Hello I am Marusa Nucic, hererepresentingthe Slovenian Convention Bureau, the Conventa tradeshowthattakesplace in Slovenia andGoMice PCO from Slovenia. I would like to presenttodayhow Slovenia has set on theroadtrip to becoming a sustainablemeetingindustrydestination. Let me start byfirstaskingyou do youknowwhere Slovenia is?
Verywell, Slovenia is quitecentrallylocatedbetweenAustria, Italy, CroatiaandHungary. There are 2 millionSloveniansandwespeakourlanguage Slovenian.
One of the most prevalent features of Slovenia, thatattracts guests, is its clean, unspoiled environment.With around 60 % of its surface covered in forest, Slovenia is one ofthemost forested countries in Europe. Just 60 kilometres from the capital city Ljubljana one can even find virgin forest. Slovenia is alsoamong the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Andcanindeed be portrayed as a European biotic park. Visitors therefore perceive Slovenia as an environmentally attractive destination.The green story is bound up in the identity and brandof I FEEL SLOVENIA.
This green character of Slovenia is primarily based on natural endowments (forests,water, biodiversity). Thequestion is howsustainable aremeetingindustryproducts? The Slovenian meeting and incentive providers do increasingly focus on the implementation of sustainable practices and the development of innovative sustainable products and services. However the incorporation and implementation of sustainable management in the meeting industry of Slovenia does not match the level ofother destinations and providers high on a “green wave”. So uurchallengewashow to sincerelypromoteSlovenia as green or sustainablemeeting industry destination.
We izhajati iz fromourcommonvisionofpreservingthe meeting destination of Slovenia so that future generations will be able to hold their meetingsandevents in an honestly green destination. Andwewerelookingfor a positivestory to raiseawaressabout Slovenia and straightforwardly present its green character.
Theanswerwasthe Bee Story. From 2010 to 2012 the Slovenian meeting industry community focused on two environmentallyfriendlyandsocially responsible campaigns that revolved around bees. The Bee Story focused on protecting bees that symbolise the diversity of natural resources in Slovenia. Bees indicate the level of environmental protection and symbolise the Slovenian vision of preserving nature. Bees furthermore relate to the ouruniqueness, seeing that Slovenia is the only European country that has protected its indigenous species, the Carniolan bee. Bees cantherefore vividly communicate the positioning of Slovenia as a green meeting and incentive travel destination, primarily based on our natural endowments. The Beestorythenfocused on a globalenvironmental problem of colony collapse disorder that has wiped out large numbers of bees. Thetwocampaigns in the Bee Storytherefore aimed to increase the number of bee colonies, slowing down the negative trend reflected in the loss of bee colonies.
In 2010 wefirstlaunchedtheBeBeecampaign. The Slovenian meeting industry community became an annual patron of the Beekeeping Association of Slovenia and its Carniolian Bees Conservation Trust. The Conservation Trust aims to protect the Carniolian bees and promote the tradition of beekeeping. TogetherwiththeBeekeepingAssociationweenabled one beekeepers' club in a Slovenian primary school to set up a learning beehouse to breed and keep the bee colonies. 26 pupils at the Beekeepers Club of Dobrna (in thenorth-eastern part of Slovenia) have been learning about beekeeping and haveraised 13 bee colonieswith up to 60.000 beesrespectively.Weinvitedmeetingprofessionals to jointhiscampaign. Weaskedthemto support the work of the beekeeper’s club andsign the BeBee petition. In thismannerwewanted to activatemeetingprofessionals to joinourcause, learn more abouttheimportanceofbeesand in turnalsoabout Slovenia.
Weincludedthesetwocampaigns in allourmainactivities. The BeBee campaign sobecame an integral part of five workshops held in Slovenia in 2011. The hosted meeting planners listened to a short lecture about beekeeping in Slovenia and the importance of bees for the environment, economy and tourism. Theworkshops introduced a number of environmentally friendly measures to minimise their environmental impact. For instance, all waste produced during catering on a boatride on the Ljubljanica riverwas collected separately according to appropriate fractions. Thecateringcompanycommittedthatorganic waste and waste oils were used to produce biofuel. So to reduce food miles,tapwaterandlocaldrinksandwineswereoffered.And menus included 60 to 80% of in-season food.Recyclable name badges were providedand at the end of the workshop, a place for participants to recycle the badges was provided. As a token of appreciation weofferedmeetingplannersFlaška, a unique bottle which can improve water’s quality.The giveawaysthereforeconveyed a green message, with positive impact on the environment and the health of participants.
During the campaign we designed several tools to encurage meeting industry companies in Slovenia to implement sustainable business practices. AmongotherswastheRoad to Green Meetings in Slovenia manualwithguidelinesforsustainableeventmanagementand some bestpracticeexamplesfrom Slovenia. TherewasalsotheonlineEvent Carbon Calculatorenablingmeetingplannersto calculatethecarbonfootprintoftheirevent. Andwe are veryproudwenoteda green wave spreading across Slovenian meetingindustry community. Anumberofcompanieshas stepped up a gear in incorporating sustainable practices in their business operations. The number of certified sustainable meeting industry professionals increased from 3 to 5. New innovative sustainable products were implemented in Slovenia (for instance “Save the Ljubljana Moor” by iDMC, “Green for Tommorrow” by Sava Hotels&Resorts, BLUE programmeofsustainableevents).Ourproactivecampaignsencoragedandgavethecompaniesnecessaryknowledge to introducesustainablebusinesspractices in therdailyoperations.
As I said the BeBee and IMEX Challenge campaignsalsobecame part ofourpromotionalactivities. Thecampaignswere based on the idea of telling and evolving the story about bees to our targeted audiences. This was done directly through monthly e-newsletters,byattending global trade shows as well as indirectly through generating media attention. From December 2010 to July 2012 the Bee Story ensured publication of more than 50 articles in the leading meeting industry media, including Bedouk, Events Magazine Germany, Mash Media, Meetings International, Meetings:review, One+ Magazine, TW. The Bee Storythereforecreated a strongbuzzabout Slovenia.
The Bee Storyalsohelped uscreatenewambassadorsof Slovenia. Thecampaignstouchedtheemotionsofmeetingprofessionalsandrelated to them on otherareas, not onlybusinessrelated. The BeBeecampaignattracted support of 821 international meeting industry professionals. Duringthecampaign 46 meeting plannersvisitedSloveniaandgot to know more aboutourgreencharacterand Slovenia in general. Later on several of the meeting planners held their meetings and incentives in Slovenia. Inthescopeof IMEX Challengecmapaing 15 meeting industry professionals visited Slovenia andexperienced it as an innovative socially responsible destination. Through working together at the Care Centre Draga the participants got familiar with the Slovenian meeting industry professionals and several destinations.Weaskedthemeetingplannersvisiting Slovenia aboutourenvironmentallyfriendlyandsociallyresponsibleendeavours. Wefirstaskedif Slovenia is suitablefororganisingsustainableevents in theiropinion. Theyallrespondedpositively.
Wealsoaskedthemwheatertheynoticedanysustainablemeasuresduringtheirvisitandwhichones. Theseresultsgot us thinking. Namelytheparticipantsonlynoted some ofthemeasures. Andwhenweexploredthispoint a bit deeperwelearnedthemeetingprofessionalsonly notice the most strikingsustainablemeasuresand take a lot ofmeasuresforgranted. Theresearchwasthenupgraded on thecaseofthe Conventa tradeshow, which last yearwonthe EIBTM SustainabilityStandAward. At the Conventa show in Ljubljana theparticipantsnoticedthewoodencratesthatreplacetheusealstandconstruction. Theparticipantsnotedlocalcusineandfocus on organicvegtablesandfruit. A furtherexample is ourcall to take stairsinsteadoflifts to theafterparty. Allthesemeasuresbecame a talkingpointamongtheparticipantsandwerealsoreported in thepress.
A numberofmeasureswerethennoted, buttakenforgranted. Theparticipantsdid not talk aboutthesemeasures, theydid not influence theparticiapnts’ imageofthetradeshow or destination. Amongthosewererecyclingbadges, lanyardsfromrecycled material, brochures, cataloguesprinted on recycledpaper. Anotherexampleweretechnologicalsolutionssuch as mobilepages, multidataboards, digitalsignageetc. Thesemeasureswereregarded more as a mustthen as anadd-on.
Somethingwewereandstill are not talkingabout isaccessibility to Slovenia. Wedepend on flights to bringmeetingprofessionalsandthendelegates to Slovenia. Eventhoughthispresents a greateshareofourfootprint, ourclients do not holdthisagainst us.
Whatcanwelearnfrom Slovenia’s roadtrip to becoming a sustainablemeetingindustrydestination?Working hard as beesThe Bee Story revolved around two hands-on projects that vividly communicated about the green character of Slovenia and our proactive endeavours to preserve it. Our actions fortified the general positioning of Slovenia as a green destination. Bees are small. Bee families are stronger.The Slovenian meeting industry is relatively small and so are our budgets. To be able to carry out such campaigns,wehad to form extensive partnerships, work together with important meeting industry players and seek support from various companies outside the field of the meeting industry. Create a buzz The Bee Story aimed to raise interest, awareness and engagement among meeting industry professionals. It was reallygreat to hear sucha buzz about Slovenia. Create buzzing ambassadorsIt is veryimportant to upgrade this buzz to action. In ourcaseweworked so thatmeetingplannerswouldjointhe campaigns, spread word of mouth, become emotionally attached and later on destination ambassadors. Those who shared the experiences of the BeBee campaign and IMEX Challenge became emotionally attached to the projects, became friends with the Slovenian meeting industry providers and of Slovenia. Continue to upgradeThe IMEX Challenge campaign evolved from the BeBee campaign. The continuation of the Bee Story led to greater recall and impact among meeting industry professionals. Andfor us, whoalsobecameemotionallyattached to theseprojects, wecontinuewithsociallyresponsibleactions at theCare Centre Draga. In November 50 colleagues, togetherwithfriendsandfamilytook part in differentworkingactivities to helptheprotegesoftheCare Centre Draga. And we plan the next activitity for spring 2013.
Sustainability in Action: Slovenia
One of the most prevalent features of Slovenia, that attracts guests, is its clean, unspoiled environment. With around 60 % of its surfacecovered in forest, Slovenia is one of the most forested countryies in Europe. Just 60 kilometres from the capital city Ljubljana one caneven find virgin forest. Slovenia is also among the most biologically diverse countries in the world. And can indeed be portrayed as aEuropean biotic park. Visitors therefore perceive Slovenia as an environmentally attractive destination.
This green character of Slovenia is primarily based on natural endowments (forests, water, biodiversity). The question is howsustainable are meeting industry products? The Slovenian meeting and incentive providers do increasingly focus on theimplementation of sustainable practices and the development of innovative sustainable products and services. However theincorporation and implementation of sustainable management in the meeting industry of Slovenia does not match the level of otherdestinations and providers high on a “green wave”.
A common vision of preserving the meeting destination of Slovenia sothat future generations will be able to hold their meetings and eventsin an honestly green destination. Looking for a positive story to raiseawaress about Slovenia and straightforwardly present its greencharacter.
The answer was the Bee Story. From 2010 to 2012 the Slovenian Bees indicate the level of environmental protection andmeeting industry community focused on two environmentally symbolise the Slovenian vision of preserving nature. Beesfriendly and socially responsible campaigns that revolved furthermore relate to the our uniqueness, seeing that Slovenia isaround bees. the only European country that has protected its indigenous species, the Carniolan bee. Bees can therefore vividly communicate the positioning ofThe Bee Story focused on protecting bees that symbolise the Slovenia as a green meeting and incentive travel destination,diversity of natural resources in Slovenia. primarily based on our natural endowments.
In 2010 we first launched the BeBee campaign. The Slovenian meeting industrycommunity became an annual patron of the Beekeeping Association of Sloveniaand its Carniolian Bees Conservation Trust. The Conservation Trust aims toprotect the Carniolian bees and promote the tradition of beekeeping. Togetherwith the Beekeeping Association we enabled one beekeepers club in aSlovenian primary school to set up a learning beehouse to breed and keep thebee colonies.We invited meeting professionals to join this campaign. We asked them tosupport the work of the beekeeper’s club and sign the BeBee petition. Inthis manner we wanted to activate meeting professionals to join our cause,learn more about the importance of bees and in turn also about Slovenia.
The BeBee campaign so became an integral part of five workshops held in Slovenia in 2011. The hostedmeeting planners listened to a short lecture about beekeeping in Slovenia and the importance of beesfor the environment, economy and tourism. The workshops introduced a number of environmentally friendly measures to minimise their environmental impact.
During the campaign we designed several tools to encuragemeeting industry companies in Slovenia to implement sustainablebusiness practices.Among others was the Road to Green Meetings in Sloveniamanual with guidelines for sustainable event management andsome best practice examples from Slovenia. There was also theonline Event Carbon Calculator enabling meeting planners tocalculate the carbon footprint of their event.
The BeBee campaigns also became part of our promotional activities. The campaign was based onthe idea of telling and evolving the story about bees to our targeted audiences. This was donedirectly through monthly e-newsletters, by attending global trade shows as well as indirectly throughgenerating media attention. From December 2010 to July 2012 the Bee Story ensured publication of more than 50 articles in the leading meeting industry media. The Bee Story therefore created a strong buzz about Slovenia.
The Bee Story also helped us createnew ambassadors of Slovenia. Thecampaigns touched the emotions ofmeeting professionals and related tothem on other areas, not onlybusiness related.The BeBee campaign attracted support of 821 internationalmeeting industry professionals. During the campaign 46 meetingplanners visited Slovenia and got to know more about our greencharacter and Slovenia in general. Later on several of the meetingplanners held their meetings and incentives in Slovenia.
We also asked them wheater they noticed any sustainable measures during their visit and whichones. These results got us thinking. Namely the participants only noted some of the measures. Andwhen we explored this point a bit deeper we learned the meeting professionals only notice themost striking sustainable measures and take a lot of measures for granted. The research was thenupgraded on the case of the Conventa trade show, which last year won the EIBTM SustainabilityStand Award.
A number of measures were then noted, but taken for granted. The participants did not talk about these measures, they did not influence theparticiapnts’ image of the trade show or destination. Among those were recycling badges, lanyards from recycled material, brochures,catalogues printed on recycled paper. Another example were technological solutions such as mobile pages, multidata boards, digital signageetc. These measures were regarded more as a must then as an add-on.
Something we were and still are not talking about is accessibility to Slovenia. We depend on flights to bringmeeting professionals and then delegates to Slovenia. Even though this presents a greate share of our footprint, our clients do not hold this against us.