We say: no more boring meetings, let’s festivalize them!
The Conventa team had a wonderful month on the road as part of the Conventa Trend Bar 2017. We had stops in Sofia, Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana, where we met with amazing professionals from the meetings industry and the hotel scene. All the gatherings were held in a very relaxed environment and in an interactive format that was greatly enriched by the creative arrangement of space and superior catering.
The co-founder of the Conventa trade show, Gorazd Čad, warmed up attendees at each location with a “Power to the Meetings” concept presentation. During the socializing slots, attendees got to see what makes events such as the Conventa trade show and Conventa Crossover so different and interactive, with a huge added value. By the close of the event, each participant wrapped up with one idea on how and what to change at their next event, with the aim of making it different and more interactive.
1st stop: SOFIA
In Sofia, more than 30 representatives of hotels, congress destinations and event agencies gathered at our favourite venue: In the Park. The socialist-realist hall was turned into a cafe and bar in which attendees really felt very relaxed, just like being at home.
Through various good case examples, we presented the “Power to the Meetings” methodology, which we have been successfully developing for the past ten years on our Conventa trade show. Most of the enthusiasm was aroused by the practical activities in which Bulgarian participants showed exceptional creativity and innovation.
There’s a lot of content that came out of the debate and presentations and is worthy of being highlighted: as we figured out, we live in a time that demands that every part of the meeting or supply chain offers added value. Our events also want excited participants rather than just satisfied delegates. “We need to tell stories, not create events” to make this possible – and this is a statement that everybody truly believes in. If we properly think about excited participants, then we need to adjust the programme to their needs – in this sense, less can be more and the user experience is extremely important! We should guide participants through every experience, step by step. To make them feel comfortable and relaxed, we also need to transform meeting rooms into ‘living rooms’ – and spice them up with a bit of music. Just like events, music is a universal language – it represents the essential part of every event, as we react spontaneously when we hear music.
The bottom line of all this: participant engagement can be done in many ways, but the best results occur when you do something on your own.
By far the most exciting story to come out of this sessions was the one about “SREČA-nja” (HAPPY-meetings), as the participants understood the point of it’s meaning as being the Slavic nation in a figurative sense – meetings bring happiness to participants and the whole point of our methodology is to make our participants happy.
2nd stop: BELGRADE
The Belgrade gathering was held in a very relaxed and interactive format that was greatly enriched by the creative arrangement of space and the superior catering by Radisson Blu hotel. The congress hall was turned into a very pleasant living room specifically for the occasion in question.
The co-founder of the Conventa trade show, Gorazd Čad, warmed up attendees with a »Power to the Meetings« concept presentation. This was followed up by Macedonian event cook Vartan Sumerjan presenting his recipes for a successful event. During the three hours of socializing, attendees got to see what makes events like the Conventa trade show and Conventa Crossover so different and interactive, with a huge added value. By the close of the event, each participant wrapped up with one idea on how and what to change at their next event with the aim of making it different and more interactive.
Of the content of the debate and presentations there are really many highlights, but focussing on just a few…
We learned that the power of personal contact between participants and organisers is at the core of our thinking. You can call this live experience, human2human marketing, experience marketing… However you name it, we all love to look at and create a unique experience that is nothing other than authentic and spiced up with nostalgic stories.
The Power to the Meetings way of organising events is based on making great stories and making guests feel like they are at home by the fireplace – case studies have shown that Slovenians, as well as European participants, feel best in a casual and relaxed environment.
Whilst imagining being next to the fireplace at an event, can you imagine this scene without music? Of course not, as music is an essential part of any event, setting the tone and creating harmony. And what else is an essential part of an event? Having an appropriate moderator who will connect the programme segments, of course, which is crucial for the success of an event – trust us! The moderator can either elevate attendees or leave them intact.
And there’s more – have you ever heard about sustainability? Let us no longer use it as a buzzword, as our participants and our lifestyle crave for green services that should be intelligently delivered. Participants are always seeking added value – and this is not just about the sustainable offer, it’s literally about giving back. An event is a marketing and sales investment. As with any investment, one should expect a return. Do it the way you should – keep it relaxed, in a pleasant atmosphere, give attendees what they crave – knowledge, good case practices and a wide network!
3rd stop: ZAGREB
We continued the revolution on to the organisation of events in Zagreb. The Garden Brewery proved to be a great place to hold the event, as the industrial scene inspired Croatian event organisers with its raw industrial set-up, whilst also furnishing one with a feeling of homeliness and warmth.
Nick Colgan, former manager of the British pop band UB40 and owner of the brewery, deserves a special mention. He has been living in Croatia for over 12 years and his simple formula for success is to listen to the needs of customers. The idea for the brewery came about by listening to guests at the legendary Garden Festival, which wanted a better taste of beer. Without any prior experience, Nick then embarked on a new adventure and opened The Garden Brewery.
The key point of Gorazd Čad’s presentation at this session was that it is necessary to listen carefully to the needs of congress participants. The event was rounded up by a guided tasting of craft beers produced by the brewery, which is run by Nick Calder from New Zealand. The most popular beers to leave the barrel are the pale ale beer and the excellent stout, which received the most nods of approval from attendees at the tasting.
The Conventa team and our colleagues from Zagreb agreed that we are very eager for change to come about in the meetings industry and for a different kind of event. Enthusiasm for the Power to the Meetings methodology was unanimous, the main reasons being that they are in the foreground for the change, they have co-created the programme, and because of the clear rationale for the advantages of a new way of organising events. Colleagues were surprised, however, that a great deal of work still needed to be done and that superficiality was not tolerated; events with a huge understanding by the organisers and a ‘pulse’ will be the only successful ones, it was agreed.
So what’s next? It seems that the creative industry has a clear vision of where the world is actually turning. Nevertheless, it is always difficult to get to the simplest solutions that work. The biggest challenge will be for all those infrastructure providers who still sell their standard and soulless congress halls. Partners who sincerely understand the meaning and the changes ahead are still very rare.
4th stop: LJUBLJANA
In pursuit of our dream of a meetings industry revolution, we then decided to meet up in Ziferblat, a special venue in Ljubljana where time truly means money. It’s a place for socialising and where you can really make yourself feel at home, enjoy a cup of coffee, help yourself to some biscuits or make your own pancakes. When the bill comes, the only thing you pay for is the time spent there. It’s neither a flat nor a cafe, but rather something in between – a space of freedom where you can do whatever you want: play the piano, play chess, talk to complete strangers, read a book, prepare a snack and share it with friends, perhaps do some work or even have a meeting.
The group that gathered in Ljubljana was a bit smaller than in other cities, but there was a high-quality conversation, as event organisers were predominantly organising events that face similar challenges on a daily basis. As a result, together with some of the attendees new event formats will be developed together in the near future. The highlight of the meeting was to release the participants of any event through the “Power to the Meetings” methodology and enable them to properly accomplish and express themselves at it. In this sense, the event in Ljubljana was the perfect match.
Ziferblat might indeed be the only venue where you will really feel like being at home while being in Ljubljana – you can kick off your shoes, look through the drawers and talk to everyone and anyone there. The venue is a one-kind-of-the-conference-room, which is right up anyone’s street for the new generations of digital nomads (which is also the new generation of event organisers).
After great meetings in 4 amazing cities, we are extremely excited to meet you all at the 10th anniversary of the Conventa trade show, which will be held from 24th to 25th of January in Ljubljana, Slovenia.