From 18 to 19 January 2017, Slovenia and Ljubljana hosted the 9th Conventa. Mostly known as the New European exhibition for meetings, events and incentives, it offers a boutique business experience for buyers who are specifically looking for Central and Eastern European destinations. This year was phenomenal for Conventa. Firstly, it saw the highest number of exhibitors (400) and a record number of international buyers (250), mostly from Europe. Secondly, for the first time ever a group of buyers came from the USA and lastly, a record number of 11 fam trips was organised for international buyers. They had a choice between Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Serbia.
This is a truly disruptive MICE exhibition that has build its uniqueness around creativity, innovation and building meaningful connections.
Arrival in Ljubljana
I was really excited to travel to Ljubljana and although the journey took around 12hours, it was worth it. I took a flight from Birmingham to Munich and then another one to Venice. In Venice me and another delegate were picked up by a GoOpti private driver. The scenery on the way to Ljubljana was impressive and our diver gave us further insights about the destination. Furthermore, we shared best practices, travel experiences and tips between us.
There was no time to waste, as the welcome reception was only a few hours away. I checked – in smoothly at Hotel Lev and really enjoyed the hotel’s extra touch by finding fresh fruits, a personalised card and a goodie bag on arrival. The room was very spacious and the view amazing. Being on the 9th floor I could see the castle which wasn’t too far away from the city centre.
Ljubljana, is a vibrant and cosy city and can hold events for up to 2,200 delegates. It has two congress centres and other diverse venues such as museums, galleries and castles. Ljubljana was the European Green Capital in 2016. It got awarded by European Commission for having made the largest number of sustainable changes in the shortest time period. Luckily, we’ve still managed to explore a little bit of the city on the first day. We concluded with a dinner in a very rustic and lovely restaurant – Gostilna Sestica, just minutes away from the hotel. The food was divine and the service impeccable.
At the trade show
As we had a packed agenda, we quickly changed and went to the welcome reception, which was held at the Grand Hotel Union hotel. Beautifully orchestrated, it included a welcome speech from Miha Kovacic, Conventa Co-Founder, more delicious local food and live music. The atmosphere was great and you could see new connections unfolding.
Suppliers had one2one meetings with the hosted buyers in the main exhibition hall while education workshops took place for the Slovenian and Regional Hosted Buyers. In the afternoon, we all had a chance to get together and take part in a Craft Beer tasting.
Conventa was held at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. It was a good venue choice because it offered the perfect atmosphere to develop individual business relationships with targeted meeting industry audiences in a cost and time efficient manner. Conventa is also a meeting point of New Europe filled with energy, warmth and great hospitality. It brings buyers attention to new and still undiscovered destinations.
The second day brought more educational sessions for the Slovenian and Regional Hosted Buyers, while the one2one meetings continued.
As meetings and events become more interactive, so moderator’s role becomes more important. Jan-Japp In der Maur, founder of Masters in Moderation delivered an excellent workshop about “Art and Value of Moderator”. He run a series of activities and scenarios where delegates learnt why moderation is worth the investment, what great moderation is and how, above all, to find your perfect moderator.
Corporate buyers recognise the benefits of co-creative and visual event design, but challenged to bring it to life in their daily work. The Event Storyboard Canvas session emphasised a new tool developed by Martijn Timmermans, Co-founder of The Red Line Project and Event StoryBoard. With this tool participants learnt how to design a patchable blueprint for their event from goals, empathy mapping to customer journey and ROI.
Stories are universal in their use, appeal and effectiveness. Moreover, stories pass across cultures and generation and give meaning to events.
Hugo Slimbrouck, Director of Strategic Partnership, Ovation Global DMC, delivered an interesting sessions entitled “A Sales Pro’s most powerful sales tool”. The session aimed to improve participant’s sales skills by addressing issues specific to selling incentive travel. Participants learnt to craft and use compelling stories to sell incentive travel solutions to clients.
“As a professional meeting planner I’m being continuously asked for something different, value-centred. I firmly believe that South East Europe can provide answers to many of these needs. Go there and check it out.” Patrick M Delaney, Soolnua and Conventa Ambassador
“Participation at Conventa 2017 was a great experience and it was the perfect opportunity to get to know new destinations. I think that the local offer can be interesting and something new for our clients. We are specialized in business trips and events all over the world, focused on adventure-tourism. The New Europe definitely has potential to organize events like that. I had a lot of productive meetings at Conventa, which brought new ideas to our business travel offers.” Natalia Policzkiewicz, Incentive Project Manager of Terra Aventura
To conclude, Conventa is the perfect platform for meeting planners that are constantly searching for new experiences, stories and destinations in Central and Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, mark your calendars as the show returns from 24 to 25 January 2018 and next year it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary!