The ninth selection of influencers by Kongres Magazine concluded with the award ceremony hosted in Cankarjev dom. The selected influencers are pioneers 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: In times of crisis, we tend to draw parallels with the past. What have we learned so far to make our industry better and more responsible to attendees and the environment in the future?
My biggest concern during the pandemic was that due to financial constraints, green, ecology and sustainable initiatives would stop being the priority of the event industry and its organisers. I am actually quite happy that this is not really the case. The industry is recovering at a steady pace, and also sustainability practices are coming along. I really want to believe that event organisers have by now learned there is absolutely no need that any mass event should be used as an excuse for polluting the environment or changing the habits we have in our regular lives into something we simply forget on the event because of herd behaviour. I come from the music event industry, where the attendance exceeds 12.000 visitors per day, and this is something we could observe often. I also want to believe we have learned that our industry is an example and a role model to many, and we should act like this. Be the change the planet (or environment) needs, and lead by example.
Q2: What should we stop doing in regard to in-person events? Vice versa, what element should we not abandon at all costs?
Most likely trying to facilitate the pursuit of happiness for every single attendee. Food at the event is one great example of that; meat VS plant-based (particularly when we know that agriculture accounts for 70% of water use and yet counts as the world’s biggest polluter); we should serve great food at the event, and stop explaining the source and justify it.
Not abandon? Creativity and pursuit of changes!
Q3: What is your take on the various event types, some invented during the corona crisis (live, digital, hybrid, metaverse)? How will we transition in the future?
I believe the world is moving in the direction of hybrid events, education, and even work, however, at quite some costs. By now, we already know the damage caused by social isolation and restrictions, particularly to younger generations and the effect of all this will be even more visible in the near future, with the new generation of creative thinkers, employees, inventors and the rest. If I would disclose personally, I am a true fan of human interaction in person, so I would definitely prefer live events. Probably this has got to do with my background because I am a social worker after all, but on the other hand, I am not at all against digital things, particularly some parts of education or additional education, courses, reading materials etc. which showed quite valuable during the pandemic.
Q4: How do different event types address the topical problem of human interaction, which is at the core of our industry and a basis for learning?
I have partially already answered the above; I believe no hybrid or digital or metaverse take on the event or live event can replace or will replace live music interaction, and that is that. Digital learning platforms are really great, and I am also personally using them, but when it comes to meetings, events and our industry, in-person is and will be live.
Q5: What are your priorities to reach the goal of creating a carbon-neutral meetings industry? How environmentally aware is your organisation? How do your clients see sustainability? Can you illustrate with case studies?
With MetalDays Festival, we believe Green is the new black! But – not so very new for us. We modestly consider ourselves to be one of the environment-friendly festival pioneers, with education and green innovations in the field of music festivals’ organisation, sustainability, ecology, and transformation. Since 2008, our ecology and sustainability initiatives have become a strong focus and projects in this matter are following one after another, creating one of the cleanest, ecologically and sustainably advanced music festivals in the world. Just before the pandemic, we created a rather ambitious plan regarding Green MetalDays, which we will gradually pick up in years to come, and of course, adjust it now to the new location at Lake Velenje.
Q6: How do you imagine an ideal meetings industry? What should be its core value?
The ideal meeting industry is probably one where people cooperate, core, sustainable values are listened to and adhered to, communication is honest, and new skills are being taught. Core value? Life.
Q7: What is your advice for younger colleagues starting their careers in the meetings industry?
Read, learn, do not be afraid to ask, and – there are no stupid questions. Believe in yourself, discover who you are, what your values are, what your flaws are and where you can enhance your skills, but at the same time – where you are already brilliant at, and you can share your knowledge with others. Connect. Time is an amazing thing, and with patience, knowledge, curiosity, some hard work, but also a decent amount of fun – you will make it!
Q8: Who do you believe deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to select them from the list of finalists?
I honestly believe we are all winners, at least in my category. Every single person that has stepped on this sometimes really rocky path of ecology, sustainability, and environmentally responsible event industry ladder, is a winner for me.