An interview with Gorazd Čad, a seasoned meeting planner, who has dedicated 25 years of life to the meetings and events industry. He witnessed the fall of Yugoslavia, the establishment of independent Slovenia, adapted to the internet revolution of the ’90s, overcame the economic crisis of 2008, the 2010 eruption of an Icelandic volcano, and the 2019 meetings industry burnout…

Gorazd Čad often compares the meetings industry to rock’n’roll. To him, rock’n’roll is way more than just a music genre. It’s passion, dedication and striving to be different. It’s showing the best of what you’ve got with all your heart and voice at the right moment. It’s impressing your audience and leaving an impression. It’s establishing an authentic connection with every participant and listening to their wishes. It’s making sure that attendees become your fans. The secret and essence of rock’n’roll is a good idea. The best ideas are simple, clear and unambiguous. Those that speak to the heart and soul. Just like music, events are a universal language that everyone understands. The idea of rock’n’roll is closely connected to the idea of freedom. Rock’n’roll is a way of life.

Q: Where do you see similarities between rock‘n’roll and the meetings industry?

Just like rock’n’roll, events are a universal language. They don’t need a translation. At the same time, they are a universal reflection of the state of our society. We still love what we do. If you want to keep creating something for a long time, you have to be in love with your craft… and also a little bit crazy. The audience will immediately feel your passion and award you for it.

Q: Why do you think events are the cornerstone of freedom and democracy?

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.

Q: How can we transfer the rock‘n’roll mindset to events?

Copying is the ultimate sin. The rock‘n’roll mindset is based on originality and authenticity. Fakes don’t work. Browse your music memory. Do you remember the German duo Milli Vanilli? They quickly rose to fame until everyone realised they did not make any of the songs. The greatest musicians have stayed genuine throughout their careers. The same goes for great meeting planners. The best events are not generic copies, but real original stories.

Conventa Crossover 2020 (Photo: Marko Delbello Ocepek)

Q: What can meeting planners learn from rock‘n’roll?

Even when spokes are put in your wheels, you have to perform in unison on stage. Members of the Rolling Stones, who are supposedly on bad terms with each other, act like best friends on stage. In order to put on a great show, ego’s have to be put aside. If everyone on the event planning team is not on the same page or does not have the same vision, it’s better not to carry out the event. You can’t force an incredible event to happen. When we manage to bring people with great mutual energy onboard for our projects and work like a fine-tuned machine, that energy can be experienced by the attendees.

Q: What can we learn from rock culture during this pandemic?

The attendees and their needs are always at the forefront of everything we do. This is very similar to musicians, who put listeners and their satisfaction at the concert first. Figuring out what attendees want might seem scary. In reality, that’s the charm and fundamental mission of our industry that not even the coronavirus crisis can change. Focusing on our customers (attendees) creates numerous new opportunities.

Photo: Pixabay (Canva Pro)

Q: Does Slovenia have any rock‘n’roll spirit? What can it offer to international creatives?

Slovenia is an excellent market for trying out new ideas in the field of experience marketing. It’s a well-developed market but has its peculiarities. Nevertheless, it can be a great test range for creatives. Agility is built into the DNA of Slovenian regions. The country has outlived so many crises that we’ve managed to live with them, stay agile and adapt.

Q: Do you maybe have a favourite picture that represents the essence of your business? Can you share it?

Any photo with happy people. The Slovenian language has a great translation for the word “events”, we call them “SREČANJA”, which can simply be understood as making the participants of events happy. You can often separate between an average and amazing event just by looking at the photos of attendees. This is completely comparable to attendees of rock concerts. One of my favourite pictures is the one below…

Conventa 2019 (Photo credit: Tina Ramujkić)

Q: What is, within or outside our profession, your biggest inspiration?

Music and theatre are two of my biggest sources of inspiration. I thoroughly enjoy plays and I think meeting planners can learn a lot from them. I also find inspiration in modern literature, which I consume in great quantity. I am actually quite proud of the library I’ve built throughout the years at home, especially the works of younger authors from SE Europe.

Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your career?

You never cease to learn. New lessons constantly come your way and the epidemic is just one example. I found the most simple life philosophy – carpe diem to be one of the greatest lessons in life. Taking time for family, creating, enjoying, loving, wondering, resting or sometimes just breathing. Learning to love life…

Q: What has been your best decision during the corona-crisis?

The best decision I’ve made is not surrendering to faith and turning our agency’s business strategy around. We carefully analysed the needs of our clients and added new services to our portfolio. This way, we managed to keep existing clients and attract new ones. We strive to improve every day with a high level of responsibility to our clients guiding us on our journey.

Conventa Crossover 2020 (Photo: Marko Delbello Ocepek)

Q: Where do you think ‘the new normal’ is heading towards?

We like to say that live events evoke all of our senses. Right now, online events can only evoke two; sight and hearing. Choosing the right format depends on the preference of your audience. Do they like augmented or genuine reality? It seems that hybrid events, where half of the audience attends a physical venue and the other half joins online, are the best compromise. At the end of the day, we are social beings. The first thing most of us will probably do once this is over is go out, socialize at events, travel and have a great time together. I sincerely miss that. Live events will never die, as nothing can replace authentic human2human connection.

Q: Could you say that organising events is not just a job, but a way of life?

I am fortunate to be able to do what I love in life. I left a corporate environment to pursue an independent career and I have not looked back since. Since founding my agency, organising events has become a way of life and original ideas are something I have not run out of yet.

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