Photo Credit: Matic Kremžar

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. Boštjan Prijanovič, Managing Director of New Moment Ljubljana, let us in on a secret – storytelling represents the core of 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 we are very connected. Congress centres, organising agencies, creative agencies, production, hotels, local tourist boards – you name it – clients, too. Whatever we try to do, whether we want to improve the experience or implement sustainable practices, we need to work together, and we require platforms for that.

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

From our point of view, as a creative agency, the worst practice is organising an event by choosing elements: location, performers, catering etc. Only after doing that do some consider what they want to communicate to guests. Events should be a piece of art. As such, all elements should tell the same story – from the invitation process to the location and the programme. Storytelling must be similar to that of famous performers, told by big things, as well as the little things, such as signs on toilet doors, the colour of the cake or the haircut of hostesses. Each and every element of the event should be part of one message. That is the only way to produce an excellent event. Start with the story! Every other way is a bunch of compromises with a sorrowful ending.

Photo Credit: Matic Kremžar

“Is this still a live event, digital, or perhaps, hybrid? Who cares if the experience is good?”

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 do not think putting labels on events or placing events into categories does any good. An event is an event, and that is it. For me, it is one category and different ways to execute it.

Only when one decides on the message of the event and the main story – should one think about other elements, and one of them is also if the event will be in-person or on some other platform.

Naturally, event organisers will use all possible technologies according to the need of the event program. Perhaps visitors are in the hall, and performers play on DVD. Is this still a live event, digital, or perhaps, hybrid? Who cares if the experience is good?

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?

We have talked about that many times during the Covid pandemic. MS Teams don’t address the problem of human interaction. Online events are perfectly good for events that don’t have a big human element. These include courses, academies or regional meetings of a corporation. Additionally, they are suitable for the exchange of knowledge and information among experts in some industries. For all events where one of the core goals is to connect people and build meaningful relationships, it has to be in person, however.

Photo Credit: Matic Kremžar

“As a society, we have to change major rules to improve ecosystems and other non-sustainable practices.”

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?

New Moment is one of the first agencies to sign a dedication to enforcing sustainable standards in communication, such as zero waste events, coordinated by the Slovenian advertising chamber. I’m a lecturer at the Sustainability Academy, run by the most famous Slovene institution in the field of sustainability. We do a lot of pro-bono projects for NGOs, especially in this field. We try to organise a zero-waste event every time we start.

Clients are becoming more and more aware of the need for sustainable behaviour. Almost all have some kind of internal policy on that. But it is not consistent behaviour among everyone in the industry. Instead, it differs from client to client, sometimes profoundly and sometimes very superficially.

But all these are actually small steps because big change is possible only through legalisation, as was clearly seen in the case of plastic bags in stores. It was impossible until it was necessary due to the legalisation. As a society, we have to change major rules to improve ecosystems and other non-sustainable practices. All of us in the event industry will happily follow!

Q6: How do you imagine an ideal meetings industry? What should be its core value?

Storytelling and experience.

Q7: What is your advice for younger colleagues starting their careers in the meetings industry?

They should read King, Crichton and history books. A lot.

Q8: Who do you believe deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to select them from the list of finalists?

That is a nasty question😊. Gorazd, of course.

Learn more about New Moment Ljubljana here.