Ahead of Conventa 2022, Kongres Magazine chatted with the stars of the Meetings Star influencer selection. Pioneers and trailblazers, these influencers facilitate the meetings industry’s development. Anže Čokl, CEO of Sustainable Hospitality Development, Ltd., discussed why nature-oriented destinations are set for a bright future and how hybrid events closed the gap during the corona crisis.

Last year’s selection of influencers by Kongres Magazine marked the eighth year of the distinguished project. The selected influencers are trailblazers in their respective fields and help co-create the regional meetings industry. Kongres Magazine’s selection is, in a way, an overview of who is who in the industry.

Q1: Live meetings are coming back. What is your take on the current situation, and what is your prediction for this year?

Bohinj ECO Hotel and Sunrose 7 – Heritage Boutique Hotel saw an explosion of live meetings in Q2, especially in May and June. It was a record May of all years, in fact. Of course, we are hoping these trends will continue in autumn, which is otherwise our main season for events in Bohinj.

Q2: How do you see the future of digital, hybrid and metaverse events?

All types of events will take their share in the aftermath of the Covid-19 post-pandemic era, so to say. However, as is the case with Bohinj in the Julian Alps, the more nature-oriented the location and the more we talk to event organisers and clients, the more evident it is becoming that people want to gather in person for the experience that in-person meetings offer.

Photo Credit: Anže Čokl

“The more displays and technology we open up to and use regularly, the more disconnected we are as business partners and human beings.”

Q3: We are living in uncertain times; in the past two years, we have learned how to cope with a crisis caused by the spread of the coronavirus, and we have found ourselves amid a war recently. How do you face such crisis situations?

I have to admit that we see ourselves quite lucky with the location and offer, as we have actually had great business years amidst the crisis. War is proving to actually be a bigger problem, primarily due to increasing prices of literally everything with plunging profit margins in different departments, which is going to be a big challenge for the end of 2022/2023.

Q4: What does the future bring for the meetings industry in the next decade? Which challenges should we address immediately?

The biggest challenges we see are better connectivity and improvement of the level of service, which directly translates to addressing a much bigger issue with a lack of workforce.

Q5: How do you keep up with the changes transforming the business world, particularly in event organising? What is your advice for our readers?

From a steady business up to the end of 2019 and before the corona crisis, I think we will all need to focus more on profitability rather than revenue; work smarter, go digital where possible and really crunch the numbers to be able to navigate the rough waters ahead.

Photo Credit: Anže Čokl

“Go digital where possible and really crunch the numbers to be able to navigate the rough waters ahead.”

Q6: Will corporate social responsibility continue to be discussed as a priority at events instead of topical issues, such as climate change or organising events sustainably?

I hope all stakeholders start looking at the broader picture and that the meetings & events industry will address and prioritise CSR and sustainability. It is a must.

Q7: Which trend inspires you the most, and where do you see immense potential for event organisers?

I think hybrid events, in a way, closed the gap, and I still see great potential for event organisers to continue hybrid events.

Q8: What perils do new technologies adopted during the corona crisis hide?

You can tell so much by just shaking someone’s hand before/after a meeting and literally looking in their eyes and how they talk to you. Hence, the more displays and technology we open up to and use regularly, the more disconnected we are as business partners and human beings, thus losing “human touch”. I don’t mind ordering a hamburger or a pizza talking to a Chat Bot, but not for signing on a six-figure project management deal :)

Q9: Have you noticed that work within the industry is not as desired among the younger generations? What could be the reason behind a significant shortage of staff?

With the generations looking to work nowadays, it is sometimes difficult to even comprehend or really understand what they actually want, and honestly, sometimes they don’t either. There are many wannabes and cloud surfers talking a lot without doing anything of worth, and then there are those who know exactly what they want, but they really want it more or less their way, or there is no way at all. Business owners will have to adapt and try to make the working environment appealing in more than just improved pay. Not surprisingly, with many talented youngsters nowadays, money seems not to be the first thing on their minds! Working weekends, holidays and ridiculous hours, however, most definitely happens within the industry, so it is going to be a challenge given the nature of this business.

Q10: What is your recommendation for young colleagues starting their professional path?

Have your eyes and ears wide open! First-person experience and knowledge from a professional in the field you would like to work in is irreplaceable! And if you are lucky enough to have a chance to work with such talented people, stick to it for a while, grind on, listen to what “elderly” people have to say and be smart and listen even more. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to improve what you think can be improved. That will fast-track your career as things you get to learn from such amazing and respected people cannot be learned elsewhere. And remember to respect each and everyone along the way, as earning respect and being trustworthy will make You the next best choice.

Find out more about Anže Čokl’s inspiring story here

Conventa Week 2022

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