meet_the_stars

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. Dušan Borovčanin, CEO of Serbia Convention Bureau, discussed what the meetings industry should do to attract young talents and why staying optimistic in times of uncertainty is crucial.

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?

Yes, thankfully. The numbers are returning to pre-pandemic levels, yet it would be foolish to think that the overall situation in the industry is getting back to its best days. Just have a look at the situation with air travel. I know it is very much the same with hospitality, event planners, DMCs and PCOs. The labour market crisis we are facing in tourism is something which the Covid-19 pandemic uncovered for many but was a result of a much longer disinterest in serious human resource management. It is sad, but it is the reality.

At the moment, it is hard to be smart and predict something for the end of this year. As I said at the beginning of the year for Kongres Magazine, I believe this is the beginning of the long road to recovery, and I would love to stay optimistic and think the same.

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

It seems they are here to stay, but I don’t see the overall share of these events going up. Digital and hybrid events were here even before the pandemic; however, their popularity was not great because, frankly, only a few were fans of digital and hybrid events before the pandemic. Ok, now we are more experienced with technology, and digital and hybrid events are getting better and better, yet I still think the human need and desire for face-to-face connection and the overall travel experience and joy are why our industry exists in the first place. As for metaverse events, as much as I understand the whole idea behind metaverse, I am really not a big fan. I see this already as a generational gap, which is funny because I perceive myself as a representative of the younger generation.

dusan_borovcanin

“I like the shift to outdoor events full of content. I see this as an immense potential for event organisers.”

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?

Honestly, I don’t know. I think uncertainty is the worst thing for business, and as you said, we are living in a “time of uncertainty”. The current threat seems even more dangerous for Europe than the Covid-19 pandemic to me, but let’s stay optimistic and advocate peace at every step and, more importantly, put contingency planning into a regular business plan.

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

I see three major challenges for our industry in the next decade:

1) The human resource challenge,
2) The industry reputation and significance challenge,
3) The overall economic decline followed by other insecurities.

The good news is that 2 of 3 are in our backyard, meaning we must start addressing them immediately.

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

As a researcher, I have a habit of regularly checking the latest scientific research, which helps significantly in terms of strategic thinking in our industry. On a more operational level, like everyone else, I talk a lot with colleagues from the industry, and I follow professional magazines like Kongres Magazine😊.

serbia_conference
Photo Credit: Serbia Convention Bureau

“The industry needs to bring back the great image it had a few decades ago. Honestly, how did we manage to make people think working in the tourism, hospitality, aviation, and events industry is not a wonderful career?”

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 am afraid it will.

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

I like the shift to outdoor events full of content. I see this as an immense potential for event organisers because it leaves tremendous space for their creativity and imagination.

Q8: What should the meetings industry do to attract talented individuals among its ranks?

Take education seriously. As someone with insights from both worlds, I am certain intense collaboration between the industry and high schools, colleges and faculties for tourism is what creates talented and inspired individuals who are easily attracted to work in the industry. It is not an easy job, but it’s a responsibility and a must for the situation where we are now.

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?

I did, of course. The industry needs to bring back the great image it had a few decades ago. Honestly, how did we manage to make people think working in the tourism, hospitality, aviation, and events industry is not a wonderful career? I know the answer to that question, but it makes me sad. I never thought I would read about a phenomenon in our industry called “The Great Resignation”, but I did. So the answer is, let’s make work in tourism fabulous again. Let’s show all the perks of our industry to young people sitting in their classroom and make them wish to work in tourism. And finally, let’s make that a reality for them when they graduate.

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

Working in tourism is a wonderful career. Education and hard work always pay off in the long run.


Find out more about the fast-growing Serbia Convention Bureau here

Conventa Week 2022