Foyer of the Grand Hall Zollverein, © Johannes Höhn

The mega­trends in the MICE-land NRW

Re­gion­al. Glob­al. Di­git­al.

Düsseldorf, Dubai, Dormagen, or “Köln, Kalifornien, Kerpen” (Cologne, California, Kerpen). They’re all close together in the MICE state of North Rhine-Westphalia. (The megatrends of) sustainability and digitalisation already determine the forward-looking approach of the nearly 1,600 large trade-fair operators and small event locations between the Rhine, Ruhr, and Weser rivers. They think globally, work digitally, and show regional commitment.

Hybrid events, such as the ones hosted at the large congress centres equipped with cutting-edge technology in Düsseldorf, Cologne, or Bonn, allow participants from around the world to connect with each other. Some attend in persons, others come as digital visitors. Of course, the strict security standards apply not only to encryption of live streams and chats, but also cover the exhibitors and visitors on site.

The MICE industry in NRW is taking responsibility for itself, for others, and for the environment, striving to improve sustainability and climate protection. Welcome to the future! Regional. Global. Digital.

Plenary hall of the WCCB in Bonn, © Johannes Höhn

Sus­tain­able meet­ings

An in­vest­ment in the fu­ture

Piles of paper, huge amounts of plastic waste, and traffic jams outside the trade-fair centre used to follow right in the wake of a conference. Those days are strictly a thing of the past here in North Rhine-Westphalia. After all, the MICE industry has been acknowledging its social responsibility for years. It is focusing increasingly on sustainability when organising trade fairs, congresses, and conferences, cultural or sporting events. Most of the venues in the state, no matter their size, with the Eurogress Aachen among them, have signed the sustainability code of the German-speaking event industry. They feel beholden to the environment and society, in management as well as in their economic, ecological, and social actions.

The Eurogress Aachen was one of the very first congress centres in Germany to be awarded the Green Globe certificate of the Europäischer Verband der Veranstaltungscentren e.V. (EVVC) for its extensive environmental protection measures. The conference centre located in adjacent to Aachen’s city park, represents the large number of big event venues and small event locations in NRW that have invested in energy-saving air-conditioning and lighting systems while developing innovative concepts for waste avoidance in the last few years. They cooperate with local and regional service providers for catering and rely on environmentally friendly mobility concepts. The central location and tightly meshed rail network covering the state enable conference participants and event visitors to travel comfortably by public transport, greatly reducing overall CO2 emissions.

Tourismus NRW has produced short e-learning videos (in German) on the subjects of management, economy, resource consumption, procurement & waste management, mobility & accommodation, and social matters in order to motivate even more businesses to act more sustainably and in the interest of future generations. They explain simply and clearly how every company can take steps and responsibility to improve environmental and climate protection.

360 ° panoramic view in Münster, © Johannes Höhn

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Hybrid conference in the CCD Congress Center Düsseldorf, © Johannes Höhn

Real and di­git­al

Hy­brid and di­git­al events in NRW

Wobbly video conferences are a thing of the past. Hybrid is the new live: interactive, communicative, and borderless, it combines attendance and virtual formats. Cutting-edge technology and the highest hygiene standards put the NRW conference facilities in an ideal position for this future. Large convention centres and small event venues alike merge two parts into a professional whole, providing the real and digital frameworks for highly frequented business events such as trade fairs and international congresses, sports and cultural events, as well as for smaller conferences, meetings, and product launches where participants from around the world may take part and interact concurrently via tablet, smartphone, notebook, or computer.

The top venues for a technological head-start for hybrid events as they are hosted in many cities in North Rhine-Westphalia are the World Conference Centre Bonn (WCCB) and the CCD Congress Centre Düsseldorf. In Bonn, for example, a fully hybrid setup has already been developed to combine conventional events with a vast variety of web applications. The heart of the modern congress centre right on the river Rhine beats in the former plenary hall of the German Bundestag. Distancing can be ensured here as well since speakers are placed on the old government bench to address participants in the hall and answer questions from Cologne, Koblenz, or Kansas alike by video chat or livestream.

The CCD Congress Centre Düsseldorf, with flexible rooms equipped with professional image, sound, and event technology that meets the highest security standards, can turn into a broadcast studio for hybrid events. These events can also be recorded to be put online or marketed as video-on-demand later.

Great hall with view of organ, © Johannes Höhn

High-tech in a nos­tal­gic pack­age

Meet­ings un­der monu­ment pro­tec­tion

The future is created before a nostalgic backdrop in the MICE state of North Rhine-Westphalia as well, with new ideas being generated in conferences and seminars behind venerable walls. High-tech meets history here at digital or hybrid events. Monument protection does not stand in the way of sustainable and global activity at the Lenkwerk in Bielefeld, the Historische Stadthalle in Wuppertal, and the Stadthalle Mülheim an der Ruhr.

The neoclassicist building right on the banks of the Ruhr river is considered the versatile grand dame among the conference venues in the Ruhr region, offering the best energy and cutting edge event technology at the same time. Just as at the Stadthalle in Wuppertal, with an opulent Great Hall with acoustics of world fame, the Mühlheim venue was renovated with a view to preserving the historical building’s authentic charisma. Both buildings are equipped with green electricity or energy-saving use of LED technology for events in the large ballroom or bistro lounge.

While richly decorated columns and arches form a splendid backdrop for trade fairs and business meetings, concerts, or festivities in the Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal, the Lenkwerk Bielefeld sports bends and horsepower all around. The British Army of the Rhine used the premises in the former Luftwaffe uniform office as a supply depot the until 1992. This event location is still young, though the age of the classic and modern classic cars exhibited here is quite impressive. Car enthusiasts are not the only people amazed when they spot the shining classics from Italy and historical 911s, British Bentleys, and legendary Harleys in the historical event hall. The building was entirely renovated and equipped with cutting-edge technology to become the centre of Bielefeld’s Lenkwerk City, a young New Work quarter in East Westphalia.

Entrance hall of the World Conference Center Bonn, © Johannes Höhn

Pro­fes­sion­al & di­verse

Safety comes first

In addition to virtual exhibition stands, use of interactive smartboards, virtual and augmented reality, digitalisation opens up entirely new options where the safety of visitors is concerned at analogue trade fairs and congresses. Koelnmesse, for example, has developed a new kind of indoor positioning system. The smartphone app, to be downloaded by every visitor, automatically records the density of visitors in the exhibition halls and informs exhibitors and guests about it in real time.

Apart from digitalisation, the subject of sustainability is also gaining in relevance in small and large conference venues in North Rhine-Westphalia. A large number of these are already certified, with more to follow suit. After all, hybrid and digital events play a part in the sustainable meetings industry as well, leaving their “green footprint” in the business state of NRW.

  • Stove pipes illuminated, © Johannes Höhn
    Fireplace room at the Arbeitswerk in Bielefeld, © Johannes Höhn
    Model standing in the Majolika Hall of the historic Stadthalle Wuppertal, © Johannes Höhn
  • Cozy atmosphere in the Café 1648, © Johannes Höhn
    Event room of the CCD Congress Center Düsseldorf, © Johannes Höhn
    Coffee break in Café 1648 in Münster, © Johannes Höhn

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