What can you do as a city when you become aware that the very survival of an industry is at risk? Events venues, organisers and suppliers are going through a terribly hard time because their businesses have come to a complete standstill due to the corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic. If that city is Rotterdam, you join forces and get down to business to devise and give shape to the event of the future. Renewal, discovery and collaboration are part of the DNA of Rotterdam, and they definitely come to the fore in a crisis. That is how we have come up with The Rotterdam Experiment – The Future of Events 2030.
It must be clear to everyone by now that the ongoing pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on people and businesses alike. The events industry is one of the sectors truly up to its neck in financial trouble. Congresses and other events have been impossible for months, music venues remain empty and caterers and other service providers are hardly able to sell any services whatsoever.
The future is unclear
Nobody knows exactly what the long-term consequences will be for the events industry, but the sector is not expected to return to ‘normal’, not least because there has been growing awareness for some time of the impact the industry has on the climate. This, combined with the increasing digitalisation of events and congresses, means that the future role of Rotterdam and other cities as the host of congresses and events has become unclear.
A series of themed experiments
For these reasons, the Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau started ‘The Rotterdam Experiment’ in late 2020. This is a series of experiments in which we – together with partners in the city and experts from the industry – explore the innovative solutions and formats that might be possible to make congresses or events happen in the future, for example, in a hybrid or online form. Every experiment focuses on a specific theme, essential to the industry both now and in the future, including Mixed Reality, Gamification, Big Data and IoT, Storytelling & AI, and Health and Safety. Rotterdam’s own futurist, Yuri van Geest, author and founder of the Singularity University, takes the general lead and introduces the experiments. Each experiment includes a discussion with experts from the industry outside Rotterdam, who can contribute to the theme from their unique perspective.
City of innovation and experiment
Featuring The Rotterdam Experiment, the Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau highlights Rotterdam as a city of innovation and experiment; a city that sticks its neck out and explores new avenues and solutions that will contribute to a new, resilient and circular economy, as well as providing solutions for global problems – in this case to the future of the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Congresses and Exhibitions) industry. In addition, we offer a platform for partners in the city to showcase their expertise. Every experiment is broadcast as a live show, coming from a different event location in Rotterdam each time. For example, the first experiment was broadcast in December 2020 from the Postillion Hotel & Convention Centre WTC Rotterdam, while the second took place at Cruise Terminal Rotterdam the other day. The plan is for other Rotterdam-based event locations to feature in future experiments.
Sharing findings with the industry
The first two experiments, which explored Mixed Reality and Gamification, were highly successful, and yielded new insights for the participants. During the first experiment about Mixed Reality (plus Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality), the participants were able to walk around and engage in live networking within a 3D VR environment; introducing many participants to this technology for the first time. For the second experiment (Gamification), a Super Brainstorm was organised whereby small groups of people worked intensively on a number of scenarios to define factors for success and devise creative solutions on the basis of game elements.
The series as a whole has been set up as one great learning process whereby experiences and findings will be shared with the industry and other stakeholders through the Rotterdam Partners website, constituting a resource that can be used for shaping the events of the future.
The Rotterdam Experiment is a compelling and typical example of Rotterdam’s collaboration, endurance and innovative strength, as well as its will to jointly build a resilient and sustainable future city, and the MICE sector in particular.
If you would like to know more about The Rotterdam Experiment, please visit the dedicated web page: https://en.rotterdampartners.nl/the-rotterdam-experiment/ for all the relevant information, including the themes and dates of future experiments.