Interviews

Lotta Boman wants a Booking.com or Hotels.com for conferences and meetings

The newly elected president of IACC (the association that represents small or medium size venues) for Europe, Lotta Boman, shares with Event Point her mandate strategy and the way she sees the industry.

Lotta Boman is the CEO of Sigtunahojden Hotel & Conference, located in Sweden, and has an experience of over 30 years in the meetings industry. She has been, since 2011, an active member of this association. 

What are your main goals for this mandate?

In my role as European President for IACC, I want to establish a stronger foothold in the European meetings and conference arena; ultimately attracting more members, by driving awareness of the fantastic benefits being part of the association offers. My dream is for IACC venues to be considered the top choice for meetings and conference across Europe.

I also want to inspire more women to step forward for different senior positions in organisations and companies, and hold the belief that women can achieve their goals and ambitions in this industry.

You have 30-years’ experience in this sector. What do you feel are the biggest changes in the business in that time span?

The biggest change, without a doubt, is the digitalisation of the industry and the rapid pace in which it’s grown; particularly how venues now target and attract customers through digital media and social selling.

Also, the requirement for venues to be sustainable, something our clients are taking very seriously. 10 years’ ago, it was a plus when choosing a venue that merely recycled, now it’s a must! All IACC members must sign the Cody of Sustainability, which is made up of 60 principles, before they can be ‘Green Star’ certified, which goes on to be ranked in three tiers. This certification, in my experience, is a huge plus for businesses looking to book venues, and the change will only continue to grow.

What are the main challenges nowadays?

The speed in which the industry is forever evolving! Venues must continue to keep pace with the changing needs of customers. Those who sit back and expect things to stay the same, without adapting to change, will be out of business in no time at all.

Another observation is, as the demand for business travel grows, how do we maintain sustainable business? I’m keen to see where this trend goes, as I can’t imagine it can continue to grow at this exponential rate.

A common practical challenge for venues and their customers, is booking and payment methods. Many venues still handle payment via email or phone. I’d like to see venues offering customers the chance to book and pay online direct via a booking system.

What do you think will be the biggest trends of the future for this business?

When it comes to meetings and conferences I think that fast, streamline booking and payment via an online portal will be more important than ever. I am still waiting for the equivalent of a Booking.com or Hotels.com for the conferences and meetings world.

I believe that design aesthetics for meeting and conference spaces will change, and venues will choose to implement more informal interior design features and furniture, with the aim of creating a “homely” feeling.

Many business and organisations, across a number of industries, have in recent years adapted working hours for several reasons. Travel for work and flexible working hours mean a ‘9 to 5’ occupation is no longer the norm. So, conference venues must adapt to suit the irregular needs of customers.

How can we support our customers when they leave our venue? Why not offer a prepared meal for them to take home after an all-day conference, to make things easier going back to the family?

How do you see the role of the association in the near future?

IACC’s role is to continue offering great value to its members, which, in a competitive and fast-changing world, is vital.

Providing a platform for members to collaborate is also a huge focus for the association. We call ourselves a tribe of industry professionals, all striving to improve the meeting and conference offering across the globe. We do this by inviting members to get together with peers from different parts of the world to exchange ideas and learn from one another, without there being a competitive agenda.

We get inspired and go back to our venues, ready to take on the next challenge, and surpass our competitors. Which is more important than ever!

What do you want your biggest accomplishment to be at the end of your mandate?

To have attracted more members! I will do everything I can to tell the world of this fine association, which supports venues to grow and flourish. IACC offers so much, and it’s important I, and the wider board members, educate existing, new and potential members of all the wonderful elements they can take advantage of.

IACC offers membership to individuals, suppliers or a venue, which allows for a variety of members to participate in IACC’s activities. These include the global chef competition ‘Copper Skillet’ and educational networking meetings in Europe, America and South Pacific, all of which are my favourite member values.

How do you see the evolution of the role of women at the top of the organisations in the last 30 years?

Diversity is a prerequisite for running a profitable and successful business today.

Women have gained more power in business, finance etc. as companies see a growing female target group. We also need female entrepreneurs, business owners and board members / chairmen to show the younger generations of women that their aspirations are achievable.

Women also need men to support this important change, which I have been grateful to have received myself by many male colleagues throughout my career.

But still, more women in leading positions are needed, we have made progress in the last 30 years but there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do.

Tags: IACC, Lotta Boman, Associations

07-12-2017