convene_vilnius
Photo Credit: Go Vilnius

WE STRIVE TO FOCUS ON CREATING EFFECTIVE BUSINESS MEETINGS RATHER THAN A TRADITIONAL SHOW MODEL BASED ON MAXIMISING SPACE SALES

Jolanta Beniulienė, Exhibition Director of Convene

About Convene:

CONVENE is an annual B2B two-day event for the Baltic countries meetings industry. It is an international show case for the regional meetings industry which accelerates the interest and demand for holding meetings, incentives and conferences in the region. Launched by Vilnius Convention Bureau the event every year offers a hosted buyer programme which accommodates 170+ qualified European buyers and up to 100 exhibitors, including CBs, hotels, conference centers, special venues, DMCs, PCOs, specialist suppliers from Lithuania and seven other countries of the region (Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark) showcasing their meeting products and services.

Q: Why do you believe your trade shows are THE BEST trade shows in the world?

CONVENE is not a regular two-day show, it is a trademark successfully representing Vilnius and the Baltic Sea Region’s meeting industry. CONVENE serves as an international Business-to-business showcase/event that accelerates interest in and demand for hosting meetings and events in the region.

The time at the show is used to the maximum benefit of hosted buyers and exhibitors alike. Understanding that personal contact is critical in the meetings industry, we provide many more networking opportunities than any other trade show and participants greatly appreciate that. We strive to focus on creating effective business meetings rather than a traditional show model based on maximising space sales. All exhibiting companies occupy the same sized space with a single colour scheme across the event floor. All participants are provided with complimentary refreshments throughout the day, with a break in the event where a hot lunch is prepared for hosted buyers and exhibitors alike, allowing for a more relaxed business networking atmosphere, which is a most welcome aspect of the business day.

Q: Do you plan to stay a boutique event or are you looking to expand?

The event is not and will not be concerned about overall size. Rather, it will maintain focus on creating memorable experiences for the hosted buyer community and the regional supply chain. We will continue to concentrate on the quality and growth of the education programme, which will continue to be a highly-anticipated part of the event.

“CONVENE is the best ever marketing campaign for Vilnius and Lithuania running throughout the year”

Q: How do you market and promote the host destination and what do you believe is the real reach of such events?

CONVENE is the best ever marketing campaign for Vilnius and Lithuania running throughout the year. With consistent marketing and communication activities, the project establishes Vilnius a real gateway to the whole region. After four years of continued development, it is now very clear that CONVENE has become the most important Baltic Sea Regional hub for our industry to meet, to do business and to network.

CONVENE unites the efforts of both public and private sectors and provides the possibility to create an event of such scale and importance. Local suppliers could not achieve such major breakthroughs or direct access to the industry without the government support that is offered to CONVENE. Additionally, the public sector would not be in a position to set and achieve their respective goals without the contribution of these public institutions. As a joint public/private project, CONVENE is already paying dividends and promises to do so in the future while contributing to the growth of the global MICE industry.

Q: What are the conversion statistics for your shows (conversion rate)?

One of the best among these types of events – 2:1

Q: What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now and how do you plan to tackle it?

We are facing the same challenges as the rest of Europe. Global political and economic changes affect the meetings industry every day and we must continue to find ways to adapt to these changes and to get the most out of them.

Q: Can you share with us one of your client’s success stories?

It could be Vilnius’ success story. The meetings industry plays an important role in the destination economy, especially in generating infrastructural growth and creating jobs. As CONVENE accelerates interest in and demand for hosting meetings and events in the region, in addition to attracting conferences to Vilnius, the event has influenced the construction of a new congress centre, which is considered a project of national importance. It has also impacted on the growth of the hotel infrastructure in the city. It is estimated that Vilnius is expected to create about 1,200 new hotel rooms in the coming years, representing a total increase of 25 %.

“Understanding that personal contact is critical in the meetings industry, we provide many more networking opportunities than any other trade show and participants greatly appreciate that.”

Q: Do you offer any post-show activities like sharing the data base, further marketing in scope of the event, etc?

CONVENE is a sharing event from its beginning. Strong regional support and an Ambassador Programme enable a process of sharing and growth that continues organically and works to collectively strengthen the region’s meetings industry. Cross-border cooperation and the involvement of non-EU countries, allow CONVENE to utilise the region’s geographical position as the connecting point between East and West, ultimately opening the gates to the Baltic Sea Region. By organising a regional approach to gaining exposure, the emerging industries of the Baltic Sea Region can strive to share successes and evolve together.

Talking about destination marketing campaign, I must say that it never stops: after one edition of CONVENE ends, we immediately continue to promote the next edition. By promoting CONVENE we promote our destination and the whole region. Industry and media partnership agreements are valid all year long, so marketing campaign runs all year around.

Q: Last but not least. To which event in the meetings industry do you look up to and why?

There are a number of notable meetings industry events across Europe and around the world that are significant to us because of their integrated professional education programmes. CONVENE participants agree that it is of the utmost importance to be up to date with current industry trends while sharing best practices and knowledge. The CONVENE Education Programme provides a unique space for this process, serving to empower our region’s meetings industry and guiding its evolution. We feel that a strong focus on knowledge will contribute to the development of what is a relatively young industry and enable suppliers to compete on the same level as more experienced neighbors. This is why we want to continue building this part of our event moving forward.