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. Dani Polajnar, Founder and Managing director of Teambuilding Academy, advocated why combining vis-à-vis meetings with new technologies may be the future of events.

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 last few months have clearly shown that people want and need live meetings and gatherings; that will never change. Even with the slight rise of Covid cases, I believe live events are here to stay – at least in some form. Until the end of this year, I predict nothing much will change, and we plan to execute many events live. We are already fully booked for the Autumn months.

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

We have already embraced digital and hybrid events and developed most of our catalogue events also in an online form. They are a great solution for remote teams that enables us to connect team members from all over the world. Corporations forced to make events digital have found out that they are not as bad as they seemed at the start. I believe this is a trend set to develop even more in the future. I’m eager to see where it takes us.

Photo Credit: Teambuilding Academy

“The biggest potential I see is a combination of face-to-face and digital.”

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?

We try to face every crisis with optimism. We always look for new opportunities while keeping in mind the needs of our clients. One of our biggest assets during the pandemic was being a part of the global network that connects the best team-building companies globally. Together, we were able to adapt quickly and develop new online solutions. We see every crisis as a new opportunity for further development.

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

The future I see is hybrid. This was probably not the last close-down, and we need to be ready for the next one. People tend to quickly forget what happened in the past and stop being on alert, and then every new crisis surprises us as we didn’t learn anything from the past. We should always be ready. As the main challenge for the meetings industry, I see the issue of how to make digital events as humanly as possible. We have the technology, but we still lack the touch.

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 I’ve said before, we try to face every crisis with optimism and a thriving mindset. Instead of waiting for things to return to “normal”, we welcome each new reality and embrace the disruption as a catalyst that pushes our organisation forward. My biggest advice for the readers would be to do the same and always look for new opportunities.

Photo Credit: Teambuilding Academy

“We welcome each new reality and embrace the disruption as a catalyst that pushes our organisation forward.”

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?

At our events, we don’t see that CSR stands out instead something else. We execute a wide range of events, many of which focus on social responsibility and sustainability. We are extremely happy that more and more companies realise the importance of both. Our clients realise that team buildings with a purpose offer an exceptional team experience that also helps others and improves our environment.

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

My favourite trend that started really developing during the pandemic and still continues is hybrid events. Hybrid events offer a new dimension to events. They enable us to connect with even more people in different locations. The biggest potential I see is a combination of face-to-face and digital.

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

During social distancing, technology was one of the things that helped us stay connected. Unfortunately, a lot of our interactions became a one-way street – one-way communication where we received no feedback.

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

Young people today have different priorities. Many focus more on the purpose of their work than the paycheck. It’s important to give them the opportunity to be a part of something bigger, a part of crazy, one-of-a-kind events, and have a clear vision, values and purpose, which is broader than earning money.

Q10: 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?

In general, it seems to me that the biggest reason for the shortage of staff is the pandemic, as many people have been laid off. Now the demand for event organisations has gone up very quickly, leaving organisers short-staffed and “fighting” for the same talent. I believe that companies with the right purpose, values and understanding of the new generations will never lack proper talent.

Q11: What is your recommendation for young colleagues starting their professional path?

One of our company values is “Step across the limit”. So, I would recommend thinking outside the box. Do something new. Something completely different that has never been done before. Don’t limit yourself, and don’t forget to have fun while doing it.

Q12: What is a good practice case in 2022, in your opinion?

Keeping with the theme of hybrid and socially responsible events, one of our events that I am most proud of was a weeklong team-building event that connected nearly 1000 participants from 7 different countries. Their goal was to virtually connect branch offices in all countries where participants tried to physically walk the maximum distance they could in one week. With the help of an app, every participant was tracked, as was their distance during exercise (running, hiking, walking etc.). With that, they contributed to the common goal. The company donated money for every kilometre walked. In the end, participants raised more than 10.000 EUR for charity. The event culminated with a big online closing ceremony.

Find out more about the Teambuilding Academy here. 

Conventa Week 2022

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