Op-Ed: Sissi Lygnou on Greece’s meeting industry!


The pandemic has been one more crisis to challenge event professionals around the globe. However, the Meetings Industry has proven to have a fully adaptive DNA.

In the last 2 years, our Industry learned to deal with event cancellation and postponement, quick adaptation and education to new technologies and digital elements, transformation of events to virtual and hybrid and strict health protocols. The Leaders of our Industry worldwide were challenged to act fast, re-think, re-design, re-skill and at the same time protect their business and the well-being of their people. Associations representing meeting professionals globally joined forces to design future strategies towards a fast recovery.

It is a fact that digital transformation will dominate our Industry in many different formats and that the digital element is here to stay. Meeting professionals will need to embrace its value and incorporate it in their routine in the most efficient way.

Moving forward, collaboration will be key to future planning.

The International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO) is a great example of a key player collaborating closely with other International Organizations, with the aim to drive the change to the new reality, advocate on the industry’s value to recovery and development, as well to identify the key global trends.

IAPCO’s Global Task Force on National Associations of Professional Congress Organizers (PCOs) was created during the pandemic to identify and measure the impact of the crisis and to advocate on the importance of our profession. A great platform for discussion, thought leadership, exchange of knowledge and strategic thinking.

On a national level, the creation of synergies has never been more important.

In the period 2021-2022, despite the critical times and challenges, HAPCO, the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers joined forces with the powerful group of Destination Event Specialists to create HAPCO & DES, a re-designed, re-branded Organization with a stronger voice on MICE Greece.

Moreover, a very strong synergy, the Greek Meetings Alliance, a collaboration among HAPCO & DES, Athens & Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (ACVB/TCB) empowered during the pandemic, designs and implements various actions and activities to promote the national Industry. More of these synergies will be created in the future.

Moreover, SDGs will come to the frontline of future planning for Associations, Meeting Professionals, and the complete supply chain of our Industry, while they already have an impact on their strategic plans. Climate Action, Human Rights, Diversity & Inclusion, Work-Life Balance are already the fast forward KPI’s for future leaders.

In the collaborative journey which awaits us, we will need to change our language. Move from measuring the financial impact to focusing on the social impact of events and importance of making people’s lives better. Shifting from dominant to inspirational Leadership, while investing in the next Generation and the shaping of future Leaders.

We will need to work together to resolve the megatrend and greatest challenge, talent management, recruitment, and the retaining of our people. Best practices on HR management, protection of mental health and well-being of our workforce as well as education are now more than ever of major importance for the road towards a better future.

Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers & Destinations Events Specialists (HAPCO & DES)

Sissi Lygnou