Photo Credit: German Convention Bureau/Luis Bompastor

The hybrid multi-site congress “BOCOM – Experience Borderless Communication” on 3 September showcased how innovative technologies and empathic speakers can be combined to create a unique event with a global community of participants.

At “BOCOM – Experience Borderless Communication” on 3 September, numerous protagonists of Germany’s meetings industry successfully demonstrated their readiness for future event formats – especially considering the current global pandemic – as well as their willingness to continuously drive forward these formats with innovative partners. The event market’s hybridisation is developing dynamically: As early as March 2020, 75 per cent of organisers surveyed in the Meetings & Events Barometer rated virtual formats as expandable, and 60 per cent of providers described hybrid and multi-site events as forward-looking. At BOCOM, several hundred participants met on-site at the central conference venue in Berlin, at the hubs in Amsterdam, Essen and Vienna as well as virtually from all continents to be inspired and to discuss how we may work and communicate in the future. “With its dual focus on face-to-face encounters and digital networking, the hybrid multi-site congress is an essential component of our recovery strategy ‚At the heart of future events‘”, says Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB German Convention Bureau e.V., BOCOM’s initiator.

Photo Credit: German Convention Bureau

Room for ideas instead of “business as usual”

BOCOM’s agenda was developed collaboratively with partners from the corporate, agency and science fields. The agenda put a special focus on reflecting on the past months’ experiences and discussing new solutions. Throughout the morning and afternoon sessions, BOCOM featured speakers from very different backgrounds – from the corporate world, academia, city marketing organisations and hospitality to tech specialists, event professionals, start-up entrepreneurs, sustainability experts and artists. In addition to the Conference Area, BOCOM’s Interactive Area provided all on-site and virtual participants with various opportunities for testing new formats in a Corona-compliant manner: Whether in the virtual reality workshop, experiencing virtual locations with VR glasses, during in-depth discussions in the Speaker’s Corner or in the interactive engagement canvas workshop. Thanks to Remote Simultaneous Interpreting and the concept of Silent Conferencing, language barriers were of no concern at BOCOM. All live guests were equipped with headphones and a receiver to choose from different audio streams. Participants attending via the live stream also had the option of switching between German and English.

Photo Credit: German Convention Bureau/Luis Bompastor

Test lab with a scientific foundation

One of BOCOM’s essential building blocks is the scientific evaluation conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO. All participants – regardless of their location, on-site or virtual – were invited to express their motives for participating in BOCOM, their expectations and needs, and especially their assessment of the different formats of the hybrid multi-site congress by means of a questionnaire. The research aims at identifying, among other things, how the multi-site setup affects participants regarding the transfer of knowledge, interaction and networking as well as how the participants experienced different formats. Another key question of the evaluation revolves around BOCOM’s ecological sustainability performance. The evaluation’s results as well as recommendations for future actions will be published within a few weeks. In the spirit of constant advancement, BOCOM’s initiators invite all guests and partners to share their experiences made on-site in Berlin, in the hubs or virtually even beyond the research process – they are invited to join the BOCOM community and to take new formats and experiences to the next level.