Hamburg — the second largest city in Germany and the #3 port in Europe — has everything you’d expect from a vibrant international meetings destination, yet is anything but ordinary. A vibrant cultural and music scene, forward thinking urban design, out of the box architecture (e.g. Elbphilharmonie,) and Smart Harbor and Smart City approaches put a great big stamp of “UNIQUE” on this super cool city.
It stands to reason then, that meetings and conferences in Hamburg are welcomed to push the envelope too — offering meeting planners and delegates fresh, new formats and industry-crossing juxtapositions to learn, network and swap knowledge.
Take for example the NEXT Conference, an exclusive, annual, 2-day digital economy event, that brings together by application/invitation-only 1,500 of the top global minds from large companies and small start-ups.
The organizers of this brain fest — digital agency gurus Faktor 3 and SinnerSchrader part of Accenture Interactive– really mix things up format-wise by seamlessly blending the worlds of technology, marketing and music, as well as hosting elements of the program at hip locales around the city.
No vanilla conference rooms with standard talking heads here! The result … highly engaged participants that have memorable experiences.
Cool Tunes, Cool Spaces
One of the core parts of creating a new format atmosphere at NEXT is that a ticket for the conference also secures you access to concerts at the Reeperbahn Festival, a world renowned musical industry and fan event happening in Hamburg at the same time. Spanning from the St. Pauli district to the Elbphilharmonie, the festival features electrifying performances from a broad range of emerging and established artists.
Another piece of the experiential, new format mantra of NEXT is their creative choice of venues for learning and networking.
The NEXT plenary session takes place at the historic Schmidt-Tivoli theatre, in the heart of St. Pauli, built in 1870. Featuring a plush, intimate atmosphere, the event kicks off with a song, from a techno marching band or someone like German-Canadian-English singer Alice Merton performing her smash debut hit “No Roots”. This gets participant’s blood flowing and quickly makes them feel part of a shared, dynamic experience.
Sessions then take place in a variety of funky spots including the urban chic GAGA nightclub punctuated by metal-surrounded chandeliers, NoHo Club where concrete, chain links and disco balls co-exist for a funky feel, MindSpace a creative, co-working space, and others.
Throughout the day attendees also enjoy food, drink, networking, and small exhibitions at the nearby Copper House restaurant with a design that gives a nod to Asian food markets.
All of this movement between easily walkable NEXT venues – nestled in and amongst Reeperbahn Festival performances — adds an incredible sense of energy and gets people connecting and swapping stories right on the streets and as they walk from venue to venue.
New Formats Come from a New Mindset
The NEXT conference is a great example of how organizers can create new engagement, new interaction and new experiences by adopting a new format mindset.
NEXT organizers embrace — rather than resist or see as competitive — the chance for attendees to freely steep themselves in two powerful happenings — NEXT and the Reeperbahn Festival — letting a passion for technology and creativity freely co-mingle with the power of music.
They also seek out and fully leverage a wide range of spaces that are available across the city not limiting themselves or their attendees to traditional options—in turn opening minds, networks and business opportunities.