Kongres Magazine chatted with the trendsetters of the Meetings Star influencers selection. Innovating and sustainably-oriented stars of the meetings industry shared their thoughts on sustainable transformation in the meetings industry. Zlatan Muftić, Director of Zagreb Convention Bureau, explained why legacy must become the core value of events and the meetings industry.

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?

We have learned that the only certain thing is uncertainty. The changing circumstances in which we found ourselves inclined us to rethink the existing model of doing business and urged us to reshape it. The everlasting problem is finding the right balance in order to meet the natural human need for communication and interaction while keeping in mind the importance of protecting the environment. In order to act productively and cope successfully with all the challenges, we need to embrace them and try to improve ourselves.

Q2: What should we stop doing in regard to in-person events? Vice versa, what element should we not abandon at all costs?

The most important thing is to know your audience and their needs and know how to deliver content and cover the topics efficiently. There is no general rule. There is sometimes too much “entertainment” serving as a cover for the absence of interesting content. Personally, I do not like when conferences are used to promote ideas that are not related to the main topic and the organising association’s values.

The key to a successful conference is to set up a suitable environment for networking with peers. International conferences should consider the fact that we come from different cultures, meaning that not everybody will be comfortable participating and engaging in the same way. Adequate use of technology can encourage some participants to be more active.

Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“I am even more assured now that conferences are meant to be organised in person.”

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 am even more assured now that conferences are meant to be organised in person. When the pandemic started, it all suddenly changed and turned digital. Remote interaction was kind of fun at the beginning because it made you feel part of the world. But soon enough, I found myself overfed with various online workshops and webinars, many pointless and non-engaging.

On the positive side, the situation compelled everyone to familiarise themselves with technology and learn to use it more efficiently in business. It changed the way we meet on a daily basis, with more project meetings being held via online platforms. That allows us to save time and be more productive. However, this does not apply to conferences, as networking, for many, the number one reason to participate, plays a great part in them.


“International conferences should consider the fact that we come from different cultures, meaning that not everybody will be comfortable participating and engaging in the same way.”

Q4: How do you imagine an ideal meetings industry? What should be its core value?

We are all picturing the future, we create our events to be perfect, but the moment we have held them, they already belong to the past. The more important matter is what we leave for the community, the destination and for all of us. Legacy is what counts the most and should be the core value of the meetings industry.

Q5: What is your advice for younger colleagues starting their careers in the meetings industry?

There is a saying I picked from someone: “Listen to advice but make your own experiences.” Consider mistakes an important part of your experience, just be sure not to repeat the same ones😊. Details are crucial in our industry, so pay attention to them. Whenever the situation allows you, be patient and observant before taking action. That can eventually save you a lot of time.

Q6: Who do you believe deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to select them from the list of finalists?

It would be unfair to comment on anything in this regard other than congratulate Dušan. I think being selected among the finalists is already a big achievement for everyone.

Learn more about Zagreb Convention Bureau here.

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