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Kongres Magazine talked to Aigars Smiltans, the director of Meet Riga, who was recently named among the top 10 Most Influential Destination Representatives in 2021. Aigars shared his advice for newcomers in the meetings industry and expressed his opinion on the future of events.

Q1: What does the title of the industry’s most influential individual in the region mean to you?

I think it is recognition that I have created initiatives and conducted work valuable to the industry. I am truly thankful for the people who voted to support me in this journey.

Q2: Can we say that you are a newcomer in the meetings industry? What inspires you?

I am not so new to the meetings and events industry. I organised events and conferences already in the nineties during my work at a marketing communication agency. My previous work experience with international brands like NOKIA, MARS, Philips, SAS, P&G, and my work experience from a travel management company/DMC helps me a lot at the current job! I am always trying to find new solutions and manners to handle industry requirements. I like that information on the destination is accessible and easy to reach. I get inspiration from conversations and information exchanges with my industry colleagues and friends!

Q3: You have contributed a lot to the development of the meetings industry. What would you say was your greatest achievement so far?

I think my greatest achievement has been doing things a little bit differently than most of my colleagues from other convention bureaus! That related to going into public with MEET RIGA brand as an official city convention bureau, instead of using classical solutions of destination promotion. I must also admit that numerous meetings and events planners highly value the MeetRiga.com web page’s functionality.

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Photo Credit: Canva/Pexels

“The meeting and event industry is ageing, and it is hard to attract the younger generation to join in!”

Q4: What changes would you like to see in the meetings industry in 2022?

2022 should be the year when we will go back to live events! I think not all industries can stick to digital format events, and one of them is the meetings & events industry. Also, destination promotional activities will change.

Q5: What is your prediction for the future of meetings?

Coming back to live meetings, participants will evaluate what has gained value for their participation. I think content on-demand will be a big trend in the upcoming years. Furthermore, development on virtual meeting platforms will continue in order to keep better engagement with virtual event attendees and monitor their activities.

Q6: What is your advice for young colleagues making their way in the meetings industry?

The meetings and events industry is ageing, and it is hard to attract the younger generation to join in! Youngsters like to achieve things faster and right away. The meetings and events industry is the industry of different kinds of details and nuances; you need to be patient and learn them. Or you can create something new and stand out from the crowd. There should be more like IBTM & ICCA young professionals courses to attract new talents to the industry circles.

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“I think all meetings and events industry personnel who survived these last two years are the heroes and should be given awards!”

Q7: Were you more exposed in public after being placed on our list? Do you see this as an opportunity to reinforce the prominence of our industry in general?

On one hand, being listed helps to highlight the industry as such; however, it imposes an additional liability – you need to work harder. Titles sometimes make people arrogant!

Q8: What are your thoughts on our selection of the influencers?

I think some people from convention bureaus are so busy at work that they forget to brag about their work. I think Kongres Magazine’s initiative is of great help to highlight convention bureau personnel in the region of New Europe.

Q9: In your opinion, who deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to choose from the finalists yourself?

It is hard to single out one person from the convention bureaus who deserved the absolute title because each nominee has their own strengths!

I think all meetings and events industry personnel who survived those last two years are the heroes and should be given awards!