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April 2020 //

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www.kongres-magazine.eu

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COPING WITH COVID-19 // #meetagain

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CVB B2B EVENTS ON THE RISE // In Focus

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RUSSIA // Been there


CONT RIBU TORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF // GORAZD ČAD Editor of the magazine is a geographer and historian by profession. He united his professional education and love of discovering new lesser-known meetings destinations with love and passion for the meetings industry. In meetologues he shares his enthusiasm with the readers.

SARA TIEFENGRABER // ASSISTANT EDITOR An enthusiastic traveller and wordsmith on a mission of taking the reader for a fascinating and enriching journey. She is inspired by the little things that go unnoticed and shares them eagerly through written word. Her motivation is driven by the belief that even something ordinary can be converted into a powerful marketing message.

NATALIJA BAH ČAD // MEETINGS AND EVENT MANAGER An unforgettable member in the editorial board of travelogues. She has insight into the soul of destinations based on many years of practical experience with the organisation of events. She is interested in everything from the history, geography and destination marketing to care for the tiny little things that make the big events.

JASMINA JERANT // CONTENT WRITER A creative writer since childhood was brought into the meetings industry where she can release her passion for storytelling. She seeks for unusual, hidden, and charming facts that make a town or a building shine in a different way. She believes that places are like people. In each one of them you can find something amusing. BARBARA DIMEC // GRAPHIC DESIGNER Visual explorer, creative problem solver, graphic designer with interest in creating innovative digital and print design solutions. Curious and always in search for new inspiration and knowledge. She strives towards positive attitude in every challenging situation with goal to translate plain information to compelling visual messages.

PUBLISHER AND PRODUCTION Poslovni turizem Gorazd Čad s.p., Kamnica 6B, SI-1262 Dol pri Ljubljani T: +385 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@go-mice.eu

MARKETING Toleranca Marketing d.o.o., Štihova 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana T: +385 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu


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KONGRES MAGAZINE

360° MICE ACTIVATION

ANALYTICS Marketing analytics

CONTENT Copywriting and Content marketing

SALES Personal sales

EXPERIENCE Sales events

VIDEO Video campaigns

DATABASE Big data targeting

360° MICE ACTIVATION

PRINT Image building

ONLINE Digital Campaigns

SOCIAL Social media campaigns

DIRECT E-mail marketing and Telemarketing

with TOLERANCA MARKETING


A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

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FEAR OF THE DARK

Stay positive - “Power to the Meetings” Movement GORAZD ČAD //

@gorazdcad

been cancelled. Confex in London is a great example, as well as IMEX Frankfurt that is going ahead as scheduled. We, humans, are social beings and we can’t last long without events. That is embedded in our DNA. Just like music, events are a universal language. Ask yourself, what is more exciting, listening to a live concert or an album through your headphones? There is a time and a place for both, but nothing can replace the energy that is shared at events. That energy is priceless and it is the reason why we won’t be throwing in the towel. Moreso, because of the many like-minded event professionals who get goosebumps every time an event is a success and the participants leave satisfied. Lastly, because we contribute greatly to the state budget and employ a large number of people. It’s time that we raise our voices and talk about the importance of events. Events that can not be replaced by the many virtual tools which have been swarming my inbox lately.

"Power to the meetings!"

Gorazd Čad // Editor-in-Chief

This is not another article about how to protect yourself against the Coronavirus, nor is it another conspiracy theory about who started it. In times of panic and fear of the pandemic, rational optimism is a rare thing. Bad news travels much faster than good and that is an empirical fact. It’s why stories about cancelled events have flooded the media space of our industry. The current situation is the price we have to pay for constant growth. My heart goes out to every single colleague, who has had to cancel an event because of the situation and I hope their event was insured. The most resounding stories come from international mega-events with a huge reach. I’m certain that the virus outbreak has drastically changed the way these events will be organised. Law firms will also have their work cut out for them. In the last couple of days, the meetings industry has been turned upside down. Despite the negative stories, a lot of positive ones have also surfaced. Stories about successfully carried out events and those that have not

Instead of catastrophic assessments, we have to adapt to the situation. That means shifting to smaller local and regional events. We will have to plan much more carefully. Now is maybe the time that everyone, who earns a living off of creative work realises that cash cows have to be understood, heard and not just used. Based on some rough evaluations, the creative part of the event budget is only 20%, the rest goes to hoteliers, venues, caterers and logistics companies. If ever, the middle of a global crisis is the time to clear up the dilemma of the meetings egg and chicken. Our slogan “Power to the meetings” has never had more meaning. Our editorial board would like to start a movement with the hashtag #powertothemeetings through which we will share positive stories during times of crisis. We want to share positive stories and help fellow colleagues with useful recommendations and important developments in the meetings industry. We have opened a landing page dedicated to everyone in the meetings industry. Feel free to share your stories with us. Let’s make POWER TO THE MEETINGS a new power statement to fight against the global panic.


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MARKETING IN TIMES OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC A crisis comes when you least expect it GORAZD ČAD //

ARCHIVE

14 days ago, I thought that this would all blow over. I never would have thought that the world will come to a complete halt and we would be confined within the borders of our homes, villages, cities, countries, regions or continents. I hope this is the first and last time, but it would be too naive to say that. Humour is gone, the joys of organising events prohibited, inopportune questions frowned upon, doubt eliminated and distance urged. These are extraordinary conditions, my colleagues. The most commonly asked question these days is what can destinations and meeting providers do in terms of marketing. When we were preparing for the 2nd Bled Meetings Forum a couple of weeks ago, we did not think that we would have to answer questions regarding crisis communication. The only thing we were thinking of was bringing enough participants to the event and carrying out all the campaigns that we set out to do months before the outbreak. The situation is changing every hour, everything is highly unpredictable. It is key that we remain well informed, so we can adapt to different scenarios and make smart decisions. If we analyse the situation on the international meetings market, the fastest responders were international professional associations. Basically all of them were quick to establish informational portals and send out recommendations for meeting planners. I am extremely happy to say that solidarity in our industry is at a very high level. If ever, it was now that associations showed their power and potential. Stigmatisation of events is the biggest issue of the industry right now. It would be blasphemy to even think about organising an event. Despite this, positive campaigns that raise awareness about the importance of events for the global economy have started to surface. We really like the campaign by the French association LÉVÉNEMENT Asso, led by the charismatic Bertrand Biard. The campaign is based on the fact that the French meetings industry employs 335,000 people. That’s 335,000 jobs that are now in danger. Moreover, the yearly turnover generated by the industry is 32 billion EUR, 52 % from event production and 48 % from tourism. Every day before the COVID-19 outbreak, a thousand events took place in France. In just over a week, the campaign mobilised the public and reached important decision makers in the French government. The campaign is a great example of spontaneous crisis communication, something that many countries should take inspiration from. Every company has to play out their own marketing scenarios. One size

certainly does not fit all. Nevertheless, we have come up with a few suggestions and ideas to jump start marketing in what is probably the biggest crisis in event industry history. It’s a combination of solutions that we also recommended to our clients. Unfortunately, only a few colleagues have a developed crisis communication plan. ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY AND FIRST It is absolutely necessary to let your partners, employees and the general public know about the situation and measures that you are taking in your company, destination or hotel. Your communication should always quote trustworthy, official sources. Surprisingly, a lot of colleagues have not done their homework. Empathy in these situations is key. You should establish a platform through which you will communicate in times of crisis. We advised our partners to appoint a person responsible for communication. The communication should be proactive, up-to-date and transparent, so focus on preparing quality press material and share information about the crisis. LIST OF KEY PLAYERS It’s time for playing over communication plans. You should have multiple scenarios prepared, but first, make a list of the most important people that you would like to reach with your communication. This includes employees, clients, partners, investors, the media, government officials and the wider public, like followers on social media and event participants. It’s also not a bad idea to think about establishing a support team, call centre, or at least a dedicated phone number for emergencies. FACTS ABOUT THE SITUATION AND FAQS Every organisation should have a list of frequently asked questions and some facts about the situation. Measures that the company or destination is taking should also be listed. Short, simple answers will prevent rumours or false claims to spread among partners or in the media. Meeting planners should know exactly how the organisation will be managed during the crisis and predict how it will look like once we’ve gotten through it. It’s the easiest way to decrease fear, panic and denial of danger. HOW SHOULD WE MOVE FORWARD? We have to realise that the costs of attracting new clients are much higher than the costs of keeping the existing ones. In times of crisis, companies are trying to cut expenses in all fields. Most of the time, they start with marketing. With a lower marketing


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budget, communications should be focused on keeping existing partners around, as they will be the ones providing growth. Partners should not be numbers, but people with whom you build solid relationships. Happy partners spread the good word and are ready to recommend your services/products.

innovate and think out of the box. If you need some inspiration, check out the ICCA Best Marketing Award. The next step would be to think about all the contact points that your potential buyers will have with your destination. A formula for success is usually a combination of digital and experience marketing.

PERSONAL APPROACH In our industry, personal touch is everything. Ambassador programmes are a great idea for destinations, as destination ambassadors present great marketing capital. Ambassadors can help you smoothly postpone events and reservations. Ideally, every ambassador should be given a “crisis first aid kit” with information for jump starting events after the crisis. The kit should include a Bid Book, examples of contracts with hotels, insurance companies and a detailed communication plan.

SOME ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS:

DIRECT MARKETING In order for you to carry out good B2B marketing after the crisis, you will have to have a quality database. This is the perfect time to get your databases in check and employees on wait will be eager to pitch in from home. Make sure to segment your buyers and try to get new ones with simple, fun direct marketing solutions. Data is the oil of the digital economy and that will stay true even after this crisis. AN EXTRAORDINARY SITUATION CAN OPEN EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES We agree with this statement, but an extraordinary opportunity can only be taken advantage of if you turn your existing marketing plan upside down. As the first step, we would recommend design-thinking workshops that allow you to design prototypes of communication plans after the crisis. These kinds of workshops are a great way to think about buyers, your portfolio of services and what the clients will need in the future. Most organisations will resort to the classical marketing mix; fam trips, sales calls and trade fairs. It’s time to digitalise marketing, to

1. Comparisons are problematic

Comparisons in the sense of “your country is doing a way worse job containing the virus than ours” are inappropriate, counterproductive and most of the time, unfair.

2. Underestimating the situation Statements, where we underestimate the situation or exaggerate with comforting stories can make the reader question our love of truth. This kind of communication can quickly stab you in the back. Reassuring the reader is fine, just make sure you backup your statement with solid facts. 3. Context

All the information about our industry has to be put into context. For the foreseeable future, the fate of meetings will be dictated by COVID-19 and how well we will be able to contain it. Let’s not act like we are just observers from a different planet.

4. Acknowledging uncertainty

We have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that everything is uncertain and there are many variables. The worst thing you can do when people are afraid is to pretend they aren’t. Underestimating the situation will anger your partners and maybe even deter them from opening any of your future communication.


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INSURED AGAINST CORONAVIRUS?

Large events are being cancelled and the future of upcoming events is uncertain SARA TIEFENGRABER //

NEW SCIENTIST, SHUTTERSTOCK

The coronavirus outbreak is not yielding and in addition to the problems it poses for the general public, it is strongly affecting the meetings industry. Event planners are facing a large dilemma regarding how to deal with the crisis, whether to go through with the event or to cancel or postpone it. Sometimes the decision is out of our hands as authorities make the call and prohibit any events taking place. So, what happens when you have to cancel an event due to an epidemic, or more specifically COVID-19? The number of reported coronavirus cases is growing rapidly, and event planners may have even more cause for concern than the general public. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has been cancelled, along with other global events, which can make event planners feel uneasy regarding the fulfilment of their contractual obligations for upcoming events. When it comes to considering event cancellation, attendee safety is the priority, but cancelling an event can result in massive losses for event planners and their partners.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW? If you cancel your event, will you be liable for compensation claims? What will your insurance cover? A standard insurance policy will not cover the loss of revenue of a cancelled event due to coronavirus. Some policies may have a “Notifiable or Communicable Disease” extension which covers the instances of notifiable human infectious or contagious disease. Coronavirus is as of yet not classified as a notifiable disease in all countries, so any business losses caused by the virus will not be covered in insurance policies unless your country decides otherwise. There are specialist policies, born out of the SARS virus outbreak 17 years ago, which are mainly available in China. They are very expensive and would normally not be in the budget of an event planner. With these


#MEETAGAIN

policies, you buy a limit, such as €25,000 or €50,000 so if the event is cancelled due to a notifiable disease, the insurance would pay out a set amount once. As a result of the steep price tag, many organizations and event planners refrain from purchasing such coverage for their conferences and events. Events, which already have epidemic cover will be able to claim for cancellation due to the coronavirus, provided the event was due to take place in a country subject to travel bans or limits on public gatherings. However, if “disinclination to travel” was not part of the policy, delegates or exhibitors who cancel their conference appearance outside a directly affected region are not insured. In case you are looking to protect a future event from possible losses caused by COVID-19, insurance at this point might get tricky. As a result of recent events, insurers excluded coronavirus from their policies, meaning anyone looking to buy cancellation insurance for events from now on will not be able to get cover for the current outbreak. HOW TO INSURE YOUR EVENT? The impact of COVID-19 is a legitimate cause for concern for event planners, even just from the effects of fear alone. A thoroughly considered contract is the best protection you can have against liability. In this time of high alert, a greater level of scrutiny is especially critical for new contracts. An important section of your contract that can protect you is called the “force majeure” clause. Force majeure, French for superior force, means what the contract says it means. That is, it’s up to the parties the contract concerns to define the specific conditions for a force majeure claim. Even though the term is open to interpretation, it refers to unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the parties that prevent the fulfilment of their contractual obligations. In order to claim force majeure, an event must be unforeseeable, external and irresistible, meaning it is impossible to overcome. Despite it seems like a great solution to all your problems, it can still be difficult to prove that the challenges you are facing are unsurpassable obstacles that truly make it impossible for you to meet your obligations. For example, if your event has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, you may not receive any aid from your insurance policy, unless it explicitly states epidemics and communicable diseases as a qualifying force majeure circumstance. WHERE TO INSURE YOUR EVENT? As already mentioned, standard liability insurance does not offer adequate protection against the risks of a mass public event. Large events involve a lot of partners, exhibitors, participants, and costs. Just as it is a large financial burden for the organizers to insure such an event, it is a possible large obligation for the insurance company, if the insurance policy is enforced. Not every insurance agency offers such services, in fact, only specific agencies are willing to insure conferences exhibitions and events. Look out for insurance companies that have experience in providing specialist insurance for events, such as Zurich Insurance, Hiscox, Lloyd’s and Romero, which can help protect you from the unexpected.

HOW TO ENSURE A FORCE MAJEURE CLAUSE IN YOUR CONTRACT • Define what constitutes a “commercially impracticable” event. A 40% to 50% drop in registration numbers would typically qualify as compromising your event’s viability. • Define what the purpose of your event is. If part of your purpose includes securing a certain percentage of exhibitors, a high proportion of cancellations within this specific group could disrupt the purpose of your event to the point where you are forced to cancel. • Provide specific rates of relief for specific rates of cancellation. • Clarify a minimum period of notice for cancellation and the limits for how many times your liability can be reassessed.

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10 #MEETAGAIN

PRACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MEETING PLANNERS REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS What can meeting planners do at the moment? GORAZD ČAD //

SHUTTERSTOCK

Well, the worst thing we can do is panic. I’m glad that most of us in the meetings industry are of the same opinion - coronavirus can not stop us. Often times, quick decisions and cancellations can do more harm than good. With that said, we should also listen carefully to the advice from authorities and have some common sense. Despite the widespread panic, many events are still proceeding. In Slovenia, events with an attendance of over 500 participants have

to be cancelled and postponing or cancelling smaller events is also under consideration. It’s important to evaluate if the event that you are organising is necessary. If so, health precautions need to be put in place. Based on different sources and guidelines from health organisations, we have compiled a list of 10 precautions/recommendations that you should have in mind if you are organising an event in the upcoming weeks or before the situation stabilises. We hope that happens as soon as possible.

Everything meeting planners should know about COVID-19 can be found on a dedicated landing page. We encourage everyone to share this information and help their colleagues in the meetings industry. For the latest published information please review the following websites: WHO - Technical guidelines WHO - A Joint Statement on Tourism and COVID-19 European Centre for Prevention and Control

Disease

ECDC - Sources of information on COVID-19

updated

GOV.UK - COVID-19: guidance for health professionals NHS - About coronavirus (COVID-19)


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1. REDUCE HALL CAPACITIES Conference halls and other venues have to be set up so that there is at least a 1-meter distance between the seats, preventing close contact between the participants. The distance between rows is also important. Simply put, you should basically cut the hall capacity in half to comply with the current situation.

2. INSTRUCTIONS FOR PARTICIPANTS You should write clear instructions and let participants know about the measures that you are taking in order to ensure their safety, as well as precautions they should be taking. Hang the instructions on visible, public spaces.

3. PROPER COUGH ETIQUETTE By now, we know that the virus is spread by contaminated droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. Make sure that you cough properly, into your elbow and not into your hands.

4. HAND SANITIZER AND PROPER HYGIENE Provide hand sanitizer and hygiene tissues in multiple locations and encourage participants to use them. It is also recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

5. HALL DISINFECTION Strict cleaning and disinfection of conference halls and surfaces that participants are in contact with are one of the most important measures. Make sure that the cleaning staff is appropriately briefed and ask for their confirmation afterwards.

6. AIRING OUT CONFERENCE HALLS If you are looking for an event venue, choose one that can be naturally aired out.

7. HANDSHAKE FREE MEETINGS Advise participants not to shake hands and have unnecessary personal contact with each other.

8. INSURE YOUR EVENTS AND CHECK CONTRACTS We recommend insuring your event. Insurance companies have drastically increased their insurance premiums, but they are still better than the losses you might face. It’s also important to go through the contracts that you have made with the venue, providers, hotels etc.

9. COMMUNICATE HONESTLY AND OPENLY Provide your participants with up-to-date, objective information about the situation. You can also set up an urgent phone line, through which participants can ask questions. Remind participants who aren’t feeling well that it is best if they don’t attend the event.

10. KEEP TRACK OF OFFICIAL INFORMATION Make sure to listen to information from trustworthy, official sources and comply with instructions from your country.

11. HAVE A LIST OF ALL PARTICIPANTS Keep a list of all the attendees just in case someone on the list is found to have been infected. In the event of infection, the list of participants will be vital.


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COPING WITH COVID-19

We asked key opinion makers from the meetings industry for their thoughts on the situation and how they are coping with COVID-19 GORAZD ÄŒAD //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

In these challenging times, Kongres Magazine is trying its best to provide meeting planners with the most relevant and useful information regarding the spread of COVID-19. We also want to share opinions from

key members of the meetings industry. We asked key opinion makers from the meetings industry for their thoughts on the situation and how they are coping with COVID-19.


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FREDI FONTANOT

Interview with FREDI FONTANOT, Head of Products and Development at Portorož Tourist Board Q: Economic consequences for the meetings industry have already

started to show, what do you expect government institutions to do? The whole tourism industry is at stake. I expect a lot of help from the authorities, especially in terms of some cuts in taxes or contributions. We are a labour-intensive industry, and above all, we will need a lot of support in the field of human resources. We already see many problems in this sector, and we don’t want to lose additional workers. I must say I am not very optimistic about the government’s help to be honest.

"Marketing always makes sense; it just needs to be properly targeted."

Q: What is your opinion on virtual meetings, as an alternative to live

events? Human relations play a big role in our industry. Therefore, any kind of communication is welcome, even virtual. Now is the time to take full advantage of social media and to communicate as much as possible. Through online meetings, we can cultivate contacts with our regular customers, expand new contacts with potential clients or even revive old contacts. This can help us overcome this period of crisis, but of course, virtual communication will not replace events where we can talk and meet with our partners live.

Q: How do you feel about the restrictions that European governments have implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19? Because the virus is spreading extremely fast, I favour drastic measures to stop it as soon as possible. It even seems to me that we have reacted and taken action too late. Q: What would you compare this situation to? Unfortunately, this period reminds me only of the so-called »Ten-Day War« - the Slovenian War of Independence. There is unfortunately no other comparison, it is really an extreme situation.

Q: What precautions/measures are you taking in your company? In order to stop the spread of the virus, we have decided to introduce work from home. We have online meetings with our partners, and we correspond a lot via phone and e-mail. We are trying to keep as many congresses and events in our destination as possible by postponing them on some alternative dates, especially in autumn and winter. In addition, during this period we try to reduce costs as much as possible. All hotels, restaurants, congress facilities are closed, we reduced marketing costs etc. We also closed our tourist information offices. Q: When do you think the situation will go back to normal? Are you optimistic about the summer Olympics?


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JAN-JAAP IN DER MAUR

Interview with Jan-Jaap in der Maur, Masters in Moderation It will take time before everything goes back to normal. This virus crisis will have a long-term impact, especially on the financial results of all our partners. Considering the events in the world, where the battle against the virus has already started, it’s estimated that it will take at least 3 months to reopen our facilities and to welcome our first guests. Therefore, it would be more than welcome if we can be back in business in May. Otherwise, I’m afraid we won’t be able to restart activities until the main season (July and August), when high temperatures and warm weather will slow down the spreading of the virus. Fortunately, most tourists have a need to travel and will resume travelling when they feel the immediate threat has passed. I am not exactly a sports expert, but I think the Summer Olympics are already problematic, because of the difficult conditions for the preparation of the athletes. 14 days or more in quarantine is a great loss for an athlete. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the organizing committee and its final decision.

Q: Is digital marketing in times of crisis even sensible? Marketing always makes sense; it just needs to be properly targeted. We are changing all our communication plans and focusing them on the spring and summer season. For the first time in many years, we aren’t inviting guests for Easter. However, we are raising awareness among guests all over the world about the beauty of our destination, what we have to offer and what they can do at our destination etc. We don’t want them to forget us, but in the meantime, we strive to convince them to organise an event or to choose our destination for their next holiday. During this period all our forces are focused on long-term activities. Q: What will happen after we’ve beaten the virus? How will you (re)start your marketing activities? When the virus crisis will be over, we will reopen our doors to all segments of tourism and invite all our partners and guests to return back to us. In that period, we will be focusing on short-term activities so guests can come as soon as possible in order to fill the loss in the virus period. Q: Are you in contact with colleagues from around the world? Have you

talked about any potential solutions? We are in constant contact with our colleagues around the world, looking for solutions, alternatives, thinking about new options. The current priority is everyone’s health, and nothing should take precedence over it. We remain optimistic hoping it will stop as soon as possible and will fix and manage everything, if we just stay healthy. There is no other solution than to stay in this together and wait.

Q: How do you feel about the restrictions that European governments have implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19? It obviously is devastating to our industry, but let’s leave the judgement to governments and virus experts. Q: Economic consequences for the meetings industry have already

started to show, what do you expect government institutions to do? For now: concentrate on fighting this pandemic. Everything else is futile right now. In the future, many industries, which are affected and will need help. Let’s try not to fight each other (like I already see happening online) about the question which industry needs help the most. If we stick together, we all will survive … literally and economically.

Q: What is your opinion on virtual meetings, as an alternative to live events?


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IVO J. FRANSCHITZ

Interview with IVO J. FRANSCHITZ, Owner & Managing Director of ENITED Business Events GmbH It is a great option; as an alternative or as an added value. In these times, virtual may take over the role of live in some cases, just until the crisis is over. Overall, I hope we can avoid the biggest pitfall of virtual activities: returning to sending only. In my opinion, virtual meetings can be just as interactive and engaging as live events. I see a lot of people only concentrating on online technology and business models. Let’s not forget that any good meeting starts with clear objectives and a corresponding meeting design.

"Back to normal will take at least a year"

Q: What precautions/measures are you taking in your company? We are in full lockdown. Q: When do you think the situation will go back to normal? Are you optimistic about the summer Olympics? Back to normal will take at least a year (if we can ever go back to normal, that is). But I hope I am wrong… There might be some events before the summer, but they will mostly be online. In the fall we might turn to hybrid events, with an occasional full-live event. As for all the big events (Olympics, EC soccer, Eurovision Song Contest), I think it would be wise to simply skip them all for the rest of the year. This is not a pleasant message to the events industry, but we need our efforts elsewhere. Q: Is digital marketing in times of crisis even sensible? Hardly … And if you do, be aware of the thin line: I see many suppliers reaching out to help. That is sympathetic. But then there is a number of companies just doing hard selling; I hate that. Q: What will happen after we’ve beaten the virus? How will you (re)start your marketing activities? Right now, I couldn’t care less. I’m concentrating on the important things: family, friends and #flatteningthecurve. I hope everyone does. Q: Are you in contact with colleagues from around the world? Have you discussed any potential solutions? Yes, I am. And yes, a little bit. But mainly, we talk about personal stuff.

Q: How do you feel about the restrictions that European governments have implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19? The principle approach to limit “social contact” with all possible, legal means is currently necessary and correct. Some countries are implementing it smarter than others, some are preventive, and others seem to be only reactive. For better or worse, a public health crisis like this one also shows the wide spectrum of our societies, our different cultural behaviours and our definitions of daily life within Europe.


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Q: What would you compare this situation to? To none I have experienced during my lifetime, so far. And comparing it to any other major crisis during our human history would be just personal guessing. Q: Economic consequences for the meetings industry have already

started to show, what do you expect government institutions to do? What any functional, democratic system should do. Find ways and means to cushion any negative economic impact or consequences from this health crisis. As we can observe, many national and regional governments all over Europe have already started to provide guidance and support.

"For us in Austria, I believe we will overcome the worst of the crisis by the end of April"

Q: What is your opinion on virtual meetings, as an alternative to live

events? Even nowadays, I remain a firm believer that any current or future technology for virtual/digital encounters will never replace, but only supplement our business events and live communication industry. Of course, in a situation like now, the advancement, awareness and usability of those virtual/digital tools will have a special focus, as we are all already experiencing. Alone in my daily e-mail inbox, I find an increasing number of unsolicited service offerings of this kind.

Q: What precautions/measures are you taking in your company? In general, with a “lean but mean” company structure, we are well equipped to cope with the current challenges. Of course, we have the flexibility to create home office opportunities for any of our team members and follow all the current measurements and recommendations from our Austrian government, with a cool head and common sense. Q:  When do you think the situation will go back to normal? Are you optimistic about the summer Olympics?

Yes, of course, I am optimistic, but any prediction of timelines is really pretty theoretical right now. For us in Austria, I believe we will overcome the worst of the crisis by the end of April/beginning of May. On a global scale, it could last a bit longer. In a positive, future scenario the summer Olympic games can and will take place. Most probably in a limited version.

Q: Is digital marketing in times of crisis even sensible? If it is used for the right positive reason and purpose, yes, of course. Q: What will happen after we’ve beaten the virus? How will you (re)start your marketing activities? Our business events and live communication industry has always been driven by personal relationships and people-to-people business principles. Hence, any strong relationships we have will weather the current health crisis and will kick-start our recovery and our way forward. Q: Are you in contact with colleagues from around the world? Have you discussed any potential solutions? Yes, of course, our industry is global, and we live daily within our international network (EMBA, LiveCom Alliance, ICCA, 27Names, etc.). Sharing challenges, experiences, ideas and solutions are now the key elements for the successful journey of recovery.


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ALIJANA VUKŠIĆ

Interview with Alijana Vukšić, Managing Director of Tourist Board Split Q: In your opinion, what could we compare the current situation to? In Croatia we compare the current situation with the Homeland War which happened 30 years ago and whose memories and losses we still feel. The limitations are similar, but we believe that additional measures will result in a significantly shorter duration of the situation and a much smaller number of human lives and material losses.

"When you have a quality product, returning to the market will not be a problem."

Q: How are you experiencing the European Government restrictions aimed at preventing the new coronavirus from spreading? All measures and restrictions at the EU level, as well as the Croatian Government and the National Headquarters of the Civil Protection, which have been implemented so far, are considered necessary and unavoidable to limit the spread of the pandemic. We estimate that in Croatia the response was timely and everything that has been done so far has given good results. The most important thing for us now is protecting the health and life of our employees and citizens. However, since we are working in the tourism sector, restrictions have reflected on tourism developments and therefore on total tourism revenues, but the Government of the Republic of Croatia and the City of Split have already adopted measures to prop up the economy during the COVID-19 epidemic, with the aim of preserving jobs, and we believe that additional help will also come from the EU.

Q: The economic consequences have already hindered the meetings industry significantly, what kind of relief do you expect from the state? The economic consequences are already visible, but we believe in timely decisions made by the EU and Croatian governments. We expect some tax relief and subsidies for tourism professionals from the state, shortterm liquidity loans and deferred repayment of commitments already made. The tourist board system will be prevented from functioning normally because our only revenue is the tourist membership fee and a tourist tax. The payment of these obligations has now, by a decision of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, been further exempted from all business entities, leaving tourist boards without income. We believe that the Government of the Republic of Croatia will help the CNTB system at all levels to resume normal operation. Q: What do you think about virtual meetings as an alternative to live events during the pandemic? I think virtual meetings are important to stay in touch with partners and to increase the productivity. In the current crisis virtual meetings are important for decision-makers to discuss important measures and make decisions in a fast and secure way. Q: Which specific measures will you introduce at your company? At our company, we have made an immediate reorganization of work related to the termination of work with clients, but we still continue to provide all activities and information by e-mail and telephone, with the emphasis on news related to new measures caused by the coronavirus, which have a direct impact on our members and tourists. With regard to


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BARBARA HUNT VODOPIVEC

Interview with Barbara Hunt Vodopivec, Head of MICE Department at Kompas Meet the prohibition on organizing events, this sector of labour is undergoing major changes, but we are in intense deliberations and plans for action after the cessation of measures and the calming of the crisis.

Q: What are your expectations regarding the duration of the crisis and when will the situation go back to normal? It’s hard to predict anything at this point. I think that the expectations/ opinion of the profession regarding the duration of the crisis are more important and going back to normal will be demanding and timeconsuming. Q: Is marketing (digital marketing) in the duration of the pandemic sensible (and appropriate)? Digital marketing is a very useful tool under normal conditions, but during the pandemic we use it primarily to inform tourists and members. Concerning all marketing activities and advertising, at level of the Republic of Croatia all activities have been suspended and in cooperation with the Head Office of the Croatian National Tourist Board, we will keep track of market movement and create campaigns. Q: What will happen when we will suppress the virus? How will you tackle the relaunch of your marketing activities? We are actively monitoring the situation and in agreement with experts we hope to launch our marketing activities at all levels soon. The problem will be securing the funds, but we believe in the help of the Government and also in good cooperation with the Head Office and the creativity of our tourism staff and marketing experts. Split is a city whose beauty of cultural and natural heritage has been enjoyed by millions of tourists, and we are sure when you have a quality product, returning to the market will not be a problem. Q: Are you staying optimistic regarding the Summer Olympics?

Optimism is important in tourism but the health and safety of the athletes, sports fans and officials due to work at the Games is absolutely paramount. The right decisions are always the hardest to make but we believe the IOC will make a definitive decision soon.

Q: Are you in contact with your colleagues around the world, searching

for appropriate solutions? We are in contact with colleagues around the world, directors of all CNTB representative offices and are looking for possible solutions. At this point, it is premature to talk about any concrete steps.

Q: How are you experiencing the European Government restrictions aimed at preventing the new coronavirus from spreading? The restrictions came with a reason and we are all obliged to follow them whether we agree with them or not. We are all working from home, we try to do our best and look forward to the end of this unusual situation. Q: In your opinion, what could we compare the current situation to? I could never have imagined this kind of situation could happen. I do not know what to compare it with. Maybe the Slovenian independence war in 1991, but I was not working yet at the time and it seemed like a very short-term situation to me then. While now it is difficult to predict when we will become fully operational again and this uncertainty is frightening, especially for our industry.


#MEETAGAIN 19

Q: The economic consequences have already hindered the meetings industry significantly, what kind of relief do you expect from the state? At the moment they need to help with the workforce first and later on with bigger and more concentrated marketing campaigns (digital promotion, presence at events with higher visibility, more organized events to meet potential clients, bigger support for organizing fam trips at the destination etc). Our industry has come to a complete standstill and there is nothing we can do about it. It will take time for people to travel again and companies to organize trips and events for their employees abroad. This does not mean anything good for us. But we can rethink our strategy and prepare new high-quality products for the future.

"I think we are ready to think again and look into the future with a positive attitude."

Q: What do you think about virtual meetings as an alternative to live events during the pandemic? Virtual meetings can work for reflection, training, the sharing of knowledge and opinions, but cannot replace a meeting in another country which was more or less also organized as an incentive trip to explore a new destination. I cannot yet imagine that an international conference would be organized online. Even if it involved a presentation of a destination. This might still come one day, but I hope not in my lifetime. Just think of the excitement of exploring a new culture, its gastronomy, its people. You cannot experience the smells, taste nor the human touch via the internet. And this is what keeps us going during these difficult times. To get all that back. Very soon. Q: Which specific measures will you introduce at your company? Some measures have been taken already and some people have been temporarily laid off for a few months. I think it can happen again in a week or two, but it all depends on the general situation with the virus and how quickly the industry starts getting active again. I sincerely hope that we will be fully operational again very soon. Q: What are your expectations regarding the duration of the crisis and when will the situation go back to normal?

I sincerely hope it will not last long, but I think we will stay in quarantine until the end of April. Hopefully, we can get some of our life back at the beginning of May. But I do not expect groups of tourists to come back to the destination before August or September. The event industry is even more specific than the rest of tourism. Companies, our final clients, might take more time to decide to let their employees travel again.

Q: Is marketing (digital marketing) in the duration of the pandemic sensible (and appropriate)? I think it is sensible but in moderation. After the first reaction to the virus that caused fear and anxiety, I think we are ready to think again and look into the future with a positive attitude. We are already looking for options regarding how to use our time and how to plan for the future. For a DMC that would mean how to approach our clients, how to inform and educate them about our destinations. And I think they will be looking to learn and to connect as well. Q: What will happen when we will suppress the virus? How will you tackle the relaunch of your marketing activities? This is what we need to think about now. Once the situation improves, people will want to travel again. They will be looking for creative ideas and they will want them immediately. So, we can use this time now to prepare materials that will make our life easier later on when we are back in business. Q: Are you staying optimistic regarding the Summer Olympics? I would wait for a few more weeks to decide. It is a great event, it means a lot to people all over the world as well as to the athletes. So, any decision taken too fast is not a good one. Q: Are you in contact with your colleagues around the world, searching for appropriate solutions? I am looking for updates and new ideas regularly in the daily news, social media and newsletters. Based on that I am trying to evaluate the situation in different countries where our clients are coming from and reach out to them to review the current situation and future prospects.


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BOĹ TJAN HORJAK

Interview with BoĹĄtjan Horjak, CEO of Liberty International Adriatic Q: In your opinion, what could we compare the current situation to?

I do not think we can compare the current situation to anything in the past. With the crisis in 2008, the economy was hit but people could still work to a certain extent. Now the whole world is paralyzed because of the virus and people physically cannot work as they are locked at home. But in my opinion, the worst is yet to come as the economy will face a decline and the meetings industry is always at the forefront when it comes to dispensable costs.

"Things are changing so fast that new solutions need to be found literally on a daily basis."

Q: How are you experiencing the European Government restrictions aimed at preventing the new coronavirus from spreading? Well, probably still a month ago when it all started nobody was expecting such a dramatic flow of events regarding the coronavirus on a larger scale. I think that none of the Governments expected the virus would hit Europe in such a large scale and despite the information from China, it caught Europe completely unprepared. As they say, everybody can be a general after a battle, but I believe all European Governments should have taken drastic measures immediately when the first cases popped up in Italy.

Q: The economic consequences have already hindered the meetings industry significantly, what kind of relief do you expect from the state? Generally, in terms of jobs, the meetings and events industry creates more direct jobs than large manufacturing sectors such as automotive, chemicals, and food. The government should be aware that about 30.000 people in Slovenia are fully or partially employed in the meetings industry, which is creating jobs and an added value to the Slovenian economy. It is known that the meetings industry adds value to the economy as the average cost per conference attendee is much higher in comparison to regular tourists. Therefore, the government should do everything possible to retain the jobs of those employed. First, the government should exempt all self-employed, companies, institutes and other forms of legal entities from paying compulsory contributions and all fees for the period of complete prohibition of the organization of events. Second, the government should cover 80 % of the salary of employees who were forced to stay at home. And third, the government should offer loans at favourable conditions to all the companies that found themselves in financial difficulties. Q: What do you think about virtual meetings as an alternative to live events during the pandemic? The discussion about virtual meetings is going on for over a decade. Yes, it is an alternative and a must in the current situation when people are not able to travel but it can in my opinion never substitute a live event.


#MEETAGAIN 21

MIRO HRIBAR

Interview with Miro Hribar, CEO at Intours DMC and INK conferences Q: Which specific measures will you introduce at your company? Thanks to technology we can move our office home literally overnight, so that is what we all did. All my employees are currently working from home. We had to narrow down the operational time by 20 % as there are still a lot of tasks we simply cannot do from home and most probably we will have to decrease the working time by another 20 %. I am very happy with my current team and the last thing I wish to do is to start dismissing them, but we have to be prepared for everything. Q: What are your expectations regarding the duration of the crisis and when will the situation go back to normal? When it comes to expectations regarding life, in general, going back to normal, I would say at the end of April or mid-May but when it comes to expectations regarding our industry, I think it will take about a year. Q: Is marketing (digital marketing) in the duration of the pandemic sensible (and appropriate)? Until we pass the middle point of the pandemic crisis marketing makes no sense as people are simply preoccupied with essential questions but when we will see that life is getting back to normal then it will be the right time for extensive marketing. Q: What will happen when we will suppress the virus? How will you tackle the relaunch of your marketing activities? We used this time of limited activity in terms of RFP’s for strategic thinking about improving our existing products as well as for creating new products. So, when the right time comes, we will launch marketing activities on the markets and in the forms that we will believe to have the fastest ROI. Q: Are you staying optimistic regarding the Summer Olympics? Yes, I am. The mission of the Olympic Spirit is to build a peaceful and better world so it will, in my opinion, be the best momentum to gather people from all over the world. By the end of July, things should go back to normal in terms of the coronavirus. Q: Are you in contact with your colleagues around the world, searching for appropriate solutions? Being part of a global company I am in contact with my colleagues from all over the world on a daily basis. I am also in touch with our management team and we are searching for the best solutions in the current situation. But the problem is that things are changing so fast that new solutions need to be found literally on a daily basis.

Q: How are you experiencing the European Government restrictions aimed at preventing the new coronavirus from spreading? I support all the restrictions to curb the pandemic, as I believe health comes first. However, I am somewhat bewildered and angry at the conclusion that, despite the abundance of administration and all possible services and offices within the EU, those responsible did not react promptly. Considering what is happening in Slovenia and especially in our neighbouring countries we can conclude that the measures are coming too late and that there has been no timely and centralized or coordinated action within the EU bodies. After the outbreak in China, one would expect an immediate reaction in terms of concrete guidelines and instructions to governments on how to proceed. Looking back a month, we can conclude that the measures were left to the individual governments of the countries within the EU without proper coordination and clear instructions. The EU has not reacted uniformly and thus the consequences today are much worse.


22 #MEETAGAIN

Q: In your opinion, what could we compare the current situation to? For my generation this is a situation we are experiencing for the first time. The closest association to the current situation could only be a war with chemical weapons. Q: The economic consequences have already hindered the meetings industry significantly, what kind of relief do you expect from the state? Also concerning measures to mitigate the economic harm, one would expect a uniform approach within the EU countries. The EU is devoting resources for relief and this is why the EU competent authorities should make clear to countries what these funds can be used for and by what criteria. The EU should also issue some general guidance or recommendations on how the EU countries should help their economy, the extent to which they should subsidize loss of income, or the extent to which they should subsidize wages and contributions, how they should act regarding tax laws, what should be the interest rate on loans with state guarantee etc. This is now left to the discretion of individual governments and it is already clear today what the economic situation of the countries after the crisis will look like. The wealthier countries will leave the crisis even stronger and their economy will be significantly less affected due to the better governmental measures in comparison with the economies of the poorer countries within the EU. Unfortunately, Slovenia also falls into the latter part. The measures taken by the Slovenian government so far point to such a scenario. Our expectations are, above all, a realistic treatment of the problems caused by the crisis, i.e. subsidizing wages and contributions in the height of 75 %, loans with a state guarantee and an interest rate of 2 % and an increased fund for post-crisis promotion. It is also important to note that the crisis for our industry didn’t start in March, but much earlier. The decline was already noticeable in February, and March was already completely lost for our industry. This is something our government must also be aware of when taking action pertaining our industry. Q: What do you think about virtual meetings as an alternative to live events during the pandemic? I think that for now, when the crisis is at its peak, no one is thinking about virtual meetings. People are focused on surviving, both personally and in the role of employer or employee. Q: Which specific measures will you introduce at your company? Since March 1 we are all at home, waiting. There simply is no work. Concerning the following measures, we will await the completion of the government’s crisis mitigation measures. That will determine whether

we will have to resort to more drastic approaches, such as laying off employees.

"The crisis for our industry didn’t start in March, but much earlier." Q: What are your expectations regarding the duration of the crisis and when will the situation go back to normal? I fear that the pandemic will be followed by a period of economic downturn, which will of course greatly affect our business. Realistically we can expect our operations to return to normal in the second half of 2021. Our aviation connectivity in the future is also in question. The already poor flight connections can become even worse due to the crisis. There are tough times ahead of us. Q: Is marketing (digital marketing) in the duration of the pandemic sensible (and appropriate)? We have decided to give up our marketing activities during the crisis. I even believe that during this mentally difficult period, marketing campaigns can have a negative effect. Q: What will happen when we will suppress the virus? How will you tackle the relaunch of your marketing activities? We will plan the activities segmented, according to individual markets. We do not have a concrete plan yet. Above all, marketing will depend on the level of crisis and its impact on each market. It is clear, however, that marketing activities will need to contain a rather subtle note and price competitiveness is likely to play a large role. It will also be important that the message of attitude towards nature and the environment, i.e. the green component replace the emphasis on pettiness and luxury. Q: Are you staying optimistic regarding the Summer Olympics? We have to stay optimistic! Q: Are you in contact with your colleagues around the world, searching for appropriate solutions? We are in contact with our representatives abroad and also with agents we have known for a long time. Currently we are not discussing solutions, our conversations are rather focused on invigorating and alleviating current distress.


#MEETAGAIN 23

ANŽE ČOKL

Interview with Anže Čokl, General Manager of Bohinj ECO Hotel and Sunrose 7 Q: In your opinion, what could we compare the current situation to? We have previously never experienced anything quite like this. Even the GFC in 2008 has not had such devastating effects. Yes, the business took a downturn, but it was not down 100% like it is now. Q: The economic consequences have already hindered the meetings industry significantly, what kind of relief do you expect from the state? It is impossible to say or be certain as laws that are being passed change by the day. What we would be hoping to arrange however is relief in terms of not having to pay the VAT (at least for domestic guests), relief in not paying the Tourist Tax for domestic guests etc. An initiative to boost local sales first and due to air travel restrictions (we believe will be the last to be lifted), help the local economy recover first.

"All the hotels are shut down by state decree therefore restrictions have completely crippled our hotel business."

Q: What do you think about virtual meetings as an alternative to live events during the pandemic? Virtual meetings could be a salvation in dire times like now. But long-term I think people will always want to travel both for business and leisure. It is in the human DNA to meet people in person, talk, touch and experience.

Q: How are you experiencing the European Government restrictions aimed at preventing the new coronavirus from spreading? All the hotels are shut down by state decree therefore restrictions have completely crippled our hotel business. However, we do understand that pandemic needs to be contained as soon as possible so we can resume the business once the worst is over.

Q: Which specific measures will you introduce at your company? We are convinced that international travel will be somewhat slow at the beginning (once the crisis is over) so we will try and focus more on the domestic businesses in general. As we do not know what to expect in terms of when the lock-down ends, we have not drawn final conclusions as of yet of what to do. It is the uncertainty that is mostly unpleasant at the moment. Q: What are your expectations regarding the duration of the crisis and when will the situation go back to normal?


24 #MEETAGAIN

I would say in Slovenia things will start clearing up some time at the end of May or in June, hopefully giving thought to organisers to keep the autumn meetings and dates alive. Back to “normal”, if I take last year as normal, I would reckon 1-2 years, but very much depending on how long this lock-down lasts as this might actually disrupt what people think of travel in general and change habits and intents.

As previously mentioned, I am sure that mass tourism will take the biggest hit and will be last to recover. Restaurants, bars and day visits to domestic destinations will be the first to recover, followed by smaller properties with great guest satisfaction and good value for money. Destinations involving air travel and mass tourism will most probably be among the last and the “price wars” might be most fierce in this segment.

Q: Is marketing (digital marketing) in the duration of the pandemic sensible (and appropriate)? I think the closer we are to “salvation” the more marketing will be important. As far as appropriate goes I think it comes down to what the marketing activities are about, who they target and of course what the message is.

Travelling after COVID-19 also very much depends on the sentiment of people. Will it go to the good “I stayed stuck at home 3 months, I have holidays to spare I want to travel” OR will it be “Let’s be cautious, there is a danger of a recession, will I still have a job, let’s go around for a day or two”. At this moment I think realistically nobody actually knows what will happen.

"Smaller places and boutique hotels could have a bit of an edge after this crisis is over."

Q: Are you in contact with your colleagues around the world, searching for appropriate solutions? We are closely following the situation, talking and discussing options, but mostly we are all eager to know when we can realistically plan to open, and everything related to the (different) times “after COVID-19”.

Q: What will happen when we will suppress the virus? How will you tackle the relaunch of your marketing activities? We will take it gradually and cautiously because nobody actually knows how the market will react to the current situation. It might happen that after COVID-19 some time will have to pass before we are all back on track, certainly not jumping back in all at once. Q: What role will sustainable tourism play after we surpass the COVID-19 crisis? Generally speaking, I think it will be businesses that made smart(er) decisions before the times of crisis and have greater guest/client satisfaction and thus guest trust, to recover faster. I would also dare to say smaller places and boutique hotels away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities could have a bit of an edge after this crisis is over or at least vanning out. Q: In your opinion, in light of current events is it better for destinations and tourist service providers to move away from mass tourism and focus more on sustainable tourism and why/why not?


Connect

25

We’re keeping the conversation going It’s an uncertain time for everyone in the business events industry at the moment. We want to support our community through this challenging time, and to help us all stay connected. Which is why we’ve launched IBTM Connect, a virtual resource hub packed with videos, blogs, webinars and more to help provide you with the key insights and knowledge you need. If you have anything you’d like to share with the events community, please let us know. We would love to help you spread the word. So, let’s stay safe, stay strong, and stay connected. Explore IBTM Connect: https://www.ibtmevents.com/ibtmconnect-Kongres-Magazine

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26 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Interview with Francois Lafont, Director of Luxembourg Convention Bureau SARA TIEFENGRABER //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

encounter. And after that, my career took off and I started managing the Luxembourg Congress Center and the rest is history.

Q: According to you what is the perception of Luxembourg among meeting planners in Europe? Luxembourg is not perceived by meeting planners as Luxembourg really is. Business events Luxembourg is there to show meeting planners the real Luxembourg. Yes, of course, it is a big city with top-notch infrastructure. Yes, our university is ranked 9th in Europe among young universities by the Times HIGHER Education World University Ranking. Yes, it is a finance hub. But Luxembourg is so much more, something that is much more powerful. The soul of the country, how green and clean the country is. How the people are open-minded, international, and respectful.

"I live by the motto - be happy by choice. I decide to be happy, I decide to discover and am always open to learning."

Q: Can you describe your start in the Meetings Industry? It was by chance that I started working in the meetings industry. After my studies, I started a communication and event agency, where I had the chance to work on different accounts. I have two memories that had a great impact on me at the time. The first was when we organised an incentive trip for a group of 50 people with automotive competitions. During this incentive meeting, we organised different races with Formula 3000 cars on unique circuits and racetracks. The second event that I have great memories of was an incentive meeting for the sales managers of SNCF, which totalled 2.000 people and was centred around the subject of ice. For me, these two events were my start in the industry, and it was a lot of fun. I was young at the time, 28 years old, full of excitement and adrenaline. Back then I discovered what was very important to me and that was meeting people and having creativity at the heart of my job. To see how organising events in different ways can awaken different emotions in people. I also met incredible people that I never expected to

Q: Who are your main competitors in Europe? I believe that there is no real competition in Europe. There is no city vs. another city, there is no country vs. another country. I don’t think we should compete with each other. I really believe in the big Europe, and I do not believe in competition when hosting a conference, congress, meeting or incentive. I believe that every destination can bring their unique selling point into the mix to grow the conference. For example, when hosting a conference about space, Luxembourg can show off as a global leader in satellite telecoms infrastructure and its unique business environment with capabilities across the space sector value chain. And this is the message that we give to event organisers as well, host your event in Luxembourg and you will discover our strong eco-system and what it will bring after organising your meeting in Luxembourg. But for sure it will be unique. Europe should grow together, and no competition should be at the forefront.


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW 27

Q: What is your vision and what hopes do you have for the future of Luxembourg? My vision and my hope for Luxembourg is to look into the future of events, such as distance conferences or connectivity. We have to work together with our partners to create and adapt the destination to the future needs of conferences. The vision we have is to always be efficient in the message we would like to deliver during an event. We should always be authentic and open-minded. Q: Can you tell us about the variety of special venues that Luxembourg offers? We have a lot of special venues in Luxembourg. We could mention the venues that can be found in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the city of Luxembourg: Abtei Neimenter or Cerclé Cité. We can talk about our top-notch infrastructures on the new Kirchberg district: Luxexpo the Box or the European Convention Center Luxembourg. We could mention castles in the north of Luxembourg, such as Château d’Urspelt. In the small country, you have a lot of different venues with a contrasting and distinct character. Q: Where would you take someone to “feel” the vibe of Luxembourg and what is your best incentive idea in Luxembourg? A difficult question to answer, as there is not a one fit answer. I would say it is important to cross the needs of the clients with what Luxembourg has to offer. One great example of an incentive idea is “rent a city” in Clervaux. The concept is that the city can be rented out and customised in the colours of the company and everything can be personalised to the needs of the customer. Another option would be to host your incentive in a castle and be mesmerised by the story and culture. Another incentive event can be held in Belval, where old meets new. A hundred years ago, it was a big steel factory and now it is the city of science and innovation. Another incentive idea can be held in Luxembourg city, where UNESCO can be paired with a new and vibrant city. It is really difficult to say what is the best incentive. But I believe it is when people go home, and they

have learned something new. So, incentives can be tailor-made for the organisers. Luxembourg is open to create something special for them and deliver new emotions.

Q: Is there a certain formula for a good meeting destination? There is no best formula for a good meeting destination. Of course, it is important to have good basics: hotel, venue, …etc. However, I remember an event I organised in the past, where the venue was not 100% perfect for the conference as it was a bit too small. But we got a lot of good feedback as the interactions between the people were so great. So, what I am trying to explain is that: yes, of course, the basics are important but the human aspect is above everything else. The matchmaking, the soul, the smile, the culture, and the pleasure are key to make an event successful. Q: Where do you go when you need to take a break? I do three things to relax and take a break. I do sports. I always have a break in the morning and evening as I cycle to work, even if the weather is bad. It is a good break and it is pleasant to start and end my day this way. I also enjoy culture. I like to listen to music and go to concerts. High on my wish list is to go to the Philharmonie in Luxembourg. It is a resource for me. I also enjoy going to museums during my breaks. And lastly, I like to meet people and share a nice meal. Q: What is your life motto? I do not really have a sentence motto, that you can say and repeat every day. But I live by the motto - be happy by choice. I decide to be happy, I decide to discover and am always open to learning. Another motto that links to my culture is – liberté, égalité, fraternité, it is important to be able to decide what to do in your life and have the liberty of being happy. Moreover, I believe that if you do not agree with something, you can change it and should not complain. This sums up my vision and motto of life - Never give up!


28 IN FOCUS

CVB B2B EVENTS ON THE RISE

Interview with Roman Muška from the Prague Convention Bureau GORAZD ČAD //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

ROMAN MUŠKA, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT PRAGUE CONVENTION BUREAU

Roman Muška studied at the College of management skills and business development in Prague and started his career in the MICE segment in 1996 working as Project Manager for the Austrian based company AHR. After working in finances and administration for a few years, he returned to project management. In 2013, he became a member of the Prague Convention Bureau Board of Directors and in 2015 its first Vice President. Since January 2016 he became fully involved in the Prague Convention Bureau as the Managing Director.

ABOUT PRAGUE INSPIRES

Prague InSpires was organized in February 2020, as a brainchild of the Prague Convention Bureau and its partners. The three-day event welcomed 49 buyers from 13 different European countries. The guests got familiar with the Prague MICE offer during 750 pre-scheduled oneto-one meetings with Prague suppliers. Outside the meetings and workshops, the hosted buyers were introduced to the plentiful treasures of Prague’s history during two city tours, explored Prague’s venues at various site visits focused mostly on the luxury segment and large events. Additionally, the guests experienced three different incentive programs, including tram and boat rides, a VR workshop and an art nouveau themed tour.

"The main benefit of organizing our own event is that there is a 100 % focus on Prague as a destination."

Q: Why did you decide to start holding your own workshop? The main benefit of organizing our own event is that there is a 100 % focus on Prague as a destination. All the 25 workshop attendees from the supplier side were representing purely the Prague meetings industry and all the invited hosted buyers came to Prague because of their serious interest in Prague. When hosting your own event you have the full control over the selection and evaluation of the hosted buyers and thus we could ensure we brought only those who are considering the city for organizing one of their future events.


IN FOCUS 29

Besides the workshop with local suppliers, we presented Prague through various site visits, social and incentive programmes with the goal to deliver the InSpiring experience to buyers which will hopefully be transferred into the future events organised in Prague. Even though the planning and organization itself were challenging for the Prague Convention Bureau team, thanks to all the positive feedback, we are confident that it paid off.

Q: How efficient are such events, compared to other marketing

strategies? Meeting people in person, seeing the offer live and experiencing the city is still something that cannot be fully replaced by other means of communication or by digitalization. For us, forums, workshops and meetings still hold a firm spot in our marketing strategy. What’s more, our own events are targeted very precisely, so we are able to bring in those interested, show them the offer they need to see for their business and include partners that are able to deliver the services requested. Thanks to this, the efficiency of such events is very high.

Q: What are the advantages of events of this sort? As mentioned previously, the personal touch together with a personalised approach, live experience and memories from the event, delivering a tailored-made programme and precise targeting are the most valuable advantages of such events.

Q: How do you measure the results and long-term effects of such events? Firstly, the impressions right after the event are very important for us. We reach back to our clients as well as providers with detailed surveys focusing on various parts of the event and their benefit for both sides. It is also valuable feedback for us for what to do better next time. We are, of course, tracking the number of received and confirmed RFPs during and after the event, and keep the long-term communication with the buyers who came to Prague. As for other marketing activities, measuring the impact of such events from the long-term perspective may become difficult. The decisionmaking process consists of many smaller steps and such events impact the decision in varying degrees in the end. Q: Do you believe such events are the future, or will we stick to large B2B fairs and why? Both formats have its own pros and cons. They help to spread the news, increase the visibility of the destination, and provide opportunity to meet new people as well as long-term business partners. For the Prague Convention Bureau, both are inseparable parts of the communication and business strategy. Our plans include the participation at the large world trade shows, middle third-party forums and workshops as well as organizing our own smaller formats of events and fam trips.


30 IN FOCUS

CVB B2B EVENTS ON THE RISE

Interview with Alexander Hunger, Project Manager Meetings & Incentives at Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau SARA TIEFENGRABER //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

ALEXANDER HUNGER

Alexander attended the Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality, after which he started his career in tourism and hospitality. After working at the St. Moritz Tourist Office for eight years, he moved on to Swiss International Airlines as a Product Manager for the SWISS Congress Agency. Through his career, he obtained skills in marketing and advertising, as well as the MICE industry, Hotel Management, Tour Operations, and Tourism Management. All this experience equipped him for his current role of Project Manager for Meetings and Incentives at the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, where he has been working for the past 16 years.

SWITZERLAND MEETING TROPHY

While the Switzerland Meeting Trophy is a familiarization trip, it also a competition among teams of meeting planners from all over the world. Experts who organize conferences and seminars are regularly invited to take part in study trips in Switzerland. But this original and professional type of promotion has never before been applied in the field of conference and seminar tourism marketing anywhere in Europe. The Switzerland Meeting Trophy allows participants to get to know Switzerland in a fun way while offering partners (destinations and service providers) who work with Switzerland Tourism an opportunity to establish new contacts.

"A client can only participate in the Swiss Meeting Trophy once in a lifetime."

Q: Why did you decide to start holding your own workshop? We decided it was a creative, educational and attractive way of promoting Switzerland as a meeting and incentive destination. We started building a Switzerland Meeting Trophy community within the participants throughout the years and we are educating clients in a fun but professional atmosphere. The Switzerland Meeting Trophy also helps motivate our clients to bring more business, as it showcases what Switzerland has to offer for their clients. Q: How efficient are such events, compared to other marketing strategies?


IN FOCUS 31

Very efficient. It’s easier to control ROI because of our close relationship with the clients. We are also receiving very positive feedback from our Swiss partners.

Q: What are the advantages of events of this sort?

It helps to build up a very close relationship between clients and partners. The client experiences the country as their clients would. The client also remembers this event and is motivated to sell the destination to his or her clients.

Q: How do you measure the results and long-term effects of such events? Clients are entered into our database with each request they send us.

With later follow up’s and reunions after the event we stay in touch with the client.

Q: Do you believe such events are the future, or will we stick to large B2B fairs and why? Clients remember this event very well and speak about it. A client can only participate in the event once in a lifetime. That makes it special and unique. There will probably be space for both, events and B2B fairs in the future, also because it will always be important in the meeting industry to network in person with your clients. At large B2B fairs and platforms organized by tiers organization, our target is to meet new clients. We do our own activities for potential clients we already have. And we believe both are necessary.


32 IN FOCUS

CVB B2B EVENTS ON THE RISE

Interview with Tobia Salvadori, Director of Convention Bureau Italia SARA TIEFENGRABER //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

TOBIA SALVADORI

Tobia would describe himself as intransigent and diplomatic. He says his best quality is his determinacy to always give his best. He has wanted to work in the Tourism Industry ever since he was a child and therefore chose to study foreign languages in high school and Economics of Tourism at University. During his studies, he became intrigued by the event industry and started working at BTC International, the most important meetings industry trade show in Italy. He stayed at BTC for five years, then he moved to the Sicily Convention Bureau as the Sales Manager for four years. All these experiences brought him to where he is today. In his current position, he is most excited by new projects, continuous challenges, and the team of great professionals he manages.

ABOUT LA BELLA ITALIA

The workshop aims to connect buyers and suppliers in an informal context, taking care of the requirements of all participants. For this reason, the workshop is divided into two different moments. The first part is designated for networking and one-to-one meetings, followed by the more informal second part, reserved for a networking dinner to discover the best Italian food and wine selection as well as to enjoy typical Italian entertainment.

"Clients have the possibility to meet interesting partners and to experience the culture and the flavour of a destination."

Q: Why did you decide to start holding your own workshop? The main reason that brought us to start organising our workshops was to meet our members, and in general, the whole Italian meeting industry, to “rationalize� their sales efforts. The industry has become much more selective when looking at trade shows, which are always a good window on the market, but we must say that for most of them, the ratio between investment (which includes the cost of participation as well as the time spent outside the office) and the outcome is not particularly positive. During workshops, you have the opportunity to meet the same number


IN FOCUS 33

of clients you usually need a three-day agenda for in a trade show in one day. Moreover, at a workshop, with the support of reliable local partners, all clients have potential business for your destination.

Q: How efficient are such events, compared to other marketing strategies? The core of our industry is that face to face meetings are priceless. That is exactly the strong point of workshops. The number of clients involved is relatively low, the personal interaction that happens during these events makes the workshops extremely effective. Q: What are the advantages of events of this sort? Workshops are a way to immerse clients into the culture of another destination. This happens thought the location, the set-up, the entertainment and, of course, the food. It is not just about good presentation skills. I think this is the main advantage of a workshop. Clients have the possibility to meet interesting partners and to experience

the culture and the flavour of a destination.

Q: How do you measure the results and long-term effects of such events? This is the most difficult part. There must a be a long and trustful relationship with both buyers and suppliers. We conduct surveys among the participants at our events to monitor if the relations built during the events have actually led to real business. Q: Do you believe such events are the future, or will we stick to large B2B fairs and why? Over the last few years, there have been increasing efforts for marketing campaigns to be “targeted” and “experience-based”. A workshop fully meets these trends. Thus, they will still be used in the future. Of course, it cannot be the only action of a destination. There must be a 360-degree approach, which includes live events and a strong digital presence.


34 MOST SEARCHED

THE MOST POPULAR SPECIAL VENUES AMONG KONGRES MAGAZINE READERS The best Special Venues in Slovenia according to Google GORAZD ČAD //

MG+MSUM, VISITLJUBLJANA

By far, the most searched thing this year on the www.kongres-magazine. eu portal was “special venues”. Using our new search engine and Google Analytics, we checked which special venues received the most attention from Kongres Magazine readers. The venues on our portal are split into

several categories; historical, cultural, modern and industrial, restaurants and pubs, sports venues and venues that do not fit in any of the classical categories. The absolute winner in our analysis and the most searched for was Edvard – the modern industrial venue in the centre of Ljubljana.

Among over 500 special venues, these are the most searched for venues in Slovenia: MODERN AND INDUSTRIAL VENUES

SPECIAL RESTAURANTS AND PUBS

// Edvard Ljubljana, Slovenia

// Zemono Mansion Vipava Valley, Slovenia

// City of Design Slovenia (Zavod BIG) Ljubljana, Slovenia

// The Dveri-Pax Estate and Wine Bar Maribor, Slovenia

// Noordung Center Vitanje (Rogla-Pohorje region), Slovenia

// Trnulja Country Estate Ljubljana Marshes (Črna vas), Slovenia

// Triglav LAB Ljubljana, Slovenia

// Old Vine House Maribor Maribor, Slovenia


MOST SEARCHED 35

/ Gostilna Skaručna Vodice, Slovenia HISTORICAL VENUES // Vila Vipolže Dobrovo, Slovenia // Vila Bled & Belvedere Bled, Slovenia // Ljubljana Castle’s Rock Hall Ljubljana, Slovenia // Bistra Castle – Technical Museum Of Slovenia Bistra, Slovenia

SPORTS, FUN, ADRENALINE

// Russian Dacha Ljubljana, Slovenia

// Woop Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia

CULTURAL VENUES

// Diners CUBO Golf Smlednik, Slovenia

// The Švicarija Creative Centre Ljubljana, Slovenia

// AMZS Safe Driving Centre Complex Vransko, Slovenia

// Križanke Summer Theatre Ljubljana, Slovenia

// Park of Military History Pivka, Slovenia

// The Slovenian Ethnographic Museum Ljubljana, Slovenia

// Treetop Walk Pohorje Rogla, Slovenia

// Museum of Modern Art Ljubljana, Slovenia

VENUES OUTSIDE OF CLASSICAL CATEGORIES

// Regional Museum Maribor Maribor, Slovenia

// Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida Sečovlje Soline Nature Park, Slovenia // Greenhouse Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia // Boat Ljubljanica Ljubljana, Slovenia // Museum of Illusions Ljubljana, Slovenia // Orehov gaj / Walnut grove Ljubljana, Slovenia FIND MORE SPECIAL VENUES Kongres Magazine has launched a new database of destinations, hotels, congress centers, special venues and incentive ideas.


36 GREEN

7 STEPS TOWARDS A MORE SUSTAINABLE EVENT

Going green is an increasingly popular subject and the meetings industry should follow suit SARA TIEFENGRABER //

FREEPIK

The sustainable event trend is continuing to grow and is not showing any signs of stopping. Our planet, as well as congress and conference attendees, expect more from us in terms of protecting natural resources, reducing waste and giving back. The unfortunate fact is that events cause quite a lot of waste. An average conference attendee produces about 1.89 kg of waste per day*, which accumulates to 5.67 kg of waste over a three-day conference and sums up to 5.600 kg of waste

for 1.000 conference attendees. Luckily, there are a variety of different areas you, as an event planner, can make changes in, from materials used to catering and overall event production. If you are ready to embark on the sustainable event trend and start implementing green measures at your events, keep reading for 7 feasible ways to make events more environmentally friendly. *according to meetgreen.com


GREEN 37

GO PAPERLESS Going paperless is an easy first step towards sustainability, which will also cut your costs. Digital technology means that events no longer need to generate tons of printed material. Start by making it easy for your attendees to go paperless. Rather than sending paper invitations and tickets, send e-mail invitations and set up digital ticketing. Instead of printing thousands of copies of the program, make digital agendas available, or go one step further and use an event application to communicate all the essential information about the event. On the event floor, you can think about designing reusable signage, that can easily be used again at a later event. For workshops and lectures, abandon the old-fashioned flip charts and use digital or erasable whiteboards instead. When it comes to items that cannot be replaced by digital versions, such as name badges, make sure they are recyclable and provide visible recycling stations at the end of the event. GO PLASTIC-FREE Plastic is the material everyone has been trying to get rid of recently, as going plastic-free is a highly visible statement and it drastically cuts the amount of waste at an event. It is also an easy practice to implement. For coffee breaks and meals, use reusable utensils, cups, and plates. Do not hand out plastic water bottles and individually wrapped items to participants. Instead, place glasses and water pitchers in the meeting space. You can also encourage attendees to carry a reusable water bottle and refill it throughout the day. RETHINK TRANSPORTATION AND LOCATION The location and transportation at your event can create some big opportunities to cut down on your carbon footprint. Think about how the attendees are getting to and from the event. Organize shared transfers for people coming into airports or train stations or utilize public transport. Organizing a shuttle service from a few main pickup points can also reduce the use of cars. Another option is thinking about introducing a car share system for delegates who have to drive to share the journey and their carbon emissions. This is also a great way to help attendees connect before the event. Hosting the event and lodging in the same hotel, if possible, cuts the need for transportation and greatly reduces the event’s carbon footprint. The same goes when considering an easily walkable destination for your event. Using a venue in a 1-kilometre radius of the hotels in use and a walkable distance from a variety of restaurants and shops would highly decrease the need for transportation. BE SEASONAL AND REDUCE WASTE Food is something you can easily influence as an event planner. Try incorporating as much seasonal, local and organic food in your menus as possible and find appropriate catering partners, who share this vision. To further reduce the impact of food and beverage you can take some extra measures. For example, you can serve condiments such as sugar in bulk and avoid individual packaging. Another idea is to introduce a Meatless Monday Menu, which alleviates your event of a fair amount of carbon production, associated with the meat industry. Events are also notorious for wasting food. Understandably, you want

to make sure that there will be enough food to go around, but there are better options for leftover food than throwing it out. You can consider contacting local charity programs and arrange to donate leftovers to those in need, be it the homeless, soup kitchens or even college students. RETHINK ENERGY Energy is another area that is most often not used efficiently yet can easily be optimized when arranged with the venue. Energy waste can be reduced by making sure lights, heating or air conditioning are turned off when rooms are empty. Another simple step is ensuring that all the audio-visual equipment enters a power-saving mode when it is not in use. Additionally, you can utilize in-room motion sensors at the venue, which ensure lights are turned off when the meeting space is not in use. A further measure of a greener event would be switching to LED lighting. LED lighting is the most energy-efficient, cleanest and most eco-friendly way of illumination. It is incredibly versatile and can create a variety of atmospheres, without negatively impacting the environment. CHOOSE PROJECTION OVER PRINT Set and stage design can require large amounts of material, a lot of which cannot be reused at a later occasion. A much greener alternative to physical sets is projection mapping, which uses video projection to eliminate the cost of producing one-off designs by transforming almost any surface into a display. It is not about projecting your content onto a screen, it’s a new engaging method that can transform any simple object into something new and spice up the delegates’ experience. You can design creative and dynamic displays and transport your guests from an exhibition hall to anywhere you want, like a rainforest or Mars, and create interactive experiences, all without the need for weighty sets and props. PURCHASE CARBON CREDITS As discussed, various practices can be put in place to make an event greener. However, none of the above-mentioned strategies will make an event 100% green or sustainable. But there is one measure to render your event carbon neutral – purchasing carbon credits. Various companies offer the service of purchasing carbon credits to offset your emissions, as an individual, company, or after holding an event. By purchasing carbon credits, you take responsibility for your respective impact on the climate and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The money paid for carbon credits goes towards projects that reduce emissions elsewhere, such as wind farms or methane capture projects, therefore a carbon credit represents a direct investment in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The mechanism is fairly simple. You start by using an online calculator to calculate the carbon footprint of your event by providing accurate information about the travel, commuting, venue, water and meals associated with your event. The calculation then informs you about the total carbon footprint of your event and lets you redeem yourself by purchasing the offset in carbon credits.


38 GREEN

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE WITH PRAGUE CONGRESS CENTRE Employing forward-thinking technology for a green modernization SARA TIEFENGRABER //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

The Prague Congress Centre is a venue that knows all about the importance of sustainability when it comes to holding meetings and events. It has undergone a major interior and technological redevelopment in the recent years as part of its quest to become Europe’s most sustainable congress centre. They believe that in order to take place among the best congress centres in the years to come, they must work in accordance with the principles of sustainability and the Centre’s modernization was part of this strategy. Feeling responsible for the environment inspired them to switch from traditional to renewable energy sources. They have implemented several energy-saving measures, which led to reduced energy costs by close to 1 million EUR a year.

"In today’s world of business, longevity in sustainability is more than an asset: it’s an absolute necessity."

ENERGY SAVING MEASURES In today’s world of business, longevity in sustainability is more than an asset: it’s an absolute necessity. This was the guiding thought for the Prague Congress Centre when modernizing their venue. In the long list of energy-saving measures, one of the most prominent ones was introducing an Energy Management System. The system constantly monitors all the rooms of the centre and ensures a comfortable working environment in all the halls, offices and corridors, whilst minimizing energy consumption and maximizing the use of waste energy before using new energy resources. Depending on the outside temperature, it regulates the heating or cooling automatically and efficiently, and it does so in strict accordance with the timetable so that the temperature is always optimal. The system takes care that the energy expenditure is exploited to the highest degree, as it uses the waste heat or cold when preheating air in the winter months or pre-cooling it during the summer. The air conditioning system works by drawing fresh outdoor air through a central preheating process, where it is heat-treated to a temperature of about 11 °C to 18 °C (depending on the season), and then systematically distributed for circulation throughout the building.

SUSTAINABLE ENERGY & WASTE Being genuinely sustainable also entails switching to sustainable energy. At the Prague Congress Centre, 100% of the electricity is procured from renewable resources, their air conditioning is eco-friendly, they are exclusively using LED lighting and taking advantage of water-saving measures. The renovation concerning sustainable energy was substantial. All existing lights in the basement level have been replaced by eco-friendly LED lights with dimming control and motion sensors. This ensures no energy is wasted on empty rooms and in turn lowers emissions. To control the water usage, water-savers and eco-toilet flush systems were put in place, reducing the water consumption by thousands of litres of water a year. To heat the water used in the Centre, a cogeneration unit, which combines heat and power, was installed. Air conditioning can be an enormous expenditure and waste producer and the reconstructed air conditioning of the Prague Congress Centre is an ingenious solution. It is controlled by a number of CO₂ sensors placed throughout the building. The fans only increase speeds when the amount of CO₂ in the air starts to increase. This is a two-fold resolution, saving the electricity needed to operate the air conditioning and the energy for heating or cooling the air. Recycling has been part of the green equation from the very start and it has not been overlooked at the Prague Congress Centre. All the waste at the Centre is separated and they actively encourage visitors to play their part by using the recycling bins placed around the venue. LEARNING BY DOING The sustainability-oriented improvements at the Prague Congress Centre are already monumental. The energy and resource savings are incredible; the equivalent of three Olympic-sized swimming pools of water and 7.000 tonnes of CO₂ are being saved on an annual basis. And the beauty of it is, the numbers will keep getting greener, thanks to the Energy Management System. It monitors and records all data, analyses it and recommends suitable adjustments to further increase the efficiency of the system. The Prague Congress Centre can serve as an inspiration for others, to think about the future of our planet and follow the green path.


GREEN 39

How is the electricity at the Prague Congress Centre obtained completely from renewable resources?

The air and heating systems were harmonized to work together. The waste air that is drawn from the Centre’s halls heats the outside fresh air in the winter and cools it down in the summertime. The heat from flue gases, which would normally pass through the chimney, is also used for heating the air. Furthermore, the heat generated on the southern, sunny side of the building is used to heat the rooms on the northern side of the Centre.


40 MEETINGS STAR WINNERS 2019 // PHOTO REPORTAGE

MEETINGS STAR 2019 WINNERS The best of the best in New Europe SARA TIEFENGRABER //

DESTINATIONS ARCHIVES

The Meetings Star award is presented every year at the official opening of the Conventa trade show to the most deserving meeting destinations, venues and hotels of the region. The awards, made for meeting planners, intend to reward high-quality players in the meetings industry and motivate others to raise the bar and enhance their services. This year, the competition for the Meetings Star Award 2019 was steep and all the venues and destinations were subject to detailed evaluations and scoring.

Meetings planners are by default demanding and have high expectations of destinations and providers. To take a methodologic approach, Meetings Star classifies congress destinations, hotels and congress centres in New Europe according to established standards and helps meeting planners make informed decisions. For the 11th time, the awards were presented to the meetings industry best by Kongres Magazine and Conventa.

BEST MEETING DESTINATIONS OF 2019 XL category: Vienna, Austria

S category: Kranjska Gora, slovenia

L category: Ljubljana, Slovenia

New Europe: Prague, Czech Republic

M category: Dubrovnik, Croatia


MEETINGS STAR WINNERS 2019 // PHOTO REPORTAGE 41

BEST MEETING HOTELS AND CONVENTION CENTRES OF 2019 CITY MEETING HOTELS: PARISI UDVAR HOTEL, Budapest, Hungary

RESORT MEETING HOTELS: HOTEL REGENT PORTO MONTENEGRO, Tivat, Montenegro

BOUTIQUE MEETING HOTELS: MAMA THRESL, Leogang, Austria

SPA MEETING HOTELS: WELLNESS HOTEL SOTELIA, Podčetrtek, Slovenia

CONVENTION CENTRES: FERRY PORSCHE CONGRESS CENTER, Zell am See, Austria

THE BEST SLOVENIAN MEETING HOTEL: KEMPINSKI PALACE, Portorož, Slovenia


42 MEETINGS STAR WINNERS 2019 // PHOTO REPORTAGE

MEETINGS STAR

Photo highlights of the Award Ceremony, Ljubljana, CD-Congress Centre, 21 January 2020 MARKO DELBELLO OCEPEK


MEETINGS STAR WINNERS 2019 // PHOTO REPORTAGE 43


44 MEETINGS STAR WINNERS 2019 // PHOTO REPORTAGE


MEETINGS STAR WINNERS 2019 // PHOTO REPORTAGE 45


46 MEETINGS STAR AWARD

WHAT IS THE MEETINGS STAR CERTIFICATE? It is a certificate that demonstrates the compliance of congress capacities and services with the Meetings Star rating and certification system, based on the evaluations of a hidden congress guest. It checks over 490 evaluation criteria, key for the satisfaction of meeting planners and provides a clear picture of the services offered by individual providers.

WHY TRUST MEETINGS STAR?

Meetings Star is trusted due to its 10-year tradition of rating congress hotels and convention centres, during which time more than 350 have been evaluated by hidden guests. Due to the unbiased and transparent methodology, the system has a high reputation among event organisers.

HOW TO GET CERTIFIED? Step one: The hotel or congress centre carries out a self-assessment using an evaluation matrix, which is identical to that used by the hidden congress guest.

Step two: A hidden congress guests visits the hotel or congress centre unannounced and assesses the hotel services using the evaluation matrix. For certain items of the matrix, ratings can be supplemented with personal commentary and photographic or video evidence.

Step three: The results of the self-assessment and that of the hidden guest are compared, and the final score is given in the form of a report or a workshop.

CATEGORIES OF MEETINGS STAR CERTIFICATES

Certificates are classified into three categories according to the number of points achieved in the hidden guest evaluation:

Gold

4.81 – 5.00

Silver

4.61 – 4.80

Bronze

4.41 – 4.60

Be part of the Meetings Star evaluations for 2020!

We are inviting you to apply for our visit and reportage of your meetings destination or hotel in the new round of evaluations for 2020. As a destination contact us: Gorazd Čad Gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu +386 (0) 1 430 51 03 As a hotel apply now: www.secret-congress-guest.eu


Think like a meeting planer

47

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Take advantage of all the possibilities provided by our new search engine. Join our partnership programme at https://kongres-magazine. eu/ and boost sales!

Why should your venue, special venue or incentive idea be in our search engine? Reach guarantee

The easiest way to get discovered

According to official data (Alexa and Google), Kongres is positioned among the top 5 MICE portals with the highest reach in Europe. Every day, 250 to 300 different meeting planners visit the site looking at 800 to 900 articles.

Our platform combines original content with invite only venue profiles. Kongres Magazine connects meeting planners with your property to send RFP.

Content driven engine

Quality guarantee

It’s the first true content-driven search engine, with destinations and venues for every demand, which will expose you to the right qualified buyers.

Our collection features the best destinations, venues and incentive ideas checked by using the Meetings Star Methodology and Hidden Congress Guest.


48

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49

congresses

events

venues

equipment

team

implementation


50 COLUMN

WHAT WE CAN MEASURE, WE CAN IMPROVE

The meetings industry on the outside, can only achieve what individual members can achieve on the inside GORAZD ČAD //

SHUTTERSTOCK

A CEO of an important tourist destination asked me how he can measure the efficiency and success of his convention bureau’s activities. I appreciate the question, I said. First, you should ask yourself what your development plan is. The success of a convention bureau cannot solely be measured by economic indicators, but with an array of different indexes that vary based on the strategy and goals. If the goal is ecofriendly progress, the indicators will have to be much wider than classical economic benchmarks.

PARTNER SATISFACTION Without a doubt, partner satisfaction is where every convention bureau should start. It doesn’t matter if the bureau is formed as a public, public-private partnership or it’s completely private, this should be the number one priority. The easiest way to go about this is with an annual questionnaire about satisfaction among partners. Believe it or not, these surveys are rarely carried out among convention bureaus. If surveys are not an option:

I quickly understood where his doubts and fear were coming from. He just didn’t want the local industry to lead him down the garden path. I put together some of the most reliable and useful indicators that any convention bureau can use to accurately measure results.

• Keep track of partner loyalty by measuring the percentage of partners that leave the bureau. If that is higher than 10%, you have a serious problem • Keep track of every complaint or suggestion and seriously consider them


COLUMN 51

ECONOMIC INDICATORS These indicators mostly measure the success of convention bureaus with attaining new congresses and events that have direct economic impact for the destination. They can easily be measured with the number of congress guests staying in the destination and their expenditure in hotels. This is the first obstacle that destinations face, as they do not have a developed plan for keeping track of such information. In cooperation with Ljubljana Tourism, we have developed a method for measuring the expenditure of congress guests in Ljubljana that we compare to that of regular leisure tourists. We gather information about expenditure through in-person surveys at international congresses taking place in Slovenia’s capital. The in-person interview method has proven to be the most efficient, as it is also a great way to measure satisfaction and the quality of meeting services. Doing research like this over longer periods of time gives the destination excellent first-hand information that is used for improvement and development. Moreover, concrete expenditure in EUR gives answers about the perception of a destination. Just like keeping track of partner satisfaction, this kind of research is rare. For starters, destinations can start with the following indicators: • Number of RFP’s (Request for proposal), that generated a certain revenue in EUR • Number of realized RFP’s • Number of RFP’s that were not realized • Multiplier effects of congresses and events in overnight stays • Multiplier effects of congresses and events in EUR • Measuring seasonality (how occupied accommodations are in individual months) • The number of people working in the meetings industry COMMUNICATION INDICATORS If the strategic goal of the destination is mostly promotional, indicators will be completely different. Here, we need to measure the reach on social media, websites and e-marketing. We have to measure the recognisability of the brand and keep an eye on the efficiency of our promotion and positioning on individual markets. Communicational indicators can be: • Number of new B2B contacts in the database • Segmentation of B2B contacts in the database • Number of lost (unsubscribed) contacts in the database • Number of published articles and their digital, direct and social reach • Recognisability of the brand and the level of recollection • The rate of digital campaign conversion If a website is your virtual store front, you should also observe: • Time on site • Bounce rate • Number of indexed pages • Number of visitors on the site • Position of the website on Google • Number of clicks per time unit

ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS Ideally, convention bureaus should measure their carbon footprint. As it is a very complex and time expensive field, few have decided to implement it, despite being the most realistic and comprehensive index. If implemented properly, it can also be a huge competitive advantage. A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our daily lives. In terms of the meetings industry, convention bureaus could measure the entire amount of greenhouse gases produced at events (in kilograms or tons). As we are not quite there yet in our industry, here are some simple things that every convention bureau can do to decrease their negative impact on the environment: • Plant at least one tree every year • Take part in at least one local environmental initiative every year • Carry out environmentally focused activities for employees • Take part in initiatives for sensible use of water • Promote recycling materials at events and measuring savings • Promote the use of public transport and bicycles • Boost communication about sustainable development among event attendees We recommend that an agreement about which key performance indicators (KPI’s) the convention bureau should measure and promote is signed. There are plenty of options and every destination has to make the decision for itself, based on their vision and goals. It’s important that the employees in charge of measuring these indicators report about the results to members and partners. This way, everyone gets simple and clear information that can be used in communication at the end of the year. Unfortunately, only a few convention bureaus in the region diligently track their results. Usually, the problem can be found in the management, which devotes far too little attention to this. Destination managers play a crucial role here. All too many excuses can be heard when the topic of measuring results is on the table. If the data is constant and always available, meetings destination are immediately at a big advantage.


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WE HAVE

DbJUHDWUDQJHRIKRWHOVDQGYHQXHV, a picture-postcard river-side location and a medieval castle on the hill

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CHOOSE BRATISLAVA SURPRISINGLY CLOSE | EXCEPTIONALLY SMART

www.visitbratislava.com/convention


54 EMERGING DESTINATIONS

EMERGING INCENTIVE DESTINATIONS IN NEW EUROPE Top 10 Incentive Locations GORAZD ČAD //

PERSONAL ARCHIVE

Throughout the year, the Kongres team visits and compares individual meeting destinations within the MTLG – Meetologues project. At the request of readers, we have selected some destinations that we heartily recommend you visit in 2020. They are all lesser-known and therefore less crowded than the more famous and notorious incentive destinations. Their genuine hospitality is impressive and they are expecting you with their excellent event planning infrastructure.

1. VELINGRAD, BULGARIA Nature has been truly generous in Velingrad and its surroundings as it has created picturesque natural scenery topped off with more than 70 mineral hot springs. Everything is in place and ready even for the most demanding incentive organisers. The structure of hotels, which can compete with the best in Europe, is also appropriate. In addition, the prices of services are really competitive. According to some research studies, they are up to 40% lower than comparable prices in Europe. One more reason to organise an incentive in Bulgaria. In a nutshell: THE FUTURE INCENTIVE CAPITAL OF THE BALKANS 2. TIVAT, MONTENEGRO In terms of natural and cultural factors, this destination is rightfully at the forefront of Adriatic meeting destinations. Following some large investments, Tivat has thus won a place among the leading tourist destinations of the region. The Regent Porto Montenegro, an exceptional marina with an ample supply of additional services, and a wide range of incentive programmes are the assets of this destination. That is also why Tivat offers a serious alternative to the more notorious Dubrovnik. In a nutshell: THE LEADER OF THE PACK 3. ZLATIBOR, SERBIA Most tourists come to Zlatibor for its beautiful nature, which can be an excellent starting point for the organisation of incentive programmes. The incredibly hospitable Serbians are one of the assets of the tourist offer of Serbia in general and Zlatibor in particular. This story includes a broad hospitality offer. Throughout the season, meeting guests are unlikely to be bored during their stay. In our opinion, Zlatibor is a Balkan incentive diamond in the rough. In a nutshell: THE SERBIAN SAINT MORITZ 4. PULA, CROATIA Foodies have long been aware that, thanks to its climatic peculiarities, Istria is an outstanding olive-growing, winemaking and altogether culinary area. The heart of the action is in and around Pula, which is not famous for its legendary amphitheatre alone but also for its developed incentive services. The range of activities on offer is very wide, just like hotel accommodation, which is united under the company Arenaturist. In a nutshell: THE MEDITERRANEAN WITH AN URBAN TWIST


EMERGING DESTINATIONS 55

5. PREKMURJE, SLOVENIA The range of incentive services in Prekmurje has seen extremely rapid progress in the recent years. Besides the Prekmurian hosts, whose superb hospitality is impressive, the region’s gastronomic potential has become increasingly refined as well. There are plenty of ideas for setting up incentive programmes of variable durations. They just seem to be waiting to be discovered by event planners. You will hardly be disappointed by Prekmurje. We recommend a visit before throngs of tourists take it over. In a nutshell: SWEET SPOT 6. KORMEND - SZOMBATHELY Western Hungary is a frequently overlooked destination within Hungary. Szombathely is the capital of the Vas County. As the regional centre, it offers a series of additional options for carrying out incentive programmes. The region is famous for its rich cuisine and mineral hot springs. Fans of culinary incentive programmes will not run out of ideas. We recommend you choose the specialised Mjus Resort for your event. In a nutshell: HEALTHY, HAPPY MEETINGS 7. MOSTAR, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA There are many competitive advantages to the development of meeting tourism in Mostar, such as its diverse and high-quality product mix, its good value for money, and, last but not least, its cuisine. Its stunning setting is the final touch but in terms of prices and the locals’ hospitality Mostar is one of the most competitive potential meeting destinations of the region. This historical town with a pleasant Mediterranean climate is a dormant meeting destination for now. In a nutshell: BRIDGING THE GAP 8. SOUTH STYRIA, AUSTRIA The winemaking region of South Styria is a representative example of a land that lives and breathes wine tourism. Located just over 40 minutes from Graz, the region is famous for its dry white wines as well as some of the best Austrian winemakers set on extraordinary wine roads. So there is no shortage of wine cellars, pubs and wineries in the region. In the middle of this oenological paradise, in the town of Ehrenhausen, the Loisium Wine & Spa Resort Südsteiermark, considered one of the best incentive hotels of the region, has found its place. In a nutshell: TIMELESS HERITAGE 9. MALI LOŠINJ ISLAND, CROATIA Mali Lošinj has been appreciated since the Austro-Hungarian times as the island with the most salubrious climate for the treatment of respiratory diseases. Following some extensive investments into its hotel infrastructure, Mali Lošinj became one of the islands with exceptional incentive potential. Its soothing natural environment – with the sea to one side and pine forests to the other – is the ideal combination for team activities. Coupled with the large investments made by the company Jadranka hoteli, we get a top-class incentive destination. In a nutshell: MORE THAN AN ISLAND 10. GORIŠKA BRDA, SLOVENIA Goriška brda are passionate, energetic and brimming with elemental vibrancy. If you want to be in touch with earth and nature, you will be as close to that as it gets in the heady Brda region. A boutique incentive destination second to none in Slovenia, the Brda region offers an authentic experience for smaller groups, not least thanks to the locals, who cherish spontaneity, intuition, and positive energy. The natural and cultural heritage as well as the oenogastronomic offer provide the basis of the product mix. In a nutshell: AT THE CROSSROADS OF CULTURES


56 MEETOLOGUE

BURGAS

In a nutshell: Super Burgas GORAZD ČAD //

BURGAS

One of the largest Black Sea ports has been vitally linked to the development of the city of Burgas and its free spirit. The port symbolises the openness and broad-mindedness that we can attribute to the city dwellers following our recent visit. It is precisely thanks to the port that the city has undergone several transformations and, surprisingly, the core of its latest one is the meetings industry. In fact, a beautiful

multifunctional congress centre will be opened in the middle of the main pier in April 2020, which is part of the urbanistic renovation of the city. We are glad that this destination is pinning its hopes on events and meetings and, since it is not lacking in positive energy, we believe in the success of the project.

3.82 Final Grade

QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION

WHAT’S HOT IN 2020 Large conferences and meetings in 2020: • Spirit of Burgas / 26-28 April 2020


MEETOLOGUE 57

SPIRIT OF BURGAS Some cities are special because their image is intertwined with symbolic and spiritual as well as historical, political, and economic ideologies. Burgas is a port on the Black Sea, which, despite its specific, rather robust architectural design, has a Mediterranean appearance. Its spirit is a result of the flow of ideas and the development of the port. It is no surprise, then, that the main summer rock festival in Burgas is called Spirit of Burgas. The city’s rebellious and free spirit suits festival organisers. In 2019 the SPICE music festival gathered over 15,000 fans of 90’s hits in the area of the sea port. The list of mostly summer events is impressive. The second edition of the SPICE Music Festival this year will spread over 3 days from 7 to 9 August with 20 artists and a street food competition. THE BLACK SEA COAST The sandy beaches going for miles, stretching along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast (the long beaches are actually south of Burgas), are one of the key natural attractions of the whole region. Unfortunately, buildings have sprawled substantially along the coast in recent decades, subordinating it to mass tourism. Luckily, the immediate surroundings of Burgas have been protected from the same fate by environmentalists. The nearby saltworks are still operational and form, along with three freshwater lakes, an exceptional nature reserve. That is also why we recommend a visit to Burgas’s surroundings, which have preserved their natural hinterland despite intensive industrialisation. Natura 2000 sites can also be part of your convention experience in Burgas. THE REVITALISATION OF THE PORT OF BURGAS Port activities and activities of public urban use have been going hand in hand since 2014. The first stage of the revitalisation of the port area involved the construction of the Maritime Station, a passenger terminal for cruise ships. It opened in 2013 and now successfully functions as an entry point to the city. Once a restricted area, it immediately became open for locals and visitors. It is a top-quality space, which has already become a sort of urban park and meeting point for locals. This space, where the city, the maritime park and the port intertwine, is becoming a new city centre and a place where contemporary urbanistic concepts have been implemented effectively. THE NEW MARINE STATION CONGRESS CENTRE The construction of the Marine Station congress centre began in 2018. The EUR 8 million investment is important for the wider region and a herald of the meeting renaissance of the city. The first event to be held there will take place in late April when the centre will officially open. The gem of the centre is a multifunctional hall seating up to 500 people with a magnificent view of the port. The building stands out architecturally due to its white cladding, elegantly striking among post-industrial cranes and other port infrastructure. We were also thrilled with the luxurious external spaces, suitable for receptions, exhibitions, and special events. MAGAZIA 1 A key part of the port’s revitalisation is Magazia 1, a tourist, information, and cultural centre. This old warehouse, dating back to 1906, was renovated in 2016, preserving its essential part—its remarkable roofing constructed following the same method that was used on the Eiffel Tower. Today, the building houses a restaurant, a café, and an information centre. It also accommodates the National Academy of Art. The spacious

building can function as a special venue, particularly its open terraces. The views encompass captivating old cranes, which provide direct contact with the city’s industrial heritage and past. SPECIAL VENUES The city bristles with special venues, mostly centred along the seafront and the maritime park. The Sea Casino cultural centre is located right next to the main esplanade. It provides several spaces suitable for events. Built in 1936, the Casino was renovated and transformed into a modern cultural centre in 2011. The venue is particularly suitable for receptions. The Expo Centre Flora Burgas is a compelling space, which plays host to the annual flower show Flora Burgas. This multifunctional centre has a sustainable and innovative design and is an excellent choice for event planners who wish to organise their event close to nature in the middle of the city park. The Summer Theatre is an open-air auditorium that has hosted many festivals and other events. It is an alternative to other meeting venues in the summer months. HOT ON THE TECH Burgas offers over 30 free spots with high speed Wi-Fi and hubs for charging mobile devices. Charge your phone or tablet while resting at the solar trees along the city squares or walking down the city center. Currently, Bulgarian Internet speed is one of the fastest in the world with over 95% coverage of high speed broadband and 99% coverage of the population mobile service with 3G, 4G/LTE or 5G. CITY OF SPORT If you wish to practice sports while you’re in town for a meeting, the list of activities to undertake in the city is really long. The city’s sports infrastructure has been developing rapidly and there is no shortage of sportsgrounds, open-air gyms, and tennis courts. I would nevertheless recommend cycling in the immediate surroundings. There are also water parks nearby, so Burgas deserves the designation of the city of sport. Large infrastructural sports facilities are still under construction but they will certainly be part of the infrastructure suitable for hosting larger events. SUNNY BEACH Slanchev Bryag, better known as Sunny Beach, is the most popular and main seaside resort in Bulgaria, located around 30 km north of Burgas Airport. This 8-kilometre-long beach accommodates over 800 hotels amounting to over 300,000 rooms, 130 restaurants, and numerous bars, pubs, and clubs. This destination offers a truly wide range of hotels—from five-star luxury ones to those in the medium price range and hostels. Burgas’s mass tourism resembles the syndrome of the Spanish seaside resort of Lloret de Mar and we can only hope that its development will steer towards higher quality and added value. Nonetheless, making a short hop to this resort is an option for meeting attendees. THE MEETINGS SCENE In the future, the heart of all meetings activities will definitely be the new Marine Station congress centre. Together with the original exhibition area of the Flora Exposition Centre, it can host medium-sized meetings with up to 800 attendees. One of the major advantages of this destination is the immediate vicinity and easy accessibility of hotels, most of which also


58 MEETOLOGUE

provide meeting facilities. The one that stands out is the five-star luxury hotel Primoretz. Despite the fact that the city does not have a convention bureau, the meeting industry is strongly connected. Tourist information centres, which are located in different spots throughout the city, will be happy to help you organise your event. One of the destination’s advantages is its value for money, which can be qualified as excellent. You will definitely spend less for a top-quality service than in other more famous destinations.

BY WAY OF CONCLUSION It comes as no surprise that one of the symbols of Burgas is the Pier, while the other is the Lighthouse. The symbolism of both lies in the city’s direct link to the sea and, what is more, Burgas seems to have become a beacon of the Bulgarian meeting industry. The congress centre project has shown that a lot can be done in smaller cities if there is a will and appropriate political support. They are also aware that the function of that congress centre exceeds a purely economic one. Meeting tourism in Burgas is part of the city’s transformation into a modern, local- and visitor-friendly city.

DID YOU KNOW The Pink Lake saltworks in the vicinity of Burgas have a pink colour. This is one of the reasons why they have become an attraction among tourists, particularly Instagrammers. The pink colour is entirely natural: the salt gets its colour as a result of microscopic brine shrimp that live in the ultrasalty water. MUST SEE Aquae Calidae or Thermopolis was an ancient town built around mineral hot springs. It is located 15 km from Burgas. We highly recommend a visit to the museum. BEST INCENTIVE IDEA St. Anastasia Island: There are only a handful of islands in the Black Sea and the one closest to Burgas is particularly interesting. Its former convent-turned-prison is the Alcatraz of Bulgaria. We recommend a group visit combined with lunch on this special islet.

DESTINATION CAPACITY The number of 4* and 5* category hotel rooms

1,440

The number of 4* and 5* category hotels

55

Destination population

411,579

Banquet hall maximum capacity

500

The largest hall in the city (in m2)

1,500 m2

Maximum hall capacity in theatre style

600


MEETOLOGUE 59

A. NATURAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS: 4.77 This destination’s most important attraction are its long sandy beaches. That is why seaside mass tourism has developed. They are complemented by hot springs, which have been a world-renowned attraction throughout history. In addition, Burgas Bay is of interest because of the preservation of its natural elements and three lakes. It is precisely these natural elements that contribute to a positive experience index of nature. In fact, the city seems to be surrounded by water and preserved nature. B. GENERAL AND TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.65 Burgas amazes you with its tidiness and good transport links. Moreover, the city centre is easily manageable by bike or on foot. Major investments by the municipal administration have left their mark and, according to many, the quality of life in Burgas is the highest in Bulgaria. That is also why the city appeals to the start-up industry, which is brought together by the very incisive ICT Cluster Burgas. It is worth noting that Burgas is the first Bulgarian city with a bicycle lane network and a bicycle-sharing system. C. TOURIST INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.83 There are 174 hotels in Burgas, amounting to 4,366 beds. The majority of the capacities are suitable for meeting tourism. Hotels in tourist resorts nearby are even more diverse. The range of restaurants and nightlife is wide, particularly in the warmer months when the city wakes up from its winter hibernation. Burgas as a whole is a developed tourist destination offering a truly wide range of experiences. Despite the lack of prominent tourist attractions, the mosaic of smaller sights is varied and surprisingly rich. However, it is a disadvantage that many hotels and restaurants are closed in winter. D. MEETING INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.61 Investment into meeting infrastructure spurs the conference rebirth of Burgas. The carrying capacity of this destination has thus become optimal for meetings with up to 1,200 participants (category M of our categorisation). However, we miss an active local convention bureau that would boost the competitiveness of this destination even further. There can never be enough connections; while accessibility is solid in summer, we would wish for more connections in the off-season. E. SUBJECTIVE GRADE: 4.83 This city, which is hungry for conference events, is graced with an important character peculiarity. The hosts are infinitely kind and genuinely welcoming, which cannot be taken for granted nowadays. The city is safe and surprisingly tidy, the surrounding nature is compelling and relatively preserved. This hidden gem on the Black Sea Coast is waiting to be discovered by the international meeting community. F. MARKETING BUZZ: 4.03 Unfortunately, only a few meeting organisers are familiar with Burgas’s story. Most people have heard of Sunny Beach, while Burgas is completely unknown. The city still has a huge amount of work to do in this regard. To start with, its story should at least be backed by an average website. As it stands, it is difficult to obtain information, so this part of the meetings product is certainly the most problematic.

RESULTS Natural and cultural factors General and transport infrastructure Tourist infrastructure Meeting infrastructure Subjective grade Marketing Buzz ICCA index Numbeo Quality of Life Index Numbeo Safety Index ACI Airport Connectivity Index

MARKS 4.77 4.65 4.83 4.61 4.83 4.03 1.20 2.87 3.83 2.53

FINAL GRADE 3.82 QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION INDIVIDUAL GRADES

Superb meeting destinations Quality meeting destinations Quality meeting destinations Average meeting destinations

5 4

3 2 So-so 1

MTLG CATEGORY

L-Large

L-MEETING DESTINATIONS: The destination can host up to 2,000 meeting attendees.

WHO TO CONTACT Bulgarian Convention Bureau 1 Bulgaria Sq. National Palace of Culture P: +359 899 82 65 02 E: office@bgcb.eu www.bgcb.eu COMPARISON WITH THE REGION You do not have to fear for contented attendees in Burgas, and especially do not worry about them spending too much. Beer costs 4 leva, i.e. less than 2 euros. In addition, participants will definitely be surprised by the quality of the meeting infrastructure. Much certainly remains to be done in terms of the recognisability of Burgas, which is virtually non-existent on today’s map of New Europe. In this area, it is being overtaken by significantly less developed destinations. COOL MEETINGS Tarator: this Bulgarian summer soup, made from cucumbers and soured milk and seasoned with selected spices, provides pleasant refreshment in the summer heat.


60 MEETOLOGUE

VARNA

In a nutshell: From a cheap destination to a MICE capital GORAZD ČAD //

VARNA

There are many reasons why Varna is referred to as the maritime capital of Bulgaria, the most obvious being the fact that it is the largest seaport on the Black Sea. Varna is also the third largest city in Bulgaria. But above all, with its long sandy beaches, it is an important tourist destination. Varna is also one of the oldest European cities. Its long and turbulent past has left its mark on the city itself, where you can find remains dating back

to all eras and blending with social realistic architecture. The result is an eclectic urbanism in which all paths converge in the Sea Garden maritime park and the sea-front esplanade, a sort of extended city centre. So, there are enough reasons why Varna has been an important convention destination for many years.

3.74 Final Grade

QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION

WHAT’S HOT IN 2020 Large conferences and meetings in 2020: • Black Sea & Balkans Conference World Summit / 20–22, February 2020 • 11th International Sofia Film Fest Varna / 13–20, March 2020 • International Music Festival “Varna Summer” / June–August, 2020 • International Theatre Festival “Varna Summer” / 1–6 June 2020 • International Jazz Festival “Varna Summer” / July 2020


MEETOLOGUE 61

MILESTONES In terms of the meeting industry, an important milestone was the construction of the Palace of Culture and Sports in 1968. Still serving its purpose, the complex stands out due to its modernist architecture. The structure’s ground-breaking multifunctional design of that time is also compelling. Its construction date could be considered the beginning of meeting tourism in Varna. The Festival and Congress Centre – Varna was built in 1986. It followed the example of other conference centres built in that period, which had a central hall, and was a dual-purpose facility for hosting meetings and cultural events. Among the many events and festivals held there, the Film Festival and the Varna Summer Festival stand out. Even though the Centre now focuses on cultural events, both investments had a significant influence on the development of meeting tourism. FOUR SEASONS DESTINATION Varna has recently been promoting itself as a four seasons destination. The slogan sounds good but that is not the case in practice. The winter season is truly the off-season and many hotels and tourist facilities, or rather the majority, close their doors. Spring and the high summer season are a whole different story: Varna is in its heyday and it greens up. During the winter season, your choice is more or less limited to the top-class International Hotel Casino & Tower Suites in the Golden Sands resort, and some other meeting hotels. Come spring, though, Varna wakes up and becomes the perfect location for anyone wanting their meeting guests to enjoy the sea, pools and particularly Bulgarian cuisine, not to mention everything else offered by the holiday resorts. SEASIDE RESORTS WITH CONGRESS FACILITIES AROUND VARNA Varna is surrounded by four seaside resorts, the most famous of which is Golden Sands. Its name originates from a legend about pirates that were believed to be hiding their gold there. The resort lies 18 km from Varna and it is where the main meeting venue, the International Hotel, is located. The oldest resort around Varna is the St. Constantine and Helena resort, located only 8 km from Varna. Its most unique feature are its mineral hot springs. Sunny Day is considered by many one of the most beautiful Black Sea resorts. Less focused on meeting tourism, it is specialised as a family resort. In its immediate vicinity lies the Riviera Holiday Club, which has 13 halls at its disposal, the largest of which can seat up to 350 guests. All seaside destinations offer a wide range of hotels, numerous restaurants, and additional tourist services. INTERNATIONAL HOTEL – THE HEART OF VARNA’S MEETING STORY The International is one of the few hotels that stay open throughout the year. As a result, most off-season meetings take place there. It is a highquality hotel whose employees are dedicated to their jobs and are very familiar with the needs of meeting guests. Its additional services, from the casino to the spa and its own mini shopping centre, are an added bonus. Its meeting halls feature top-grade equipment and exceptional technical assistance. It is also thanks to the proactive owners that there is a lot going on in Varna in winter. THE BLACK SEA CASINO AND SPECIAL VENUES There is no shortage of special venues in Varna. Given its rich history, the city has several museums, such as the Archaeological Museum, which are also suitable for hosting events. The Euxinograd residence also merits

attention. However, the Black Sea Casino, which, following its renovation, is an excellent reception and after-party venue, is the one that stands out the most. It symbolically connects Varna to the Black Sea. This is but the beginning of the city’s special venues. There is a host of cultural sites and galleries, many of which also rent out their spaces for events. The list is extremely long and your choice of the right option depends on the style of your event. We could even say that Varna is a city of special venues. VARNA BEACH A visit to the city’s beach, which stretches from the port right to Varna’s outskirts, is a must, at least in the summertime. Its centre is next to the Sea Garden city park. The beach is particularly popular with young people, who visit it because of its clear shallow waters, ideal for some fun in the sun, and its numerous clubs creating an atmosphere catering to everyone’s taste. The park also holds a dolphinarium (the only one in the Balkans), a zoo, some museums, and the city esplanade to boot. It seems to be the centre of the city in the warmer months. Yes, Varna is indeed the capital of nightlife, too, and you will certainly not have a dull moment in the city. THE MEETING SCENE Varna has a lively meeting scene and it is up to you whether to organise your event in the city centre or in one of the famous seaside resorts. The centre holds the Palace of Culture and Sports, the Festival and Congress Centre – Varna, and numerous hotels with meeting facilities. Standing out for its height is the Hotel Cherno More, a sort of orientation point of the city. There are plenty of special venues in the city as well as numerous hotels providing smaller convention centres. Should you opt for the seafront, there are many possibilities. The services offered by the four resorts are diverse and more or less tailored to meeting guests. Nonetheless, I have been most fascinated with the International Hotel. Unfortunately, there is no convention bureau in the city which would suitably bind together such a wide selection. That is what we consider the main shortcoming of this destination. Thanks to the Bulgarian Convention Bureau, some progress has been made but there is still much room for improvement. BY WAY OF CONCLUSION Varna is the second most important university centre in Bulgaria. With over 30,000 students, the city appears youthful. At the same time, it opens up the opportunity to organise scientific meetings. Your relationship with Varna will not be love at first sight but rather second or even third. Despite that, it slowly grows on you, especially thanks to the locals, their friendliness and straightforwardness.


DID YOU KNOW

62

In Bulgaria, nodding means no, unless you say “no” (we have not had any trouble with that as the locals probably know very well who they are dealing with). MUST SEE Located in the Grand Mall of Varna, the Retro Museum enables you to take a stroll through the socialist past of the city. We recommend it to all nostalgics. BEST INCENTIVE IDEA Casino team building For groups of 50–200 people At first sight, the International Hotel Casino & Suites may be an unusual place for a team-building session, but in fact there is much more below the surface than meets the eye. It’s a venue with levels of experiences and creative activities that bring the best out of teams and individuals alike. Closeknit collaboration between various departments, in problem-solving and risk management challenges, serves as the first step in bond strengthening, new skill acquisition and overall harmonisation between the collective corporate body.

DESTINATION CAPACITY The number of 4* and 5* category hotel rooms

5,600

The number of 4* and 5* category hotels

63

Destination population

312,770

Banquet hall maximum capacity

900

The largest hall in the city (in m2)

2,250 m2

Maximum hall capacity in theatre style

1,014


MEETOLOGUE 63

A. NATURAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS: 4.70 Varna’s turbulent past has left many traces in the city and its surroundings, which have become part of today’s rich tourist offer. Even so, tourists visit the city mostly because of its long sandy beaches and sunny weather, which are a key tourist product. It is worth noting that there are 41 protected natural parks, 1466 cultural landmarks, and 44 museums and galleries in Varna’s surroundings, which makes the destination one of the main tourist attractions in Bulgaria. B. GENERAL AND TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.56 Varna Airport has established strong connections with 35 countries and 101 cities in recent years. Fraport’s ownership has proven to be a positive move and accessibility is solid, particularly in the summer season. Transport infrastructure and sanitation vary from entirely European to “eastern-style” and there is much to be done in this regard. The completion of the Sofia–Varna motorway will make a great change. Their extremely fast internet is particularly exciting. C. TOURIST INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.74 There is no shortage of hotels in Varna: according to the latest data, the city’s 370 hotels have 60,428 hotel beds. There are more than enough in hotels that are suitable for meeting guests. Varna is an exceptional tourist destination with truly diverse tourist services. There are also many new shopping centres, which can be an interesting diversion. Nightlife is particularly lively and the range of restaurants is wide. D. MEETING INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.88 Contemporary meeting services are concentrated in hotel resorts, while traditional congress centres are in need of thorough renovation and adaptation. The services are scattered and poorly connected. Considering the destination’s tourist infrastructure, incentive travel shows great potential, which is still untapped. Varna faces many challenges in this regard but it is certainly a city with great meeting potential. E. SUBJECTIVE GRADE: 4.58 Varna’s main attractions are still the sun and the sea. There are many opportunities in meeting tourism but the image of a meeting destination still needs to be created. The main advantage is the city’s value for money and the locals’ friendliness. Moreover, greater support for the sector would certainly help. In this regard, it can follow the example of nearby Burgas. In order to boost the internationalisation of meeting tourism, the hoteliers’ goodwill will not suffice. F. MARKETING BUZZ: 3.98 Searching for information about Varna’s meeting services is extremely complicated. Promotional material is lacking in all areas, especially in content and digital marketing. Varna does not have a point of single contact in terms of the meeting industry. Some hotels with truly firstrate marketing are positive exceptions. We can only hope that events such as the recent Black Sea & Balkans Conference World Summit are a sign of positive change in this field.

RESULTS Natural and cultural factors General and transport infrastructure Tourist infrastructure Meeting infrastructure Subjective grade Marketing Buzz ICCA index Numbeo Quality of Life Index Numbeo Safety Index ACI Airport Connectivity Index

MARKS 4.70 4.56 4.74 4.44 4.58 3.98 2.87 3.83 2.53 3.74

FINAL GRADE 3.74 QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION INDIVIDUAL GRADES

Superb meeting destinations Quality meeting destinations Quality meeting destinations Average meeting destinations

5 4

3 2 So-so 1

MTLG CATEGORY

L-Large

L-MEETING DESTINATIONS: The destination can host up to 2,000 meeting attendees.

WHO TO CONTACT Bulgarian Convention Bureau 1 Bulgaria Sq. National Palace of Culture P: +359 899 82 65 02 E: office@bgcb.eu www.bgcb.eu COMPARISION WITH THE REGION For a long time, Varna lacked serious competition on the Black Sea Coast. If you wanted to organise a meeting, the obvious choice was Varna. However, it has recently had the increasingly competitive Burgas nipping at its heels. The latter has significantly outpaced Varna in many fields, especially with its new congress centre. If Varna wants to catch up with its competitors, it will have a great deal of work ahead in terms of connecting and particularly marketing the destination. It should beware of resting on its laurels since, as we like to say about meeting tourism, you are only as good as your latest event. COOL MEETINGS Banitza: a Bulgarian-style burek – a baked filled pastry made of filo pastry, is a delicious breakfast option. Besides appetising cheeses, the filling may be pumpkin, cabbage or any other flavour you like. Tasty.


64 MEETOLOGUE

VELINGRAD

In a nutshell: The future incentive capital of the Balkans GORAZD ČAD //

VELINGRAD

The most beautiful things are sometimes invisible to the eye. Despite globalisation and constant connectedness, there are places that the international meeting scene has not yet discovered. And when we do discover them, our eyes sparkle and our heart is lifted. Velingrad is such a destination: well-known to Bulgarians but otherwise unheard of by almost everyone else in the immediate region. The town of Velingrad is located in the heart of a large karst plateau, at almost 800 m above sea level. Nestled in the middle of the picturesque Rhodopes, it is famous for its salubrious climate and mineral hot springs.

3.96 Final Grade

QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION

That is why it is a popular hiking and holiday spot, and in 2008 it was awarded the title of Spa Capital of the Balkans. Its curative waters from more than 70 springs have been known since the Roman times. They triggered the development of tourism even before World War II, when the first Olympic hotel in Bulgaria was built in the town. In the recent years, tourism has really flourished, though. The water has curative and preventive properties against numerous diseases. As a whole, the product mix forms an exceptional incentive destination, just waiting to be discovered by European event planners.


MEETOLOGUE 65

MIRACULOUS WATER There are some traditional public baths around Velingrad where you can come in contact with the history and tradition of the use of mineral water. Indeed, we recommend this experience, and likewise you should not miss a visit to Lake Kleptuza. It is the largest karst spring in the Balkans, with a discharge of 600 to 1,200 litres of water per second filling the scenic lake. Today, it is a tourist attraction and the symbol of Velingrad. There is an abundance of water in all of its forms in Velingrad and its surroundings. Water is the motherload propelling the tourist product of the town, which is second to none in Europe. The title Spa Capital of the Balkans is thus more than justified but it is also a great responsibility in terms of managing and protecting the town’s rich water resources. FILM LOCATION The remarkable natural scenery on the plateau seems as if it were made for shooting films. Alternating pine forests and grassy knolls prevail, culminating in the Rhodopes mountaintops. We were surprised by the beauty of the plateau, so it is no wonder that it has been discovered by film crews as well. In fact, Sofia is one of the centres of European film production, not least as a result of filming incentives. According to the locals, several films have been shot on the plateau. It even posed as Canada in one of the foreign films shot in the town’s surroundings. No surprise there. YEAR-ROUND DESTINATION One of Velingrad’s major advantages is that tourism is in effect throughout the year. This destination is appealing in all seasons and it is difficult to decide the most suitable time for a visit. In terms of incentive programmes, you can have fun in the snow or go skiing in winter on the nearby ski slope of Starina. In summer, there are interesting naturalistic programmes in the Yundola area. And throughout the year, there is a wide range of hotels with bowling centres, sportsgrounds, and an endless variety of spa programmes. Regardless the season, everything can be combined into very compelling incentive programmes. POST-2000 INVESTMENT BOOM The main hotel boom in Velingrad happened after 2000. During that time, top-class hotels that can compete with the best in Europe were built. Spas are the norm, as well as outdoor and indoor pools, physical therapy, massages, gyms, and everything else that belongs to the firstrate spa hotel category. Today, there are 45 hotels, 20 guest houses, 2 sanatoriums, 7 mineral public baths, and 32 pools in Velingrad. Moreover, large investments have been made in additional tourist services and public infrastructure. Velingrad’s tourist product has thus been improving from one year to the next and it is entirely comparable to the best spa cities and destinations in Europe. HIGH QUALITY AND SELF-CONFIDENCE The hotel structure speaks of their quality. Of all the 45 hotels, seven are five-star while fifteen are four-star. A destination with such a hotel structure can easily host even the most demanding meeting and incentive groups. Quality, though, also means a friendly smile given by the staff and hospitality that is not forced. Hoteliers and tourism professionals have faith in their product. The result is satisfied guests, which can best be measured through the positive reviews seen on internet portals. We were the most impressed with the high level of understanding of the

guests’ needs, wishes, and expectations. In that context, Velingrad is without question particularly outstanding. THE MEETING SCENE Most meetings and incentives taking place in Velingrad are local. In practice, this means that not a week goes by without key hotels hosting events organised by Bulgarian associations and companies. Hoteliers strongly promote weekday events since weekends are usually booked by individual guests. The largest meeting hall is in the Grand Hotel Velingrad and seats over 200 attendees. Other four- and five-star hotels also provide first-rate conference capacities. Listing individual capacities would take up too much space and, actually, your choice of an event location mostly depends on the style of the hotel that would suit your event. The range extends from the superior boutique Villa Vuchev, which can accommodate 15 people, to Hotel Arte, which is renowned as a design hotel with cutting-edge services. Every hotel has its own advantages, so before you decide we advise you to check out the details at www.velingrad-bg.com. In general, the Hoteliers and Restaurant Association brings together the key providers at a destination and is the main contact point. In the future, they will strive for the best promotion of destinations possible in terms of meeting tourism. For incentive programmes, the best thing to do is to contact the Bulreisen agency. BY WAY OF CONCLUSION Velingrad is a first-rate incentive destination. It already has all it needs to deliver even the most demanding incentive programmes. One of its advantages is Sofia’s easy accessibility and, as already mentioned, the town’s remarkable natural resources. In addition, the prices of services are really competitive. According to some research studies, they are up to 40% lower than comparable prices in Europe. What is lacking is more consistent and targeted promotion. Everything else is taken care of by the excellent hoteliers of Velingrad.


DID YOU KNOW

66

An impressive and rather unknown fact is that Bulgaria has the second highest number of mineral springs in the world, only after Iceland. MUST SEE One of the traditional Bulgarian crafts is the production of woollen carpets. Hemus Ltd. is a company that has preserved the know-how for the reproduction of manual textiles. You can visit their factory and discover how handmade carpets have become popular in the many European palaces, villas, public buildings and museums. BEST INCENTIVE IDEA The Rhodopes forests are an excellent testing ground for discoveries, such as safaris with Russian jeeps where you will be guided across icy rivers and the highest peaks. This exciting experience will be upgraded with an al fresco lunch prepared from organic produce from local producers.

DESTINATION CAPACITY The number of 4* and 5* category hotel rooms

1,500

The number of 4* and 5* category hotels

45

Destination population

41,718

Banquet hall maximum capacity

200

The largest hall in the city (in m2)

260 m2

Maximum hall capacity in theatre style

250


MEETOLOGUE 67

A. NATURAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS: 4.78 Nature has been truly generous in Velingrad and its surroundings, as it has created picturesque natural scenery where tourism can develop. More than 70 mineral hot springs with a water temperature of between 28 and 91°C are an additional reason for Velingrad’s high experience value. Coupled with the location’s numerous cultural and historical monuments, we get an extraordinary tourist destination that is rightfully at the forefront of the Bulgarian tourist offer. B. GENERAL AND TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.77 The Velingrad that we know today formed with the merger of three settlements: Kamenitsa, Ladzhene and Chepino. They are today’s main urban districts, which have connected into a whole through the main avenue. The urban transport infrastructure is generally good but some parts are in a worse condition due to the many investments and construction sites. Tourist signage and the general good impression are admirable but we missed more bicycle lanes. C. TOURIST INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.82 Besides 45 hotels, there are over 140 restaurants and clubs to suit all tastes in Velingrad. The food is wonderful and full of genuine flavours, served with a smile. One formula for fun are piano bars, and tables have to be booked in advance in the most popular ones. The range of sports and recreational options is broad. All indicators suggest that Velingrad is a developed tourist destination. D. MEETING INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.61 Velingrad is classified as an S-category destination, which can now host conferences with up to 250 attendees (the capacity of the largest plenary hall) but there are plans in place to build a bigger conference hotel with a hall for 500 attendees. There are some special venues in town, which can accommodate up to 800 participants (Rodopsko Selo). The range of incentive programmes and team-building activities is becoming increasingly developed. E. SUBJECTIVE GRADE: 4.80 We miss a point of single contact in Velingrad where one could get all the information about meeting and incentive services in one place. We believe this is soon going to change and the Velingrad Convention Bureau will soon start to operate. Otherwise, our sense of security and hospitality was good and we believe that event participants would feel happy as well. If we also consider the value for money, it is a first-class incentive destination. F. MARKETING BUZZ: 3.87 At the moment, the destination’s weakest link is marketing. Few event organisers outside Bulgaria have heard of Velingrad. At the same time, this is an opportunity that should definitely be grasped. We would like to see all the wealth of the town’s product mix put on a website as soon as possible and plenty of opinion makers coming to the city.

RESULTS Natural and cultural factors General and transport infrastructure Tourist infrastructure Meeting infrastructure Subjective grade Marketing Buzz ICCA index Numbeo Quality of Life Index Numbeo Safety Index ACI Airport Connectivity Index

MARKS 4.78 4.77 4.82 4.61 4.80 3.87 1.20 3.14 3.88 3.72

FINAL GRADE 3.96 QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION INDIVIDUAL GRADES

Superb meeting destinations Quality meeting destinations Quality meeting destinations Average meeting destinations

5 4

3 2 So-so 1

MTLG CATEGORY

M-Medium

M - MEDIUM MEETING DESTINATIONS: Destinations than can host up to 1,200 congress attendees

WHO TO CONTACT Bulreisen Travel Agency E: office@bulreisen.com +359 888 23 25 52 www.bulreisen.com COMPARISION WITH THE REGION Velingrad is already opening a new chapter in incentive travel. According to all its properties, it is an incentive destination. Everything is in place and ready even for the most demanding meeting organisers. The hotel structure is also appropriate, which is not always the case in competitive destinations. There are many advantages – they just have to be combined into suitable packages and programmes. Soon, this sleeping beauty will surely wake up and become a thorn in the side of its regional competitors. It just needs to seize its numerous opportunities and present them appropriately to the international meeting market. COOL MEETINGS Banica is a traditional salt cheese pie that cannot be missing from the table, even for breakfast. Another must-try dish is ljutenica, a relish made of peppers, aubergines, carrots, garlic, and tomatoes. It is often served with meat or just as a spread on bread.


68 BEEN THERE

RUSSIA

A well-rounded delight SARA TIEFENGRABER //

SARA TIEFENGRABER

Russia is the world’s biggest country and it’s a diverse country that amazes. The broad distances between cities and the vast forests, stretching between them present a new outlook. Moscow is as expected, a beaming metropolis. I dare you to come up with a demand that the city cannot fulfil. With its rich history and art, the balance of well-kept old

SKOLKOVO

Have you ever had your coffee prepared and served by a robot? Skolkovo is a city in small – no, a high-tech city. It already amazes at first glance. Imagine walking into a start-up paradise. Currently there are more than 200 start-ups set up in the Techno Park, with readily available test labs and production facilities. Full-grown, established companies don’t want to miss out on the fun and use the facilities as a playground for new, ground-breaking ideas. The “city” truly has it all; residential complexes, a school, train station, musical centre, golf course, big recreation centre, two hotels and the strongest tech university in Russia. Besides all the rooms and offices filled to the brim with innovations, the Techno Park also has numerous halls and rooms, just waiting to host an event. The most impressive is surely the Silver Dome Hall, which can physically be transformed into the desired shape and can accommodate up to 500 people. When you wish to take your event outdoors, Skolkovo presents you with two outdoor venues, together accounting for 10.000m2 and able to host 10.000 people. Skolkovo Innovation Centre also hosts their own events, the largest being the Innovation Forum, which is the main innovation event in Russia and one of the biggest in the world. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Skolkovo Innovation Center 42 Bolshoi blvd., bld. 1 Moscow, Russian Federation T: +7 (495) 956 00 33 E: sabramova@sk.ru www.technopark.sk.ru

buildings and modern architecture, and exciting nightlife, the possibilities are endless. But it would be a shame to only focus on the capital, as other Russian cities, such as Ufa, Kazan and Tatarstan that are often overlooked, are also packed with surpluses and surprises.


BEEN THERE 69

KAZAN

Fairy tale meets modern day When first coming to Kazan, it seems like many other Russian cities. The city is growing and developing, and new skyscrapers are being erected. But just across the river from the hype of everything new and modern lies the magical old part of town. Houses of interesting shapes with colourful facades line the homely streets and delicious smells of beautiful pies, straight out of a children’s book beckon you inside. The most mesmerizing spot in the city is one, from where you can see three churches, each belonging to a different era and religion, namely a pagan temple, a protestant church and a mosque. This spot sums up Kazan a whole, as it is the city of tolerance. People with different religious beliefs, mainly Catholic and Muslim, live here in harmony, respecting and accepting one another. Just as the traditional architecture transports you to another era, so does the food. Traditional Tatarstan cuisine (Kazan is part of the Republic of Tatarstan) is also as far from what one would encounter in Moscow as possible. Hearty pies, delicious baked goods and honeyed desserts result from the mixing of semi-nomadic clans, coming from central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe. Food-wise the most exciting and utterly different is chak-chak. It is a dessert made with fried dough and boiled honey, but it is also a cultural icon. The sweet and sticky dessert is served at celebrations, weddings and festivities, and it even has its own museum. Coming back to business, there are vast opportunities for hosting conferences and events in Kazan. The International Exhibition Centre Kazan Expo is a brand-new venue, offering world-class infrastructure for congress participants. It is conveniently located, just five-minutes by foot from Kazan International Airport, and only 20 minutes from the city. It is one of the biggest venues in Russia and as such, the venue where all your event planning wishes will be met. With three exhibition spaces, totalling 26,000 m2 and 35 conference halls, ready to accept from 30 to 500 guests, event possibilities here are endless. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION International Exhibition Centre Kazan Expo Ul. Vystavochnaya, 1 420124 Kazan Tatarstan Russian Federation T: +7 843 567 2299 E: expooffice@kazanexpo.ru www.kazanexpo.ru Russian Convention Bureau Krasnopresnenskaya embankment 12 Moscow, Russian Federation T: +7 (495) 777 16 45 E: info@russiacb.com www.russiacb.com/en


70 BEEN THERE

48 HOURS IN ISTANBUL

An adventure of rich colours, history and flavours SARA TIEFENGRABER //

SARA TIEFENGRABER

DAY 1

DAY 2

10:00 Arrival at the modern Istanbul airport and transfer to the city of Istanbul.

9:00 Have breakfast at your hotel.

11:30 Visit Beyoğlu, the bohemian district of Istanbul, and pick a sunny table to enjoy a Turkish coffee with a piece of baklava or Turkish delight. 12:30 Climb the steps of the historic Galata Tower and view the mesmerizing Beyoğlu district from the top. 13:30 For lunch, take it to the streets. Istanbul is famous for its street food and with good reason. Indulge in kumpir, the ultimate baked potato, topped with a myriad of choices, or börek, the famous crispy pastry, filled with cheese or spinach. If you are feeling adventurous, try kokoreç, the most controversial street food, which consists of spiced and skewered sheep’s intestines, served with half a loaf of bread. 14:30 Visit Galataport Istanbul, one of the largest waterfronts in the world and spend some time walking around the destination within the destination that was erected in the place of old storage facilities. Marvel at the architectural masterpiece, explore the 1.2 km shoreline of the cruise port, explore the two new art museums, visit a café or small boutique and breathe in the air of modern Istanbul. 16:30 You can’t truly discover the city without observing both its continents. Embark a boat on the Bosporus and enjoy the views of the European and Asian side of Istanbul simultaneously. Stop at the legendfilled Maiden’s Tower, climb all the steps and decide for yourself whether you believe its stories. 19:00 To end the day as the Turks do, go to Süreyya rooftop restaurant, where you will get to know what a modern Turkish night out looks like, with a traditional dinner of mezze and belly dancing for dessert.

10:00 Discover the Grand Bazaar, the world’s first trade centre. Get lost in the many valleys and admire all the different things on offer. When buying a souvenir, be sure to negotiate the price, it’s part of the experience. 12:00 Transport yourself back to the Ottoman Empire times by visiting the Topkapı Palace. Delve into the rich history of the Ottoman sultans, the jewel-filled Treasury and the intriguing Harem. 14:00 Take a break from walking and have lunch at the Konyali restaurant of Topkapı Palace. The terrace at the edge of the hill offers the most magnificent view of the Bosporus on this side of the city. 16:00 Let yourself relax before dinner with a full traditional experience at the Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam. The Turkish Bath ritual, dating back to the Ottoman times but still widely popular today, will leave you feeling completely rejuvenated. 20:00 The gigantic city, with an amazing historic skyline and the beautiful Golden Horn, has no shortage of rooftop venues. Treat yourself to gorgeous nighttime views and a tasty seafood dinner at the Turkart Terrace Restaurant. DAY 3 10:00 Departure for the airport


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United. Resilient. Proud. To the global business events industry, our extended family...

Remember who you are and what you represent. We are an industry that contributes US$1.5 trillion of GDP to the global economy*. As we’ve demonstrated many times before, we will be part of the solution to drive recovery, growth and social impact that will transform the world.

Ray Bloom & Carina Bauer #WeWillMeetAgain

*Figures from The Events Industry Council’s Global Economic Significance of Business Events Study 2018.

WE ARE ALL CONNECTED


72 ADVERTORIAL

GR – LJUBLJANA EXHIBITION AND CONVENTION CENTRE – VENUE OF CONVENTA

A multi-functional venue that grows with the needs of an event Conventa was founded in 2008 and its first edition in January 2009 was already taking place at the GR, a venue with a wide choice of multifunctional halls with the day light, equipment for the trade shows and big parking spaces.   Conventa grows by an inch each year, not just by the number of exhibitors and hosted buyers, but also by its additional offer and programme. Using several different halls is always a challenge for event organisers, but GR provides excellent connectivity and easy orientation for the participants. Together with the GR team, the organisers have found new, long-term solutions for the decor of each space. The wooden boxes, owned by GR, have become the trademark of Conventa, and are also suitable for use at other events.    CONVENTA 10 “WOW-S” The organisers of Conventa have set the goal to surprise their participants every year with 10 “WOW-s”. This year’s Conventa Wow was the use of Stebrna Hall, which served as the main entrance to the trade fair and as a unique Experience Zone, where the latest and greatest in additional event offering was presented. The participants were thrilled by the presentations of the latest video technology, unique team-building activities and even had the opportunity to take a picture in the photo booth or try a game of table tennis. In the Marmorna Hall Foyer, participants could smell the coffee from Cafe Piran and the sea salt from Piranske Soline. Conventa Trend Bar also took place in the same space with short lectures, while the Marmorna Hall hosted the meetings between exhibitors and hosted buyers. Urška Hall, situated on the 2nd floor, held short lectures from professionals in the field of event organising.    Thanks to the professional support of the GR’s technical team and their flexibility, the organisers were able to additionally elevate the venue and satisfy the participants of this year’s Conventa 2020 trade fair.    GR-Ljubljana Exhibition & Convention Centre welcomes you with their 20 multi-functional halls for events, modern technological equipment and their expert team.


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74 KONGRES HIDDEN GUEST

ARTE SPA&PARK HOTEL Feel Young

ARTE SPA&PARK HOTEL VELINGRAD

CATEGORY 5***** OPENED SINCE November 2016 MEETINGS STAR SPA Meeting Hotel STANDARD Hotel with conference facilities NUMBER OF ROOMS 126 rooms and suites PRICE INTERNET EUR 122 (single use) / Trivago, March 2020 ADDRESS Hotel Arte Spa&Park Hotel Velingrad E:info@artehotel.bg + 359 879 066 660 FACILITIES Spa centre Shop Main restaurant Lobby Bar Whisky bar Volleyball court Outdoor space for teambuildings SPECIALS A SPA centre that offers an amazing wellness experience on 1500 sqm.

www.artehotel.bg

LOCATION The most stylish designer hotel in Velingrad is only a stone’s throw away from the city centre, located in a romantic valley surrounded by pine trees. Views from the hotel room are calming and inspiring. The hotel, just like many others in Velingrad, takes advantage of an incredible natural resource, thermal water. The source of the water is in Velingrad-Kamenitza at a depth of 200 meters. The hotel is also surrounded by teambuilding locations and offers a great starting point for exploring the picturesque Rhodope mountains. ACCESSIBILITY A pleasant hour and a half drive (129 km) will get you from the airport in Sofia to Velingrad, most of it being on the motorway. When you get off the main road, the local roads will lead you through a scenic river canyon up to the Velingrad plateau at 700 m. Most of the hotel guests arrive with their own cars and there is a large parking lot in front of the hotel, sometimes also used for events. The hotel also offers a shuttle service and bicycle rentals. COLD STARTER - ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS The hotel has a modern, Alpine-style design that fits in well with its surroundings. The exterior is a combination of wood and stone, but the interior is where things start to get interesting. Local beekeeping heritage inspired the lobby design with typical Bulgarian apiary’s adorning the entrance. There are tons of stylish wooden details, like the entrance to the restaurant that has become a popular Instagram spot. The wellbeing of guests is taken care of throughout the hotel, with many relaxing lounge areas. The halls, painted in an anthracite colour are part of the experience and the modern, elegant and cosy hotel furniture appears very attractive. WARM ENTRÉE - THE STAFF AND THE CULINARY EXPERIENCE A sufficient reason to visit the hotel is an excellent culinary offer. The restaurant is based on live cooking and serving traditional dishes with a modern twist. Such a fresh and diverse buffet is hard to find. Excellent Bulgarian wine from a solid wine list completed the experience. The story continued at breakfast, where everything from the warm dishes to the selection of cheese and fresh juice was at a very high level. Bulgarian pies that the chef makes in front of the guests make the breakfast experience feel authentic. The entire hotel experience deserves five stars and we are certain you won’t be disappointed. MAIN COURSE – THE MEETINGS OFFERING AT THE HOTEL Hotel rooms The room is a combination of wood in brighter tones and darker, blue decorations on the wall. The end result is very elegant and pleasant. Rooms with a balcony (deluxe double room) are very spacious and well equipped. The only thing we would have liked is a desk, essential for business guests. The bathroom is quite luxurious, decorated in earth tones, featuring high-quality cosmetics, as you would expect. The comfy bedding, combined with the fresh


KONGRES HIDDEN GUEST 75

So good that we couldn’t ignore it www.secret-congress-guest.eu

mountain air will make you fall asleep like a baby. Meetings centre The conference centre can host 120 participants, offers daylight and a relatively high ceiling. In addition to the conference centre, there is a wide range of spaces that can be used for events around the hotel, like the restaurant, hotel bar or the presidential suite. Outside spaces are even more attractive, especially for teambuilding programmes in gorgeous nature that encourages creativity. DESSERT – THE EXTRAS The Thermal Spa Zone offers a wide range of experiences. We were especially intrigued by the herbal sauna and relaxing pool.

RESULTS MARKS LOCATION 4.78 4.59 ACCESSIBILITY FIRST IMPRESSION 4.96 LOBBY 4.92 EMPLOYEE ATTITUDE 5.00 RECEPTION 4.99 4.91 HOTEL ROOM HOTEL BED 4.98 BATHROOM AND RESTROOM 4.78 HOTEL BREAKFAST 4.95 BARS AND RESTAURANTS 4.86 4.84 CONGRESS HALL ADDITIONAL OFFER 4.75 TOTAL

4.87 GOLD SPA MEETING HOTEL

GOLD final score SILVER final score BRONZE final score

FLOP – UNPLEASANT SURPRISES Only hairsplitters will be able to find some unpleasant detail, as it an all-around great hotel. The only thing that bothered me was having to walk across the lobby bar to get to the spa, something that could be solved with a separate entrance. TOP – PLEASANT SURPRISES The staff’s professionalism and kindness can be felt across the hotel, especially in the hotel restaurant. FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY Any European incentive destination could do with a hotel like the Arte Spa&Park. We think it is an excellent choice for incentive programme organisers. It seems as if it was designed just for them. The interior design of the lobby indicates that this is not a conventional hotel, but rather one that combines top-notch hotel service with trendy design, making it an instant hit in Bulgaria. We think it’s time that it becomes a hit among European meeting planners as well.

from 4.81 to 5.00 from 4.61 to 4.80 from 4.41 to 4.60

LUXURY PREMIUM BUSINESS ECONOMY BUDGET

    

The HIDDEN GUEST section is not paid. The selection of the hotels that are evaluated by the hidden meeting guest is at the discretion of the editorial board and the visits are unannounced.

4.87 Final Grade


76 KONGRES HIDDEN GUEST

SHERATON GRAND SALZBURG Purebred congress hotel SHERATON GRAND SALZBURG

CATEGORY 5***** OPENED SINCE 1984, renovated in 2016 MEETINGS STAR City Meeting Hotel STANDARD Congress Hotel NUMBER OF ROOMS 166 rooms and suites PRICE INTERNET EUR 186 (single use) / Trivago, March 2020 ADDRESS SHERATON Grand Salzburg Auerspergstrasse 4 Salzburg, Austria 5020 T: +43 662 889990 FACILITIES Sheraton Club Lounge Restaurant Mirabell Restaurant Taste.it Piano Bar Paracelsus Bad und Kurhaus Fitness Centre Business Centre SPECIALS Congress Centre Salzburg - not many hotels have the privilege of being part of a congress centre. That is one of Sheraton’s competitive advantages.

www.marriott.com

LOCATION The Mirabell Garden is one of Salzburg’s symbols and the Sheraton Grand Salzburg is located right next to it. The hotel lives in symbiosis with Congress Centre Salzburg, forming the epicentre of congress activities in the city. Salzburg is a walkable city, everything is easily accessible, orderly and looks as if one had stepped out of a bandbox. The hotel’s strategic location next to a gorgeous park is certainly a big plus. ACCESSIBILITY Salzburg is an important European railway and road hub, therefore the accessibility is excellent. Air accessibility is solid and the Munich airport is quite close. Salzburg public transport never ceases to positively surprise us. Everything works like clockwork and we recommend that you take advantage of it, as it will take you to all the major points in the city without major stress. The hotel offers a garage for guests arriving with cars. In terms of traffic infrastructure and accessibility, Salzburg is one of the most congress guest friendly cities. COLD STARTER - ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS The 80’s hotel architecture is coping quite well with the times. It still looks imposing, despite its age. A complete opposite is the modern congress centre with its glass facade, counterbalancing the slightly outdated look of the hotel. The interior received a thorough renovation in 2016, making the lobby feel much more pleasant. Everything is compact, orderly and provoking a sense of safety and stability, just like a Sheraton should. WARM ENTRÉE - THE STAFF AND THE CULINARY EXPERIENCE You know you are in a top-tier hotel when you step in the hotel bar. It’s impressive in terms of its offer as well as the staff. The Italian hotel restaurant also deserves praise and it is quite popular among locals. The breakfast was in line with Sheraton standards, tasty and diverse. The staff is very helpful, professional and will grant all your requests, something that any hotel would want. MAIN COURSE – THE MEETINGS OFFERING AT THE HOTEL Hotel rooms The hotel room (we stayed in the club room) is what a top-notch hotel room should look like. Everything is at your fingertips, something that business guests will be able to appreciate. I really liked the wooden flooring and the bed was quite impressive. There’s over 10 room categories and they all received some TCL when the hotel was renovated. The size of the bathroom is above standard, excellently equipped with quality cosmetics. Meetings centre The hotel only has 5 smaller seminar rooms, but it doesn’t really need much more than that, as Salzburg Congress, the main congress centre in the city is its neighbour. The hotel has a direct entrance to the congress centre, which is one of the best in the region, evaluated by Hidden


KONGRES HIDDEN GUEST 77

So good that we couldn’t ignore it www.secret-congress-guest.eu

Congress Guest in August 2019. It is designed to be functional and capable of handling the most challenging productions. 13 congress halls and immensely professional staff make it hard to beat in the region. DESSERT – THE EXTRAS The Piano Bar is an institution, an excellent place to grab a coffee, chat with the baristas and a great relaxation after a long day of meetings.

RESULTS MARKS LOCATION 5.00 4.85 ACCESSIBILITY FIRST IMPRESSION 4.93 LOBBY 4.85 EMPLOYEE ATTITUDE 4.94 RECEPTION 4.99 4.87 HOTEL ROOM HOTEL BED 5.00 BATHROOM AND RESTROOM 4.79 HOTEL BREAKFAST 4.83 BARS AND RESTAURANTS 4.91 4.90 CONGRESS HALL ADDITIONAL OFFER 4.71 TOTAL

4.89 GOLD CITY MEETING HOTEL

GOLD final score SILVER final score BRONZE final score

FLOP – UNPLEASANT SURPRISES The fragrances in the lobby are a bit overwhelming and could be toned down a notch. TOP – PLEASANT SURPRISES Paracelsus Bad & Kurhaus is an ultramodern wellness centre available to hotel guests and outside visitors. It offers a large swimming pool, saunas and different therapies, all on a very high level. A nice diversification. FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY Sheraton Grand Salzburg is impressive. From the moment you step through the entrance to the time you return your key at check out. Its main trump cards are comfort and spaciousness. Sheraton is a premium hotel brand and the hotel in Salzburg stays true to that image. It would be rather strange if it didn’t. There is a lot of competition in the high-end hotel market in Salzburg and you really have to be good to stay at the top. Sheraton Grand Salzburg has managed to stay there for quite some time now.

from 4.81 to 5.00 from 4.61 to 4.80 from 4.41 to 4.60

LUXURY PREMIUM BUSINESS ECONOMY BUDGET

    

The HIDDEN GUEST section is not paid. The selection of the hotels that are evaluated by the hidden meeting guest is at the discretion of the editorial board and the visits are unannounced.

4.89 Final Grade


78 HOW TO // POWER TO THE MEETINGS

EVENTS ARE ORGANISED MAINLY FOR PARTICIPANTS

Satisfaction of participants is of the utmost importance GORAZD ČAD //

THIS ARTICLE IS THE FIFTH CHAPTER (THE PARTICIPANTS’ JOURNEY) OF A NEW UPCOMING BOOK ‘POWER TO THE MEETINGS’ BY GORAZD ČAD THAT WE HEREBY HAPPILY ANNOUNCE WILL BE PUBLISHED SOON!

IJEAB / FREEPIK

DEFINITION The participants’ journey, or user experience, stems from a multitude of interactions among participants at events and their experience of the event on a rational, emotional, sensory, physical and spiritual level. THE STARTING POINT In planning events it is often the case that organisers forget the most important thing - that is planning the entire user experience of participants. Consequently, numerous events fail or are unsuccessful. There needs to be a comprehensive approach, which is understood as a mandatory part of the ‘Power to the meetings’ methodology. The end result is the satisfaction of participants, which can be achieved despite the subjective experience that some individuals may have had.

THE CONCEPT The term began to be used in the 1990s, when Don Norman began to develop a methodology for Apple Inc. Today, the company’s products are a synonym for an exceptional user experience. The characteristics of the products and services, which have changed the world in recent times, is to solve one of the problems of the user experience. Similar companies are those such as Uber, Tesla, Airbnb, Snapchat, and the list could go on. The basic condition for ensuring a good user experience is the understanding and knowledge of the participants of an event and their needs. The user experience is therefore the sum of all the participants’ senses prior to, during, and after, the participation at an event.


HOW TO // POWER TO THE MEETINGS 79

The key role of the user experience is to create events with added value for participants, where they will feel good and will experience positive emotions. It is about solving the universal problem of interaction among participants of events at all points of contact. The field of event organising is a very complex, as everything must be planned from websites, communication systems, price politics, hotel accommodation, promotional campaigning, branding, networking, to arrival at the event, content, entertainment, staff, cuisine and the layout of the venue.

6. ANALYSIS OF THE EVENT A key part of a project is measuring its success or whether it exceeded participants’ expectations. Through the use of a structured questionnaire, the rational and emotional dimension of an event can be measured. Tool: Post-Event Survey

Relatively few event organisers get involved in planning the user experience, a lot of them, however, realise its importance. It requires a lot of interdisciplinary knowledge. Toleranca marketing believe that, over time, the independent profession of planner of user experience at events will develop.

The pitfalls of inspiration and raising expectations If an event is organised on an annual basis, the expectations of participants increase. What impressed them the first year, could just be considered satisfactory the next. The level of satisfaction is connected with that of exceeding participants’ expectations. Therefore, when organising events it is exceptionally important to include elements of surprise - over time, unexpected elements can become the expected.

TIPS AND TOOLS 1. CONCEPTUALISATION The most creative phase of a project is setting the concept of an event, for which the use of an Event Canvas or classic brief is recommended. This enables organisers to define the theme in a creative way and seek visual, verbal and professional elements that connect the event. Tool: Event Canvas 2. NEEDS ANALYSIS In this phase, user research should be carried out as well as interviews with key stakeholders. The choice of focus group is very important, as it must be relevant to the target group of participants at the event. In this way it is possible to measure the subjective component of the expectations of quality services and the expectations of participants in general. Tool: Pre-Event Survey 3. DESIGNING A STORY BOARD The essence of every event is the story that needs to be told. The visual creation of the event is based on the techniques for preparing film scenery. Through group work, scenes and characters are visualised, which will be personally experienced by event participants. Tool: Event Storyboard

RECOMMENDATIONS

This is why event organisers must constantly aim to upgrade participants’ enthusiasm and impression and add elements of surprise. INSPIRATION CISCO LIVE Conversation at any point of the customer journey Cisco Live is the biggest conference of the company CISCO in the EMEA region. It is regarded as one of the most important conferences in the area of digital marketing in the world and is held in places such as Barcelona, Milan and Berlin. The conference offers visitors inspiring content, but it is its conceptual approach, which is based on a well-thought-out user experience, that especially impresses visitors. According to Marketing Director Gerd De Bruycker, the centre of modern marketing is the B2Me concept - 67% of the user experience today is digital. Cisco dedicates tremendous attention to this concept in three key phases of a project – before, during, and after an event. The main focus is on the participants’ needs and their profiling, which enables the creation of engagement that can be measured using the Engagement Index and a comprehensive approach to measuring added value.

4. TESTING THE USER EXPERIENCE Next follows testing of the user experience which has been written on the storyboard. The selected focus group evaluates all those individual points raised on the story board as a whole using the following attributes: valuable/useful/desirable/accessible/credible/achievable/user-friendly Tool: Event Experience Grid

Additional information and inspiration can be found here: https://www.ciscolive.com/emea https://www.facebook.com/ciscoliveeurope https://twitter.com/CiscoLiveEurope https://www.youtube.com/ciscoliveeurope https://www.instagram.com/ciscoliveeurope/

5. IMPRESSIVE EVENT EXECUTION At an event it is key that the user experience is structured as logically, clearly and intuitively as possible. The satisfaction of participants depends primarily on their expectations and whether we know how to impress them. Therefore, every event must include essential elements, which participants expect, as well as elements of surprise, which have the greatest effect on satisfaction. Tool: 10 Wow Moments Matrix

EVENT STORYBOARD A storyboard brings everyone involved in the preparation of an event to the same page and helps them understand what the event should look like. A storyboard is like a comic-book. Every phase of the event is drawn into a dedicated box, forming the steps that the participants will be taking. Under each step, activities and technical guidelines are written.


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SEE YOU AGAIN On 20 - 21 January 2021

OMG! IT’S CONVENTA! www.conventa.si


CONVENTA 2021 81

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2020 From 22 to 23 January 2020 Ljubljana hosted the 12th edition of Conventa, the first business trade show in New Europe for business meetings, congresses and incentives. The success of the event, which is recognized in the world primarily for its top-notch boutique business experience with a personal touch, has this year attracted a record number of 30 new exhibitors. Among them are the Convention Bureau of Bulgaria, Georgia, Thessaloniki, Lublin, Tallinn and Saalfelden, as well as other congress providers. For the first time, Croatia Airlines have become the official carrier of the event.

EXHIBITORS

HOSTED BUYERS

146

253

Overall satisfaction with the show

4.33 points (out of 5.00)

4.51 points (out of 5.00)

Conventa met our expectations...

98.4 %

84.7 %

Conventa is something we need…

93,6 %

91,6 %

26

21

Number of participants

Number of realised meetings

3.889 business meetings

3.812 wooden crates

What do hosted buyers think about Conventa Hosted buyers had given the highest rates for »friendliness and effectiveness of the organisers« (4.72 points out of 5.00), »quality of the venue and the set-up of the show« (4.64 points) and »networking opportunities« (4.58). Although the focus of Conventa is on the One2One meetings, there is always time for some education, experiences and networking over a cup of coffee. This year hosted buyers were thrilled with the Conventa Trend bar sessions, Cafe Piran and Experience Zone. “It was my first time attending CONVENTA. I am extremely happy with my decision to invest my time and money to attend this event. In the two days, I gained so much. Learned about so many new destinations, venues, activities and made valuable contacts. This experience will help me recommend new markets to my clients and meet their expectations.” - Saira Banu Kianes, CMP HMCC, USA

2.120 coffees

516 chairs

“Conventa is an exciting get-together to discover Slovenia and the neighbouring countries great for the MICE business” - Daniel Halama, face to face GmbH, Germany “A great opportunity to get an overview of New Europe and to discover new destinations. Thanks to Conventa we are now in contact with many exhibitors for our future events.” - Alessandro Tomei, European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Italy “My meetings and Fam trip were interesting and prosperous. The themes and the program within the Conventa experience were original, helpful and also fun. Participants kept the good vibrations and the good atmosphere during the entire Conventa experience…and longer. Food and drinks served for all occasions were amazing as well as the “Cover Lover” musicians that were playing at the party in hotel Union.” - Tijana Janić, HelmsBriscoe, Slovenia


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“The Conventa event is absolutely one of the most liked and enjoyable events I have ever been to. Everything sounds good and I really enjoyed the perfect mix of high professional skills and simple, original, pure and genuine friendships.” - Gianmarco Smoquina, Area Tour, Italy “I appreciate the high level of exhibitors. I had really successful meetings and potential business with most of them. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to meet so many quality potential partners from the regions that I wanted to contact. In general, I really liked the Conventa experience because of the boutique feeling that it left me!” - Simona Tsoneva, Image In Travel, Bulgaria “You saved my time and money with this event!” - Vildana Žuga, CEO & Owner, Agency WE, Bosnia and Herzegovina

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS FROM CONVENTA 2020 MARKO DELBELLO OCEPEK

What do exhibitors think about Conventa “Apart from the high quality of the meetings and the professional profile of the buyers, we enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It is also very important that there is a very specific geographic region of interest and all destinations belong to the same “New Europe” area.” - Eleni Sotiriou, Thessaloniki Convention Bureau, Greece “As every year, we liked the concept of the show: prescheduled meetings, the right length of the trade show and the possibility to present your product or destination at the trend bar - just great!” - Natascha Ringerthaler, Salzburg Convention Bureau, Austria “Tallinn Convention Bureau attended for the first time, and we were very impressed by the quality of our meetings and by the organisational level of the entire event. Conventa offered us a great new opportunity to introduce Tallinn’s conference possibilities and left a very positive overall impression. We would also like to thank the wonderful staff who did a superb job of orchestrating the smallest of details and who always had a ready smile. Thank you for your outstanding event. “ - Meeli Jaaksoo, Tallinn Convention Bureau, Estonia

Welcome ceremony with Perpetuum Jazzille in CD-Congress Centre Ljubljana

“Best fair for doing real business and having fun - that’s Conventa!” - Dessislava Simeonova, Liberty International Tourism Group, Bulgaria “It was our first time, but not the last. We met interesting people, had great meetings, got new ideas and we liked the good vibes. - Mateja Olič, Hotel Boka, Soča Valley, Slovenia

Welcome Reception in CD-Congress Centre Ljubljana


CONVENTA 2021 83

Meeting friends at the Welcome Reception

Special venue corner with lots of interesting ideas

One2One meetings for new business opportunities

Relaxed networking in a pleasant ambience

Conventa Trend Bar – tasting of Slovenian gin

Conventa Networking dinner at the Grand Hotel Union


84 CONVENTA 2021

Conventa Hall of Fame Award went to Ms. Maja Pak, director of the Slovenian Tourist Board

Cover Lover Band at the After Party

Cafe Piran with the natural sea salt and Tartini’s music

Conventa Experience Zone – Gin Bar

Sekiromet – Conventa Experience Zone

The Ljubljana Dragon has become one of Conventa’s symbols


CONVENTA 2021 85

MEETING PLANNERS ARE WELCOME TO APPLY FOR HOSTED BUYER STATUS AT CONVENTA 2021 The 13th edition, Conventa Experience 2021, will take place from 19 – 21 January 2021 in Ljubljana, Slovenia and fam trips to the most interesting venues and marvellous destinations of New Europe will follow.

How successful was the Conventa Experience for the previous hosted buyers?

WHAT DIFFERS CONVENTA FROM OTHER TRADE SHOWS?

84,7 % of hosted buyers who attended Conventa 2020 stated that their attendance has met or exceeded their expectations. As the main reasons they listed:

Conventa is: • BOUTIQUE – petit in size and big in quality and hospitality • REGIONAL – presenting venues, DMC’s, CVB’s from the region of New Europe (Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine) • PROFESSIONAL – organised by professionals for professionals • FRIENDLY – networking and relaxed atmosphere helping providers and clients to become true business partners

What can you expect as a hosted buyer? • PRE-SCHEDULED MEETINGS with regional providers of MICE services • 2 EVENING SOCIAL EVENTS with an excellent local gastronomy • PRE- and POST-CONVENTA FAM TRIPS in Slovenia and neighbouring countries • FULL SUPPORT OF THE CONVENTA TEAM with your travel arrangement, accommodation and transfers

• friendliness and effectiveness of the trade show organisers • quality of the venue and set-up of the trade show • networking opportunities • personal experience at the fam trips • quality of exhibiting companies As a boutique trade show, Conventa accepts no more than 200 hosted buyers. Applications for 2021 are already open and you are very welcome to apply for hosted buyer status. More information regarding the programme and terms & conditions can be found on the website www.conventa.si/ hosted-buyers/, where you can also find the application form. For more information please contact Mr. Miha Kovacic at miha@conventa.info

OMG! IT’S CONVENTA! www.conventa.si


86 CONVENTA 2021

EARLY BIRD DEADLINE FOR EXHIBITORS HAS BEEN EXTENDED UNTIL 1 JUNE 2020 The deadline for the Early Bird registration, first set for 15 March has been extended until 1 June 2020. As every year Conventa Organisers offer 30 places for exhibitors at the »super-saver fee«. There are still some places left for those who would like to use the opportunity of the lower rates. We are aware of the uncertain situation, but still feel optimistic that our industry will recover soon! To help our industry

WHY WOULD YOU JOIN CONVENTA AS AN EXHIBITOR? Because Conventa is: • REGIONAL – presenting venues, DMC’s, CVB’s from the region of New Europe (Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine) • PERSONAL - personal approach with a handshake is still the best way to establish loyal and trustful relationships with potential clients • PROFESSIONAL – organised by professionals for professionals for the 12th year in a row. Using the very strict criteria only those who have a serious interest in the region and a real purchasing power are confirmed as hosted buyers • FRIENDLY – networking and a relaxed atmosphere helping providers and clients to become business partners As a Conventa exhibitor, you will be a part of all the yearround promotional activities. The promotion is based on the constantly growing database of potential invited guests and tools such as the Conventa website, newsletters, social networks and Kongres Magazine More information about the packages and prices can be found on www.conventa.si/exhibitors/. Contact: Ms. Natalija Bah Čad, natalija@conventa.info

partners, we offer additional promotion: registered exhibitors are welcome to deliver their news that will be published on the Conventa website and the Kongres Magazine website. You can contact the organisers for more information.


CONVENTA 2021 87

The organisers are thankful to the faithful partners who have already confirmed their participation at Conventa 2021! Messe Congress Graz, Austria www.mcg.at Messe Congress Graz – Places big enough for your ideas 44 multifunctional rooms for meetings, conferences and congresses, balls and concerts, the most modern multifunctional hall in Austria and seven expo halls – that’s how large the range of facilities offered by Messe Congress Graz really is.

Mondial Incentives & Events, Austria www.mondial-events.com/en/ The Austrian private company Mondial GmbH & Co. KG was founded in 1966 in Baden near Vienna. Mondial’s business model is based on six key pillars - Congress Management, Destination Management, Tour Operator, Business Travel, Corporate Events & Incentives and Mondial Tourism. Since 1966 they organized more than 10,000 events and incentives.

LOISIUM Wine & Spa Hotels Langenlois & Südsteiermark, Austria www.loisium.com The best places to get in touch with Wine, Design & Spa. The LOISIUM Wine & Spa Resorts in Langenlois and South Styria are the hot spots for wine lovers, connoisseurs and all those looking for a very special wine spa experience. Located in the leading white wine regions, the hotels boast exceptional architecture, design and a distinctive lifestyle.

Schladming-Dachstein Tourismusmarketing, Austria www.schladming-dachstein.at You can encapsulate everything the Schladming-Dachstein region has to offer in a single word: variety. Whether glacier or alpine tarn, mountain hut, seminar hotel or ski resort; here, you are sure to find everything you are looking for. We help you find the ideal combination - our service is free of charge.


88 CONVENTA 2021

Illustris Events. Incentives. DMC., Croatia www.illustris-events.com At Illustris Events they offer personalized, tailor-made services from A-Z for your events throughout Croatia. They specialize in corporate events, from incentives and team building to product launches and conventions, as well as complex sports challenges and cultural events and renowned and authentic Gourmet Tours.

Plava Laguna, Croatia www.plavalaguna.com The name Laguna PoreÄ? has already been associated with PoreÄ? for half of a century. Various hotels in top locations are the best hosts for all kinds of congresses, conferences, sporting events, team building, private and business events. Afterwards, you can enjoy our spa, play sports or taste our selection of the finest meals and wines.

Dubrovnik Tourist Board - Convention Bureau, Croatia www.tzdubrovnik.hr The Convention Bureau within the Dubrovnik Tourist Board was established aiming to assist the organisers of business meetings, congresses and incentives and facilitate the realisation of their projects. The bureau offers assistance and advice in the organisation of your gatherings and special events. It helps in the choice and booking of venues and locations, preparation of offers and in the organisation of inspection trips.

BWH Hotel Group Central Europe, Germany www.bwhhotelgroup.com/ BWH Hotel Group forms an umbrella for three brand families: Best Western Hotels & Resorts, WorldHotels Collection and SureStay Hotel Group. BWH Hotel Group Central Europe offers a wide variety of hotels and services for your meetings, events or incentives in around 100 hotels in Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary & Luxembourg.


CONVENTA 2021 89

Mjus World****S - Resort & Thermal Park, Hungary www.mjusworld.com A HEDONISTIC ESCAPE. Environment far away from your daily routine, well designed, making it easier to be creative and, above all, making decisions. You will be amazed by the amount of natural light that comes through the large windows: your gaze can wander over the green meadows our halls face upon, enhancing and increasing your productivity during your meetings.

PromoTurismoFVG, Italy www.turismofvg.it PromoTurismoFVG, the regional DMO of Friuli Venezia Giulia: the best starting point for anyone wanting to organise a unique event in part of Italy. An accessible region, located in the heart of Europe, reliable suppliers, amazing food and wines, breath-taking landscapes stretching from the sea to the mountains will make all events unforgettable.

The Chedi Luštica Bay, Montenegro www.chedilusticabay.com At the meeting point between azure seas and rolling mountains, you’ll find The Chedi Luštica Bay Hotel: the best five-star luxury hotel in Montenegro. The Chedi Luštica Bay welcomes you to unwind amidst authentic, breathable luxury. It encompasses 111 rooms and suites, two restaurants, two bars, a high-tech conference and business centre and much more…

Hotel Kompas and Hotel Lovec, Slovenia www.kompashotel.com www.lovechotel.com Two hotels in the centre of Bled, the 4* Kompas Hotel and the 4* superior hotel Lovec are known as perfect venues for meetings, conferences and congresses. Both hotels offer 7 conference rooms all together and 156 rooms. They are only 20 meters apart and thus great to combine. Their attentive staff is always happy to assist and relieve you of the burden of event management.


90 CONVENTA 2021

GR - Ljubljana Exhibitions and Convention Centre, Slovenia www.gr-congress.si GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre is the leading events centre in Slovenia, positioned in the heart of Ljubljana. It is a world-class venue providing a fully serviced platform to support events of all sizes, comprising 23 multifunctional halls. GR is very proud of its over 60 years of being active in the field of different national and international tradeshows, meetings, congresses, conferences, exhibitions and cultural events. Dekon.SI, Slovenia www.dekon.si With DEKON.SI teaming up with the international renowned PCO and DMC DEKON Group, we linked local spirit, contacts and mind-set with international congress know-how, benefiting our Slovenian and international team members and clients. While the DEKON Group operates congresses on all continents, DEKON.SI is your specialist-PCO at all Slovenian venues.

Best Western Premier Hotel Slon Ljubljana, Slovenia www.hotelslon.com The Best Western Premier Hotel Slon is situated in the very heart of Ljubljana city centre, only a few steps away from the old city core, Ljubljana castle and main city sights. It is a 4-star superior hotel with 170 hotel rooms and a convention centre, which comprises 5 multifunctional conference rooms with natural daylight, air-conditioning and parquet/wooden flooring.

Vivo Catering, Slovenia www.vivo.si Vivo catering is one of the top Slovenian catering services with a successful 25-year tradition. With plenty of international experiences, it is qualified to cater congresses with a few thousand delegates at different venues at the same time smoothly. Tastes of traditional, local & international cuisine and a touch of a contemporary style will provide a perfect catering service for your event.


CONVENTA 2021 91

Hit Alpinea, Slovenia www.hit-alpinea.si/sl Kranjska Gora lies in the heart of the Julian Alps near the trijunction of Slovenia, Austria, and Italy. It is well-known especially as a winter ski resort, whereas in summer it turns into a picturesque green valley that offers a myriad of possibilities for sport and adrenaline adventures, as well as tranquil socialising and relaxation. Despite its location, amidst the mountains, it is easily accessible.

Maribor - Pohorje Tourist Board www.visitmaribor.si Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia, the city of the oldest Vine in the world, with its excellent business capacities is known as an eminent host for the realization of smaller meetings. Its attractive location by the river Drava, between Pohorje’s forests and wine-growing hills, topped with the lively hospitality give a boutique congress destination.

Union Hotels Collection Ljubljana, Slovenia www.uhcollection.si The Union Hotels Collection consists of 4 hotels in the centre of Ljubljana. Grand Hotel Union, built in 1905 in the Secession style paired with modern comforts, 18 conference halls and rooms. uHotel, offering 133 rooms, a number of conference halls and rooms. Hotel Lev with 209 rooms and the completely renovated Central Hotel, based on future hotel trends.

ETC Adriatic, Slovenia www.etc-adriatic.com ETC Adriatic is a DMC and incentive agency and your professional partner for incentives & team building in Slovenia, Croatia and Italy. Amazing events for amazing people. The agency is specialized in creating unique group incentive travel, team building and reward programmes for business success. Amazing events for amazing people!


92 CONVENTA 2021

City Hotel Ljubljana, Slovenia www.cityhotel.si/slo/ The vibrant 3-star superior hotel boasts a prime central location and welcomes you with 208 modern hotel rooms. Everything is in the name - City Hotel Ljubljana lives and breathes with the heartbeat of Ljubljana. Regardless of the event size, our friendly staff and bright, fully equipped conference centre will make sure each event is truly special.

Lviv Convention Bureau, Ukraine www.lvivconvention.com.ua/en/ Lviv Convention Bureau was established in 2013 as a subdivision of Lviv City Council. The main aim of the Bureau is to promote Lviv as a new Eastern European MICE destination, attract new conferences and business events to Lviv, cooperate with local businesses, and provide customers with the best services and experience in Lviv.


CONVENTA 2021 93

THE NEW TREND BAR SEASON IS UPON US Black Sea & Balkans Conference World Summit

The new Conventa Trend Bar season kicked off in the Bulgarian resort of Varna on 20 February. This year’s first Trend Bar took place within the Black Sea & Balkans Conference World Summit. The first edition of the event attracted over 80 participants, who enjoyed top-class lectures and unforgettable Bulgarian hospitality. The event manager Teodora Jilkova and her team won a well-deserved round of applause. And most importantly, the Bulgarian meeting industry, now united within the Bulgarian Convention Bureau, seems to be gaining momentum and growing. Conventa Trend Bars have been taking place for the third year running and, this year, the 17th storey of the International Hotel was once again transformed into a pleasant space where people meet and gain new knowledge. By the end of the season, we will have met more than 500 event organisers from the wider New Europe region. However, we are going to remember the first one for its record attendance. 10 best practice examples in event management

The importance of selflessly sharing your knowledge will only become apparent in the long run but, at any rate, Conventa is the first B2B event that has evolved into a comprehensive marketing platform. In its early days, Conventa was primarily focused on its main event, which takes place every January in Ljubljana (Slovenia). In recent years, this concept was upgraded to include training and particularly to highlight the challenges in event planning. That is why this year’s core topic involves 10 best practice examples in event management

or, in other words, what we can learn from other people’s mistakes. The lecture given by Conventa co-founder Gorazd Čad is usually upgraded with a lecture by a local expert. This method has proven extremely successful in practice. Individual events also include discussions with stakeholders on how to further streamline event planning. This year, the attendees also functioned as jurors and selected the best event among 10 finalists. It was precisely that part that showed the extraordinary creativity displayed by our region. Face-to-face meetings are of great value

“Energetic”, “very useful” and “indispensable” were the most frequent comments made by the participants. Conventa’s task is to enable progress, through creativity and inventiveness, to all our partners, not only those from the largest meeting destinations. That is also why we give careful thought to the choice of our event venues. Despite all the technology, the essence of our industry are face-toface meetings with our partners. As we always point out at our Trend Bars, we want our participants to be happy, in line with the origin of the word “happening”. Some autumn dates are still available and if you want Conventa to come to your city, please contact us. www.conventa.si; info@conventa.info 2. Next year’s Black Sea & Balkans Conference World Summit

will take place in Burgas, in a brand-new congress centre. You can find more information on the Summit at https:// cwsummit.com/.


94

CONVENTA BEST EVENT AWARD 2020

CONVENTA CROSSOVER 26 - 28 August, 2020 CD - Congress Centre Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

FESTIVAL OF EVENTS AND LIVE MARKETING CATCH THE EARLY FEE REGISTER BY 30 JUNE 2020 www.crossover.si


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EDITOR IN CHIEF Gorazd Čad ASSISTANT EDITOR Sara Tiefengraber DESIGN Barbara Dimec DTP AND PREPRESS Barbara Dimec PHOTO CREDIT archive of Kongres Magazine and partners’ destinations The Kongres Magazine is entered into the media register under sequence number 1423. MAGAZINE ISSUED IN January, March, May, June, July, September, November, December ISSN NUMBER 1855-8615 PUBLISHER AND PRODUCTION Poslovni turizem Gorazd Čad s.p., Kamnica 6B, SI-1262 Dol pri Ljubljani T: +385 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@go-mice.eu MARKETING Toleranca Marketing d.o.o., Štihova 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana T: +385 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu ISSUE DATE April 2020 For the content production it is required to get the written editorial consignment.

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