Basic Event Information
Date: 30 November 2020
Organizer: Slovenian Convention Bureau
Event Type: Online Award Ceremony
EVENT CATEGORY: DIGITAL EVENTS | Online Event – LIVESTREAM
Event description and key objectives
The Slovenian Convention Bureau in close cooperation with six destination clubs started the development of a national congress ambassador program at the beginning of 2019. Already in its first year, the project proved to be successful for all stakeholders. The nomination of annual congress ambassadors is the most important activity within the program. Due to the pandemic, we were forced to change the format – first from a live award ceremony to a hybrid one, and later from hybrid to an online event. Therefore the Slovenian Convention Bureau organised its first online award ceremony with the nomination of 25 Slovenian Congress Ambassadors for 2020. The event was organised with the support of the Slovenian Tourist Board and the cooperation of Ljubljana Tourism as well as 15 partners.
The event took place on the 30th November at the newly set up online studio GR Studio 20.20 at Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre.
The main goal of the event was to acknowledge and honour the 25 exceptional individuals, who have successfully hosted several international congresses or other business and sports events and have been largely contributing to the promotion and development of Slovenia as a congress and event destination. Due to the epidemiological conditions, this year’s ceremony could not take place live. For this reason, we created an event in a digital environment with the aim to honour the recipients of the esteemed accolades.
The majority of ambassadors were nominated in the field of scientific events, that took place between 2017 and 2019. This year, we also awarded four individuals coming from the sports field for the first time.
- The major challenge was how to transform the live award ceremony into an online award ceremony with the aim to achieve the same level of recognition and respect to this year’s awarded ambassadors.
- As the national ambassador program started only one year ago it was crucial for the success to provide the continuity of the program.
- Due to the epidemic of COVID-19 in Slovenia, we had to follow strict health and safety instructions from the National Institute of Public Health. This caused many obstacles with the organisation of the online event.
- Due to covid-19 limitations, we were not allowed to award this year’s ambassadors with a physical plaque.
- How to welcome 2020 ambassadors on the stage, congratulate them for their achievement and present them to the targeted audiences was also a challenge
- Due to the epidemiological conditions, we were limited in enabling crucial networking between ambassadors, partners and representatives of different institutions from Slovenia.
- Most of the stakeholders did not know each other personally throughout this project, so we had to find a way to present this year’s ambassadors to selected audiences and stakeholders.
- Due to the pandemic, the budget for the award ceremony was hugely decreased in comparison to last year’s event (70 %). Several services and activities had to be removed.
- The audience is oversaturated with online events, so smart and careful content and time planning were crucial.
Congress Ambassadors of Slovenia are individual doctors, scientists, professors, sportspersons and other experts from their respectable fields. They are crucial for attracting international events to Slovenia. Their voice matters as they can raise the reputation and competitiveness of our destination on an international level.
Having that in mind, we pre-recorded interviews by professional journalist and cameramen with these year’s ambassadors. Ambassador received similar questions, all with the aim to get their feedback of becoming congress ambassador 2020 and presenting their event.
As we could not enable live meetings we decided to record live interviews with all this year’s ambassadors prior to the event. A challenging activity due to quarantine of some of the ambassadors (three were infected by Covid-19), many were extremely busy due to their work obligations (doctors involved in health institutions saving lives due to Covid-19) but also limitations with restriction of movement between municipalities.
During the online award ceremony, short statements of each this year’s ambassador were presented. Complete interviews were published on the official web page of the Slovenian Ambassadors Program and CVB Youtube channel. Interviews will also be translated into English.
In addition, two last year’s congress ambassadors were invited to the studio GR 20.20 live in order to take part at the award ceremony. They shared their views on the future of scientific and business events. In addition one of the interviews with last year’s ambassador was filmed beforehand and played during the online event. Participating guests also explained how event organisation has changed and how they adapted to the new reality. They shared their experiences with events they organised this year (online, live and hybrid). We were very honoured that this year’s honorary congress ambassador was awarded to Prof. Igor Papič, chancellor of the University of Ljubljana who also participated live in the studio at an online event. Online participants at the award ceremony could listen to respected individuals about their views and experiences in these times. With this format of participation of last year’s and this year’s ambassadors, we also enabled continuity of the program.
As national ambassador program started only one year ago it was crucial for the success to provide the continuity of the program. Due to covid-19 limitations, we could not award live this year’s ambassadors with a plaque. It was decided to hand the plaque to each ambassador personally after the online event. This will enable to show respect to each individual but also to intensify to the relationship with each ambassador and talk about future events.
The Congress Ambassador Programme is a well-established activity in the meetings industry all over the world. It has been successfully organised for many years and even decades. Innovation within this event is focused on the necessary change from live to hybrid and then to online event within just one month. The online award ceremony was never organised in past.
- The event was organised at the newly set-up GR Studio 20.20 at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre in Ljubljana (GR). Slovenian Convention Bureau has in cooperation with the event and marketing agency Toleranca Marketing and GR’s Technical Team organised this format of the event for the first time.
- For the live interviews, professional cameraman and journalist with the knowledge about the meetings industry and importance of congress ambassadors program were hired.
- The online event was streamed live on the Slovenian Ambassador Program official web page. This enabled online participants to be better acquainted with the ambassador program and its services. In addition, the event was recorded and it can be watched anytime with no limitations.
- The online event started with last year’s video presentation of the live award ceremony with the explanation of why we are not in the position to organise the live event.
- All of this year’s congress ambassadors were presented online including their short interviews and long interviews published on the official web page of the Slovenian ambassador program.
- All this year’s congress ambassadors are and will be personally visited with the aim to hand them the plaque but to also discuss the cooperation. So far six meetings have been organised and it proved as a very great opportunity to intensify the cooperation.
- The organiser of the online event was the Slovenian Convention Bureau supported by Slovenian Tourist Board in cooperation with Ljubljana Convention Bureau and 15 partners from all over Slovenia representing six destination clubs. The technical organiser was Toleranca Marketing – PCO and event agency. The host venue with technical equipment and technicians was GR- Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre that built a state of the art studio for live online broadcasting.
- The Slovenian Convention Bureau has been cooperating with Toleranca Marketing agency for more than a decade. This was the first online event, where the Slovenian Convention Bureau appointed Toleranca Marketing as a technical organiser. The whole execution of the online award ceremony including preparation of live audio/video recording of the interviews with this year’s ambassadors were excellent.
- It was planned that the live event will be organised at Ljubljana Castle, the same location as in 2019. Due to the change from live to hybrid including all requested safety and health limitations, it was necessary to find an alternative venue. GR-Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre built an online event studio called GR Studio 20.20. In addition, it educated existing technicians with necessary new knowledge for live online broadcasting. Despite it being their first official live broadcasting event, it was superbly executed.
- Most of last year’s congress ambassadors (25), all of this year’s congress ambassadors (25), all 17 partners of the project and invited guests, accepted the invitation to participate at the online award ceremony. This was crucial for the success of the event and the continuation of the program.
- Despite 70 % of the budget cut for the award ceremony enforced by the Government due to Covid-19, the event was successfully executed. The reason for its success was a strategic understanding of the national ambassador program by major partners, excellent relationship with suppliers and partners and honest relationship with all stakeholders. Despite huge budgets cuts, this year’s ambassadors received the same quality of the plaque and attention.
- Already during the interview recordings with this year’s ambassadors, it was seen that the objectives were met. From all the information received during the online event, after the event via e-mails and phone calls, as well as during personal meetings when handing out the plaques, ambassadors were very honoured to receive this title and were pleased of the online event execution.
- An important role was also played by our partners – representing six destination clubs. All 17 partners including major partner Ljubljana Convention Bureau were very much satisfied with the online event and applauded the excellent execution especially in these difficult times where almost the whole country is in lockdown.
- The online event digitally connected last year’s 25 ambassadors with this year’s 25 congress ambassadors and 17 partners of the project and other important invited guests representing major institutions in Slovenia. The event was seen by more than 300 participants including representatives of different scientific institutions, universities, public institutions and companies from Slovenia.
- Slovenian Convention Bureau established a platform of 50 Slovenian Congress ambassadors covering various scientific, research, professional, business, sports and other important fields from all over Slovenia.
- Slovenian Convention Bureau in cooperation with six destinations clubs located in major intellectual capitals in Slovenia has developed a successful program that will enable potential congress and event initiators and organisers to decide to bid for an international event. It is only through creative and strategic cooperation between suppliers and clients that can contribute to the success in a very competitive international market.
- It was crucial to secure the continuity of the national congress ambassador programme that was launched in March 2019. The year 2020 was only the second year of the programme. It is understandable that the national congress ambassador programme takes several years to develop and to bring long term results.
- Despite communicating that the award ceremony will be live in November 2020, all stakeholders accepted the change from live to hybrid and later to the online event. Clear and honest communication of the situation and our goal with all stakeholders of the national ambassador program played an important role.
- As the event could not take place live, digital communication was very important. Therefore the official web page of Slovenian Ambassador Program became crucial. Live streaming of the online event was broadcasted on this web page. In addition, all pre-recorded interviews with this year’s ambassadors were uploaded on this web page.
- Social media promotion was done by @SloMeetings, @tourism_slo, @meetLjubljana in order to promote the event via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
- Dedicated newsletters were distributed to selected Slovenian and international client databases in December: https://bit.ly/38vRnGA and https://bit.ly/37T3eQe.
- A press release was published and distributed also by all major partners of the project and on the web pages of distinguished institutions where our ambassadors work.
- All interviews will be translated into English language and published on the web page. Dedicated e-newsletter will be produced in the beginning of 2021 with the aim to reach the audience for global promotion of the national ambassador program.
- We continue the communication with last year’s and this year’s ambassadors as they represent the largest value of meetings industry in Slovenia in these uncertain times. Through online and live communication they are optimistic and believe in the importance of life events in their professional fields.
The use of sustainable practices
The award ceremony could not be organised live in 2020. The format was changed to an online event. This has hugely contributed to a more sustainable event than in the previous year, where 100 participants were served at a gala dinner in the beautifully decorated Stanovska hall at Ljubljana castle.
GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre pays a lot of attention to environmental aspects of their activities, bearing in mind sustainable development and responsibility for the environment. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, GR obtained certificate for healthy and safe events as a venue and as an organiser.