“nothing can replace a live meeting, shaking hands or exchanging opinions “
Q: What do you desire the most at the moment?
Kinga: The thing we desire the most is to meet our participants again. Although online events have many advantages (savings, greater reach), nothing can replace a live meeting, shaking hands, exchanging opinions or having lunch together. We really want stationary events to come back to our plans, because what is best about this job is the satisfaction that after a few months of planning and production, during the implementation, even after one or two days, we see the immediate effect in the form of thousands of satisfied and curious participants.
Q: Why do you love organising events?
Tomasz: I have the impression that I have been dealing with the organisation of the events since birth. The greatest motivation to organize the next ones were the satisfied participants and the atmosphere at the events. There is nothing more beautiful than cyclical events, anticipated by a group of regular recipients who treat the event as a kind of celebration. This is also how we treat our Open Eyes Summit, which is attended annually by several thousand people who understand the needs, problems and challenges of the modern world and societies.
Q: Can you present the tool or app you use the most during the corona crisis?
Kinga: During almost a year of the pandemic and the organization of online meetings, we had the opportunity to test several solutions functioning on the market. When the Foundation team moved to remote working to manage the team and organize events, we started using the whereby.com online application, which quickly became our favourite tool for both quick and uncomplicated internal meetings as well as video conferences with clients, partners and subcontractors. However, when it comes to online events, we conducted them mainly with the help of vMIX Software, using ZOOM or Skype.
On the other hand, in order to carry out a large online Congress, we did not find a suitable solution on the market, which prompted us to create a special multifunctional platform where the Open Eyes Economy Summit in 2020 took place. Together with the Krakow-based CMA company, we started working on an online solution that would transfer as many elements of the real Congress to the web as possible. And so, after a few months of conceptual and implementation work, a platform was created, available only to registered OEES participants, thanks to which they had access to a live program transmitted simultaneously from four stages, a live studio, expo zone, networking zone, agenda and profiles of speakers, general and individual chats, Q&A sessions, congress materials and even an online store with the publications of the speakers. Thanks to this platform, they could also listen to an evening concert or watch special screenings of documentary films. We wanted to create an online congress tool that would engage our participants as much as possible, and, as can be seen in the statistics, we achieved it!
Q: How would you explain to a client why organising events is essential?
Kinga: Of course, it depends on the client and the event. From the point of view of communication, event marketing is one of the most effective tools of direct marketing – it allows you to go out to the client, meet with them, and let them know you not only from the press, billiard or television but also live. The networking value of the event is also invaluable – research among our business partners shows that one of the factors that dominate the decision to involve marketing budgets in the MICE market is networking – the possibility of meeting many people who are potential business partners in one place. Therefore, not only the substantive but also the networking parts of the events are appreciated: shared lunches, banquets, exchange of business cards, meeting points, etc.
As a Foundation whose mission is, among others, to support economic development in line with sustainable development, we organize both our own events and those commissioned by clients. Our flagship project is the Open Eyes Economy Summit, implemented since 2016 at the ICE Congress Center in Krakow. In order to convince our business partners to attend the Congress, we have one most important argument: the quality of the discussion.
For five years we have been trying to establish ourselves as the most substantive, independent forum for debates on difficult, non-commercial topics. We encourage and convince our Partners that by taking part in the OEES, they take part in a discussion that has a real impact on the activities done by them and their environment, in the discussion about our common future. Our promises are covered – we cooperate with companies for which, as part of the OEES, we implement promotional campaigns based on the principles of the economy of value and PR services supporting the development of corporate social responsibility.
Q: Is it easier to organise digital or live events?
Tomasz: It is definitely more difficult to organize an online event if the event previously took place in the real world and it was planned that way. From a technical point of view, with online events, we do not have to deal with catering, the appearance of the space that is not covered by cameras, security, banquets, etc. On the other hand, much more energy needs to be put into planning an engaging event that will keep the viewer in front of the receiver. Therefore, much greater expenditure is spent on stage engineering and scenography. However, answering the question with one sentence: organization of online events is much easier than live events if we do not compare the first editions, but the second and subsequent ones to each other.
Q: Is organising digital events cheaper than organising classic events?
Kinga: Online edition, on the one hand, reduced the production costs of the event on-site, but on the other hand, it resulted in increased expenditure on technology. I think it would be cheaper for smaller events, but the cost of organizing huge events with multiple functions for thousands of people might be comparable.
“we have managed to overcome the barrier of online participation”
Q: If the future of the meetings industry will be green, where do we start?
Tomasz: None of the industries will avoid becoming greener. It includes the meetings industry as well, and it is happening right before our eyes. For many years there have been institutions converting the event emission index, and more and more organizers think realistically about the impact of their events on the environment. Certainly, local events have a chance to become fully responsible faster. However, when it comes to international events, paradoxically, it is the pandemic that may become an opportunity to balance them.
I have the impression that we have managed to overcome the barrier of online participation (whether active as a speaker or passive as a listener), and this will have a significant impact on the number of people actually participating in the meetings, and thus on the carbon footprint of international transport. I am sure that we should focus on not returning to the level of live meetings at all costs, but applying and finding reasonable hybridization – this is certainly a great opportunity for everyone.
Q: What will be the key trait of a great event organiser after the corona crisis?
Kinga: I don’t know if it’s a trait, maybe it’s more of a skill, but I would say that it will be the ability to turn a crisis into opportunities. Organizational flexibility, the ability to see places for our industry where there has been no place for them so far – will definitely help us adapt to the uncertain conditions of tomorrow. We have been following this idea from the beginning of the pandemic and we are convinced that it is thanks to this approach that we have managed to survive on the market. When we couldn’t organize events and debates, we started publishing. We gathered a network of over 100 experts, who prepared for us the so-called alerts regarding the current economic and political situation, which were widely discussed at the national level in the media and public opinion in Poland.
Q: What is your view of the future? Where is the meetings industry headed?
Tomasz: As we mentioned above, it is a great opportunity to use hybrid solutions. It is an opportunity not only for ecology and becoming green events, but also for increasing the reach, accessibility (including for people with disabilities), reducing costs in the long term and gaining exceptional guests who have so far refused due to the calendar or travel. We certainly cannot resign from organizing on-site events, because we know how important it is for the participants to feel their presence and the influence they have on the events, but the winner of the whole “race” will be this organization and this organizer that will optimally connect the four worlds (e.g. in the context of mutual interactions): online speakers, on-site speakers, online viewers, and on-site viewers.
Q: What is the most surprising fact about organising events?
Tomasz: Probably the biggest surprises in the organization of events can be divided into the pleasant and the problematic ones. But let’s deal only with the pleasant ones. And here, one of the most desirable from the producers’ point of view is each day which does not provide any major mishaps (although it is often the calm before the storm 😃). Another nice momentum is when it turns out that all or nearly all of the speakers have appeared or connected online. Of course, the substantive reception of the event is not without significance, which, properly appreciated by the press and the environmental experts, may become a flywheel for the future of the event. However, the biggest reward for a well-prepared event is the plan for the next edition, preceded by a well-earned rest.
EXTRA QUESTION FOR KINGA AND TOMASZ
Q: High Tech or High Touch?
Kinga: Having carried out the congress for five years, the aim of which is to spread an approach to economics based on values and responsibility, I say with full confidence: High Touch.