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. Edith Mader, Manager of Convention Bureau Lower Austria, explained why sustainable events are at the forefront in the Lower Austria region and why face-to-face meetings are not a thing of the past.

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?

The industry – clients and suppliers – are very keen on hosting live events. Especially events and meetings with teambuilding character are highly in demand. There is a lot of catching up to do, given that numerous companies were bound to the home office in the last two years. As for the moment, locations are more or less fully booked up to October, as the Covid situation is not clear for later on. But our partners are reporting the bookings for the winter season are starting to pick up.

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

Due to the situation during the pandemic, a lot of companies have switched to digital meetings and seminars. We assume that, particularly in the seminar industry, this trend will continue, yet, as the current situation shows, there is always the need for personal meetings and networking. In the congress business, however, there is a trend for smaller, more local events. Participants and speakers from overseas alike now have the opportunity to join in on a congress with hybrid technology.

Photo Credit: Convention Bureau Lower Austria, Andreas Hofer

“there is always the need for personal meetings and networking.”

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?

All these new situations have shown us that we have to be even more flexible in our business conduct.

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

From our point of view the lack of staff, not only in the meeting business but also in the entire tourism industry, is the most urgent problem which needs to be addressed 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?

Always have an open ear for the need of the customers, and interact and communicate with event organisers and participants.

Photo Credit: Convention Bureau Lower Austria, Lois Lammerhuber

“The last few months have shown us that the need for face-to-face meetings and teambuilding activities is still going strong.”

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?

We have indeed found out that there is a growing demand for CSR in our business. We have been working on this issue for more than ten years, and in Austria, we have unified standards for “green meetings and events”. Meeting organisers can thus apply for a green meeting certificate issued by the Austrian Ministry of Environment. Many of our suppliers already participate in this program, and we support planners to meet the certification standards. Furthermore, in the Lower Austrian tourism strategy, the commitment to sustainable tourism is positioned highly.

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

For us, the most important trend in our business is the focus on sustainability and green meetings.

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

In the worst case, clients will stick to online meetings, and the volume of our business shall reduce dramatically. But as the last few months have shown us, the need for face-to-face meetings and teambuilding activities is still going strong.

Q9: What should the meetings industry do to attract talented individuals among its ranks?

The industry should establish a close connection to universities, schools and other training facilities and involve students from the beginning with internships and trainee programs.

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

Explore the world and gather as many different experiences as possible!

Find out more about Convention Bureau Lower Austria’s sustainable story here

Conventa Week 2022

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