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. Olga Krzemińska-Zasadzka, Managing Director at Power Agency, discussed the hyper-connected meetings industry and the future of digital and hybrid 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 need for meetings after the pandemic returned with redoubled strength. We are working at full speed, but we are already in the „new normal”. Organising corporate events, incentive travels, and team building is especially important to help teams get back to their pre-pandemic rhythm. The specifics of our work have changed. Due to the high rate of employee turnover in the hospitality industry, changes in airfare, and climbing food prices triggering higher catering costs, the time required to prepare an offer for a client has tripled since 2019.

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

Today, most participants want the option to attend the event in person or remotely. Hybrid events bring companies many new benefits: they facilitate a greater reach for events in the global market, reduce organisational costs and increase an event’s net ROI.

The “New Normal” means that organisers can have both a personal and a virtual audience. A year ago, in a 2021 report by The State of Hybrid Events, 57% of event organisers agreed that hybrid events will dominate in the future. Another report from SKIFT further affirms that no less than 62 per cent of event planners say they will continue to accommodate a virtual audience once live events return. It must also be highlighted that nothing can replace the visceral benefits of events and meetings for companies — the tangibility of the emotions, experiences, integration, and team-building is more crucial today than ever. Today’s global shifts require that we cultivate opportunities to strengthen relationships and rebuild bonds of trust. Business is very much about personal relationships that cannot always be replaced by the metaverse so simply.

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“The time required to prepare an offer for a client has tripled.”

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?

The main feature of the new reality is the ability to adapt to sudden and rapid changes and very fluid conditions. We are integrally connected, affording us the resources to act quickly, both by creating events and incentive travel projects, as well as providing assistance to conflict victims. We work hard, so we also need to learn how to recharge our batteries. Today’s universal challenges we face collectively, are felt by our customers as well as ourselves.

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

We are definitely hyper-connected. Technology has entered every aspect of our lives, and the work/life balance is becoming a growing challenge by the day. Companies forced to face such insurmountable challenges, sadly, often quit due to the demands of flexible or remote work, professional burnout of employees, and the entrance into the labour market of the “Gen Z” phenomenon, which looks for opportunities for self-fulfilment in a values-oriented environment. Organisations will need to use a variety of motivational, loyalty and development tools to retain valuable employees and build relationships through remote teams.

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

I would like to recall the words of the Polish Nobel Prize winner, Wisława Szymborska. In one of her poems, she wrote: ”We know ourselves only to the extent that we’ve been tested.” By this, I mean that we are not able to plan and predict everything. Experience is important because experience is the best teacher. So let’s not evade our experiences – let’s act and be brave.

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Photo Credit: Power Agency

“Today’s global shifts require that we cultivate opportunities to strengthen relationships and rebuild bonds of trust.”

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?

Corporate social responsibility will remain a significant factor in employee retention. Events and meetings can facilitate employee involvement in activities supporting sustainable development and the implementation of the 2030 agenda. Perhaps the older generation does not understand this, but for the younger generation, these are very significant issues. Green thinking translates into more than merely buying eco-friendlier things, but rather a completely different mentality with an alternative awareness. It means inquiring ourselves about what we really need, what is truly critical, and, of course, when it comes to human capital, quality always comes first.

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

All over the world, we are experiencing tremendous cultural changes to create a more sustainable lifestyle. Many people are making efforts to become more informed consumers, and this will undoubtedly affect the way they perceive events, employers, and business partners. The combination of new technologies, the locality in terms of organising events and goals that fit into the implementation of the sustainable development agenda gives us, event planners, inspiration to create travel programs that will be different from those we have known so far; they will also be better.

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Photo Credit: Power Agency

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

Over the past two years, the pace of implementation of new technologies has increased sharply, mainly due to the pandemic. Event technology has played a key role in helping event organisers grow, in particular, through virtual and hybrid events. However, we are facing a decline in engagement because online events are not the same as real-world meetings. So that is one of the issues that require a balanced approach.

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

This industry is not for everyone —only 2% of society has organisational talent and loves what they do. We want to attract such people. We create opportunities for them through education, and we have established an Event Management Study in which we conduct training for pilot projects, internships in companies, and internships at events. Furthermore, we look forward to successful outreach.

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?

It is no secret that the Big Quit largely affects the event and hospitality industries. This fact also necessitates that our planners approach the organisation of events differently – we create programs that are more considerate, thus taking into account the place and nature of a venue. This truly is a new reality. We have to stop complaining and start engineering for the future. We also try to look at the brighter side of every situation, inspired by the quote: ”Do not persuade anyone to go on a cruise, make them love the sea”.

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

Find what you like and learn to do it perfectly. Consistency plus internships in companies and events is a proven recipe for reaching your dream goal and becoming an effective event planner. Curiosity about new people, technology, and the world is desirable, and, of course, having learned languages from an early age.

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

This year, in my opinion, one event will go down significantly in history. Although it is not an industry event, it deserves to be mentioned. I am proud of the help from Poles to the victims of the war in Ukraine.


Find out more about Power Agency here. 

Conventa Week 2022