Being there is almost everything
Why do experts and attendees travel half way round the world to take part in a conference? What is it that's so special about meetings in the age of digitalization? For the clients of Kongresskultur Bregenz the answer is simple: meeting other people in person moves and motivates.
More than 700 women came together at the Bregenz congress centre in April 2019 for the first Female Future Festival – the biggest event for women in Austria. The festival was all about job opportunities, career prospects, the future and innovation. Strengthening connections between women was the aim of the organisers Patricia Zupan and Verena Eugster, executive directors of the agencies w3 marketing in Dornbirn and w2 event & concept ag in Liechtenstein.
Why did the organisers decide on a festival and not an online platform for women? "When you meet people in person, you can be much more attentive to them. You experience emotions much more strongly," says Zupan with conviction. "And so the participants go home with new ideas and put them into practice, too." In contrast, digital networks often just conjure up a world of appearances, she says.
A very similar line of argument is taken by Romana Schlaffer of the Austrian Society for Clinical Nutrition (AKE). She regularly organises dialogues and conferences, including last year's Nutrition Congress. At that event, 700 experts from Austria, Germany and Switzerland discussed all aspects of healthy eating. "A face-to-face meeting motivates people more strongly to actually implement ideas and apply knowledge, and it provides excellent opportunities for networking," Schlaffer declares confidently. "After a conference you go back home more motivated and full of drive and initiative."
In future the Austrian Society for Clinical Nutrition plans to exploit digital possibilities in a complementary way: "We are considering offering further training via webinars or video broadcasts, for example," Schlaffer says. She had a positive experience using e-voting at the conference as a way of involving the visitors.
This is an opinion shared by Daniela Knünz, network manager of Netzwerk Logistik, who states: "digital technology is an ideal supplement to conferences". The network holds the annual Logistic Forum which attracts approx. 300 participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Even in the soberly functional world of logistics, personal contact is indispensable. "Our members want to interact on the same level. It's only in personal conversation that we can find out first-hand how the person we are dealing with reacts," she says.
(wp - pzwei) 5.11.2019
Photo: Lisa Mathis