This spring is very busy at the P World! We talked with founder Kosta Petrov about his experiences in organizing ‘buzz’ events throughout the SEE region.

When did you start to organize conferences and where did they take you?
P World turned two last December. Our first event was held in Serbia in March 2011. We organised the region’s first ever global PR event and it was amazing. Since then we have organised events in more than 20 countries including Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Israel, Dubai and Turkey.

What is the secret of your success – what makes your events special?
Our events are all about the experience. As everyone can see from our programmes we work only with the world’s biggest and best companies. We understand that times are tough and that is why we are working very hard to provide our delegates with content and speakers that will help them make better business decisions and make more profit. In all the countries where we operate, we are the absolute market leaders. Once you come to the P World event, it’s like an addiction – you come to every event. We changed the world of the event business. Before, big global events were happening only in Western Europe and the USA. Thanks to us, now some of the world’s most exciting events are happening in places like Croatia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

How long does it take to prepare a P World event?
It depends on the size of the project and whether it is in a new market or an established market where we are well positioned. The production of the event is the easy part. We work with some of the world’s biggest companies and always have access to great speakers. The promotion, sales campaign and logistics are the things that take most of our time. But we are having a great time and enjoying every minute of it.

Is it different organising events in the SEE region than it is in the rest of Europe, for example in Bulgaria, Turkey or the Czech Republic?
Our events are very expensive to put together. We bring speakers from all around the world! It is a really expensive show! The issue when we organise events in our region is that we have to set the price of the event much lower than, let’s say, in Prague, Istanbul or Tel Aviv. We understand that the markets are not fully developed, so we have to go with a lower price. In our other markets we go with a lower number of delegates, but much bigger revenue. But we love this region, and even though times are tough we are working very hard on making places like Zagreb and Belgrade event centres of Central Europe. We organised more than 40 global events in these two cities in the past two years. I think we are on a very good track to make both cities congress capitals of this part of the world.

What are the key challenges of successful organization?
Speakers are the most important part – they sell the event. If you don’t have good speakers from good brands, it is not worth doing an event. Thank god, we have contacts with some great companies, so getting the speakers is not as hard as it used to be. I think the hardest thing is when we enter new markets and we have to prove ourselves all over again. You know, you conquer one market and you think that the battle is done and then you have to do it all over again in another country. But I guess that is the exciting part – conquering the world!

Do you use IT support like conference gadgets, social media etc.? If yes, how do they contribute to the overall picture?
We have to be on social media. Without social media no one will know about our events. We use all of these gadgets and they are great for buzz, but most of our business comes from the good old telemarketing campaign. People like that personal touch when you call them and invite them to an event. We did research a few months back and only 8% of our delegates came from social media platforms. Around 80% came from telemarketing and the rest for commercials and adverts.

What events of yours are coming up next and what do you expect from them?
Now we are working very hard on the Marketing Kingdom Zagreb event, which is going to be simply amazing. We are also organizing the region’s first ever global healthcare management event in Croatia on the 11th March. Then we are off to Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Israel and Georgia and back to Croatia on 17th May with the region’s first ever global FMCG forum, where we have super brands such as Nestle, Unilever and many others presenting. These are very exciting times for us!

What in your opinion is the future of event management? How do you see P World events ten years from now?
Hmm… one thing that I would like to see disappear is the disloyal competition, people that copy other companies and ‘create’ something that someone else really worked hard on. I really hope that those kind of companies will disappear. I think the events of the future will be about cutting edge knowledge and meeting people that otherwise you would not have a chance to meet. People will go to fewer events, but all events will be out of this world! I think we are slowly doing this part and I hope that we will continue with our mission. The world is really exciting now and whoever survives these years of recession one day will tell the story of how we all survived!

CRO ADD - Kosta Petrov

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A long-time meetings industry addict, Gorazd is the Founder and owner of marketing and event agency Toleranca Marketing. He has many years of experience in planning, preparing and carrying out large international meetings and exhibitions. As the founder of the "Power to the Meetings" methodology, he still firmly believes in the power of live events and human to human communication. He is also the author of numerous articles and editor-in-chief of the meetings industry magazine Kongres Magazine.