A Conversation with René Proske, CEO @ Proske, at GBTA 2019.
A third-generation tech entrepreneur, René Proske met with us at GBTA to talk about his journey and strategy behind the success of Proske, a German-based event management company that produces expert SMMPs and seamlessly flawless events. The company boasts creativity as one of its major driving forces. During our conversation, René mentioned that they never implement anything just for the sake of it. They always place an emphasis on strategy first.
A Family-Driven Company
René knows travel. He was a travel agent during the early stages of his professional career. He honed his knowledge of the travel space working in business travel, then did some marketing for a large financial services company before taking over as the third generation of the family-owned company. “My wife is actually pregnant with the fourth generation, so we’re working on having four generations at Proske running this business,” said René. During the course of our conversation, he stressed how important it was for him to keep both his company and family glued together, guided by the right set of values like trust, closeness and caring for one another.
Since its inception the company has focused on delivering value for marketing-driven organizations, always focused in the meetings and events industry. Although the company is not a travel tech company per se, travel is always a big aspect of meetings and events. That is why Proske is part of the Radius Networks.
How Tech Helped Proske Evolve
Technology has indeed played a major role in the company’s growth. René highlighted that in helping companies source meeting venues, they focus on the creative aspects, like content, design, graphics, audio, visuals and marketing communications, with special attention on how to get content to the end user. This is where technology comes in. René is keenly aware, first-hand, of the benefits of implementing technology in companies that have been around for decades.
René said: “There are two sides to technology, on the one hand, it makes event management more efficient, by using it for booking travel, getting people from A to B, requesting proposals for hotels… all of that is automated and saves our customers time”. He continued: “On the other hand, you have technology that is used in marketing. When I go to an event, I have an app that prevents me from needing a printed syllabus – that is convenient.”
Proske is now using tech like augmented reality, VR, as means to present and show the customer what a space would look like for planning purposes, without the need to leave the comfort of the customer’s office. We asked René how that is changing the landscape of the meetings and events industry, to which he responded: “In 5 to 10 years none of the manual work will be necessary, allowing us to focus on the communication and marketing itself. Sending out Excel spreadsheets, and power points will be a thing of the past.”
From Corporate to Family
As we approached the end of our conversation with René, we asked him what sort of lessons he has learned as someone who moved from the corporate world to a family-owned business. René responded: “I learned that if I want to be a good leader, I need to help people grow, this in the end will push me and the company to grow as well.” René also told us that he felt that if you micro-manage people, that’s a problem. He believes that the business needs to get to a point where it can operate without him. “We have a great trust culture. I don’t need to check everything. People are empowered, and as such they produce value because they want to. This allows me to focus on the strategic aspects of our company.”
Words of Wisdom
As we often do on DojoLIVE, we ask our guests to share some final words of wisdom at the end of the conversation, René said: “Keep humble. If you’re too proud and you think too much of yourself, it will come back to you. If you are humble, you will always look for the next thing. If you’re too proud, or think that you have it all figured out, that’s when people will overtake you left, right and center.”