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. Tony E. Kula, Founder & CEO of MEETYOO, advocated the return of virtual events and explained why they should be organised to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

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?

We believe that virtual events will come back due to two important trends. First is the need for companies to save money during the economic downturn – virtual events can improve the ROI significantly, as they are less costly and have a bigger reach (geographically and over time).

Second, as we have seen in recent times with alarming temperature rises, the climate crisis will make it urgent for companies and governments to reduce carbon emissions. We have made it a central part of our mission at MEETYOO to decarbonise the event industry actively. Going virtual can save up to 94 % carbon emission, and we compensate for all of our clients’ events as our commitment to being net zero.

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

At the moment, the Metaverse offers several interesting and valuable elements for the conception and organisation of entertainment events. Above all, we can already recognise that it will empower the user and the visitor and offer a tremendous variety of communication opportunities for the transfer of more than just information, shifting into a real co-creation space. From the perspective of the enterprises directly addressing consumers, these will have the opportunity to reach all digital generations and new target groups to present their most innovative offerings.

However, for business-to-business communication, I believe a presence in the Metaverse will not necessarily be the choice to go yet. One of the reasons is accessibility. In offices around the world, there are limitations like business networks, VPNs, or the lack of VR / AR gear that will hinder accessibility. Besides, the Metaverse is slow when it comes to knowledge transfer. Avatar-based environments will require users to “walk” for minutes and hours before finding their spot. Metavent platforms that are point-to-click but still offer rich and immersive experiences are already able to deliver lifelike event experiences online today.

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“The shift towards the virtual world will bring many benefits to the event industry, and I am not just saying that because my company is a virtual event platform!”

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?

COVID-19 created a great demand for the virtual event industry. We had to turn away big clients as we could not keep up with the increasing demand. However, now that things are opening back up, it has decreased demand and thus revenue. And from speaking with other industry leaders, I know we are not the only ones suffering from the hit. The recent news also showed that big event tech players had to let go of a significant proportion of their workforce.

We, as MEETYOO, have been in the conferencing business for over ten years and have experienced many fluctuating trends. As an entrepreneur for over 20 years, I know that I have to stay calm and prepare myself and my company for the things to come. We remain focused on the things we can control and take the time to strengthen our product and team.

The product and team come first, and it is important to me that they keep their trust in me and me in them. By working together, we will always come out stronger and our clients recognise that.

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

The shift towards the virtual world will bring many benefits to the event industry, and I am not just saying that because my company is a virtual event platform! We have already seen the efficiency of hosting events online, especially when it comes to sustainability. Studies have shown that digital events can reduce the carbon footprint of an event by 94 % and energy consumption by 90 %. The virtual world also allows event planners to focus on content for their events and worry less about logistics. When they go virtual, they get to utilise event planning software to support their organisational workflows of virtual and hybrid concepts and formats.

Having a digital aspect to your event, whether it is just a virtual twin or a fully virtual experience, allows you to collect valuable data. The ability to track your participants’ actions and interests gives you quality leads and provides them with a better and authentically curated experience.

While on the experience side, I believe that VR and AR are here to stay. Audiovisual productions and immersive web streams and experiences will have a definitive impact on the event space.

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

Communication. Talk to your clients. Build a deep relationship. Truly understanding your client’s needs will allow you to provide them with the best solution. That solution is normally the service you provide them with. Give them the time and space to work on amazing content for their event while you take care of the rest, and that communication allows them to trust you with the success of their event.

I am lucky to have an excellent business development team that keeps clients coming back all the time.

tony_kula_meetyoo

“Today’s talents want to positively impact society, and our vision of decarbonising the event industry provides this.”

Q6: Which trend inspires you the most, and where do you see immense potential for event organisers?

The Metaverse is definitely a megatrend, which I believe will influence how brands interact with their consumers. Nonetheless, I believe this trend still has quite a few years before it makes a huge impact in this industry.

In business to business context, I believe remote work will increase the demand for virtual employee communication and digital office spaces. Employees will not be returning to the office full-time, and it’s important we start adapting to a hybrid future.

Q7: What should the meetings industry do to attract talented individuals among its ranks?

The new generation, Gen Z, is full of potential, creativity, and talent. We have observed that they are looking for a bigger purpose within their work, working flexibility, trust within the organisation, and a lower hierarchy. Our people team at MEETYOO has already been setting up our working guidelines as such, and even our current employees are loving the new freedom and trust.

In addition, today’s talents want to positively impact society, and our vision of “decarbonising event industry” provides this.

Q8: 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 do not know if I fully agree with this statement. I think younger generations are very interested in the virtual world and how it can provide sustainable solutions to the event industry. Our company is fully remote, and the possibility of working from anywhere in the world has attracted so many young talents.

I do believe that the onsite event industry might be struggling more with finding talent as the long hours, travels, and high-stress levels no longer seem worth it for the younger generation.

Q9: What is your recommendation for young colleagues starting their professional path?

Stay hungry, give yourself time to learn, and understand where your heart is. Also, believe in yourself. We have all had imposter syndrome, but with time you will become a master of your work.


Find out more about what MEETYOO offers here.

Conventa Week 2022