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Conventa Crossover 2019 (Photo: www.domitrica.com)

Where Is The Meetings Industry Heading?

Find out in this interview

Our junior editor at Kongres Magazine talked to Gorazd Čad, the CEO of Toleranca Marketing and founder of Conventa Crossover, an out-of-the-box event that invites leading experts in live marketing and event organisation to take the stage and share their knowledge. The 5th edition of the event will be taking place in hybrid form for the first time, both LIVE & ONLINE.

We wanted to know more about the event, find out what influenced the organisers’ decision to go hybrid, what surprises await the attendees and what will happen with the meetings industry after COVID-19.

We are creating a good practice case that will empower colleagues and instil optimism for the future

Q: You chose to move forward with the organisation of Conventa Crossover in spite of the current situation with COVID-19. What influenced that decision?

Even in the most difficult times, we mustn’t stay silent. As meeting planners, we need a platform that will allow us to gaze into the future of our industry. The same goes for venues, hotels, congress centres, providers of meetings services, associations, tourist destinations and everyone else involved in the meetings industry. We want to know how to overcome the coronavirus crisis, what events of the future will look like and if events are still an important part of marketing strategies. Our goal is to find answers and solutions for the survival of our industry through the opinions of international experts and a community of creatives that will come together on 27 August 2020. Due to the unpredictability of the current situation, HYBRID was the only way to go, as backing down was never on our agenda. Despite the new hybrid form, Conventa Crossover will remain the central THINK-TANK for the meetings industry of New Europe.

Q: What does the event’s slogan »Power to the meetings – Live or Online« mean?

We think that events have the power to change the course of history and have a permanent impact on attendees as individuals. Events can only be impactful if they are strategically prepared and carried out with clear, measurable goals and bring good ROI. Conventa Crossover attendees will find answers to just that; how to carry out events that satisfy the physical, social and holistic needs of participants after and during COVID-19. We are creating a good practice case that will empower colleagues and instil optimism for the future.

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Q: What will the new hybrid format look like?

When hybrid cars first started to appear, people said that they took the best from the old petrol world and the new electrified, sustainable world. Right now, hybrid events seem like the most logical answer to the current situation. An increasing number of meeting planners have shifted towards hybrid event models, as they allow people from countries, where the state of the pandemic is getting worse to join the event online, while attendees from countries with loosened restrictions can join live. Regional attendees from countries that are on Slovenia’s green/orange list according to the National Institute of Public Health will be able to join the Conventa Crossover experience live in Ljubljana, Slovenia and others will join the action through a new online platform.

Q: How was this year’s event concept developed?

The concept was being developed, while the state of the pandemic kept changing. That meant our strategy kept changing as well. In March, we were naively certain that the event will be taking place to live, but we quickly realised that some clever adaptation will be necessary. Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. A crucial part of the event, Conventa Best Event Award also needed to be restructured, now with more award categories and two application stages, so that meeting planners, who had to cancel their events don’t miss out.

We never wanted to organise an event just for the sake of organising an event. Our vision for Conventa Crossover was much bigger and the mission of changing the way events are organised always in mind. We want to show how powerful our industry is and that our community of creatives has appropriate answers.

Q: Despite online events flooding the market, do you still believe in the power of personal relationships and Face2Face connections?

Absolutely. I think that human to human communication will always win. The fact that digital ecosystems allow endless manipulation is scary. Just think about the fake news syndrome and how it can disrupt the political and economic situation across the globe. If we automatise society to the point, where all communication takes place online, I seriously question the future of humanity. Critical thinking and progress will be replaced by an Orwellian dictatorship. That is why events are so important. They are the last defence against dictatorship, fascism and all negativity. Through history, events helped society develop and preserve culture. If and when events are completely banned: a time of darkness and retrograde transpires.

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Gorazd Čad at Conventa Crossover 2019

Q: Are there any parallels between organising events and high-end TV production?

At the moment, event planning looks a lot like TV production. We will have to get used to the new reality, in which live and online platforms coincide. Hybrid events require directors, editors, camera and lighting operators, sound mixers and streaming service providers. The event staff quickly starts to resemble a full-blown film crew. The biggest challenge is taking care of both audiences equally, just like TV shows take care of entertaining a live audience and the people behind their screens.

Q: What will happen with the meetings industry after COVID-19.

The meetings industry is enduring. This is the third major crisis that I have experienced during my career and more will certainly come in the future. In the ’90s, experts predicted a complete downfall of events, as the internet was just starting to boom. The economic crisis in 2008 shook the world of events again and so did the coronavirus. If we turn the tables, the meetings industry grew stronger and adapted. I believe in the power of positive change and Conventa Crossover will pave the way for regional post-coronavirus events through its innovative event format.

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Kim Myhre at Conventa Crossover 2019

How do we help our attendees adapt their business models, marketing strategies and events to the new situation? EASY!

Q: You said the goal of the event is to share knowledge from experts, who have already adapted to the new situation. What else awaits the attendees at the end of August?

The Conventa Crossover motto stays the same; life is too short to waste time at boring events. As organising events was banned across the world for the past six months, we were faced with a big challenge. How do we help our attendees adapt their business models, marketing strategies and events to the new situation? EASY! Invite more than 30 experts, who have already done it. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn from good practice cases and international professionals, ready to share their knowledge.

Q: How will you take care of health and safety?

The venue; Cankarjev Dom Cultural Centre and the organisers of Conventa Crossover; Toleranca Marketing have both received the Safe & Healthy Events certification from the Slovenian Convention Bureau. We will ensure that the health and safety of the attendees are on a very high level. The participants will feel safe and free at the same time.

Q: What will be the difference between live and online participation?

The power of events lies in creating connections. Our goal is to provide the same innovative and daring programme to both live and online attendees. The latter will be joining the action through a new online platform and will be able to play back all the content after the event. We all know that smell, taste and feel can’t be replaced by any virtual tool, but we will make sure that both experiences are as efficient and connecting as possible. We have teamed up with FM marketing agency and a live streaming provider vŽIVO.si to bring attendees an original, Slovenian online event solution.

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Conventa Crossover 2019

Q: Who will be the main speakers at this year’s Conventa Crossover?

We are really proud of the storytellers this year. We will be hosting CEO’s of some of the largest international event agencies. Attendees will listen to Jens Oliver Mayer from the German subsidiary of Jack Morton and Zsófia Dobos from Hungarian Bo Live branding agency. Joining us is Stephanie Dubois, the organiser of SAPPHIRE NOW, who will explain how multinational corporations take on event organisation in these new conditions. A very interesting lecture will be held by Dr. Barbara Neuhofer, an expert in experience design, where you will learn how to use experience design as a philosophy, mindset and toolset. We are also looking forward to two exciting panel discussions with esteemed speakers, who will discuss the future of events and how to restart destination marketing. Explaining how Germany adapted to the new post-corona crisis situation will be Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the German Convention Bureau. For attendees joining live, we are also preparing 4 really interesting workshops on FRIDAY, 28 August 2020.

In addition to the aforementioned content, online attendees will also have access to pre-recorded content and some special surprises.

These are just some of the storytellers from a meticulously prepared programme that you can see in detail here. We hope to see you in Ljubljana, Slovenia from 27 to 28 August 2020 or plugged in to our online platform on 27 August 2020.

More information can be found at https://www.crossover.si/