Basic Event Information
Date: May 24th, 2021
Location: Hotel Square Nine, Belgrade, Serbia
Organiser: Vekol DHC
EVENT CATEGORY: B2I
EVENT SUBCATEGORY: Best Private Event / B2I
EVENT FORMAT: HYBRID
Event description and key objectives
We all watched the ultimate “digital-first” shift explode overnight in 2020. We now live in experimental (and experiential) times, but running a great event still takes a well-oiled machine, made up of the good old human factor: hard work and ultimate commitment.
After a couple of months of in-house migrations, we finally presented our business transformation and announced brand new business ventures at the very first official corporate event of the congress industry in Serbia since the outbreak of the pandemics!
For the occasion, we gathered around seventy most prominent representatives from all congress-related industries in Serbia, but also pharma and healthcare, banking, automotive, IT and high fashion. There we could officially announce: the new era has started, the world’s FIRST Destination Hybrid Company was born.
“After the period of heavy global crisis, I truly believe in further intense development of congress tourism in Serbia, which has the potential to become one of the main engines of our domestic economy and as such deserves to become national strategic focus.In the meantime, we will continue with the global promotion of the destination in new, changed circumstances“, said Tanja Bogdanov, Managing Partner of the company during the event.
The greatest challenge was to familiarize our clients and colleagues from the industry with what the advanced hybrid output actually is and make them rethink their own hybrid experiences. To show them how hybrid event does not equal vans of AV and Zoom. The hybrid implementation itself helped us present our new know-how to the audience by showing them a first-hand case study what the real hybrid event should look like.
Another challenge was choosing the right momentum and place. We aspired to organize the launch event out on the open in order to minimize fear from COVID, avoid any new precaution tightening and of course, host the first recovery-event in industry before anyone else does.We did everything right. Our response rate was over 95% and everyone felt perfectly comfortable, so it’s safe to say our event was the new beginning of gatherings in Belgrade. At the same time, livestream via YouTube and social networks made our partners around the world think about the destination and how a proper hybrid event looks like when organized from Serbia.
It was the very first time in Serbia that one traditional DMC went through such a heavy business transformation and hosted a public launch of their redesign. At the same time, it was the first time that Vekol promoted its services to the local companies. During the 22 years of existence on international market, we were only focused on bringing people to Serbia and showing them the very best of our destination. Our task was now to increase awareness of our brand both domestically and internationally and make stronger ties with local corporates and hospitality.
Minding the circumstances, hybrid event was the ideal type of event to launch the rebranding. As Vekol DHC pioneers and innovates congress industry in Serbia, we decided to integrate “Vekol Studio” concept in live event and have a real showcase of what are the possibilities of a hybrid experience.
The first Destination Hybrid Company (upgrade from DMC), the first post-COVID19 live event that gathered all decision-makers top in Belgrade’s meeting industry, the first-time implemented “Vekol Studios” at the event, the first DMC that brought all general managers of Belgrade’s top-notch hotels on one place.
We also spiced up the event with “Vekol Awards Night” ceremony. The award was specially designed as sign of gratitude to our longtime partners and loyal clients that we decided to give in seven different categories: loyalty, courage, inspiration, mentoring, support and innovation.
We set the standards, created a new trend in MICE industry (Destination Hybrid Company = DMC + PCO + Hybrid Experience Design + Content Creation + Business Mentoring), and out of our event we made the best case study for our clients.
In the presence of numerous clients, business partners, friends and media representatives, DHC Vekol launched a new selection of products and services, including “Vekol STUDIOS” – an interactive event studio equipped with the latest technologies for production and broadcasting of hybrid content, as well as “Vekol Waterfront” – the first business-only open concept on Sava riverbank in which businessmen will be able to enjoy utmost privacy and comfort.
Our hybrid launch was held out on the open at the rooftop of the designer hotel Square Nine 5* (The Leading Hotels of the World) with one of the most stunning views in the city. We had fantastic RSPV rate of 98% and an unbelievable 100% show up rate of the people who confirmed the attendance.
During the event, we presented our new concept and rebranding, and via “Vekol Studios” we took over 50 emotional interviews from people who attended the event live. The event was streamed live via YouTube and social network channels. The live production included 6 TV cameras, 10 sqm of LCD’s, stage, two parallel AV booths and 14 IT technicians.
To avoid such high-profile event features to be perceived as an expense rather than a business investment,we first established some KPIs to display the event contribution more strategically in the long run, both monetary and non-monetary.
With a mind-blowing response/attendance rate of 98% and around 250 other industry professionals joining the presentation live, the post-event reporting clearly shows – we set up some new bars in marketing turnover as well.The net value of the event was mostly manifested in increased visibility on the local market: the event itself (organically) led to the press clipping in total value of 23.000 EUR up until the moment of publishing this survey. Total of 37 articles was published in different business and mass media, including 6 full-page reports from the event with mainly the same title:“Congress Industry of Serbia Strikes Again”, marking Vekol DHC as the industry player that leads the post-Covid MICE world. Other significant benefits were achieved by signing partnership contracts with the leading Belgrade hotels and improving mutual business conditions,some initiatives for strategic joint promotion on international markets and use of consulting services from Vekol DHC.Creating demand for “Vekol Waterfront” river business retreat for hosting exclusive events also led to immediate direct profit.People are the most important part of congress industry – we are proud that every attendee felt extremely welcome well locked after by Vekol DHC team
“Our hand-in-hand cooperation with DHC Vekol lasts for full 12 years now and during all that time they have remained the most innovative partner company we work with. I come from a large team of 300 people, in which the average number of employees is only 27. When you work with such a young workforce, you must always reinvent yourself and bring some new energy. I am beyond happy that the period of physical distancing is hopefully behind us, and I’m excited that we are able to start working on our new projects, because young people have the need to dress up, they want to share experiences, to socialize”, said Marija Pavlović, Director of Human Resources of KPMG, in one of nearly 50 interviews that we made in “Vekol Studios”.
Besides the organic media coverage in domestic media, we promoted the event through social media, especially LinkedIn. These days, communication continues through brand of Tanja Bogdanov, her life, her fight for the Serbian MICE industry and all the love and passion that she and her whole team are giving in order to bring the world to Serbia and Serbia to the world.
The use of sustainable practices
Serbia is a place where it’s very easy to appreciate the beauty of nature and in order to preserve our community, at Vekol DHC we decided to declare #WarOnWaste quite a while ago. In accordance with our Green Commitment Policy and sustainability credentials, all measures were taken during this program in order to minimize any negative impact on the environment.
For decoration, we used natural materials only and live plants we used to refine the ambience were later used as decoration in the hotel.
Special attention was given to takeaway gifts. Symbolically, we chose Succulents in the jar – these beautiful night-shift indoor plants are perfect to settle at a cozy spot inside clients’ homes, having a positive calming effect on humans, encouraging better sleep quality, reducing instances of an anxiety and insomnia.
In order to avoid any unnecessary C02 emission, we thoughtfully choose the venue in the very city center where most of the attendees could come by foot, avoiding additional use of cars and taxi services. Instead of offering international specialties at all costs, both Square Nine and Vekol DHC were willing to give advantage to local food – grown organically close to where it’s bought and consumed to avoid traveling long distances and consequent pollution (Zero-kilometer approach). After the sanitary check, all food leftovers were donated to the local shelter for elderly homeless to eliminate as much waste as possible.