Photo Credit: Primož Korošec

Kongres Magazine chatted with Eva Celec, Country Manager at Visual Europe Group, about the importance of digitalisation and the methodology event organisers should adopt when organising unforgettable events. Eva Celec explained why events are largely unsustainable and how to change that.

Visual Europe Group has more than 20 years of experience in operating fixed event venues and in planning and conducting individual events. They strive for continuous development and renewal and have become one of the largest companies in the event technology market in Central and Eastern Europe. Thus far, the company has already successfully implemented nearly 7,500 projects in 27 countries. Recently, they opened a subsidiary office in Ljubljana.

Q1: Which topic in the meetings industry do you find most important? How does Visual Europe address it?

Digitalisation is undoubtedly one of the core segments in the event industry. The agility of Visual Europe is, therefore, imperative to keep pace with all the changes in the fast-changing technological and economic environment. Above all, it is crucial to understand the changing habits of the audience and establish cooperation. We strive to support and connect select events with the meetings industry by offering partnerships and sponsorship, thus contributing to the development of the industry itself.

Q2: What approach does Virtual Europe Group take, and where did your company take inspiration upon entering the Slovenian market?

Our company aims for nothing short of perfection at every event, be it a conference for 20 attendees or a concert tour of world-renowned musicians who perform in packed arenas. Everything must be carefully planned beforehand and without last-moment improvisation. We strive to approach every project holistically from the very beginning to ensure that we can advise clients with the design of the event, the location, the selection of technical equipment and, not least, financial effectiveness. It is crucial that we have a world-class team because a diligent and professional team is the foundation for a brilliant event.

Photo Credit: Primož Korošec

“The meetings industry is largely unsustainable.”

Q3: We tend to draw parallels with the past during a crisis. What have we learned thus far to make our industry better in the future and more responsible towards the environment and attendees?

We have learned that constant learning, evolving and surpassing our expectations without creating a negative environmental impact is pivotal. It is evident that society, as a whole, has tremendous work ahead, not only in the meetings industry but as a whole. Yet, I still believe we are headed in the right direction. I hope that younger generations will transform our journey from a walk to a sprint, thus making sustainability as recognisable as flawless sound at an event.

Q4: What should we stop doing in regard to in-person events? Vice versa, what element should we not abandon at all costs?

At its core, the meetings industry is largely unsustainable. Of course, we do our very best, but it would be most sustainable if an event wasn’t organised at all, to be frank. Still, humans are social beings, and we need socialising, meeting and building meaningful relationships. The period after the pandemic has shown that live events will not just disappear. I think that is great, but for that reason, event organising must be as environment-friendly as possible.

We could improve a number of things. The first thing we should abandon is single-use plastic, alongside printed materials and posters we dispose of after an event. Digitalisation is a must-have in this segment, and Visual Europe encourages its clients to use digital screens. We must not give up recycling, reusing and using environment-friendly materials at any price.

Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“Events must strive for perfection without mistakes or disparities.”

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?

Digitalisation is inevitable today and tomorrow, whether we like it or not. At Visual Europe, we constantly develop new tools and discover innovative event solutions. Currently, meetings and activities in the Metaverse are a hot topic, as clients wish to be present and keep in step with time. I do not doubt there will be a spike in digital meetings in the future, especially corporate events, as more and more global companies are refraining from organising large events or travelling abroad due to their sustainable aspirations or travel costs. However, I still firmly believe that concerts will remain in their original form – as they should be – in person.

Q6: Which important projects is your company working on at the moment? Which project would you highlight as a good practice case?

There is a ton of projects. Preparations for the summer festival season 2023 are in full swing. At the same time, we have several events in Slovenia that will help us establish ourselves on the market.

I want to emphasise two projects we are incredibly proud of. At the end of the year, we will open an institution for educating and empowering professionals in our field to increase their numbers on the market. The institution will be open to educating employees for our company as well as companies that focus on CSR.

The second important project is building a virtual studio for film production in the vicinity of Budapest. The investment, worth 11 million EUR, is a joint project with German company ARRI, which will most likely conclude in the Q1 of 2024. Instead of a live background, virtual studios use LED screens that show a desired environment in a 3D realistic way. Such solutions significantly reduce the cost of transportation and travel and thus reduce the carbon footprint of large film productions.

Photo Credit: Primož Korošec

” an event should leave attendees satisfied, and all those who followed it online or through media should be sorry they were not part of it.”

Q7: What role does a venue play in creating unforgettable events? How can your company elevate the level of experience for attendees? Where can you find such venues in Ljubljana and Slovenia?

The venue undoubtedly plays a vital role, yet excellent content and technical equipment can often result in unforgettable events. Indeed, event organisers have an easier job if they can use space with modern infrastructure – making the lives of event organising easier. I believe there are not enough such venues in Slovenia, as we only have a handful.

At Visual Europe, we provide clients with the latest and diverse technical equipment that evolves the experience and offers something new every time. That can be an excellent sound system, an unmissable light show, 3D video projections or solutions for engaging the audience.

Q8: What are your priorities to reach the goal of creating a carbon-neutral meetings industry? How environmentally aware is your organisation?

As mentioned before, events are essentially unsustainable. That is a fact. Of course, we can try recycling and reusing, but all travel and logistics amount to an enormous carbon footprint. Luckily, times are changing, and we are becoming aware of our environmental impact and striving to reduce the negative effects. I sincerely believe there will be more of that in the future, and rightfully so.

At Visual Europe, we always consider the most effective way to manage sources, be it transport, workforce or technology. Last year, we were awarded the ISO 14001 certificate, the international standard for environmental management systems. We store old equipment and batteries in special containers in our warehouse, whilst a company specialising in recycling metal ensures they are suitably recycled. We have also implemented a policy of selective waste management, not only at our headquarters but at all our events. Paper is rarely found in our office, as we aim to do business paper-free, with numerous digitalisation solutions instead.

Q9: How do you imagine an ideal meetings industry? What should be its core value?

In an ideal world, the meetings industry should create events and meetings that inspire, connect us and provide education. They should have a minimal environmental impact, with no tightening of the budget or unpaid bills. When attendees and organisers have a great time while doing it, that can be called perfection.

Q10: Is first or last impression more important at events? What is your opinion?

Events must strive for perfection without mistakes or disparities. At events, everything should be in its place, at far as the visitor is concerned. For me, all impressions matter. That includes the first impression when a visitor is welcomed and experiences a smooth registration process, including the entry process. The impressions amid an event should be equally fascinating, and participants should not wait too long for the toilet or drink. Lastly, the final impression should leave guests full of excitement when they leave the venue. Ideally, an event should leave attendees satisfied, and all those who followed it online or through media should be sorry they were not part of it.

Learn more about Visual Europe Group here.

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