In 2011 even the biggest congress optimists pulled back from high-flying and optimistic congress rhetoric. It was replaced by a more prosaic and realistic assessment of the situation: the European Union is persistently avoiding a collapse, the global population has reached the magic 7 billion figure, autocratic regimes in Northern Africa were brought down, nature bared its teeth with the devastating earthquake in Japan and the floods in Brazil, Thailand and the Philippines. The past year was marked with revolutions; there were many indications that the world might be slipping into hell, but there were also a lot of positive developments that brought fresh hope to the meetings industry. Physicians discovered Higgs boson, the ‘God particle’, scientists were on the cusp of new medical treatment for Aids, we learned that the universe is expanding. All of these as well as new discoveries will also influence the meetings industry, since at the very least there remains the hope that scientists will continue to meet and socialise at their congresses and conferences.

The European Union is actively seeking a way out from the fiscal crisis and it seems that it is totally at sea. Politicians still appear unable to understand that they need to act for their people and not their own interests, political or otherwise. Of the many promising industries on the current horizon one can find congress tourism. 2011 was a year that was focused on finding the way for it to survive. Whilst it will not be remembered for great historical congresses and events, there were several minor, but nevertheless important, events that occurred. We have selected for you the most frequently read news and information that captures the highlights of the 2011 congress year.

 

LOCALLY

1. DEEPENING OF THE ECONOMIC CRISIS

The year in the region passed under the spotlight of the financial and economic crisis, decreasing demand and forcing redundancy and closure of agencies. Once again, those more exposed were in the corporative sector of the meetings industry, with the associations market a little bit less so.

2. PROGRESS OF ZAGREB AND BELGRADE IN THE ICCA RANKINGS

Zagreb and Belgrade were the cities making the most considerable progress on ICCA’s 2011 international association rankings. Zagreb jumped from position 171 to 79, in Europe to place 42. Even more remarkable was Belgrade’s progress, somersaulting from place 168 to 55.

3. BEBEE CAMPAIGN

The innovative ‘BeBee’ marketing campaign set out to attract as wide a global congress public as it could by informing about the green advantages of Slovenia through the story about the Carniolan honey bee. Bees are symbolic of the level of protection of the environment, biodiversity and nature’s fine balance.

4. THE LARGEST AUTUMN CONGRESS IN LJUBLJANA

The 40th four-day EDTNA/ERCA international conference in Cankarjev dom brought together more than 1500 nurses specialised in the field of the nursing care of kidney patients. The event is important for the development of the medical profession as well as for Slovenian congress tourism, as it was one of the largest conferences this year in terms of the number of attendees.

5. SLOVENIA TO HOST THE 2012 IMEX CHALLENGE

Ljubljana was chosen to be the host city of the international, socially responsible, humanitarian 2012 IMEX Challenge project. The project is carried out by the IMEX trade show organizers. Ljubljana won with the idea of building a learning bee house for the pupils of Training, Occupation and Care Centre Dolfke Boštjančič in Draga na Igu. In winning the event, Ljubljana squeezed out the other candidate, New York.

6. CROATIA AN IMPORTANT MEDITERRANEAN CONGRESS DESTINATION

Croatia, increasingly becoming an important destination in the Mediterranean region, also records positive trends in its meetings industry realm. This reflects the quality of its hotel and infrastructure offer and also its positioning on the international market.

7. THE CROATIAN ASSOCIATION OF MEETINGS PROFESSIONALS FOUNDED

In Croatia the new association of meeting professionals that acts as non-profit organisation CMPA was founded. The association is committed to raising the standard of services among its members by means of education and opinion exchange.

8. THE SUSTAINABILITY AWARD FOR CONVENTA

In demonstrating a real commitment to the principles of sustainability, Conventa were presented with the ‘Sustainable Stand Award’ by Sustainability Events Ltd., an independent awarding body. Conventa follows the principles of international sustainable event standards, including BS8901, draft versions of ISO20121 and APEX Green Meeting standards, the Global Reporting Initiative Event Supplement and a number of sustainable event guidelines.

9. KONGRES MAGAZINE A FOUNDER MEMBER OF ELITE MEDIA CLUB INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS REVIEW

Kongres Magazine became a global media meeting point of the meetings industry of SE Europe. On the public presentation of the new global editorial network MRI – Meetings Review International – at the EIBTM trade show, Kongres Magazine was invited to become a member of the elite club responsible for the SE Europe area.

10. ENTHUSIASTIC LECTURE GIVEN BY LINDA PEREIRA

According to the opinion of readers and attendees, the most enthusiastic lecture last year within the Academy Conventa was performed by an event organiser well-known worldwide. Director of L&I Communications Group and CPL Events, Linda Pereira is an experienced professional in the field of congress tourism, which she prefers not to call tourism, but business.

 

GLOBALLY

1. SURVIVAL OF EUROPE

For Europe the most acute problem was that of the common currency. The leaders of Union members who formerly met four times during the year met eight times in 2011. The survival of the euro and the entire European project is at stake, and this could radically affect the meetings industry.

2. COLLAPSE OF THE CONSUMER SOCIETY

The avarice of consumers and the common responsibility of the consuming society are two often overlooked causes of collapse of the finance sector. The consuming society has lived for the past 40 years well beyond its means, spending borrowed money. In 2011 the meetings industry will have to adapt quickly to the changes in retail habits.

3. YEAR OF CONTENT MARKETING

In 2011, content definitely became the king. Event organisers have to learn how to create, prepare and distribute content in different ways to reach attendees. There are no longer website visits or satisfied attendees without good content.

4. MEGA EVENT OF THE YEAR: THE ROYAL WEDDING

In searching for the global mega event of the year, one that required and included the knowledge of the meetings industry as well, there was no need to look further than the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The wedding was seen by two billion people in direct broadcasting, with more than a million people on the streets of London.

5. THE MASS COMMUNICATION CRISIS

The media crisis was deepening all over the world and the confidence in media was also decreasing due to media mogul scandals. The crisis of the media industry is the crisis of mass communication, an exit from which is exclusively possible by taking into consideration the interests of readers and not advertisers and capital.

6. REALLY GREEN MEETINGS

In 2011, everyone who really wants to move in the direction of low-carbon events had to begin to carry do so in a measurable and not solely declarative level. At the same time, last year different standards and regulations became more simplified and defined (British standard BS8901, draft standard ISO20121, APEX standard on green meetings – annex on events and GRI standard). We will see how this will be carried out in practice in 2012.

7. THE YEAR OF MOBILE APPLICATIONS

The spread of smart phones, where operation systems Android and Apple’s iOS are eagerly fighting for dominance, also touched the meetings industry. A lot of smart solutions became available to congress organisers, and these will make organisation easier for them, as well as communication to attendees: from registration payments to completely new dimensions of mobile communications on conferences.

8. WOMEN PREDOMINATE IN THE MEETINGS INDUSTRY

If we look at the industry on fairs, trade shows or particular providers, it seems the meetings industry has been taken over by women. A lot of them are in high positions and are occupying well paid posts in the industry. Men often reported to contribute a lot to the development of the industry so it is good to see that women are not only observers, but an important part in the development of the meetings industry.

9. SOCIAL MARKETING

Mass marketing in 2011 was no longer useful. It passed to social networks and goal oriented and segmented marketing. In 2011 google+, efforts to monetize Twitter, network shopping, the global dependency on Facebook and new prayers of all marketing managers of SEO optimisation all appeared.

10. SUCCESSFUL TRADE SHOWS IMEX AND EIBTM

The effects of crisis did not damage the success of the world’s two largest trade shows. Both flagship events had unprecedented visitor levels and expanded in the American market. The industry is imperishable and positive signals from events bring a lot of optimism for the future.

 

STEVE JOBS

The year was also marked by the death of the founder of Apple, the visionary Steve Jobs. His inventions, charisma, guidelines and new foundations of information technology also radically affected the meetings industry, which is based on communication.

THE BEST EVENTS OF THE YEAR 2011 ACCORDING TO “EUROPEAN BEST EVENT AWARDS 2011”

FIRST PRIZE

Project:                       SURPRISE CATWALK

Agency:                      Fieldwork

State:              Norway

SECOND PRIZE

Project:                       EDP 35th BIRTHDAY

Agency:                      Desafio Global Ativism SA

State:              Portugal

THIRD PRIZE

Project:                       ŠKODA WORLD DEALER CONFERENCE

Agency:                      VokDams

State:              Germany

 

More info at www.besteventawards.com/