU subsidies for the EVVC. "Open Space is the perfect format for so heterogeneous a group as the EVVC," said the president of the association, Joachim König. "Here everybody can bring up what interests them and discuss it with like-minded people on the same level, so that everyone gets what they're looking for."

Among other subjects that came up for discussion in the conference workshops and round tables were the role of women in the event industry, data protection, digitalisation, temporary staff supply, and energy-efficient upgrading.

A workshop entitled Future Meeting Space – Best Practice for the Conference Room of the Future was given by Bastian Fiedler of m:con Mannheim Congress GmbH. He recommended persuading clients that there are alternatives to the plenary session. It is becoming more and more important that products and services can be experienced, and a variety of event formats that allow this do exist, he said. In the fishbowl set-up afterwards, participants discussed how this can be implemented in everyday life. As Tina Gadow, curator of mice:lab project, commented: "The spark can only jump across if I myself am already ignited. That's why it's so important to experience new event formats and try them out yourself. If you know what possibilities are offered by a particular format, you can further develop it using your own imagination and adapt it to suit your own circumstances." The EVVC conference is a great platform for trying things out in a safe environment, according to Gadow. If something doesn't go down well or doesn't work out, you can get feedback from colleagues about it – in the sense of learning with and from one another.

Evening events in Lindau and Bregenz

On Sunday afternoon, conference participants accepted an invitation from Lindau Tourismus und Kongress GmbH to take a ship from Bregenz to the island of Lindau. They visited the building site of the Inselhalle congress centre in Lindau. Managing director Carsten Holz emphasised that tradition and modernity went hand in hand at the renowned Inselhalle, with the old congress hall being preserved and supplemented by new areas. Positive error management and constant communication among the parties involved had been learned as a result of delays in the construction, Holz said, adding: "A healthy network is as valuable as gold."

Working interactively in groups of three people who did not know each other previously, the participants enthusiastically applied themselves to the task of immortalising the MICE industry in calligraphic and pictorial art. The evening festivities took place at the Eilguthalle in Lindau harbour as an alternative venue to the still unfinished Inselhalle.

On the second evening, Gerhard Stübe invited the participants onto the stage of the Great Hall at Bregenz Festival House. After watching a moving performance of Tango en Punta – an inclusive tango festival open to people with disabilities – the Board of the EVVC spontaneously decided to donate 1,000 euros to the project.

Room for experiment in 2018

The next Management Conference of the EVVC will he held at the Marina Forum in Regensburg from 16 to 18 September 2018. "I can already promise that next year, too, we will offer room for experiment and create a range of possibilities for encounter and interaction between our members and partners," said Vice-president Ilona Jarabek. "The variety of the formats and the possibility to experience them personally, live, was one of the success factors of this event."