More events, more ambition, more external partnerships and more flexibility: French Event Booster’s 2022 roadmap is shaping up to be a busy one
What is the role of French Event Booster?
Jeanne Choffé – French Event Booster is an accelerator for several types of players: for start-ups, of course, which we help to access the events market, to grow, create jobs and value for the end user. But we are also innovation partners for professionals, leaders in the events industry, and potentially for corporate, large accounts, institutional, public or private. This is what we call innovation design. We intervene internally, to “de-silo”, to bring agility, to do co-creation workshops, but also externally, with their clients, to untangle situations, irritants. This is why we must not reduce French Event Booster to an incubator role, because we are also the bearers of values for professionals, we organize events to animate the sector. And beyond that, in the future, we would also like to be a think & do tank
for the industry, with a much more global innovation platform. We also have a monitoring role with regard to market trends: we receive many requests in this respect.
Do you work with French Tech, for example?
Jeanne Choffé – We didn’t really have a link until now, but we have now initiated meetings with French Tech Paris to create more bridges. We’re going to be in more direct contact with them in the future.
Do you consider yourself as a Parisian or national structure?
Jeanne Choffé – We were created in Paris in 2018, as part of a project led by VIParis, because there was no structure to support innovation in the sector, either on a national or even European scale. We are linked with the City of Paris, and with Paris&Co, the city’s economic and innovation agency. So we have a foothold in the metropolis and in Ile-de-France. On the other hand, the market is pushing us outwards: for the past two years, we have been seeing more and more start-ups applying for jobs in the regions, in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux, and even in the French-speaking world: in Canada, Belgium, North Africa, etc. Our 2022 strategy therefore includes a desire to evangelise our model and methodology in the regions. For example, we have initiated a dialogue with the Palais des Congrès in Bordeaux, as well as in Nantes and Lille. We are also increasingly in contact with other structures like ours in market segments that interest us. For example, the MT Lab in Montreal, which specialises in the world of entertainment, and in particular everything to do with immersive entertainment. This is a theme that interests us a lot because professionals are in demand on this subject for 2022.
aires.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/french-event-booster-2.jpg” alt=”French event booster” width=”700″ height=”468″ />What will be your main areas of reflection for the coming year?
Jeanne Choffé – Our thinking will focus on three themes: immersive, with all the experiential side, in connection with the cultural industries. We want to take the energy of this sector and inject it into the event industry. The second theme will be hybridization, about which there has been a lot of talk recently, without a clear definition that everyone agrees on. It’s still a nebulous subject, I think. Everyone wants to do it but no one really knows what it is. All we know is that digital, the digitization of the customer journey, of the experience, of the animation of communities, of engagement, will also be done through digital. So it’s a question of studying how we can integrate ourselves into this market trend following the crisis. We’re going to do a special hybridisation booklet. The third axis will concern everything that concerns the “outside event”, which is fundamentally part of the event. This includes everything related to the surroundings of the event, such as reception, arrival at the park, and everything related to business travel, including accommodation… We need to reinvent the visitor experience outside the event so that it creates even more value. As a player in the transformation of the industry over the long term, in terms of impact and sustainability, French Event Booster does not see CSR as a specific theme: it will be an underlying theme in all the areas I have just described. It is a prerequisite for all the topics we address. Moreover, in our selection criteria for start-ups, the environmental impact is of course compulsorily studied. This was not totally the case in 2018 to be honest…
What about the start-ups gathered within French Event Booster, their viability, their profile?
Jeanne Choffé – This represents about forty start-ups since 2018, of which about 45% have decided to stay with us beyond one year. Their sustainability rate reaches 90%, so it exceeds the national average of 80%, and this in an industry in crisis.
Didn’t the figures drop with the crisis?
Jeanne Choffé – No, on the contrary, we have more and more requests, especially from start-ups who initially did not target the event industry, who were positioned in culture, the media and sport, and who come to us because they realise that there are many things to do in an industry in crisis. This is where innovation can make its mark. It’s also part of our strategy to take innovative solutions from other industries and bring them back to us. I think that people want to get out of the inward-looking environment in which the events sector has long been confined.
Have you not lost any start-ups because of the crisis?
Jeanne Choffé – Only one start-up decided to leave us. Smaller structures are more agile, and we have also helped them with their financing. We have never stopped working.
ller during the crisis. And there has been a lot of state aid for start-ups.
Conversely, did some solutions “benefit” from the new challenges linked to this unprecedented context?
Jeanne Choffé – Yes, this has been the case for some start-ups. For example, a start-up positioned on the theme of counting entrances and exits, or another specialising in streaming recording, the creation of studios… Their growth has accelerated considerably with the crisis. So there is still a positive side to the effects of the crisis.
Will your evolution also concern start-ups?
Jeanne Choffé – Our selection strategy will change. Until now, it was quite academic. We used to work by promotion, once a year, with a dozen start-ups. It doesn’t really make sense to operate like that anymore, insofar as access to the events market must be quick in this crisis context. This is also where French Event Booster has an added value compared to other players. From now on, we will recruit five start-ups every four months, always with a thematic approach for each recruitment: intermediation platform, queuing, reassurance… Themes linked to the choices of our partners on the board, but also to what comes up in the market. We are therefore trying to inject more agility into our model to keep up with the market. In 2022, we will also want to open up our board to other partners and offer more flexibility. We are now providing more “one shot” advice, on an ad hoc basis.
The French Event Booster space at Porte de Versailles will gradually host new event formats to animate the event industry throughout the year.
Does the organization of the first FEBXperience last October also mark a shift in the events section of French Event Booster?
Jeanne Choffé – We create events for the industry, through sector keynotes, inspirational events or networking events like this FEBXperience. This is effectively a new format of events, to enliven our place, to bring our ecosystem back to life physically. With the crisis, we are no longer in a competitive logic but in a partnership logic. We have concluded a partnership with the Innovatoire, and every three months there will be a start-up that will carry the event in terms of immersion. Our entire ecosystem will be invited to come and network in a relaxed atmosphere. Another new feature is the Side Events. We are located in a park, which by definition hosts events. We are going to capitalize on these events, by creating events linked to their theme. For example, we have just organised a Side Event at the Salon des maires around the theme of green tech. And we intend to repeat the process at other events. For example, the IFTM Top Resa could be an excellent idea. We would like to do this at least once a month, but it all depends on the relevance of the theme of the event.
You described a “nebulous” hybridization: what is your definition?
Jeanne Choffé – According to the definition I heard at the conference, hybridization consists of intermingling a physical event with a digital device, with fragmented audiences. It’s about creating unity between the digital and the physical and animating, engaging that audience. But community engagement in hybridization is still in its infancy. It seems to me that for an hour of hybrid event, the average concentration time of an online participant does not reach ten minutes… There is still so much to do, including on our side. Many players have positioned themselves in this area. We are already trying to categorize them, to rank them, to identify how they fit into the chain. With hybridization, there is no longer a unit of time in the event, you have to animate a community all year round. If hybridization only consists in digitizing an event, it doesn’t make sense. You have to find other relays, get to know the visitors better, build bridges between them. And for the moment there is no economic model for the players. This is also an important step to take.
Some convention centres seem to have been disappointed by their hybrid experience. Will the trend really last?
Jeanne Choffé – I think that hybridisation is a long-term trend, it is becoming a prerequisite, but the model has not yet been found. The business of convention centres is based on the physical meeting. So they focus on that, and that’s normal. One cannot replace the other: the two must complement each other. You only have to look at the evolution of a host site like VIParis, which is one of the European leaders. VIParis used to be a space renter. Now it is diversifying its business models and providing advice to organisers. Hybridization is one of them. This must start from a momentum: the organisers cannot do it alone, the host sites must get involved. Today, we are not thinking about stopping hybridization. On the contrary: we need to define how to support this transformation collectively. The idea, tomorrow, is for the two formats to intermingle, and moreover for an on-site participant to be able to feed off the digital elements linked to the show. Everything also depends a lot on the environmental, economic and social conjecture… If tomorrow there is again a problem of confinement or other, digital will take over. But the physical meeting remains the driving force of an event, we remain convinced of it.
I’m Michelle, and I love to travel. As a former hotel expert for one of the world’s largest hotel chains, I’ve stayed in nearly every type of room imaginable (including many that were not so desirable!). Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to be able to explore the world on my own terms. From international flights to learning different languages, there is nothing too far out of reach!