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In these challenging times, Kongres Magazine is trying its best to provide meeting planners with the most relevant and useful information regarding the spread of COVID-19. We also want to share opinions from key members of the meetings industry.

We asked key opinion makers from the meetings industry for their thoughts on the situation and how they are coping with COVID-19.

Nina Erneker, Bratislava Convention Bureau

almost everyone is bored at home, looking for good quality content

Q: How do you feel about the restrictions that European governments have implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19?

The Slovak government has reacted quickly and implemented strict measures among the first EU countries. I believe these restrictions will help to shorten the time of the crisis and save as many lives and resources as possible to restart the life and the business on local, national and global level.

Q: What would you compare this situation to?

Humanitarian problems in the Third World.. The rest of the developed world does not really care unless they are hit by the reason and consequences..

Q: Economic consequences for the meetings industry have already started to show, what do you expect government institutions to do?

Economic consequences will be game changing. We in Slovakia have just elected a new government, they are at power since last week. It comprises of many entrepreneurs, who understand the problematic of SMEs (which means a big shift in Slovak political orientation from centre-left towards centre-right) = we all hope we have opted for a wise and unifying cabinet that will boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem of small and middle sized businesses in general among the first points from their action plan.

Q: What is your opinion on virtual meetings, as an alternative to live events?

There is no real alternative to a human-to-human and face-to-face interactions. Virtual meetings can contribute to an effective way on how to share interesting and valuable content, so they can shorten the duration of meetings and/or make them more cost-effective. But I think that meeting in person will be always beneficial, if not necessary.

Q: What precautions/measures are you taking in your company?

  • Majority of our team is staying at home and work remotely,
  • we have closed down our Tourism Information Centres
  • based on a on a new law in Slovakia, we are now able to approve regulations of decisive bodies online, so the first-of-its-kind general assembly of our DMO will be held per-rollam in April.

Q: When do you think the situation will go back to normal?

Next year, hopefully.

Q: Is digital marketing in times of crisis even sensible?

If we speak about the short-term horizon – I would say YES. The ROI of invested resources into digital marketing and reach of the target group is unprecedented. Almost everyone is bored at home, looking for good quality content and education. Moreover, the price per click will be going down as majority of clients have already cut their online communication radically

In a medium-term horizon – YES AGAIN. The key words here are trust and safety of the destination. Now is the time to start destination branding.

Q: What will happen after we’ve beaten the virus? How will you (re)start your marketing activities?

At the moment, we find it useful to update our promotional materials, revise processes and monitoring the good practice within the industry. Shall we as DMOs survive in general, our first action shall be the redistribution of good quality content pointing out the safety and strategic branding – but this is dependable on many factors including governmental actions ..

With the highest probability, the primary focus will be rather local audience to boost the national consumption, in the second phase focus on the surrounding countries / regions.
As the biggest DMO in Slovakia, together with our DMO colleagues from other regions, we do also try to influence the decision makers on the national and city level to maintain the system of financing based on bed tax collection and unique system of donations by the national authorities.

Q: Are you in contact with colleagues from around the world? Have you talked about any potential solutions?

Yes, of course, we are sharing the ideas of approaching the situation and suggestion towards governmental action plans..