The 6th generation of congress organisers in Cankarjev dom
Cankarjev dom is renowned as a congress institution within the meetings industry. Since 1980, when the first team of congress organisers started working, there has been an unprecedented change; in the approach to organising events and technology. The basic know-how still goes from generation to generation, whilst Cankarjev dom’s inclusion within international associations brings new knowledge. One of its core advantages is that the congress team combines the energy of the younger generation and the experience of older colleagues.
Tina Kramberger, Congress Project Manager
She graduated from the Faculty of Social Sciences and recently celebrated 15 years of her professional career. She is most fond of nature, sports and exquisite cuisine.
Gregor Rogač, Congress Project Manager
Gregor, a graduate in tourism, has been working in Cankarjev dom since his college year. He has been a project manager for seven years. His favourite hobbies are travelling, skiing and diving.
Read the interview below.
Q1: After numerous online and hybrid events, we are witnessing the revival of live events this year. How different are the challenges event organisers face this year?
Gregor: Everything is returning. Usually, we would add the word slowly, yet we cannot. It is about people functioning best in person – the same goes for meetings and events. The best events happen in person; unfortunately, everything must take place quickly today. Thus, hybrid events are unfriendly towards associations or event organisers from a social, organisational or financial aspect. They are expensive and impersonal. Attendees share our opinion, as they wish to establish genuine contact and network. That is the essence of meetings. Nevertheless, we are well aware that many institutions do not allow travel because of the risks or to save money. Hence, hybrid events are the optimal solution.
With numerous events organised this year, the greatest challenge is the constant need to adapt to changes at the last moment. We must readjust to last-minute cancellations by attendees and speakers, flight cancellations, and changing prices for services needed to organise an event. As organisers, we are thus constantly uncertain about what will happen. Fees, however, are arranged years in advance. The execution comes down to finding the right balance and working dilligently.
Tina: I completely agree with Gregor. I want to add that our clients and partners often cannot define everything they require for an event. Perhaps that is rooted in the fluctuation between employment amid and after the pandemic, yet our interlocutors are becoming increasingly less competent in regard to technical execution. They are unable to predict various scenarios or understand what the consequences might be. If they let the team know that a few speakers will tune in from elsewhere just before an event starts, that is salvageable for an experienced team. Still, we cannot produce miracles (yet). It is onerous to ensure everything for an excellent hybrid event the time needed beforehand. Hence, my advice is to start opting for the format of the event or conference at the very start.
Q2: Which project (congress, conference) organised this year are your most proud of and why? What has your cooperation with expert congress organisers been?
Tina: We are proud to have organised the 17th European Congress of Psychologists – ECP 2022. To put it into perspective, we hosted around 1000 attendees, more than 1300 articles were published, and 15 halls were used simultaneously. The congress is the largest in-person event organised lately, and Cankarjev dom cooperated as a PCO. We could not have organised such a monumental event without our excellent cooperation with partners and clients.
Gregor: I want to highlight IBA 2022, the International Battery Association Conference we helped execute in Bled as a PCO. They say the third time is the charm, and the IBA conference went through three phases. The first IBA conference was planned as a live event in March 2020. Due to the pandemic, we had to cancel the event a week before its start. The second event took place virtually, while the third, organised in October 2022, went better than we expected. It was the largest hybrid event of the association ever, which took place for five days. Despite many attendees from the US and Asia thinking twice before flying to the event, we managed to attract many of them to Bled. This year’s IBA exceeded all expectations of the association and Cankarjev dom as a PCO. We established excellent connections during the event and furthered our partnership.
Q3: CD is generally known for its dedicated team and a culture of long-term employment. This means that generations work shoulder to shoulder. What does that mean in practice?
Tina: Cankarjev dom has been a venue and professional congress organiser since 1980. In all the years, there have been several generations of organisers. Knowledge is always transferred to younger generations. That is not only true for the organisation of events but also for stage know-how.
Gregor: We regularly discuss event organising at joint meetings or quick lunches in our kitchen and strive to find optimal ways. Our team works like a well-oiled machine, and everyone contributes their best.
Tina: The younger part of the team is now teaching others. It is undoubtedly true that modern technologies are their territory.
Q4: What is your favourite hall in Cankarjev dom?
Gregor: Gallus Hall because it is the most demanding hall from a technical standpoint.
Tina: It is Gallus Hall, as we can organise everything on its stage. As event organisers, we always find it joyful when we can finally replace the part of coordination and arrangement behind our monitors and screens for event execution.
Q5: What brings you satisfaction in your job?
Gregor: The greatest reward is to conclude a project successfully after excellent execution. That is a sign that the client is satisfied, and so is Cankarjev dom. The more complex a project is, the more I am motivated, as I love challenges. One of our most challenging events was The Nutcracker, performed by the Saint Petersburg State Ballet on ice when we had to ensure a flawless ice rink, the scenography, lighting and all the rehearsals. We were nervous till the last minute! The ice rink on the stage of Gallus Hall was created for the second time in Cankarjev dom’s history.
Tina: Knowing we excelled in our work and that everything went well. After an event, there is a brief calm after a storm that is usually too short to gain energy before the next event. I believe our work is immensely stressful as everything happens last minute lately. However, we revel in incredible satisfaction, which cannot be described and drives us forward after every finished project. It propels us to organise new events and write new chapters.
Find out more about Cankarjev dom here.