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Congresses should be transformational and inspire for impact

Photo: MeetDenmark

We have to leave our comfort zone and rethink how and why we meet. This was one of the key takeaways from the MeetDenmark Future Lab at this year's PCMA in Copenhagen.  

At this year’s PCMA, MeetDenmark invited participants to join the “Future Lab” and discuss how we break our habitual thinking and reimagine the future of congresses. The discussion was centered around the Shared Model of the Events of the Future which was developed together with industry thought leaders by using the LEGO SERIOUS PLAY® methodology. The LEGO-model includes the most essential elements that will make an event successful such as the possibility for networking, knowledge sharing, new technologies, but also important external factors that can influence an event e.g., political instability, rising inflation, and costs.

MDK_PCMA Model  Explained 2

©PCMAPhoto:Daniel Rasmussen

Urgent need for change

Congresses of the future are a hot topic and the participants at this year’s PCMA were eager to give their perspectives on what it could look like. One element that stood out was meeting formats and most participants stressed the need to rethink for current formats and moving away from the traditional one-way plenary sessions.

We have to look for other ways of engaging with audiences, if we as an industry want to have a future. The current meeting formats are not future proof – they are in fact running out of time

Prof. Dr. Gernot Gehrke, Management and Marketing in the Events Industry, Hochschule Hannover.

The conversations emphasized the urgent need for the industry to develop new, engaging meeting formats that foster meaningful conversations, the exchange of knowledge, ideas and new connections between delegates.

Where the magic happens

Another element of the model that caught the attention of the PCMA participants was the component of serendipity which can be defined as the chance meetings between attending delegates. Serendipity often contributes to new connections and ideas and a short conversation can trigger an insight, inspire a concept, or initiate a collaboration. It is therefore a very powerful component of in-person events and is difficult to archive online.

MeetDenmark have namedthis element “where the magic happens”, and the concept resonated with a lot of the participants. Most agreed that it is difficult to control and plan for the magic to happen; however, by adding it into the congress' design you can increase the chance of it happening. This can for example be done by curating the congress experience, so it not only speak to the head but also the heart of the participants.

MDK_PCMA Where the magic happens

©PCMAPhoto:Daniel Rasmussen

No quick fix

A lot of participants stated that it is difficult to challenge the status quo and do things differently. We tend to rely on conventional meeting formats because we know them, and we don’t really like to leave our comfort zone. There can also be a lot of other considerations e.g., sponsors that have certain expectations on how the program should be designed and what speakers should be included. It is therefore easy to reimagine congresses of tomorrow; the most difficult part is to make the necessary changes. This calls for more best practices and a continuous discussion on how congresses can generate more value for both organizers, delegates, and host destinations.

MeetDenmark will continue to work with associations, suppliers, and experts on developing new solutions for future congresses, so they become even more impact. Read more about the initiative here.