Crossover Rockstars: Colja Dams



Every year, Conventa Crossover invites world-renowned meeting planners, marketers, entrepreneurs, and creatives to share their knowledge in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This year, inspiring individuals who have helped co-create and transform the meetings industry will be joining us in August. At the same time, we will be opening the stage to a new generation of young and talented meeting planners and marketers. You will learn from keynote speakers who have successfully transformed their events and are recognized as the pioneers of our new reality.

Joining the 6th Conventa Crossover conference is Colja M. Dams, the CEO of VOK DAMS – an agency that has been one of the international market leaders in events and marketing. Before he joins us at Conventa Crossover 2021, we wanted to hear his thoughts on the future of the meetings industry and see what surprised he has in store for us.

Interview with Colja Dams

Q: What do you think about the theme of this year’s Crossover – The Meetings Industry AC/BC (After Corona/Before Corona)?

We are carefully optimistic that the events industry will bounce back to how it was before the Pandemic for a certain period of time. The natural desire of people to meet in person has been affected by Covid-19 but not eradicated. We do believe in the Campfire DNA in all of us – as soon as people can meet safely again, they will.

After the expected peak of live in-person events, we will settle for Hybrid Events as the main event format of the future followed by live only and digital formats. We have learned throughout the Pandemic that digital solutions are effective not only from a sustainability point of view.

Q: What is your forecast for the meetings industry in the coming year (2022) and beyond? 

After a peak of pre-pandemic levels of live in-person events – Hybrid Events will become the main event format.

Physical Live Events will become more regional – involving less travel for the attendees. We start seeing a revival of the high quality roadshow format. Instead of one central launch event flying in the world – Brands are bringing the events to all continents for smaller groups but more event days.

We also forecast a rise in popularity of Brand Experience Hubs, closing the gap between digital and live customer touchpoints. Enabling a seamless customer journey as the basis for Data Driven Experience Design and Marketing Automation.
Brand Experience Hubs will make all content – live / digital and hybrid – available to different target groups in one central location, foregoing the multiplicity of creating specific content or channels for specific target groups only and putting the participant in control of content selection and consumption from wherever they want.

Q: How do you envision agility and innovation in overcoming the corona crisis? Can you share some examples of best practices?

Without exaggerating, our switch to Agile Event Management and our IT system overhaul just before the pandemic hit, has been the main reason of our success the past year (next to our awesome teams). Agile Event Management allowed us to closely work with clients and adapt our concepts, planning and production quickly when the rules and regulations changed. Which at certain times was on a weekly basis. 

Our investments in a new – mobile first – IT structure were focused on making remote working more efficient. We luckily switched to Microsoft TEAMS a couple of months before the first lockdowns happened, so when everyone started to rely on TEAMS, we were experienced with all the possibilities.

Technology has always been a driving force at VOK DAMS, even though the personal interaction is of key importance for events and meetings. Clients want to have the best and latest technology and we can’t allow ourselves to be behind on technological innovation by relying on others. Therefore we developed our own open platform for hybrid events together with world leading Tech company IBM early in the Pandemic. Our platform was the basis for a number of brand experience hubs for clients like Grohe,  Lange & Sohne, Boeringer Ingelheim and Merk/Pfizer and many more.

Q: How would you comment on the following statement? “Coronacrisis has shown the need to organise events that are responsible to the environment, the participants and the community as a whole”

Responsibility to the environment, participants and the community has always been part of our way of working. The pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of digital and hybrid alternatives and made people realize that virtual solutions work well and have positive impact on the environment and the well-being of people and their communities.

More importantly, COVID-19 has taught us how precious and important personal interaction for us humans is. We only truly realized that when it was taken away from us. It is also the reason why the event and meetings industry will survive: we just cannot live without live social interaction.

Q: What will you surprise us with at this year’s event?

By showing a couple of examples of Digital / Hybrid and Live Events  we managed to produced. And of course showcasing you the Future of Hybrid Events – Brand Experience Hubs …

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