© left: Jamie Street on Unplash; right: William Iven on Unplash

Digital technologies and channels revolutionise the marketing of conference venues – yes or no?

Here's how GCB members market their renovated or newly built facilities

In the age of Siri, Alexa, VR or AR, are conventional marketing strategies a thing of the past? Numerous channels, ever new digital technologies and an unmanageable diversity of target groups - while the "old ways" of doing things might not completely be a thing of the past yet, marketing and sales strategies are nevertheless changing because the search, usage and booking behaviour of potential customers changes, too. In particular new convention venues that are just being built need to think twice about their marketing strategies and take into account how marketing and communication activities are continuously changing.

Do you rely on sales calls, trade fairs, content or online marketing or conventional communication measures? From Google ads and influencer marketing to VR or 3D: The choice of marketing options has become almost endless. We have asked GCB member conference venues that have recently opened, are still being built or are about to renovate their facilities about their current marketing and sales strategies:

Oliver Heiliger

"We started selling the new RheinMain CongressCenter at the beginning of the construction phase, i. e, four years before its opening. If you're taking the risk to book a venue that is not finished yet, you need specific information. We market our congress centre with a 3D real-time virtual model. It was developed true to scale and modified according to the current state of planning. On this basis, our customers got a good idea of the architecture, look, size and arrangement of the available spaces and could see what type of seating arrangements and events are possible. We used the model in client meetings and at trade shows and always received positive feedback."

Oliver Heiliger, Managing Director, RheinMain CongressCenter

Lars Wöhler

"The way we communicate and our public image are important to make customers feel confident about what we're doing. Therefore, both are essential when marketing a new but also an existing venue. However, one-to-one conversations are still the be-all and end-all, be it on the phone, at trade fairs and networking events or on site in companies or at the venue itself. Also, as a service provider, you have to be able to identify the individual needs of a client and respond to them, from planning through to implementing an event."

Lars Wöhler, Managing Director, Wissenschafts- und Kongresszentrum Darmstadt GmbH & Co. KG  & Centralstation Veranstaltungs-GmbH

Philipp Geusendam

"Starting in the autumn of 2018, we'll be renovating and modernising our congress hall for a period of twelve months and add a further space, the "Loft Meeting". As international conventions in particular are planned with a very long lead time, we focus on an honest and transparent communication, putting the customer at the centre of everything we're doing. We already saw in 2007 when working on the Rheingoldhalle extension how much our clients appreciate this open manner."

Philipp Geusendam, Convention Sales Manager, mainzplus CITYMARKETING GmbH

Mathias Schiemer

"For the marketing of the new congress centre in Heidelberg, we work with a cross-promotion campaign, using a number of keywords that highlight what makes our venue and destination stand out, such as 'Heidelberg as a city of science and research with the oldest German university', 'the new congress centres as part of the biggest district of passive houses worldwide' or 'unique space options for 21st century conventions'."

Mathias Schiemer, Managing Director, Heidelberg Marketing GmbH

Franziska Maier

"Our 'CCHange Campaign' during the construction phase deliberately focuses on digital marketing. Using digital tools, we're making the new CCH as real as possible for our customer. This includes a 360° film to be watched with a Oculus Rift headset, an individual room layout configurator or our show room that revolves around a virtual CCH hologram. These mostly mobile tools enable us to deliver flexible presentations in customer meetings as well as at major MICE trade shows."

Franziska Maier, Sales & Marketing Manager CCH (Congress Center Hamburg)

Sara Parr

"When being faced with the variety of channels on offer, it is, in my point of view, not about which channel or which measure is the right one but more about finding a mix of marketing activities and measures that works for your individual requirements. In this context, you should consider personal contact, traditional media but also digital and online marketing options. Nowadays, only an integrated communication strategy can be successful. You need to think about the wishes and requirements as well as the usage habits of your target audience and forget about a 'one size fits all' approach. Each channel and every technology has its own rules and you need to follow them in order to achieve long-term success with your own strategy."

Sara Parr, Deputy Director Content Marketing & Digital Channels, GCB German Convention Bureau e. V.