Read the intriguing interview with Gorazd Čad, Co-founder of Conventa, where he stated: “We are not saying we are the best. Others say we are. For us, the greatest recognition is the level of loyalty we receive.”
Why do you believe your trade shows are the BEST trade shows in the world?
“Every person needs time to grow up and to develop their own personality. In my experience, a project needs at least five years to grow into its maturity. In the last nine years, Conventa has become an important brand, enjoying a great reputation among exhibitors and hosted buyers. The quality of execution and professionalism that are undeniably of the highest level, have greatly contributed to the success. The added value that we put at the forefront is also the unforgettable user experience based on perfectionism and novelties. The core of the show remains a professional platform for creating business opportunities and exchanging expertise in a relaxed atmosphere, complemented with unforgettable happenings.
So, to answer the question, we are not saying we are the best. Others say we are. For us, the greatest recognition is the level of loyalty we receive. Around 98% of exhibitors have been with us from the very beginning, with new ones joining us every year.”
Do you plan to stay a boutique event organizer or are you looking to expand?
“We see the expansion of Conventa in terms of quality. As the organizers, we are always striving to find new ways to keep hosted buyers and exhibitors satisfied. So, we put a lot of effort into understanding their needs and expectations. We try to put our personal touch on every step of the process as we know that participants appreciate it. The size of event will therefore not change; the event will only become richer from new content. This year we took into consideration the needs of the meeting planners and created a new conference, Conventa Crossover, dedicated to the future of MICE and travel marketing. But that is not all. Throughout the year we also organize boutique fam trips for our most loyal partners that we call Conventa Experiences.”
How do you market and promote the host destination?
“Conventa, as an established brand, is directly associated with the region and the City of Ljubljana. Together they are promoted through the fam trips and the show’s content marketing is carried out throughout the year. The results are measured with concrete numbers. We have provided over €800,000 of free media coverage in terms of media partnerships. The reach of web and social networks is impressive and the performance is constantly measured through the concrete economic effects of marketing.”
What are the conversion statistics for your shows?
“The most important fact is that, over the years, we have hosted 1,974 hosted buyers who have conducted 21,160 meetings. According to the most pessimistic assessment of the conversion rate, this means that 4% generate over €30 million in turnover, in the region. It is estimated, however, that the real conversion rate is much higher at about 15%. This is confirmed by the feedback of our partners and successfully completed business deals. Conventa also measures its value by conducting satisfaction surveys among exhibitors and hosted buyers, using the electronic system “Geoffrey”. 1,437 hosted buyers indicated their satisfaction with Conventa with an average rating of 4.27 (out of 5); while 753 exhibitors gave it a rating of 4.42.”
What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now and how do you plan to tackle it?
“Every year the biggest challenge is the same, to provide new hosted buyers with strong buying power that are interesting for our exhibitors. So far, we have been successfully dealing with the problem with an active search for meeting planners throughout the year and through collaboration with group coordinators that do our job in their markets. With regard to the quality of the show, what is most interesting is the hosted buyer selection process. On average we reject more than half of all of the requests for hosted buyer status. We set the record in 2013 when we rejected 57.8% of requests. We choose only those with a genuine and profound interest in the region. Even great information about buyers does not mean a thing without the proper knowledge and analytical model that helps make the decision on the selection of buyers.”
Can you share with us one of your client success stories?
“There are many stories. The last major success story is of the Turkish DMC agency, Dekon, which in the last two weeks have organized two large congresses in Ljubljana. The agency’s first contact with the destination was at Conventa two years ago where they met with representatives of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. Today, the agency is considering opening an office in Ljubljana. There are many stories like this. Yesterday, for example, an incentive with 100 participants was confirmed as a result of Conventa.”
Do you offer any post-show activities such as sharing the database, further marketing and scoping for events, etc?
“Conventa is the only trade show that provides all exhibitors a complete database of participating hosted buyers. With this, the option for further conversion of potential clients into real buyers of your congress services is greatly increased. The average cost of a sales lead (calculated based on six years of the project) is €15 per contact. At every Conventa trade show, we guarantee a minimum of 250 sales contacts, which is equivalent to an investment of €3,250. Conventa is expanding year-round promotional activities annually and which are free of charge for all exhibitors. Promotion is based on a constantly growing database of potential hosted buyers, and on tools such as the e-catalogue “Meet in SEE”, the Conventa newsletter and its fast-growing social networks.”
Last but not least. Which meeting industry event do you look up to and why?
“We respect the work of all our colleagues who are engaged in the organization of events and trade shows. Speaking about our work, we rely primarily on the analysis provided by meeting planners and exhibitors and are focused on satisfying their needs. Based on this, we developed our model of the show and we try not to be bothered by competition. We can say that personal approach and providing real business opportunities, based on real potential buyers, is the heart of our event. We strongly believe that the right format for effective networking separates good trade shows from the average ones. We treat exhibitors and invited guests equally which differentiates us from other similar events. Everyone likes to come to Conventa to try our cup of coffee and we are proud to say that at the end of every show we know each participant by name. “