Kongres Magazine talked to Aigars Smiltans, Meetings & Events Ambassador of Riga City CVB, who discussed what Riga does to stay up-to-date with changes in the meetings industry. He explained why event organisers should start welcoming young talents to the meetings industry and offer them a helping hand. 

INTRO 1: How would you describe your destination if you could only use two to three words?

The New Nordic!

INTRO 2: Which destination do you believe is your biggest competition?

All European cities nowadays are facing tough competition! It doesn’t matter anymore which part of Europe you are in. I noticed that the Nordic destinations are trying to collaborate among themselves and help each other when it is not affecting commercial interests.

INTRO 3: Which destination is an inspiring role model to you?

There is something to learn from each of the European cities. For example, Scandinavian destinations are the trendsetters for sustainability, some other destinations are great examples of collaboration work, and some on innovations. I want to highlight the collaboration of the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe, which can be an example of collaboration, knowledge transfer, and support of each other.

Q1: How do you see the recognition among the top ten meeting destinations evaluated according to the Meeting Experience Index?

It is a great acknowledgement of the destination!

Q2: What sets your destination apart from your competition, and what will ensure you have a competitive edge in the future?

I think all destinations are about the same. While we can fly or go by train to most European capitals, we all have hotels, meeting rooms, and spaces to host evening arrangements. MEET RIGA is slightly different from others. At the same time, we already introduced an open data source web page, www.MeetRiga.com in 2016, where meetings and event planners and organizers can gain all needed information within a few clicks! And sure thing, we are still not so overcrowded touristic destination.

Photo Credit: Meet Riga

“Openness and transparency are the main ways to endure turbulent times.”

Q3: We live in uncertain times; in the past two years, we have learned how to battle the crisis caused by the corona crisis and face the economic crisis caused by the war. How does your destination cope in such challenging times?

Riga & Latvia is the destination that quickly adapts to the fast-changing environment. We can’t change our geographical location, but we can provide up-to-date information. Clients familiar with our region’s geography and history are confident in bringing their business to Riga!

Q4: How do you foresee the future of the meetings industry in the next decade? What topics must the industry address immediately?

The meetings industry will continue with live events. All the new technologies, digitalization, META, and AI will be a part of the events. 2 years of online meetings proved that we need to meet face-to-face!

Photo Credit: Meet Riga

“I strongly support the younger generation’s entrance to the meetings and events industry and would be ready to mentor them.”

Q5: How does your destination stay up-to-date with the turbulent changes sweeping the meetings industry? What is your advice for our readers?

Openness, accessibility, and transparency are the main ways to endure turbulent times. You can’t bluff with your clients, and you need to be in touch with your regional suppliers. You can’t over-promise what you can’t deliver!

Q6: What should the meetings industry do to attract talented individuals? What is your advice for young talents starting their careers?

This is a question for us, who have been in the industry for several decades! Are we ready to welcome new talents to our ageing club of Meetings and Events? Are we ready to step aside and give the floor over to them? I strongly support the younger generation’s entrance to the meetings and events industry and would be ready to mentor them.

Q7: Where are you positioning your marketing efforts this year and the next?

It all depends on results that need to be achieved and available funding. I have a solution for non-budget activities and plans for marketing activities which require funds. But marketing will move more and more towards the internet and different online media platforms, while you can see the results within the days and adopt or change your campaign within the flow.

Q8: Your partners are possibly the most demanding meeting planners. What is it like to work with them and meet their needs?

We are offering our local partners an open data source platform where they can display a piece of information about their services and products. There are reservations made each third day through the MeetRiga.com web page. We are accessible, reachable, and available to our partners at any time, and if they have some new ideas, we are ready to listen to them and materialize them.

Learn more about Meet Riga here.

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