“The moment Conventa concludes, we start planning for a new edition. The next one must be even better and more creative. As long as we enjoy that process as a team, Conventa will continue to grow and develop.”
To celebrate the Sweet 16th edition of Conventa taking place on 20-22 February 2024, we posed some interesting questions to Gorazd Cad, the co-founder of Conventa.
Can you tell us the story of the beginning of Conventa?
When we conceived Conventa in 2009 amidst the worst economic crisis, the reaction of colleagues and several media platforms was unanimous. You are bold to undertake such a project and chart unknown waters. Conventa was born during a crisis and grew out of it. We are used to crisis management and we can say that Conventa’s team is used to constant change. That also helped boost the development of Conventa thus far. Conventa was thus created as an ad hoc entrepreneurial response to the needs of the market and to the shortcomings of events at that time. At the same time, it was a very well-thought-out and strategically planned project focusing on the region.
When Conventa was born, there were quite a few events in the world that were considered boring, and at the same time, extremely expensive and ineffective. In a region that no one really knew much about (Eastern Europe), there was not a single event that united the entire region. These were the key starting points, and Miha, Natalija, and I, as the co-founders, created Conventa as the complete opposite of dull and ineffective events. From the very beginning, we also believed in democracy and treating exhibitors and hosted buyers equally. Conventa was a pioneer event in many ways, also because of its 70% principle (70% of new hosted buyers every year), the plugin concept (you attend and foster business connections without paying additional costs), and sustainable organisation.As a result, the project has many similar copycat events, which makes us further proud.
What has drastically changed since the nascent event 16 years ago compared to now?
Actually, not very much. Anyone who has ever been on stage, playing an instrument in a band, for instance, knows how incredible the energy that develops between the audience and the band can be. This is what drives every musician, it is like opium, a drug. The same goes for events; this physical energy propels us forward. We are on stage and we don’t get a second chance. Everything depends on us, the same as in world-class sports . If we want to organise events, we have to be in top shape – mentally and professionally. You are only as good as your last event. Everything else is history, which you can immediately forget. If you fail an event, the clients will be gone tomorrow. It’s like watching a race that never ends. And that’s why there aren’t many event organisers, and Conventa is proud to raise the bar even higher.
What has stayed the same?
I have already partially answered this question. I wish to stress that we are a creative industry, not a logistical one. Clients buy our creative solutions and not logistical solutions that anyone can master. AI will likely do that for us in the future. However, it cannot replace creativity. Sometimes I get frustrated when other organisers literally copy everything Conventa does. At the same time, I’m proud that happens, too.
If you had one sentence to summarize Conventa, what would it be?
This is not a sentence, but our slogan, which is thoughtful and says everything about our project:
Explore – Meet – Create.
You said Conventa is a woman; which characteristics of a woman does Conventa possess?
Differences between men and women are socially conditioned. The basic principle of Conventa is quality and excellence. All this takes on additional meaning if you pour your heart and soul into it. And in this area, in my experience, women are undoubtedly better than men. I think that this is felt both by the participants of the event and by our partners.
If I had to describe Conventa as a female, I would say that she is charming, healthy, sometimes mysterious, kind and warm.
What are your aspirations for the next 16 years/the future?
I can give you the answer to that in a single sentence: walk the talk. Conventa will soon be carbon-neutral and the best example of how even demanding events can be organised sustainably.
In many ways, the meetings industry is similar to rock’n roll. It is all about passion, dedication, striving to be different and noticed. Showing the best you have with all your heart and a powerful voice at the right moment. Exciting the audience and leaving an impression. Establishing a special contact with each listener and responding to their wishes. Making them your fans. The secret and essence of rock’n roll remains a good idea. The best ones are simple, clear and unambiguous. Those that speak to the heart and soul. It is a universal language that everyone understands. The idea of rock’n roll is inextricably linked to the idea of freedom. A rock’n’roll attitude is a way of thinking and living.