Kongres Magazine talked to leading event organisers of B2B events in Europe to learn how industry leaders see the future. Alain Pallas, Managing Director of Europe Congress, discussed why boutique events offer benefits for creating added value for attendees and exhibitors. Alain also explained why the intrinsic human need to convene ensures events are organised in person.

Q1: What makes your trade show stand out from the competition?

All our events are based around a certain concept, delivering added value for participants. Every one of our MCE series events focuses on a region in Europe, so we can better select event planners for that event and thus create increased business synergy, which again leads to increased successful business connections. Events Club Forum stands out because of its versatile offering of various ways event suppliers can profile themselves within the one-to-one area, as most companies know from us, the exhibition area when you want to have more visibility next to your guaranteed meetings, or you can opt for a combination of both variants with a very high number of guaranteed meetings. Our latest event introduction focuses on getting association planners together with destinations and suppliers that are able to offer services for association meetings, something totally new on the market. Our events stand out from the competition because we design concept events based on the needs that event planners and suppliers have, which leads to a successful outcome for all participants.

Q2: What are your further steps and vision to develop your event?

We conduct constant research among our participants and the industry to find the best balance for all participants. For event planners, the discovery of new places is important. Hence, seeking new locations for most of our events on an annual basis is key to success. Even though sometimes smaller destinations offer more complex organization possibilities, these are often more appreciated by event planners. They’re less known, which adds value to the planner’s portfolio. From the supplier’s point of view, meeting new and matching business prospects is still the key value. Our job is to bring up new business potential for them, which is a constant factor for us to work on. One of the beautiful things in life is change. Change is constant and so is development. You are not always sure where it is going to take you, yet you take careful note of all the input you get from the industry and from your events and adapt accordingly to create what offers the best outcome for your participants.

Photo Credit: Europe Congress

“We can only grow if we offer a path of growth, a journey that participants wish to embark on.”

Q3: Our research has shown that exhibitors find the quality of hosted buyers most important. How do you ensure the quality of hosted buyers at your event, and what is your guarantee for the exhibitors?

Our research offers us the exact same outcome. Our strength is that we do the entire event planners’ invitation process in-house. Any third-party sources that could ‘suggest’ participants for our events could end up having their suggestions declined by our team, which could lead to uncomfortable situations. Being solely responsible for the delegates at our shows means we can control the actual outcome and satisfaction of participating suppliers. A great deal of work goes into this, but this is what we’re getting paid for. We love servicing all of our participants and clients, so all the efforts are totally worth it.

Q4: What are the conversion statistics for your shows (conversion rate)?

All of our participants seek business cooperation, and anyone investing in our services seeks ROI. To make reliable statistics with a low margin of error, you need a lot of data. The data we receive is limited and could give a wrong understanding of the outcome. Actual profits that any supplier may have are certainly internal information, and so many ‘facts’ can never be provided. The actual number of deals any supplier gets at any show is relevant but doesn’t define ROI. We have always chosen the path of providing honest data. The statistics we can prove are 100% accurate – the percentage of returning clients to our events. That showcases that suppliers are reinvesting in our services. 87.3% of our 2022 supplier participants joined us in 2023. Any type of re-booking of any client gives us the understanding of delivering a satisfactory service with a positive business outcome.

Photo Credit: Europe Congress

“We can do our bit by understanding where the carbon footprint in the event industry is coming from and how we can reduce it in our direct sphere of influence.”

Q5: Will your event stay the same size, or do you have plans to expand it?

I would like to continue with my earlier answer related to further steps. Growth is a natural path for any enterprise to follow. Then again, growth can be achieved in many ways. You can aim to grow the size of your event, the quality perception of participants, the duration of your event, etc. The growth possibilities are really endless. We are choosing the growth that offers beneficial values for our clients, both event planners and suppliers in the MICE industry. We can only grow if we offer a path of growth, a journey that participants wish to embark on.

Q6: We liked to draw parallels with the past during the corona crisis. What have we learned from the past to make our industry better and more responsible towards the environment and attendees?

We believe that the most important lesson is that people want to meet. Online meetings do have a purpose when it comes to the environment and, mostly, the ease of information and communication that online channels can handle for us. So meet when purpose exists. But mostly, we learned that people are wired through thousands of years of existence to meet, communicate, interact, learn, discuss, find consensus, and enjoy each other by being in each other’s presence. That is what drives the industry at its core. The environmental challenge is something that we can and have to fix together as human beings. Most of what we can do now is very significant, yet smaller pieces of the puzzle.

Photo Credit: Europe Congress

Q7: What are your priorities for creating a carbon-neutral meetings industry? Can you illustrate with concrete examples implemented at your event?

Carbon-neutral events are a challenge in the long run, especially when you realize the high carbon footprint that travel includes. Alongside trying to influence technology and policymakers to push technological solutions higher on the agenda, we can do our bit by understanding where the carbon footprint in the event industry is coming from and how we can reduce it in our direct sphere of influence. Reducing printables, electricity, food waste, and many more are on our daily agenda; however, they are always balanced in such a way that the comfort quality perceived by participants remains at the highest level possible. As a concrete example, I would like to name the surge in public transport usage that we have implemented into our events.

Q8: Which event in the meetings industry do you see as the benchmark and why?

Many different events, for many different reasons, are benchmarks. You can respect one for trying to openly communicate about their carbon-neutral quest; you can respect another because they have such an impact on the global MICE business; and you can respect another for delivering a fabulous evening program. I think it is important everyone follows their path to becoming one of the benchmarks for other events in their way.

Photo Credit: Europe Congress

“Our quest is to create new business partnerships, and I am sure that this is best performed in the boutique formats we’re offering.”

Q9: What are your thoughts on the so-called table-top concept, now prevalent among B2B events? Is this enough for an immersive experience that will satisfy attendees? What are the benefits of such a concept compared to classic exhibitor stands at large trade shows?

The benefits of what you call the table-top concept are many. I will just name a few. The time to set up for any supplier or exhibitor is a fraction of what it takes to prepare an exhibition stand. The participant comfort offered by hotels, available in meeting rooms in hotels, is far greater than in most exhibition centres. Reflecting on your previous question related to carbon neutrality: in most exhibitions, there is a lot of movement of materials in and out and mostly a lot of waste. I could go on for quite a while, yet I also wish to state that large trade shows also have a lot of appeal because they bring a much greater number of industry specialists together. Our quest, however, is to create new business partnerships, and I am sure that this is best performed in the boutique formats we’re offering, with a very clear participant selection.

Q10: Can you name one core problem you believe the global meetings industry should tackle together?

The meeting industry is a reflection of all industries and, in fact, the entire world population. All people in all industries meet, so our challenges are also global challenges. Besides aiming to do our jobs in the most professional way possible, we should always focus on being open-minded, flexible, and adapting to situations. If we take the climate change challenge as an example, we all realise transport is currently the biggest part of that challenge. The focus on technology to solve that and to push leaders to accept and implement technologies that will help is something that everyone should push for, as it involves literally everyone on the planet. All world challenges can be fixed only through dialogue and working together on common targets. All challenges can be tackled together during meetings.

About Alain Pallas

Born and raised in the Netherlands, Alain moved to Czechia in 2000. Having gained valuable MICE experience in a local DMC, Alain established Europe Congress and launched its successful forums in the meeting and events industry in 2011. With a track record of 30 events in different destinations, an ever-growing portfolio of forums, which currently offers 5 forums annually. Besides a great passion for his work, his clients and his team, Alain loves to spend time with his family with four children, travel, cook, enjoy time with friends, and be active in sports.

Learn more about Europe Congress here

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