CONVENE, a Baltic Sea region exhibition for meetings, events and incentives, was held in Vilnius, Lithuania's capital, on 8 and 9 February 2017. 165 hosted buyers from 27 countries, including 34 from Germany, came to Litexpo, and there were 87 exhibitors. "We intend to remain the industry showcase for the Baltic countries. Other destinations are now showing interest in presenting themselves here," says exhibition director Jolanta Beniuliene, who also runs the Vilnius Convention Bureau. For the first time she and her team organised CONVENE themselves. CONVENE's initiator and spiritual father, Paul Kennedy of Kennedy Solutions, has been appointed honorary ambassador.
The 3,600 or so 20-minute meetings scheduled in advance between visitors and exhibitors were rated positively by both sides. The Baltic countries are still new territory for many planners. The exhibitors praised the quality of the hosted buyers. "We invest a lot of time in selecting and reviewing the buyers. That's our formula for success," explains Beniuliene.
Since May 2016 the Vilnius Convention Bureau has come under the Go Vilnius brand. The brand creates synergies and is designed to reposition the city's intellectual capital, also with a view to attracting conventions. One of Lithuania's strengths is laser technology, which will be the dominant theme of the Lithuanian EXPO2017 pavilion in Astana. Another is financial technology, which brings numerous banks and financial industry conferences to Vilnius. The brand-new business centre, where the CONVENE networking evening was held, is a testament to this development. The event agency First Coffee organised an inspiring evening that presented the city's young and innovative face.
The future-oriented focus of the CONVENE seminars ensured they attracted a lot of interest. The United Networks of International Corporate Event Organisers (UNICEO) outlined the current requirements of corporate clients, while David Bodor of the ICCA presented strategies that enable cities to attract more conventions. Julian Jost of Spacebase explained his ideas on the sharing economy in a panel discussion with Darius Udrys of Go Vilnius and Eric Ben-Harrous of the Kenes Group.