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/ 36 / BEEN THERE WALK THE TALK ... OR WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE DANES The story behind the idea of Meetovation / 128 / TOP 10 EMERGING INCENTIVE DESTINATIONS 2016 We have assessed over 40 cities and smaller towns from region

/ 10 / KONGRES 10 YEARS KONGRES MAGAZINE CELEBRATING ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY, Mission: Raising the recognition of Slovenia as a meeting destination

/ 06 / EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Reykjavik - A Destination that tells stories Thorsteinn Örn Gudmundsson, Managing Director, Reykjavik Convention Bureau

/ 80 / MEETOLOGUE Subotica

/ 48 / BEHIND THE SCENES Vila Vipolže, Goriška Brda





GO DEEPER, RIGHT TO THE HEART! Over 8,000 karst caves are located beneath the surface of Slovenia.

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16. 03. 15 10.14



Page 18 Creative Break

52 Hours of service design, Interview with Ivana Preiss and Filip Vasić Page 120 Been There

GORAZD ČAD Editor of the magazine is in his profession a geographer and historian. He united his professional education and love of discovering new lesser-known convention destinations with love and passion for the meetings industry. In meetologues he will try to share his enthusiasm with the readers.

EMEC 2016 Attended by more than 400 Meeting Professionals POLONA PONIKVAR With her passion for photography and traveling, she combines the two with journalistic storytelling, and is enthousiastic about discovering new interesting stories in the world of congress industry.

Meet The Team Page 20 KOMPAS DMC Page 32 INTOURS DMC Kongres Face2Face Page 119 PODGORICA vs SKOPJE Page 135 SUBOTICA vs OSIJEK


G Editor in Chief Gorazd Čad Assistant to the Editor in Chief Polona Ponikvar Editor of Kongres Telescope Robert Cotter Design Nenad Cizl dtp and prepress Premedia, Andrej Juvan Translation Polona Simšič Proofreading Rob Cotter Printing Kerschoffset Zagreb d.o.o., Croatia Circulation 1.000 copies ISSN Number 1855-8615 The Kongres magazine is entered into the media register under sequence number 1423.

Page 112 Hidden Congress Guest

Hotel GALLERIA, Subotica Hotel RADISSON BLU CARLTON, Bratislava Hotel GOLTE, Golte Hotel PLESNIK, Logarska dolina Hotel HEMERA, Podgorica Hotel RADISSON BLU PLAZA, Ljubljana Page 78 Voice From the Top

SANDI KOVAČEVIČ, Hotel Cubo, Ljubljana URŠA RADANOVIĆ, Radisson Blu Plaza, Hotel Ljubljana Page 44 Next Generation - Young Talents

Andreja Rus, Kristina Pangos

NATALIJA BAH ČAD An unforgettable member in the editorial board of travelogues, who at each destination adds her icing on the cake. 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. POLONA SIMŠIČ The knowledge and experience she accumulated with organisation of advertising festivals and conferences, she successfully transfers to the meetings industry. She tells stories of the project Conventa and takes care that they are always up to date and fresh.

Magazine issued in January; March; May; July; September; November Publisher, Production and Marketing Toleranca Marketing d.o.o., Štihova 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana, t: +386 (0)1 430 51 03 f: +386 (0)1 430 51 04 v e: Issue date March 2016 For the content reproduction it is required to get the written editorial consigment.

Official magazine of the Slovenian Convention Bureau Member of

Page 24 In Focus

New Hotel Openings in the next two years Page 58 Best Venues 2015

Business, Culture and Science Meet in ICE Krakow

ROBERT COTTER Alongside his work for Kongres, Rob is a regular contributor to MPI’s One+ magazine as well as MICENET Asia and Eventbiz Japan. He attends international MICE events to seek out best practice and share this with the international meetings community.

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KONGRES TELESCOPE by Robert Cotter Page 97



KONGRES by the Numbers / Our Audience Includes.

9,000 - 12,000 Monthly Unique Visitors


Yearly Page Views


Followers on Social Networks


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POPULAR KONGRES MAGAZINE CONTENTS Stories you won’t find in any other media …





BEHIND THE SCENES Editorial look behind the scenes of the most exciting congress hotels in the region.

OFF THE BEATEN MICE TRACK Introducing new innovative congress products that surprise with aesthetics and creativity.



Unique evaluation of hotels by hidden congress guests using more than 400 criteria.

Overview of interesting congress providers through experiences and special offers.





Busting or confirming 10 meetings destination myths you always wondered about.

Meeting organizers golden guide that has been since 2010 revealing fresh and interesting European meetings destinations.

Secrets about Un-European meetings destinations through the editorial word of the brilliant Robert Cotter.

Fresh news, experts articles and trends from Croatia written by the lovely Daniela Kos, editor of the Croatia Addendum.





Exclusive interviews with meetings industry experts on the current challenges of the meetings industry.

Interviews with meetings industry professionals that reveal their stories of success.

Generation Next- young talents that will shape the future of the meetings industry.

In each of us lies a little enfant terrible. The editorial board chooses the most interesting ones.





Examples of good practice cases of events and meetings industry projects presented with concrete results.

The most comprehensive collection of incentive ideas that already includes 270 programmes and is being up-dated weekly.

Examples of good practice in the field of marketing of meetings destinations, hotels and events.

Presentation of the most interesting destinations through the TOP 10 column. We are rating convention hotels, car launch destinations, special venues …

What’s next?

The May issue will be hotter than ever and will not only amuse our loyal readers, but will also be cheering up international meeting planners with Meetologues. Meetologues, a sub-genre of travelogues made on the basis of an extensive field research reveal and explore new meetings destinations. Kongres Magazine was the first international magazine which began to represent the countries of South, Central and Eastern Europe (often classified as New Europe) in such a comprehensive way to the international market. We invite you to visit and log in the Meetologue!


A word from the editor


Gorazd Čad, Editor, Kongres magazine


stakali Street was surprisingly quiet, nothing like its usual crowd of more than 3 million tourists and locals mingling together in it. A day later, shortly after my departure from Istanbul, there was yet another dreadful bang and it seemed to me that I haven’t been so close to the reality of New Europe for quite some time. Only three days after that another new reality struck again in the heart of Europe, the very same Europe that until now has perhaps seemed distant from the wider reality of what’s happening and a Europe that has not had an adequate handling or response to the crisis. Brussels, however, became another of its victims. If the tragic events in Paris were a surprise, the events in Ankara, Istanbul and Brussels were predictable. I now wonder what will follow in addition to the increase of security, the closure of borders and the creation of an atmosphere loaded with fear and xenophobia. Are we to be, just like in an action film, continually rescued by 007 agents of a new generation specially trained for emergency situations? A false sense of security is a solid testing ground for the tightening of rights and an attack on the basic rights of citizenship. It is therefore really important to strive for an open and tolerant society, because this is the only way to a better world. It is also the heart and essence of the congress industry. Years ago, in the era preceding the communication-information age, when similar events occurred the destinations and meeting providers took years to recover from the damage and pick up where they left off. The strongest memory I have is following the period of Slovenian independence, which halted congress business in CD Cankarjev dom for a decade. The first International Congress was secured only in 1998. Today, however, information circulates more rapidly and the decisions of participants and organisers are taken in a much more shorter term. There are no longer any more or less safe countries; meeting planners will just have to get used to the new normality and be able to react to the situation in a moment. It looks like we will


Tanja Fajon, Slovenian member of the European Parliament from Brussels: “The weapon against terrorism is not fear, but courage, and not hatred, but a clear message: we will not surrender.” have to accept stricter controls at the border for quite some time, yet we can only hope that these measures will only be temporary. I am not afraid. Life goes on and I will not let politicians or the media drive me into a state of


panic. The positivity and fortitude of the meetings industry can be found in its professional, intercultural dialogue, in the establishment of new borders that no terrorist can take away. The meetings industry is our job, our lives. The meetings industry must continue to function and this is the only way we will really defeat terrorism. Now we, as congress organisers, must honestly consider every safety procedure and protocol for the events we organise to ensure participants have a proper sense of security. And we will do this with pride. The editorial board of Kongres magazine expresses its solidarity with the victims of the attacks in Ankara, Istanbul and Brussels, and calls for peace and humanity. Eppur Si Muove: Despite the threat of terrorism, the year began perfectly. In this issue you will find a piece on the Conventa trade show, Ace Of Mice and the top event of MPI EMEC, as well as reports on numerous events by our partners.

Exclusive interview



Exclusive interview

REYKJAVIK – A DESTINATION THAT TELLS STORIES People love to cultivate their curiosity and bring home stories

Text by Gorazd Čad Q: How has the Reykjavik meetings industry evolved over the past years and how do you think it will continue to develop? In 2014, 80,000 MICE guests, together with their entourages, visited Iceland. This is 13.9 % more than in the preceding year. This represents 8.3 % of the total number of travellers passing through Keflavík International Airport. According to surveys and the estimates of Meet in Reykjavík, just less than 39,000 conference guests, together with their entourages, visited Iceland in 2014. There were just more than 19,000 incentives visitors and around 22,000 event and exhibition guests during that same year. Compared to 2011 there has been a 38 % increase in conferences and 159 % increase in incentive groups among our associated partners. These statistics indicate a steady annual growth. Q: What are Reykjavik’s unique strengths and are you promoting any niche MICE offerings? Our competitive advantage is firstly the strategic location midway between the U.S., Canada and Europe, secondly the rugged and unique nature in the close vicinity of the city, and thirdly the fact that Iceland is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. People love to cultivate their curiosity and bring home stories about their experience, and Iceland certainly has a lot of places that can take your breath away. History has also shown that Iceland usually attracts more conference delegates than previous conference destinations, indicating strong power of interest towards this strategically located island midway between North America and Europe. The power of Iceland lies in the energetic source of nature, culture and local mindset. All these elements serve as the perfect backdrop for a memorable and effective event. Visitors claim it is the country´s energy, diversity and authenticity that gives the island an otherworldliness and spiritual inspiration. The capital city Reykjavik is nestled by stunning nature and planners can choose from various meeting facilities that offer revitalizing views. Just outside the city limits are natural wonders waiting to be explored. Meet in Reykjavík has prepared short presentations titled GET ENERGIZED. These presentations are offered to planners of large inter-

national conferences in Iceland. The purpose is to mirror the Icelandic energy through culture and local mindset. The goal is to raise energy levels among conference guests and create stories for them to talk about. Q: Within Iceland’s MICE sector, which niche are you finding to be most popular and why? Although we are looking at a huge increase in international conferences it seems that incentives are the winners. It is likely that the nature and adventure are the pulling powers, as well as short distances to unique sites and natural wonders from the city. Unfortunately we don´t have as precise statistics over the growth in international events. Iceland is steadily gaining a reputation on the foodie scene and more MICE guests are looking for cultural experiences to feel the local taste and atmosphere. The founding and buildup of Meet in Reykjavik as a public-private partnership in 2012 plays a large role in strategic destination marketing with a very clear focus on the MICE market. We use multiplatform marketing emphasizing personal contacts and service. The strength of the public-private partnership model is very valuable, as it drives long term funding stability from the official side, strategic drive and vision from the bigger companies and immediate business demand from the smaller partners. This combined dynamic with more agile operation and decision making profile creates a very strong long-term model to maximize value creation within this highly important market. Q: In terms of infrastructure what are Reykjavik’s strengths and what do you feel needs further development? The city itself feels like a cosmopolitan capital with its modern infrastructure and vibrant art scene but has, at the same time, the sense of a relaxed harbour city. Iceland is said to have a bit of quirkiness mixed with authenticity, an experience welcomed by many MICE guests. Reykjavík is also a very secure and peaceful city and everything you need is within reach. There has been an increasing demand for luxury and lifestyle hotels. The hospitality industry has responded quite dramatically and there are several luxury and lifestyle hotels to be opened in the next years. There are also many 4 star hotels to be opened this year and in the 7

coming years to accommodate the steep annual increase in general tourism. Forecasts assume that the volume of tourists in general will increase by 29 % in 2016. Q: Which markets and countries are you primarily targeting with your marketing? The main focus is on cities and countries with direct flights to Iceland, such as North America, Scandinavia, the UK, Germany and the Benelux countries. More distant markets are being studied. Q: Where is the greatest competition and how do you address this? The greatest competition is to work with the misconception foreigners have of Iceland. Many people think Iceland is very cold and hard to access and have no clue of how advanced the MICE infrastructure is. Our task is to inform and educate MICE planners. Iceland is located midway between North America and ideally located to “MEET IN THE MIDDLE”, with only a 5 hour flight from the east coast of North America and about a 2-3 hour flight from Europe. There are actually daily flights to 35 destinations in Europe and North America. During the summer this number rises to 65. As many as 25 airlines have scheduled flights to Iceland in 2016. Regarding the weather our winter temperature is around 0° C and it is often warmer than in nearby countries. Regarding the infrastructure please refer to question about infrastructure. Q: What is the secret of a succesful MICE destination? Every succesful MICE destination needs to offer good accessibility, service quality, a great selection of accommodation, unique venues, good food and security. What differentiates us is the authenticity, diversity and energy in nature, culture and local mindset. Not to forget how strategically well we are located connecting America and Europe, which is very convenient for international companies and associations. Meet in Reykjavík also believes in collaboration and recognises the power of joining forces with all local relevant players and stakeholders that promote Iceland as a MICE destination.

Exclusive interview

Q: What’s next for Reykjavik? Please refer to answer about Reykjaviks strengths and further development. Q: Do you have any advice for new convention bureaus emerging in Eastern Europe? As we are a relatively young professional organisation with a broad public as well as private backing, we are flexible and dynamic and in a position to shape our future by listening and reacting quickly to marketing trends and changes. Our three most important assets are: • Human resource – clear vision, broad professional background, drive and aspiration • Knowledge and community building within the MICE industry in Iceland • Flexibility and short communication lines

PERSONAL Q: What advice would you give to your younger colleagues in Europe? Always strive to strike a good balance between disciplined professionalism within the MICE market and a clear eye for your destination’s characteristics, culture and strengths. One without the other could end by being either too sterile and potentially boring or too loose and leisure-like. Q: Your best incentive idea in Reykjavik? Combination of teambuilding activities in Reykjavik, including great food and gala, and challenging nature activities, including snowmobiling on a glacier, ice caving and similar activities. Q: On a personal note, what would be your ideal event to host in Iceland? We were the runner up in bidding for the World Out Games 2017, so I guess winning that event at a later date would be an ideal event to host in Reykjavik, Iceland. Q: To change the MICE world you need to ...? Love what you do, strict adherence to professional standards and endless drive and aspiration. 8

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Relax over tapas in an outdoor café or dance until dawn. Whatever you do, Madrid is the business.

Kongres 10th Anniversary

KONGRES MAGAZINE CELEBRATING ITS 10TH ANNIVERSARY Mission: Raising the recognition of Slovenia as a meeting destination Text by Gorazd Čad




The 10th anniversary of Kongres Magazine was an excellent opportunity to meet with people who have witnessed and helped create the congress story of the region. The open debate moderated by Gorazd Čad, Editorin-Chief of Kongres magazine, was held in Grand Hotel Union on 1 March 2016 to celebrate the jubilee, exchange different opinions and indicate the right future path for the meetings industry of Slovenia.





The majority of invited speakers were women, who have played the biggest role in the regional meetings industry: Mojca Gobina (Bernardin Group), Karmen Novarlič (Slovenian Tourist Board), Breda Pečovnik (CD congress centre), Tatjana Radovič (Ljubljana Tourism / Convention Bureau), Mateja Sušnik (Kompas DMC), Nuša Šolar (Union Hotels) and Saša Zor (Sava Hotels & Resorts) all attended the roundtable. A special contribution was also made by Iztok Bricl (GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre), Miro Hribar (Intours DMC), Miha Kovačič (Slovenian Convention Bureau) and Ninoslav Vidović (Terme Maribor) with their experiences and observations. The roundtable was split into three sections and began with a debate on whether the existing strategy enshrined in the manifesto written 5 years ago is still relevant and appropriate, given the market situation has changed so much. The energetic and enthusiastic professionals of the Ministry of Economy and Slovenian tourist organisation (STO) who wrote the manifesto have brought together the meetings industry and the

”Throughout the years strategies must be reviewed and adapted.” (Gorazd Čad )

intention to raise awareness of the meetings industry’s value was met. Over the years a lot of the planned activities have already been carried out. Some were implemented differently than expected and others still remain on the “to do” list. Although it has been five years since the beginning of the economic crisis, many improvements have been made during this difficult period. The biggest focus was on the visibility of Slovenia as a meetings destination in SE Europe and beyond. An uplift in recognition has been sensed at work-



Kongres 10th Anniversary

shops and trade shows abroad, where potential buyers have by now become aware of Slovenia. To change the perception on how to promote Slovenia and present it as a congress destination was an important step for all providers who have outgrown government actions on this issue. Slowly but surely the recognition and influence of the Slovenian Convention Bureau continues to improve. Despite the economic crisis the bureau has managed to place congress activities in the strategic documents of the Slovenian Tourism Organisation. In the following years the appropriate systematic functioning of the Slovenian Convention Bureau should be the guide for further congress activities. The bureau needs such systematic functioning to the extent that it will enable the authority a consistent, multi-annual plan that, if necessary, will be adapted over time.

”This year we won’t host big congresses, but we will achieve the same or even better results with several smaller ones.” (Breda Pečovnik)

”The process of development of the meetings industry is like running a marathon” (Miha Kovačič)

Aviation connection has been highlighted as a problem that needs to be improved in order for the Slovenian meetings industry to grow. Unfortunately individual meeting players have no influence in this area, but with the new ownership of Slovenian air carrier Adria Airways there is hope for new and more frequent flight connections. According to participants the forecasts for the 2016 meetings industry are promising. This congress season is not going to be delivering surpluses like that of 2015, but it is still going to be a positive one. During the round table it was at the forefront that in the last few years the academic sector is increasingly coming under the spotlight. A notable trend is the organisation of smaller events, which they try to satisfy with their own capacities. The year of 2016 will not only be marked by numerous smaller events, but also by their last minute organisation. 11

The debate was concluded with a discussion of ‘dream events to hold’. One of the most sought after types of events are car launches and events associated with the film industry. The long term focus should be on flagship events and association congresses. Flagship events present the opportunity to on one side raise the recognition of Slovenia and its meeting industry and on the other help to raise the quality of meetings services. All in all the round table was a great opportunity to meet old friends, industry colleagues and future talents, to look back on how we helped shape the meeting industry during the last decade and to discuss and agree on what still needs to be done … and there is still a lot of work to be done. Kongres magazine thanks all the round table guests and looks forward to creating meetings industry magic with them into the future!

Kongres 10th Anniversary


Karmen Novarlič is known amongst congressmen as a long-standing member of the Council of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. As a head of department of tourism at the Public agency SPIRIT she has solved many problems with a positive approach and has helped develop a better understanding between the public and private sector in congress industry. Mojca Gobina comes from the Slovenian coast and she is constantly involved in the development and creation of the congress story in Portorož and Piran. Despite many restrictions she manages to maintain the excellent condition of the Bernardin convention centre, which will this year host a record number of events and 17 international congresses. Dream event: We would like to host more major sporting events. They bring together the business and social part and have a major impact on the destination. This autumn we will host the Golden Age Gymnast Festival and we expect around 1,800 participants. The Bernardin Hotels were always in the role of a trend setter, also when it comes to finding synergies in conjunction with the Slovenian Convention Bureau. The manifesto was created at a critical moment when we wanted to raise awareness of the value of congress tourism, of our work and the multiple effects congress tourism has on the whole economy. At the same time we have raised the visibility of Slovenia. We are not lacking knowledge, experience or professionalism when it comes to the meetings industry. The manifesto was created in 2011 on the basis of energy and individual enthusiasts that recognized Slovenia’s potential a long time ago. I would like to see the budget for the marketing activities be increased so that we would be able to reach our potential clients. With the experience of presentation of the destination we have had excellent results. The proof of that was also this year’s Conventa and SITE Incentive Summit.

Dream event: In 2015, for the first time ever, we organised within the remit of the Bled Strategic Forum a meeting of European Ministers for Tourism and Chinese representatives - 16 + 1. I would like to see this kind of event be organized in the next two years at the level of Prime Ministers. I am also a fan of promotion through the film industry. Filming the next James Bond in Slovenia would be my dream event. In the past, it was crucial to include business tourism among the eight key products of the Slovenian Tourism 2012 - 2016 strategy. We’re still at the point where there is no guarantee of a sustainable existence of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. The new strategy from 2017 onwards should therefore regulate and ensure stability of the bureau. In the promotion of Slovenia, the focus has turned to digital content marketing, which means the preparation of new, different content, from text to video material, production and distribution through conventional channels and social networks, where we can best measure inputs in marketing and then address the appropriate audience with the right content. Breda Pečovnik, as director of the congress and commercial programme, is responsible for the central Slovenian congress PCO agency. She is committed to high standards of quality, as evidenced by her long-term membership of international associations IAPCO and ICCA. She seeks to enforce high standards of operation and greater visibility of PCO agencies and their role in the congress field. 12

Dream event: For Ljubljana to obtain the IAPCO Annual General Meeting with 120 members from 41 countries that organises 8,000 events per year with approx. 3.9 million participants and 5.1 trillion EUR revenue. We are facing the same challenges as in 2011, when the manifesto was created. In some areas, such as accessibility, we have stagnated, whilst elsewhere, for example in the supply of accommodation for conference guests, we have been improving for the past five years. As PCOs we are confronted by “uncertified” agencies that introduce themselves to clients as competent event planners. The Slovenian Convention Bureau should continue to certify the meeting providers as was determined in the beginning. At the state and municipal level they should know what the meetings industry is. I wish that congress tourism was equivalent to leisure tourism.

Tatjana Radovič is the face of Congress Ljubljana, which is recognized all over the world. She has been involved in the congress development of Slovenia from the very first beginnings. In 2006 she received the IMEX Academy Award for her committed work in the field of tourism and her sustained efforts in the development of

Kongres 10th Anniversary

congress and conference tourism in Ljubljana. She is the only Slovenian to ever receive the award for excellence in the meetings industry. World international trends go in the direction of the growth of scientific conferences with 500 participants, according to the conferences with 1,000 or more participants. This is our core business. In the candidacy of associations one of the key elements is accessibility. The city of Ljubljana thus sometimes falls out in the first round.

ed PCO activities. She is known as a positive and goal-oriented person.

Dream event: I wish for events similar to the SITE Incentive Summit. Let’s try to get conferences that associations like MPI and ICCA organise. These are the events that will raise our visibility.

Dream event: Dream events are flagship events like Association congresses that would bring to Ljubljana 200 representatives of scientific professional associations. Such an event would be considered a breakthrough. Staring Kongres Magazine was a bold move that was accompanied by many doubts. If I today compare it to other professional media, I can say that Kongres magazine has a trending content and has made a real breakthrough among the professional media. The highlight of personalisation made a shift in our perception of how to present ourselves and our destination services. Somehow we have already internalised this model, which is also consistent with our boutique perception. I am proud that foreign professionals also praise this magazine. A strategy on paper is necessary, but it needs to be flexible. It is necessary to adjust it every few years and re-define the priorities according to the available resources. I remember the Finns who years ago said that they had come up with a 5-year plan that they review and correct every year. The stability of the Slovenian Convention Bureau is what is most important. To convince associations you have to consistently build your presence. Being the best congress destination in the region is a very ambitious goal, especially if we look at the fast progress some other destinations are making. Keeping statistics also remains a challenge. Often the data we have do not convince the decision makers of the importance of our industry. Destinations that have carefully designed statistics are those where data capture is ensured through monitoring official tourism statistics at national level or associated with established external institutions. From my experience I do not believe that without the support of an on-line application the required data could be captured. As an important role for the future I see the ambassador programme linking key players from the science and meeting industry fields. Mateja Sušnik, a geographer by soul and belief, built her career in Kompas, where she led various departments and fully met DMC activities. In the previous year she took over the management of incoming business and re-start-

efforts to connect Slovenian, and in particular Ljubljana’s, meetings industry.

Dream event: A dream event would be an important car launch. Not necessarily Bentley, perhaps Volvo? Due to the increase of safety in Europe, Slovenia will have to be more interesting for meeting organisers. Kongres magazine has helped me stay in the loop. I get all the information I need with the one newsletter the magazine sends. It is now time to come up with new solutions. The economy has changed and so have the trends and the key audience. In Croatia they have made a smart move with subsidizing 20 % of all investments made in filmmaking in Croatia. Every euro invested in it pays off well and has a multiplier effect and increases its visibility. Dubrovnik is becoming one of the world’s best-known great film set locations. We, the DMCs, welcome new flight connections and we quickly include destinations with new flight connections into our programmes.

In three years, together with the Slovenian Convention Bureau, we have made real progress in the visibility of Slovenia, that is still a pretty unknown destination among meeting planners. We are cooperating closely with the bureau in all of the marketing activities. The fact is that we don’t have enough people to start preparing candidacies together as a destination.

Saša Zor, a hotelier in her soul, says the hotel industry is more than just a job, it is a lifestyle and passion. She is especially attracted by the luxury tourism segment, including the meetings industry. For several years she has been participating as an expert in the work of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. At her work she strives to create new marketing tools, being especially enthusiastic when it comes to sustainable congress tourism. Dream event: A dream event is connected to a dream budget. I wish it would be an event held at Bled that would include a sustainable approach and that we could later on use as a good, proactive example of how luxury and sustainability go hand in hand.

Nuša Šolar, the active creator of Union hotels’ new story, was “infected” with the meetings industry as a student at Cankarjev Dom. As an inveterate sportswoman, she swears on long distance runs, which certainly help her with her demanding work. We all appreciate her 13

A sales department is rated by the number of acquisitions, sales calls and attendance at trade shows, while a marketing department creates stories, is harder to measure for its results, is time consuming and costs a lot, but the synergies are created when sales and marketing work together. Today invisible meeting planners are

Kongres 10th Anniversary

present everywhere, are looking for hints even before the demand is created. Thus thoughtful and subtle provision of information and creating stories is critical. An example of this is how Bled can be promoted as a green, sustainable destination among the meeting planners through a good story and activities – where in the destination we invited meeting planners to sow the seeds of herbs characteristic of the destination. We urge them to write a positive thought on the herb’s pot to encourage the plant to grow. Later on we send them a photo of the plant and remind them that it grew from the seed that they planted. We invite them to return to our destination and see it in person.

Miro Hribar is a director and founding father of Intours DMC agency, which in an extremely short period of time became the focal DMC agency in the Adriatic region. Miro is famous for his positive approach, experience and calm approach, as well as his complexity to partners and subcontractors. Intours has specialised in incentive programmes, whereby it can be considered as a true ambassador of Slovenia. Dream event: A gala dinner from 500 people with a budget between 500,000 and 1 million EUR or the launch of a prestigious yacht or motorbike.

Iztok Bricl, a graduate economist, started his career in the food industry and was for many years chairman of the Žito board. With his arrival at the Gospodarsko razstavišče Ljubljana, it became Slovenia’s central event centre, which hosted diverse events of mostly fairs and congresses. Besides his regular work, he is dedicated to the development of the Slovenian meetings industry and its momentum and internationalisation. Dream event: A large congress in the field of medicine or pharmacy. Congress activity at GR began to develop in 2005, although we are basically a fairground. Nevertheless, the number of congresses held at GR is increasing each year. It also depends on the support of the city and the Mayor of Ljubljana. We need large congresses with more than 1,000 participants. In the strategy we wrote that we need them 6 to 8 times a year. Lobbying with different professionals from international associations that can bring congresses to Slovenian is needed.

The manifesto was a bold document that connected the meetings industry with the Ministry of Economy and Slovenian Tourist Board. We managed to include the meetings industry in the strategic documents of the Slovenian Tourist Board. The role of the Slovenian Convention Bureau is to increase the visibility of Slovenia and the success of its members by enabling them to meet potential new clients. I can see we have reached a certain level of recognition in the past ten years. We no longer walk through the trade shows holding a map of Slovenia in our hands. We cannot catch up with Vienna, Prague or Budapest, as they are a league of their own and we are considered a “second league” destination. However, we can reach our goals with strong connectivity and by being proactive. We need to be open to discussions, define the challenges that we want to overcome today, in two years or in five years. I am certain we will gradually manage to overcome all challenges. We will reach a breakthrough if we are able to connect the destinations, enter the key markets as one and be present with activities for several consecutive years. In the last year we have made a giant step forward when it comes to social media and we believe our work will pay off in the next years.

There is still a lot of work to be done, even though we have made a huge qualitative leap and learned a lot in the past few years. For incentive events the criteria are quite different, higher than for congresses, and we still have problems with accessibility as well as with infrastructure. This year will be the most successful year for Intours DMC, mostly due to events in Croatia. We will also record growth In Slovenia compared to last year. I would wish for Slovenia to be presented to the American market at IMEX in Las Vegas.

Miha Kovacic has over 20 years working experience in the travel industry. Tourism is part of his family, being already the fourth generation working in tourism. He started with Kompas Tour Operator but soon got infected by the meetings industry. He continued with Kompas, the Destination Management Company and Professional Conference Organiser, later joining Grand Hotel Union, the largest convention hotel in Ljubljana. His current position is CEO of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. Dream event: One dream event has already happened – the SITE Incentive Summit meeting in Ljubljana. I believe that very soon we will be able to add new events to our wish list.


Ninoslav Vidović is a graduate art historian from Slavonski Brod, Croatia, but for almost his entire career he has been in leading positions of tourism enterprises in Rovinj and Poreč. Upon his arrival in Maribor he has fundamentally restructured the sales of Terme Maribor and helped the crisis management of last year’s ski season. Dream event: I would like to see some kind of a ministerial meeting in Maribor where they would sign an agreement for Peace in Syria. Broadly speaking, for Maribor I would love to hold a world championship boxing match.

Kongres magazine


CVB News

SLOVENIA SITE INCENTIVE SUMMIT LEGACY ARE WE READY? WE SHOULD BE! Slovenia was privileged to host the SITE Incentive Summit 2016.

Text by Miha Kovačič

Let’s analyse each a bit.

could be not understanding the incentive business and its opportunities. The decision is not just in the hands of one hotel or DMC. This must be the decision of a national and a local Government. Like every business, the incentive business needs its basics to be fulfilled in order to flourish as well. Having in the country 25 well travelled and experienced global incentive professionals for the whole week is a gift from God. SITE association is a true members association focused on the needs of its members. Each Board member is passionate to help each individual but also officials need to learn and make a step forward. SITE Incentive Summit included a full day educational seminar. When planning the event, SITE went even several steps further. They understood our challenges and interests and adapted the educational seminar in order to achieve the best value for the regional industry. Over 160 meeting professionals had the opportunity to obtain global incentive business knowledge from top professionals. Complimentary! We went even further as the Board members met with officials from the Ministry of Economy demonstrating the size of incentive business and its opportunities for the amazing emerging country of Slovenia. Ljubljana is the fastest developing MICE destination in the country so meeting with the Mayor of Ljubljana Mr Zoran Janković was in the program as well. Mayor did not just take the time out of his busy schedule. He carefully listened to all Board members comments and advices and shared his vision of the future development of the tourism of Ljubljana. No doubt that incentive business will contribute important part to the success. Education will continue with membership in the SITE and the planed formation of the regional SITE Chapter.

Educational Slovenia and region of New Europe is rather an emerging region in the incentive business. In contrary it has much more opportunities in this field than in the congress business. But why it has not developed this field in the quarter of the century of independence? One of the reasons

Experiential One thing is that we learned from SITE Board members, the other is what SITE Board members learned from us. We wanted to make the best use of their time while being in the country for almost a week. To at board meetings properly present what the country has to offer took


n the decade of its annual meetings Ljubljana was after Paris the second European destination to host such a prominent event. No doubt that the country did its utmost to present itself at its best as otherwise this would be a wasted opportunity for the emerging country and the region in this lucrative sector. Why? When preparing for the event we realised the opportunity lies in the following three segments: • educational • experiential • marketing


quality time. But we are fortunate that Slovenia is a compact and boutique country. We managed to let them experience some of the major incentive destinations. We included personal stories of passionate individuals. Gastronomy is definitely one of the strong suits of Slovenia in the MICE business so SITE Board members were able to familiarized themselves with the country’s gastronomy and wine offer. Last year the Summit was in Dubai. How can Slovenia compete with such a well known and rich destinations that has almost everything. In my opinion very easily. It just needs to present and demonstrate its core values. The true heart of Slovenian meetings industry is SLOVENIAN ENERGY consisting of • Team Flexibility • 24h Smile • Personal Touch • Natural Charm Isn’t that what meeting planners are looking for today? The third segment was Marketing Except one of the SITE Board member, none of them has been in Slovenia before. What a unique opportunity for the country and its incentive business. The image of the country and experiences overnight obtained global reach through SITE Board members communication channels. Everybody in our business should understand the value of this kind of marketing. Slovenia with its capital Ljubljana became global incentive destination. All the SITE members learned that Slovenia is an attractive incentive destination and that it has a lot to offer. Marketing activities will continue to depend on how much value the industry has realised through their investment. We are all looking forward to IMEX Frankfurt and SITE NITE where we will reconnect with our SITE Board member friends and colleagues. SITE Incentive Summit was the largest single investment in the Slovenian MICE sector in its 25 years of independency. Time will show the true ROI.

SLOVENIA MEETINGS Feel the people. Taste fresh ideas.

Creative Break

52 HOURS OF SERVICE DESIGN A holistic approach to better understanding of clients’ motivation, presented in the words of experts - Ivana Preiss and Filip Vasić of 52:HOURS, a brand and design consultancy. Interview by Polona Ponikvar


hat does ethnography have to do with providing an exceptional, multi-channel service and how does it help to create good marketing strategies? Well, everything. As the best way to obtain customer insights, it should be the starting point for the successful launch of any new product. During the last decade service design has emerged as a useful alternative to the standard methods of traditional marketing. Putting the focus on identifying and understanding human behaviour, this approach to marketing is vital for integrating multiple channels across the digital and physical space. Many companies are trying to introduce new, innovative services, but they fail in making the relevant use of new techologies, misplace touchpoints and often overlook the chance to grasp the changes in their marketplace and establish new revenue models. A deep insight into the motivations and reservations of customers enables nurturing sustainable relationships between a company and a client. And service design does precisely that - it examines customers’ (users’) attitudes, their feelings and their behaviour relevant to the brand experience. It integrates management, marketing, research and design to envision the best design solution that will add value to services. Service design acts as an intermediary that connects organisations and clients in a far more reciprocal way. We teamed up with service design consultancy firm 52:HOURS, a multi-disciplinary team based in Prague, specialised in offering innovative and progressive design solutions, to tell us more about the marketing challenges and pitfalls.

Q: Your field of work is the so-called ‘service design’ – what exactly is service design and how is it different from any other standard brand design? Service design is a holistic method that focuses on interaction between the customer and the product over time and with particular attention to the context in which this interaction takes place. It is basically a part of systems thinking that rests on observing the problem within a wider ecosystem. Effectively, this means treating every product as a service before, during and after purchase or use and therefore the name service design. The result of interaction is what is commonly called product and brand experience - in itself a critical feature of success. Of course, the entire experience of interaction between a customer and a brand cannot be fully predicted, but brands must do their best to design multiple touch-points and channels as to create positive experiences for the customer, both in physical and digital domains. So, a fundamental part of service design is getting to know your customers, understand their needs 18

and behaviour and, subsequently, design solutions that help them fulfil those needs. Q: What does the company name - 52:HOURS - actually mean? The name is basically a proof of concept. We worked with a client on a project through a series of very intensive workshops and we realised that during the course of only fifty-two working hours (not real time, of course) our team managed to identify main challenges and set the strategic direction in which we needed to go in order to solve them. The name 52:HOURS later came to describe the basic package we offer to clients, comprising identification of pain-points in interaction between customers and brand, product or service, positioning and a creative brief. Q: How do the needs of an average consumer of different services and products change when it comes to choosing the right product, the right service? In Maslow’s sense, the basic needs perhaps

Creative Break

haven’t changed much, but expectations have in a substantial way. In many areas, including tourism, what used to be premium is now seen as a standard service. As people in general now have better access to information, they are more demanding, which urges brands to re-think their business models and supply chains, to be more authentic, more transparent and show their attitudes about social topics. This poses a challenge, but can also offer a great opportunity for connecting with customers. Similarly, mobile customers force even the most conservative luxury brands to adopt digital channels. With shared economy, the car industry is now considering a future where owning a car may not necessarily be a common feature. Financial institutions feel the threat, as startups are quicker to offer innovative, better or cheaper services, etc. Constant commoditisation makes brand equity and loyalty harder to maintain, and this brings us back to the question of whether the brand experience justifies the brand promise. Authenticity is a very important factor. Q: In your opinion what is the most important element in the marketing process of a certain product that influences the consumer‘s final decision in choosing one product over another? The combination of smart design, deep understanding of customers, bold creativity and ability to maintain the relationship with customers is what sets successful brands apart from the others. Smart design means having a good product that fills a gap in the market and addresses customer needs better, while also feeling more beautiful. Function as such is not enough. The world is full of functional products that lose money. A beautiful product is designed to be experienced by all the human senses: sight, hearing, sense, touch and taste. After Mac and iPhone everybody realises how important a part of the experience it was to touch them. But what ensures that products will be bought is marketing rooted in a strong human insight with a creative and engaging message that people can identify with. Q: Our magazine is specialised in the meetings industry and tourism in general. We’ve noticed that old-fashioned tourism PR and marketing (visitor guides and other such stuff) just doesn’t work anymore. Why do you think this is? Not only is the audience overwhelmed with ads, but the rise of digital media changed the way we perceive the world around us. For example, many people today evaluate their experiences by how “Instagramizable” they are. The good is what looks good on social networks. Kids use pictures

on Snapchat in the way their parents (who are now on Facebook) used letters and their older siblings used texts. With new media comes new codes, and brands need to grasp these changes and adapt in order to stay relevant and credible. Tourists look for memorable experiences and share those experiences using social networks. The tourism industry must therefore do its best to facilitate sharing and provide quick, relevant and honest information and assistance to the people that rely on their mobile devices. Q: It seems that the tourism industry needs to create a specific design (some sort of visual identity) for every (congress) tourist experience. Who, in your opinion, has the necessary experience and tools to make such an efficient design? Efficient design is a combination of three things: perception, function and creativity. A designer needs to be perceptive of the environment in order to figure out the complexity of what may seem a simple purpose. While design as a creative process is obviously a matter for professionals, we also need a critical audience. Including the public in any process may be a tricky thing, but may also help in building awareness. Q: By posting pictures and personal statements via social media channels, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. every visitor to a specific tourist destination is becoming a destination ambassador. What do you think is the best way to incorporate one‘s personal experiences in marketing purposes? What are the means to achieve this sort of marketing strategy? This question is a complex one, but as a general rule tourist destinations should put the quality of the content associated with them as a high priority. Stories and imagery must somehow be exceptional. Also, they should consider how to make the physical environment more social media friendly in order to drive engagement. Evidently, you wouldn’t ruin a perfect beach with a photo-booth, but for example, there are ways to make use of gamification to create a sense of exclusivity or collect leads in order to stay in touch with people. Q: How important do you think a city‘s general urban creativity is? Does it have a crucial role in a city‘s efforts to become more visible and recognizable worldwide? Some cities, such as Berlin or London, have built their image by consistently supporting the socalled ‘creative industry’ with obvious success. But even the cities without metropolitan advantages could benefit from helping creative people express themselves. One such place is Leipzig, 19

often called the ‘new Berlin’. However, it is unlikely that any kind of creative endeavour that is not part of a larger creative strategy of a city can create an instantly recognisable international image just by itself. To be recognisable, an image needs to be a result of many authentic creative expressions with something in common. This is where collaboration between the citizens and the city council can have a great effect. Q: Why does a city (as a destination) need a creative director? We tried to answer that question in a recent article published in Croatia where we took Zagreb as an example. In short, we think that most medium-sized cities, especially those still struggling for their place on the global map, can profit from having an office whose job would be to stimulate and facilitate the creative potential of the citizens and ensure that great ideas find their way through the corridors of administration faster and with less friction. There is a lot to be achieved by supporting projects that integrate local culture, innovation and entrepreneurship through art and design. Peter Saville, long-term creative director of Manchester, once noted that cities are determined by what the visitors take away, not by what they bring in. As memories are one such thing, someone should help to create them.

Meet the Team


EUROPE IS OUR PLAYGROUND, BEING DIFFERENT IS OUR STORY With 15 Kompas Offices around Europe and with over 60 employees, who speak at least 11 world languages, we like to think that our team is an international and multicultural society sharing one major goal – to push the limits of our business operations further and further. Being different is a strong motivation factor for us and a rewarding formula for our clients and partners. Also, this is the only way a company in the DMC sector can remain a vigorous and tireless player in this huge and spectacular playground that is Europe. ONE SINGLE YEAR AND A NEW CHAPTER OF A BESTSELLING NOVEL BEGAN Back in 1991, Kompas had to refocus from its established market of former Yugoslavia with only 24 million people on a new, much more developed and technologically as well as demographically sophisticated business arena with more than 740 million potential customers. And that was a major step! When Yugoslavia as we all knew it no longer existed, all of the Company’s knowledge had to be instantly recycled into

something very new, challenging and powerful. Kompas started opening branch offices all around Europe and offered DMC services to its partners from Europe and Overseas. With the new business platform, new possibilities and also responsibilities arose. Since Kompas was a market leader from 1951 to 1991, every single team member had to step on road well-paved, but also had to relearn every single task in the process of connecting with clients and satisfying their needs. No matter whether it was a foreign partner or a group of individuals. After just a short period of time at the very beginning of the new century, a well-trained team with impressively extensive knowledge and experience was established, and more that 15 branch offices became fully operational. WE CARE AND DARE TO BE DIFFERENT – IT IS IN OUR NATURE After 65 years of company’s long run and after 24 years of this steady and firm growth under the brand Kompas DMC (internally, it is referred to it as ‘Kompas Incoming’), the department grew from a business initially worth EUR 2 million to today’s revenue of 45-million Euros. 20

It has indeed been a long and winding road, but the DMC team is the one who walked every step of it and got to overcome every single obstacle on the way. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Kompas DMC’s motto today is - Dare to be different. Because this is what they are and what they will always be.

Top talk with Mateja Sušnik, Managing Director of Kompas DMC Q: How and why did you decide to specialise in the meetings industry? I like to think of our business as one where we continuously have to be searching for something different, something new, something out of range, and something that has not been done yet. Business feeds itself on this philosophy. New opportuni-

Meet the Team

FACTS AND FIGURES Long term clients: Corporate companies (for instance IT companies, pharmaceutical companies), International Sports Federations, Group Travel and Event Agencies, Destination Management Companies, different associations.   Organised conferences and Incentives: 1-2 conferences per year, over. 40 incentive groups per year Number of employees/offices: 60+ (Slovenia, headquarters), 50+ in fifteen Kompas branch offices in Europe Biggest incentive group: incentive for 4,000 participants (Bank union from Israel) Number of incentives per year: over 40 incentive groups per year

One could be prompted to say that we are an ‘Executive Ladies’ Club’, but it is not true. In our team of over 60 employees, we have somewhere between 3 and 5 strong male individuals as well  ties come; new markets open and new clients are reached. The DMC and meeting industry is taking this philosophy even further, exponentially. Even though I have been working in tourism for over 20 years and even though I have grown up, so to say, as a developer of new markets and projects, I have fallen in love with meeting industry the moment I was assigned to the position of Incoming Director of Kompas Slovenia. I remember that day so vividly. I spoke with my colleagues, have been in touch with our branch offices and I really looked at the numbers – only then did I finally comprehend the vastness and depth of our business. When it comes to the various sectors of the travel industry, it is precisely DMC where things must be done differently, innovatively and boldly. I like that (smile). Q: Your team is your biggest asset … Day in and day out, our highly skilled individuals have to come up with tons of creative suggestions, and take care of thousands of clients (in 2005-2015, over 40,000 in Slovenia and Croatia alone, and in 2015, over 110,000 all around Europe). We have so many talented people in the team, coming from over 15 different countries and speaking over 11 world languages – they really are the strongest possible foundation that a travel company could imagine. And Kompas DMC can offer its clients just that! Step by step, year after year, the team is able to conjure up many new, stunning and attractive programmes

for the DMC professional public. It is simple – if you want to assume leadership in the travel business of today, especially in meetings industry, you have to be an innovator before anything else. Q: What are you most proud of? Except from my family (at home and at work), I am most proud of our continuously growing business figures from year to year, which confirms that we are doing something very right. Q: What is your vision of a successful DMC/ PCO? A successful DMC/PCO is like a state-of-theart satellite – always observing what is going on in the world and predicting the possibilities. A successful DMC/PCO has to be a bit of a business prophet as well. With not too many words, good work counts! When you organise an entire protocol of the official visit of the Deputy Mayor of Shanghai (who landed in Vienna, was hosted by the Mayor of Ljubljana and then travelled to Zagreb), or host a distinguished group at Michelin-starred restaurant in Nice, or handle over 2500 groups per year in all European countries, or even set up an exhibition for a Government Delegation at the City Hall, etc. I could go on and on – just then does one realise that whatever the vision, it is knowledge, innovation, professionalism and unsurpassable teamwork that are key. Good work and setting new trends, nothing else.


The Milestones of Kompas’ History 2016 – Kompas is celebrating 65th Anniversary on July 1st 2010 – Kompas pursues its successful business operations as the Adriatic Ambassador and one of the most important European travel corporations (DMC Europe) 2006 – Due to the need to accelerate growth and development Kompas joins the 1999 – Kompas Turizem (European DMC) and Kompas Holidays (Slovenija) merge to form unite Kompas Travel and Tourism Company 1991 – Due to the crisis in Yugoslavia, Kompas Corporation is broken up into several independent companies. Kompas injects capital into its subsidiaries in order to start a new line of services as Kompas DMC (Europe) 1971 – Tourism and coach company Kompas Jugoslavija is founded 1959 – Travel Company Putnik (The Traveller) becomes Kompas 1951 – Foundation of a tourism and coach travel company named Putnik (The Traveller) Joined partnerships: Kompas is a member of: JATA, PATA, ETOA, ASTA, USTOA, RDA, LCC, and ICCA.

Meet the Team MEET THE 5 KOMPAS DMC STARS complete football match as a form of meeting, which included players, judges, uniforms and rewards; she organised a funny retro gala dinner on the pier of Crveni otok (Croatia) for 180 participants and an ultra-adrenalin event for 180 team members of an IT company from the Netherlands, who were offered ‘all-youcan-do’ adrenalin partying with paragliding, rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, canyoning, caving and hydrospeeding. She is looking forward to her new business adventures.

IRENA SMRKOLJ, Meetings & Incentives Manager (Kompas DMC, Slovenia)

BARBARA KLADNIK, Meetings & Incentives Manager (Kompas DMC, Slovenia)

The famous screenwriter of Kompas’ MICE promo film is a creative spirit who adores reading everything that has a content related to journeys. New cultures, uniqueness of the people across the globe, fabulous architectural masterpieces, ancient civilisations and natural wonders have always been her passion and motivation to work in tourism. During her undergraduate years, she became familiar with tourism and acquired basic skills working as a hotel receptionist, and shortly after got her first assignments as a very promising project manager in a travel company. She joined the Kompas DMC team five years ago and is now working excitedly in the MICE department, as it offers her a huge range of possibilities to be creative and where her imagination can come to its full potential. She specialises in large groups consisting of a few hundreds of participants – just because it is a challenging task demanding solution oriented thinking and perfect organisational skills. This and being in contact with so many different markets and partners gives her the opportunity to evolve as a flexible, knowledgeable, intuitive and highly understanding business partner.

Slightly mysterious, very prudent and intuitive perfectionist, Barbara has grown up in Kompas – and clearly reflects in her projects, communication and results – she performs brilliantly. Maybe her restless nature and soul longing for the beauties of the world help. Barbara is one of our most dynamic team members as she is always in motion. She loves little getaways with her family in their lovely camper van, as often as possible, just to stay in touch with the magic of exploring and discovering the unknown, in Slovenia and its region. And yes, she has travelled the world, with a map in her hand and a backpack on her shoulders; she has touched the ground of many breathtaking places on Earth – travelling around Asia or to the heart of Africa, enjoying extraordinary landscapes in South America and numerous fun-filled breaks in almost every European country. When she talks to her partners and creates programmes, she is a perfectionist, very meticulous yet flexible, who knows exactly what detail to point out and what to advise. She then adds a pinch of creativity and innovation and does not stop polishing the programme until she ends up with the ultimate product. This is the exact reason why she loves her job so very much. She is a talented lady and comes up with really brilliant ideas and solutions for the DMC industry. It is little wonder really – she has been with the team for quite some time and worked in all MICE segments. Those are simply priceless experiences. In her career, she dealt with many extraordinary projects. As she is a very approachable person and connects with her clients intuitively and instantly, many of her incentives have resulted in wonderful feedback – here are just a few “of her favourites”: Incentive programme of a cosmetics company, where 40 lovely women slept in igloos at the top of Mount Krvavec (1500m above sea level); a

Every meeting, event or a group has a special place in her heart, she says, as she remembers her recent two ‘personal bests’: Last year’s European Cheerleading Championship in Ljubljana, with over 1,600 young athletes, coaches and escorts, and remarkable incentive group of a bank union from Israel with over 4,000 participants.


KSENIJA STERLE, Meetings & Incentives Manager (Kompas DMC, Slovenia) Ksenija has felt a true passion for all things related to tourism since her early days at primary school when she began to discover the beauties of Slovenia. Her very rich career portfolio includes working for companies and organisations closely associated to the world of tourism. She was the Assistant to the Head of Marketing and Sales of the Slovenian Tourist Board, as well as Project Manager at the Research and Development Department, which organised the most demanding of events such as UNWTO and ETC Meetings in Slovenia. When she finally joined the Kompas Team, she was fully equipped and ready for even bigger stories and higher stakes. Her varied practical knowledge and skills enable her to react and adjust quickly to any challenges the DMC team faces every day. Also, being an environmentally conscious person, she does her best to interlace aspects of sustainable tourism with the essential elements of her programmes. She has an amazing talent for coordination and organisation, and fulfils her responsibilities with reliability and precision. But she is a kind soul full of enthusiasm, who uses an H2H approach to advising her B2B clients.

Meet the Team

Within only one year at Kompas, she has conducted numerous high-profile events: Lufthansa City Centre regional meeting (Kompas has been a member for 20 years), a UNESCO meeting in Ljubljana, Footwear company sales meeting in Split, European Cheerleading Championship ECC 2015, an event of the European Cheerleading Association in Zadar and others.

toring the visit of Delegation of Ministers with over 100 participants in Baku, or creating a black-tie meeting in Athens or at the Canary Islands – the enthusiasm and performance are always of the highest order.

JURE URANJEK, Head of the Sports Department (Kompas d. d. and Kompas DMC) MILENA ČIŽMEK, Head of Business Travel and Fairs (Kompas DMC, Slovenia) Working with business clients in Slovenia is something Milena has been committed to for the past 24 years of her career at Kompas. The first few years in the Company, she spent going from one department to another in order to learn all of the aspects of the business and to develop that special Kompas touch as she puts it. She says that working in the B2B sector, you feel a special drive because the stakes are so high and the liabilities twofold: at one level, Kompas answers to its B2B client it handles, while at another level, that same client also bears responsibility towards its own clients, participants, travellers or attendees. And to embrace this role, the said client, whom Kompas considers its partner, has to be absolutely, hundred percent sure that the programme offered is perfect down to every single detail. In Kompas, Milena is the doyenne of special programmes, able to sensitively manage the needs of the Company’s most important clients in Slovenia. The quality of performance is something she believes in and that is why so many clients have stayed with her for a decade, travelling under her guidance all around the world, year after year.

When a person finishes school and starts working immediately for a travel company, stays in the industry for 17 long years while still being pretty young, then you know that travelling is this person’s true passion. When a man has been actively involved in sports such as swimming, volleyball, basketball, football and baseball for many years, you know that all things athletic but especially the ball are the trademark and foundation of his lifestyle. Jure is the guy! A unique and strong individual, always paving his own way, Jure is a master of thinking out-of-the-box and it is exactly thanks

Whether having over 200 participants at the Hannover or CeBIT Fair, organising a gala dinner in Dubai for 300 best vendors, moni-


to his original approach to work that so many spectacular sports events were made possible, where Kompas was partner to Slovenia’s most renowned sports organisations. He has been building his career starting off as a destination rep, then creating programmes and mastering extensive projects in a sports travel agency, working, travelling and guiding around exotic countries, never letting go of his passion for sports or missing an international sports event or match. Having him in the team is like having a personal TV station and the best possible reporter by your side. His knowledge of sports and events in the world of sports is enormous. That’s why his partnership with the clients – sports institutions is very natural and easy going. With his profound insight, Jure always becomes a sort of a member of the team. When it comes to his business performance, he keeps up-to-date with all future notable sports events and prepares special travel packages to the countries where they are to be held. On one hand, he is the master of travel ceremonies for Slovenian teams, clubs, organizations, athletes and sponsors, and on the other hand, he is able to offer exciting programmes to fans and supporters. When a really big event is held in Europe, Jure also creates programmes for Kompas’ partners from all over the world. Kompas is the partner/sponsor of: Slovenian Olympic Committee, Ski, Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, Kayak and Karate Federation, Clubs: Union Olimpija (basketball), HDD Telemach Olimpija (ice hockey) and Celje Pivovarna Laško (handball) and here are some of the Jure’s latest high profile projects: Planica Ski Jumping WC, Olympic games in Sochi, Football WC in South Africa, Basketball WC and EC, Hockey WC, Handball WC and EC.

In Focus


MARIOTT HOTEL, Skopje, Macedonia March 2016

REMISENS HOTEL PALACE BELLEVUE, Opatija, Croatia Opening 2016

The 144-room hotel will be located in the heart of the business district of Novi Sad and just a short walk to the city centre for guests wanting to explore the city’s renowned 18th century architecture, visit the fortress of Petrovaradin, the plethora of beautiful churches or take a tour of the nearby vineyards and gastronomy sites. Crowne Plaza Novi Sad will feature a range of business and meeting facilities, including five meeting rooms and two boardrooms. Guests will also be able to enjoy the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant and unwind at the sky bar, which promises panoramic views of the city.

A charming city with a fascinating history, Skopje is located in the northern part of Macedonia with the beautiful Vardar River flowing through it. The Skopje Marriott Hotel will be located in the city square, the hub of business and social activity, near the Stone Bridge which represents the connection between Skopje’s past and present. The new hotel will feature stylish guestrooms with plush beds and bath linen, flat screen televisions, a modern business centre and high-speed internet access.

The Smart Selection Hotel Palace Bellevue, a landmark of the town of Opatija, will welcome its guests in 2016 with a whole new image. Renamed as the Remisens Hotel Palace Bellevue, it will comply with the highest standards guaranteed by the Remisens brand. This includes 196 completely refurbished rooms and modern congress halls with additional services, as well as a new wellness centre with a Revital Zone.

LUXURIOUS HOTEL HILLS, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Opening 2016

There will be a multipurpose congress centre with modern conference technology, a thermal spa offer, indoor and outdoor pools, an adrenaline park for children and adults at an impressive 2,200m2, wedding halls, several restaurants with national and international food menus and a restaurant on the hotel’s roof.

SOLARIS BEACH HOTEL JURE, Šibenik, Croatia Opening 2016

This completely renovated 4* hotel with a new congress centre, a new Luxury Wellness & Spa, refurbished rooms, outdoor pools and a theme restaurant is nicely hidden in the shade of a pine forest and close to the most attractive sand beach in Dalmatia.

FAIRMONT QUASAR, Istanbul, Turkey Opening 2016+

Two 41-story towers will sit prominently above a 4-story office podium with fitness facilities and luxury retail stores. The towers will house a Fairmont Hotel and Fairmont Residences, as well as Quasar Residences and offices that will be managed by Fairmont. The hotel will feature Fairmont Gold, a number of lounges, congress halls and several restaurants, 2,000 square metres of function space and a Willow Stream Spa. Also opening in 2016: Hotel Constantine Palace, Niš, Serbia


In Focus

INTERCONTINENTAL LJUBLJANA, Ljubljana, Slovenia Opening 2017

five hotels in Romania, the best-known of which is the five-star Athenee Palace Hilton near the Romanian Athenaeum. SWISSOTEL SOFIA, Sofia, Bulgaria Opening 2018

Ljubljana‘s newest hotel addition will be located near the shopping and business centre in Dunajska Cesta and the tourist and historic areas surrounding Presernov Square and Triple Bridge. The 165 guestrooms will include a presidential suite, as well as an additional two 500-person banquet halls, six meeting spaces, a fitness centre and a spa. The 21st floor will be home to a restaurant featuring outdoor dining with panoramic views of the city. This InterContinental hotel, along with IHG’s worldwide reputation, will provide guests with the highest quality rooms, leisure facilities and restaurants served by the best people offering a world-class service.

The fashionable new hotel will include 200 hotel rooms as well as 81 serviced residences, and will be part of Grand Kanyon Sofia, a stunning mixed-use development that is generating significant interest as an important new hub for business and leisure travellers.

hotel, a shopping mall, garages, office buildings and a residential area. Congress Centre Sarajevo preparations began at the end of 2012 and now, after making a decision to start the preparation of an urban project and after a public hearing, the final version of the project has recently been adopted. The construction of the Congress Centre Sarajevo will put Sarajevo on the map. Besides its congress focus, extra facilities are also planned. Taking into account that only holistic and multi-functional projects have a chance in today’s competitive market, alongside the congress component, where it will be possible to maintain the central business and educational, cultural and other events, it is also planned to construct hotels with enviable levels of accommodation capacities, a shopping centre, underground parking, additional business facilities, as well as the construction of an element of housing. Just 15 minutes from where Congress Centre Sarajevo will be located is Sarajevo Airport, making every other part of Sarajevo easily accessible by public transport, taxi or even walking.

CONVENTION CENTRE SARAJEVO, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina

MOSTAR ROSE HOTEL, Mostar, Bosnia and Hercegovina Opening 2016

The preparations and Given that Sarajevo does not yet have a congress centre, the construction of such a facility in the heart of the Novi Grad Municipality will place Sarajevo on the congress cities map and the capital will be able to achieve greater profile as a European metropolis. In October 2015, the Novi Grad Sarajevo municipal council adopted the Draft Decision on the adoption of the city planning project called Sarajevo Convention Centre, deciding for its implementation. The centre will be built next to the Radiotelevizija BiH building, nearby to the Novi Grad city hall. The centre will contain several meeting rooms and halls, while the complex will have a

Bosna and Hercegovina is just a few months away from getting its first Five Star International hotel, as the renovation works on the former Mostar Hotel Rose are in full swing. The hotel complex will include approximately 200 rooms and a conference hall that will be able to accommodate more than 800 visitors. The hotel will also contain rooms for meetings and seminars, a spa and wellness centre, and a spacious rooftop terrace for guests to enjoy panoramic views of the city of Mostar. The hotel will include fast food for all fast food fans, particularly fans of the Bosnian local specialties such as cevapcici (a simple and boldly flavoursome finger-sized

HILTON GARDEN INN, Bucharest, Romania Opening 2017

The new hotel is located in a historic building in Bucharest’s Old Town, next to Romania’s National Bank’s headquarters. The building is currently being renovated and when finished it will have 201 rooms. Hilton currently operates


In Focus

sausage of grilled meatballs). It will also contain two “five star” restaurants that will satisfy even the most demanding guests. Rose will almost certainly become part of the Sheraton hotel chain, based in Turkey. Rose Mostar is assigned to be the most modern hotel of the chain in the region. The realization of this project will deliver 173 new workplaces and the total value of the Hotel Rose reconstruction project is almost 40 million EUR. MERCURE ISTANBUL AIRPORT HOTEL, Istanbul, Turkey Opening, April 2016

million square metres surface to build the Buroj Ozone City, the largest tourist city in Bosnia. On the outskirts of the town of Trnovo, with a population of around 2,000, Buroj plans to build thousands of homes, several hotels, a hospital and Zayed Mall, a shopping mall that will be the biggest in all of Eastern Europe and will feature a lavish “dancing fountain” at its centre. The project also includes the construction of 1,000 luxury villas designed for comfortable living and recreation in a natural setting, with a three-bedroom villa in Trnovo costing about £170,000. The country is not unfamiliar with large projects developed by Gulf countries: a $30m Kuwaiti-funded tourist complex, “Sarajevo resport”, opened in October 2015. Also, a Saudi company’s residential project housing 200 villas in the hills of Sarajevo is slated for completion by the end of 2016. RADISSON BLU HOTEL, ISTANBUL ATAKOY, Turkey January 2016

A new, contemporary 4-star hotel is about to open its doors in Istanbul this April - the Mercure Istanbul Airport Hotel. The hotel is located just a 3-minute drive from Ataturk International Airport, 1.2miles (2km) from ArmoniPark Outlet Centre and 1.9miles (3km) from Istanbul Aydın University. CNR Expo Centre and the WTC Istanbul Business Towers are also within 6miles (10km). Close to the main attractions of the Old City Taksim, this Istanbul Hotel is easily accessible via public transport. Mercure Istanbul Airport Hotel offers free WIFI in all of its 377 rooms, a 24-hour room service and parking. TOURIST CITY - THE BUROJ OZONE CITY, Trnovo, Bosnia and Hercegovina

RADISSON BLU BEACH RESORT, Milatos Crete, Greece Opening in 2¼ of 2016

The former Minos Imperial Beach Resort and Spa in Milatos in Crete will start operating under the Radisson Blu Beach Resort name from the second quarter of 2016. The hotel will undergo a complete overhaul, amounting to 8.5 million euros. This will be the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group’s (one of the largest and most dynamic hotel groups worldwide) second Cretan hotel in Greece after the Radisson Blu Park in Athens. The hotel is situated on the northern shore of Greece’s largest island with 318 spacious rooms and suites. The hotel family-friendly accommodation also boasts 7 swimming pools, including a water park and an adult-only pool. “We are confident that the new Radisson Blu Beach Resort, Crete Milatos will become a competitive destination – due to its authentic design, casual atmosphere and affordable luxury”, said the owners. INTERCONTINETAL VENICE - PALAZZO NANI, Venice, Italy Opening 2018

This January the Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Ataköy welcomed its first guests. The hotel is located in the Ataköy neighbourhood - a residential area between Atatürk International Airport (9km) and the old town (6km) - and it will also host residential units. Besides the 133 rooms with Radisson Blu signature services such as free high speed internet access, the hotel will offer an all-day-dining restaurant with private dining, a lobby bar and patisserie, and an impressive 980sqm spa that will include a traditional Turkish Hammam and treatment rooms. Guests will also benefit from an indoor and outdoor pool. For meetings and events, the hotel will comprise 2 board rooms and 2 meeting rooms. 50 parking spaces will complement the facilities.

On the slopes of the Bjelasnica Mountain in Bosnia and Hercegovina, 20km southeast of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, one of Dubai’s leading real estate companies, Buroj Property Development, will begin its works on the 1.3 26

InterContinental Hotels Group is preparing to start construction works for the opening of a new hotel in the popular tourist destination of Venice. A 16th-century palace will be converted into a 51-room hotel that will sit on the Cannaregio Canal at the Palazzo Nani, which connects to the Grand Canal. After the restoration of the building’s original details, such as hand-painted frescos and carved wood beams, its modern facilities will include a health club, meeting rooms, and the Club InterContinental

In Focus

Lounge. The hotel will enable guests to explore and discover the charm of Venice’s narrow streets, admire the city’s architecture and renaissance art, and visit its historical landmarks, including Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge. INTERCONTINENTAL SOFIA Hotel, Sofia, Bulgaria Opening 2017

Starwood Hotels and Resorts will open its first W Hotels property in Serbia in 2019. The W Belgrade hotel will be situated in the city‘s new 2km long waterfront area and will include 120 guestrooms and suites. Besides facilities such as an all-day dining venue, bar, spa, fitness facility and pool deck, business guests will have at their disposal a 450sqm meeting and event space. The hotel will also include flat Residences, spanning across two towers and containing 165 residential apartments ranging in size from 55 to 100sqm.

HOTEL PARK, Split, Croatia Opening 2016

HOTEL DIOKLECIJAN, Split, Croatia Opening 2016

The first InterContinental Hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria is waiting to open its doors in 2017. The hotel is situated in the centre of Sofia overlooking the Alexandar Nevski Cathedral and offers easy access to the National Theatre, as well as local shops, boutiques and restaurants. This 182room hotel will be operated under a management agreement with InterHotel Grand - Hotel Sofia. It will include seven meeting rooms and five boardrooms, a lobby bar, a spa and fitness centre, and a rooftop restaurant. InterHotel Grand - Hotel Sofia CEO Evgeni Roussev said: “We look forward to continuing InterContinental’s global reputation as the world’s largest luxury hotel brand and providing our guests with unique, enriching experiences.”

A new, luxury 5 star hotel, worth about 35 million euros, will be built on a plot of 8,000 square metres in Trstenik bay, one of the most attractive bays in the city of Split, Croatia. According to the preliminary design the hotel should have 7 floors, 200 rooms and suites, a conference centre, swimming pool, spa-centre, and two restaurants.

Reconstruction of the hotel Park hotel was worth almost 10 million euros, of which 3.5 million were co-financed from European funds. The hotel extended to a fourth floor, which augmented the capacity of the hotel from 57 to 72 rooms, including six suites, some of which have jacuzzi and views of the archipelago. For many business people staying in Split the two-storey rooms were specially designed with an office separate from the hotel room. Another set of attractive attributes - such as a fresh culinary concept, a luxury spa Priska with fitness room, an outdoor pool on the hotel terrace, a winter garden and conference rooms - all add to the luxurious ambiance of the hotel, along with the larger space of the rooms, the lobby and other facilities of the hotel. All of this spelled out why this hotel deserved its fifth star.

W BELGRADE hotel, Belgrade, Serbia September 2019

NEW HOTEL OPENINGS Are you planning to spend your next holiday in a new luxury hotel, with high standards and extraordinary customer service? Here's our guide to the latest and future hotel and resort openings in the SEE region.

The Serbian capital is an exciting and developing city as well as a brilliant tourist destination in Europe, which is why another chain-brand hotel decided to open its first hotel there. The 27


WANT TO BECOME A GOOD INCENTIVE ORGANISER? ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION, LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR CLIENT HAS TO SAY, BE FLEXIBLE AND NEVER MISLEAD A CLIENT Rajeev Kohli, Joint Managing Director of Creative Travel – India’s most awarded DMC – and 2016 SITE president. Text by Gorazd Čad

With 22 years of travel industry experience behind him, Rajeev Kohli is today Joint Managing Director at Creative Travel India. The company has grown to become a prominent, respected and independent DMC agency offering the finest cultural experiences available and helping discover natural wonders all across India and South Asia. At Creative he focuses on marketing and strategy initiatives, but is also passionate about incentive travel. In 2016 he took over the presidency of SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence), the first Asian to ever take this global leadership position. Rajeev is also a ‘Certified Incentive Specialist’. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious “IMEX Academy Award”, a highly prestigious recognition for contribution to a chosen profession.

Q: What issues do the emerging destinations structure and requires more effort on creating face in relation to incentive travel? an image and positioning statement that can be A fundamental of incentive travel is that it is a presented by all the stakeholders of that destitrip that offers the participants experiences that nation. Visuals, speaking points, marketing colare either once in a lifetime or things that they lateral and more need to be created that can be cannot easily buy themselves. This calls for an given as tools to DMCs, hotels, tourist boards enormous amount of creativity and latitude on and others who sell the destination across the how these trips are planned. The world is full world. Everyone needs to speak the same lanof options that could easily guage, for that creates fit the bill and emerging consistency in brand destinations have a great building. opportunity here. It is also easy for a desti”Business grows on Having said this, more than nation to fall in love with often one comes across its own story and lose referrals. If the client clients where conservative sight of what the cusstandards of quality, contomer really wants. Just trusts you, they will ventionality, accessibility because you think you push business your and homogeneity run comhave great scenery, food pletely contrary to deliveror history does not mean way when they can.” ing the basic objectives of others see it the same incentive travel. We find way. It is a very competthat what a DMC or desitive market out there tination wants to do is opand many destination posite to what the client really wants in their tourism marketing messages sound similar. It is hearts. important to understand that different source This is the challenge emerging and non-con- markets require different tweaks and levels of ventional destinations face all the time in the messaging. What sells to the Americans may incentive travel market – the conflict between not be relevant to the Germans or the Chinese. conformity and distinctiveness. These two at- Destinations that are able to adapt marketing intributes can be very much at opposite ends of the itiatives to the travel attributes of a culture are spectrum and the challenges destinations face is the ones that are most successful in attracting to achieve a balance that works. new business. In addition, one very effective tool is to expose Q: What would be your key advice to emerg- the destination to incentive planners using fam ing incentive destinations? trips and events. The SITE Incentive Summit There are many destinations that fascinate in Slovenia this past January was a perfect the incentive travel planner: countries that example of how to do that. The 25 SITE board offer great experiences in culture, gastronomy members who came were offered an experience or adventure. More than often, emerging and that created 25 goodwill ambassadors for the non-traditional destinations are the ones that country. There are many formats and sources are best able to deliver something different. available to a country that will allow them to These are best at being unique and unusual. So a bring in the right people who will go back and basic problem that many emerging destinations talk about what they saw and also create the have is positioning themselves in an eco-system right buzz in social media and the press. Nothing that desires something different but wants it works better than first-hand testimonials. in the same ways they are used to. This is not Stakeholder training is also essential to help something that is easily fixed by physical infra- build the skills of people who actually have to 28


deliver incentive travel. This training needs to come in from global leaders who understand how to see unique destinations and who plan incentive programmes. Emerging destinations need to adopt best practices from around the world to supplement aspects of the destination that are already there. Professionalism and a sense of confidence will go a long way in convincing the incentive buyer of making the desired decision.

operations for the Latin world, where working with those non-traditional markets was such a joy, as they saw India in a very different way from Europeans in what was a very satisfying experience for us as a DMC.

Tips and ideas for creating successful incentive travel program

Q: Being an experienced incentive organiser, please state 5 facts and observations to help understand the incentive business: Ask the right question from the client from the very start. Q: In your opinion, what makes a good incenIn communication, never make assumptions tive organiser? that the client will automatically understand all A good incentive organiser is one who listens your points. Present in simple way that is easy carefully to what the client has to say. Learn to and clear to understand. Explain items in more read between the lines. Understand the person- detail that are unique to your destination. Many ality of the planner, for that directly affects the times decisions are made before inspection trips, way they see the destination. Also learn how to so you need to be thorough. ask the right questions, ones that lead to giving Try to be flexible. Never approach a client with you a better insight on what the planner hopes to a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. As long as you do achieve, what are client not compromise on prinlikes or dislikes, what ciples of health & safety their past experiences and morality, being flexhave been. Do not be in ible is an attribute that is ”It is important to a hurry to close a sale. always appreciated. understand that Take the time to build On inception trips, go confidence and trust and all out to show your creadifferent source once that happens the tivity and out-of-the-box rest falls into place a lot thinking. Be different. markets require easier. And more importantly, different tweaks and Selling a new destishow the destination in a nation takes time, takes relaxing and fun way. Be levels of messaging. innovation, takes perseinformal and try to build verance and also takes a friendship. Suppliers What sells to the money. Don’t be in a rush are not chosen on their Americans may to reinvent the world in a physical attributes alone year. But with some hard but rather in the comfort not be relevant to work, you will see posilevels and confidence tive results. that are built through the Germans or the interactions. Chinese. Destinations Always be honest and Personal: truthful. Never, ever that are able to adapt Q:  Which are some of bullshit a client. If you the most memorable do not have an answer marketing initiatives projects you’ve done in to a question, tell them to the travel attributes your career? so and tell them you will Working in an emerging get one. If you have made of a culture are the destination like India a mistake, say so and and the region, I have present a solution to fix ones that are most had some amazing opit. Every lie told makes a successful in attracting deeper hole that it’s hard portunities to do some unique things. One that to get out of. Even if you new business.” really stands out is a lose a little money in the project where we took 28 fix, it is more important Europeans from an autoto build a strong, longmotive company to a remote spot at 14,500 feet term relationship. Business grows on referrals. in the Himalayan mountain range to serve them If the client trusts you, they will push business champagne overlooking Mt Everest. It took 8 your way when they can. months to plan this 3 hour activity, let alone the budget that was needed to make it work. What made it special that we had a client who wanted to push all boundaries and offer his guests an experience that was never done before by anyone and that was truly once in a lifetime. Over the past few years, we have also done some amazing

Annamaria Ruffini is the founder, president and Ceo of the Incentive House and Dmc Events In & Out, based in Rome, Italy.


“Always look for excellence, which doesn’t necessarily mean luxury and high costs.” Key advice for emerging incentive destinations: Choose which markets you want to reach, see if you have the right characteristics and you can elevate your standards. It’s a team work and all the stakeholders are required to collaborate. From the politicians to the facilities, from taxis to population etc. A good incentive organiser needs to: A good incentive organizer is an author with a great team. She, he or they must all know their destination very well and offer all the possibilities, itineraries, experiences and other potentials of the destination, because every time they write a completely new story. It is also somebody who pays attention to other details as well, like culture, religion, age, taste of the customer. Rhonda Brewer, Vice President of Sales, Maritz Travel Company (USA), former president of SITE International Board of Directors

”Understand your customers’ needs, wants and cultural background.” Key advice for emerging incentive destinations: Know your product and be able to demonstrate what an incentive experience would be like in their destination. A good incentive organiser needs to: A good incentive organiser is someone who understands their customers’ needs, wants and culture and can exceed expectations to their guests.


MEET OUR PARTNERS LIVE Business chemism 2.0


n a world of rapid change and flooded with information that we can only superficially process, personal contact and the personal experience seem to be the most reliable methods for creating an instant convincing effect, and the same holds true for experiences in our private or business environment. At Toleranca Marketing we are fully engaged in organising business events. With the help of our publication – Kongres magazine, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary – we publish and share articles and every other kind of key information related to events organisation to a large circle of our readers. As for our partners, we aim to organise events for them where they can best present the quality of their services and get even closer to their potential customers. In 2014, in collaboration with the team from Sava Tourism, we organised for the first time an event called “Business Chemism” at the Grand Hotel Primus at Ptuj. The main idea behind this special event was to bring together hedonism and business, and by the very enthusiastic reactions we got from event planners from different Slovenian companies and associations it seems we succeeded in transmitting the message on how the personal experience plays a crucial role in marketing certain products. The personal experience of this specific location contributed to a better visibility of the Grand Hotel Primus and also encouraged the formulation of concrete demands for organising events at the hotel. Getting a chance to socialise throughout the whole day, participants and hosts were able to connect with each other and establish stronger bonds. In the second edition of “Business Chemism” the team of the Grand Hotel Primus welcomed guests with a completely renewed culinary offer. Guests who were visiting the hotel for the first time and those who had been there before were impressed with rich fruit and vegetable smoothies served as welcoming drinks and the imaginative vegetable snacks for them to nibble on. The inspiration for these beautifully prepared and colourful snacks came from the carnivalesque vibe of the city of Ptuj, which gives a special ‘taste’ to the hotel’s gastronomic offer right throughout the year. Historic cities and destinations are especially attractive to event organisers, as they offer more possibilities to provide even more diverse event content. Ptuj can pride itself on a set of distinctive city attributes that Grand Hotel Primus also knows how to reap dividends from.

Namely, the Roman heritage of the city was displayed to “Business Chemism” participants at the welcoming ceremony, where guests were ritually welcomed by costumed warriors and Roman vestal. This is an excellent example of a great starting point for creating a good event story that in our case continued in a more relaxed atmosphere by the pool with a Roman feast and in a subdued environment with the sounds of the harp in the background. Another great and unique story that can add value to an event is “kurentovanje”, or the Ptuj carnival events. You can experience aspects of these events throughout the year, so among others you can visit the workshop “korentijo”, for example, where costumes for the carnival mask ‘Kurent’ are produced. As the Grand Hotel Primus is part of Terme Ptuj wellness resort, renowned for its long spa tradition, the hotel offers a variety of preventive medical examinations and treatments, which can also be interesting for the participants of business meetings and conferences. The hotel’s focus on healthy living is best revealed through its cuisine. Recently they introduced the menus “Befit - Be Fit”, which follow the modern trends of the so-called “Brain food.” On the occasion of conferences and business meetings the menus are prepared in order to 30

ensure balanced meals that give participants extra energy. The Chef of the hotel’s restaurant professionally and enthusiastically presented different ways of preparing energy meals and invited participants to help him with the preparations. If, however, the energy level drops during the conference, the hotel offers an alternative method to boost your energy: a 15-minute workout with the tai-chi master will certainly do the trick! At the beginning of this Fam trip, Sava Tourism, our host, promised us an overall sensory experience of the city of Ptuj. And they kept their promise: fresh flavours, colourful dishes that evoke the colourful masks of Kurents, the scent of lavender in the rooms, the sounds of the Roman harp, a view of the Drava river and the panoramic views from Ptuj castle are just some of the highlights that left a positive and memorable impression on all of us... One day is certainly not enough to experience everything Terme Ptuj has to offer. In order to get the whole experience of destinations here’s a simple piece of advice: come and try it for yourself! Photo credits: Natalija Bah Čad and Peter Irman

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Meet the Team


THE STORY OF INTOURS DMC While Intours DMC started from scratch. Its founding partners Miro Hribar and Tomaž Krušič have years of experience in all aspects of the tourism industry: from working as student as guides, to working in the field, to engaging in the MICE sector, which is where they found their niche. Starting with an office of just 2 in 2000 to a current staff of over 30 employees located in 3 offices, Intours DMC specialises in authentic, unique experiences, initially in Slovenia and later on in the wider Adriatic Region. Today, Intours DMC stands as a synonym for professionalism and quality of services in delivering a la carte incentive and corporate meeting programs in the Adriatic Region. This stretches from the Slovenia and Croatia, where Intours DMC offices are located, to Serbia and Montenegro, where Intours has associate partners. 32

Top talk with Miro Hribar, CEO

Q: In your opinion, what sets Intours DMC apart? Successful implementation of programs in the Adriatic Region requires a number of factors. Initially, listening to the requirements and interests of incentive and event planners, which enables the design of truly unique client experiences. Creativity and flexibility are key, requiring us to find out of the box solutions to meet the needs of clients.

Meet the Team

MEET THE INTOURS DMC TEAM Multilingual event managers with different talents and skills make up the Intours DMC Team. Here you can get to know some of our colleagues a bit better. JANA PUNGERŠEK With 18 years’ experience in event management and public relations, Jana Pungersek joined Intours DMC in the beginning of 2011. As a Senior Project Manager she is responsible for the overall organization of meetings, incentives and events in Slovenia, especially for French speaking groups. With excellent communication skills in six languages, Jana has a sharp mind in meetings and events, understanding the complex nature of it all. • Most proud of: The trust that she was able to gain through the years from the clients, which has led to many successful events. • Favorite activity or special venue: Winter incentives and gala events. BERNARDA BURILO With a wealth of event management experiences, Bernarda shares her destination expertise with mostly German speaking incentive and event planners interested in Croatia. As a Senior Project Manager,

A key part of that creativity comes with the support of our extensive network of professional and trusted suppliers, whose ears are constantly on the ground. With their help and intimate local knowledge of the terrain, we are able to guarantee clients outstanding service and attention to detail. This combination of destination expertise, flexibility and outstanding customer service enables our clients to meet their business goals and return time and again to Intours DMC. Q: What activities do you undertake to bring the Adriatic region closer to international event planners? Intours DMC invests a lot in promoting the region to incentive and conference planners around the world. We have our representatives in several countries, who help share our destination knowledge and best case examples with event professionals in Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Netherlands,

Bernarda drives and delivers projects from conception and design to implementation. She consistently manages client expectations, schedules and budgets, all with a great attention to detail. • Most proud of: In addition to taking pride of already realized events, she is also proud of the numerous new projects that lie ahead, especially with some of our long-term clients. • Favourite activity or special venue: As specialists in our own destinations, Intours DMC is always looking to enhance our programs with new details and exciting moments. Special venues Bernarda like to propose are for example a dinner in an abandoned village, or inside the ruins of a former monastery, as well as many of the palaces and fortresses, which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. JAN ORŠIČ As a Project Manager at Intours DMC, Jan is responsible for the complete production of meetings and incentives – from the initial offer until the completion of the program. By feeling passion for highly demanding programs, Jan searches and qualifies new venues, activities and restaurants, thinks of out of the box solutions to create outstanding proposals. Since 2012 he has been working on his PhD, researching the fields of destination marketing, business travel, new media and ROI. • Most proud of: Returning clients. They are the proof of work well done. Favorite activity in Slovenia: The Secret Ljubljana

Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. In addition to presenting our destinations at sales calls, workshops, trade shows and in digital media, we also organize a number of educational trips throughout the year, so that planners can get first-hand experience of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Q: What are you the most proud of? Without a doubt, the long-term partnership with Tomaž Krušič for over 20 years, without any problems whatsoever in all that time, and later on with Ante Lacman, who is heading our offices in Croatia. That, as well as being able to build a respectable and successful company based on our extensive knowledge and years of experience. I am also proud of the feeling of respect and appreciation from my colleagues, not due to my position, but rather my knowledge, experience 33

program, exploring the hidden corners of the Slovenian capital and meeting charismatic locals, which we designed at Intours DMC. PERO PAVLOVIĆ In the role of Senior Project Manager, Pero designs creative incentive and corporate meeting programs to introduce clients to authentic, unique experiences in Croatia. As a graduate of University of Dubrovnik, he is responsible for bid proposal management and costing, direct communication with clients, organization of the events in every detail with the coordination of all the suppliers involved. A tourism professional since 2001, Pero specializes in incentive travel in Croatian Dalmatia. • Most proud of: The best compliment from the client at the end of the project: “We did not see you all the time, but we felt your presence all the time!” • Favorite activity in Dubrovnik: Anything sea-related, especially sailing on the Adriatic Sea

and good working relationships. And of course I am extremely proud of our highly experienced and professional event planners, who are a team of highly talented individuals, whose skills and commitment make the company much richer and more diverse. Q: What are your aspirations? We would like to see our company grow steadily over the next few years. We are looking forward to new challenges by accepting larger-scale and more demanding projects. If we can successfully challenge ourselves to deliver bigger and better programs, the benefits will be felt by our clients. We also want to continue to build and cement great relationships among colleagues in our offices, with our representatives, suppliers and partners, and of course our clients.

Meet the Team

PROJECTS INTOURS DMC IS PROUD OF Over the years Intours DMC has demonstrated our first-class destination management services and earned the trust of numerous event planners. We have set a standard in organizing incentives, business meetings, product launches and special events in the Adriatic Region. We gladly share with you a couple of recent success stories: • 1,400 top leaders of a global essential oils company gathered in Croatia to attend their annual recognition and training event. Guests from all over the world gathered in Split for an exclusive, expert-led training, which included also a ribbon cutting ceremony when opening a new farm and a private performance by an award-winning Croatian singer. • For a winter incentive program in the Alpine region of Slovenia, three optional plans were in place due to not knowing, if the weather would deliver snow, rain or sun during the three-day trip for 100 top performers. After

snow fell, a true winter program could take place, which enabled guests to enjoy the thrills of husky dog-sled racing, snowshoeing, ice-climbing, zip-lining and to party under the stars in igloos. • For a group of 250 Scandinavian guests coming to Dubrovnik, Intours DMC organized the largest street dinner in the ancient city. Spanning over the cobbled streets of Dubrovnik, five restaurants worked closely together to offer guests an authentic local experience of traditional Dalmatian cuisine, accompanied by the romantic sounds of klapa singers. PROJECTS INTOURS DMC IS LOOKING FORWARD TO In 2016 Intours DMC is looking forward to bringing over 80 incentive and conference groups to the Adriatic Region. Among those, we would like to mention a private incentive party in Hvar town in May for about 600 guests, who


will spend their days exploring the island of lavender and sun. Slovenia will host a group of Scandinavian top performers, who will have an opportunity to spend the night in tree houses of an eco-resort and experience adrenaline activities with some wow moments in the Alpine region. The combination of romantic Venice and Croatian Istria, a region of beauty, intriguing cultural history and world-renowned for its wine and terrific cuisine, will seduce a 100-guest incentive group in Croatia. Truffle hunting in Motovun, oldtimer rally through the rolling hills, a sailing regatta on the Adriatic, and wine and food pairing will be among main attractions for this incentive group.

Kongres magazine


Been There

WALK THE TALK … OR: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THE DANES ”Danes do things Differently”

Text by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief Photo credits Copenhagen Convention Bureau


n a pleasantly warm September day the energetic Ulrike led us to her “Garden of Eden” in the middle of the botanical park where we could feel the vibration and buzz of the bees, and not just any ordinary bees, but those that are part of the #beesustain project. The pleasantly blue and orange beehives create a soothing, calm atmosphere and they fit perfectly into the environment of the park. The urban beekeepers, under the brand name of “Bybi”, produce everything from honey beer to fine honey sweets. Their partners are among others numerous eminent companies from meetings and other industries. In addition to Copenhagen’s Convention Bureau, their partner is also Bella Centre and the Danish Red Cross, who teach Syrian refugees the craft of beekeeping. I must admit that the honey is of an excellent standard and that my first insight into Bybi’s social entrepreneurship was my first contact with Denmark’s truly sincere story about sustainable congress tourism. When I later rode the famous cycling snake (Cykelslangen) for the second time it became clear to me that the Danish concept of Meetovation

comes from a very harmonious and extremely coherent view of the world, which also answers why the Danes have been repeatedly declared as the happiest nation in the world. Furthermore, the city and the Danes are consistently responding to changes in the environment – if you want to seriously address the problem of ecology, for example, it is necessary to close the city centre for all traffic. So, in return the Danes offer excellent public transportation and incredibly well organised and well connected bicycle paths that are as wide as car lanes and are functional also in the winter, which I experienced first-hand. In Denmark it is therefore not unusual to make between a 10 to 15-km long bike ride. The story behind the idea of Meetovation became clear, crystal clear to me. I began to see it in a whole new light from the last time I participated at the extremely successful conference, the European Meeting & Events Conference (EMEC). Copenhagen might not be the most beautiful city in the world, but the modest and yet confident Danes have proved themselves in providing exceptional event content that completely 36

prevailed over the standard meeting format. Everything that we, as participants, expected from the conference, the organisers turned upside down. Through active participation of each conference participant, a nice conference story was created that was also written into our storybooks. The organisers created and shared stories with us and I believe that every participant found their favorite one that inspired him/her most. In my storybook I wrote about those who teach us to look at the meeting and convention industry from a different point of view. Active Delegate Involvement Danish meetovator Bo Kruger stakes his bets on the active involvement of every conference participant. And his moderation skills, once again, did not disappoint. I personally experienced his moderating approach at the autumn 2014 press trip and it worked just as great in a group of more than 400 participants of the EMEC conference. His flirting with the stand-up strategy is not just about his enthusiasm for stand-up techniques and methods, but more so reveals his sincere en-

Been There

gagement in search of the best way to avoid the dull and boring concept of events’ programmes. The genius of the “Meeting Design Game” completely amazed this year’s EMEC participants, as it represents a true innovation in the field of meetings and conferences planning. Throughout the game (gamification) participants and event organisers were involved in different challenging tasks followed by rewarding feedback that gave an added value to the event. At the press conference it was announced that the Danes are preparing a new version of Meetovationa 3.0., which will include even more tools and techniques for enabling active participant cooperation the during the event. Creative Setup My interest in modern architecture is not the main reason for why I like to visit Scandinavia, but it means a lot to me and it inspires me greatly. From the outside Scandinavian architecture appears modest, simple and common, but on the inside it reveals a variety of different materials, colours and patterns that form a full and harmonious whole. The result of the Danish neo-classical architectural style was wonderful, organic-shaped furniture that is embodied in the products of the legendary Arne Jacobsen. The functionality of the congress facilities, the use of natural materials, simply shaped but functional congress furniture that can be easily combined…all of the these things turned the otherwise rather dull Radisson Scandinavia conference room into a pleasant living room. A typical Danish ‘hygge’ atmosphere was created - a casual atmosphere where all the participants can relax, socialise and feel very “hyggelig”.

Green and Responsible Thinking The moment you visit the fancy market Torvelhallerne you realise how seriously the Danes are when it comes to social responsibility. The market’s offer is predominated by organic, eco-produced food that is quite clearly also highly appreciated by its customers. The products are labeled with multiple product certifications and it appears that the food production is regularly monitored and strictly controlled. Smart exploitation of natural resources is the foundation of Danish life philosophy and therefore the many examples of sustainable entrepreneurship in Denmark, among which is the above mentioned Bybi beekeeping project, are no surprise. Denmark has not been listed at the top of the charts of the most sustainable countries in the world by chance. The Danes have been slowly modifying their legislation in favour of sustainable development since the nineties. What is even more inspiring is the level of knowledge and ability to innovate - another category where Danes are ranked at the world’s pinnacle and why Denmark is considered one of the most advanced states in the world. Integration of Authentic and Local Inspiration During our bicycle tour through Copenhagen we saw that Noma, the legendary restaurant, was closed. The famous chef René Redzepi announced that the last meal in the famous restaurant will be served in December 2016, or more precisely on New Year’s Eve. He is closing the old restaurant, only for it to be replaced by a new, even more crazy version of the previous one. The new restaurant - Noma 2.0 - will be sit-


uated in the industrial zone near Christiania. It will become an urban farm, despite the fact that the old restaurant was considered as one of the best in the world. Danes love to pave their own way and this is what brings them world fame. The transformation of one of the most famous restaurants into an urban farm with the philosophy “from stable to table” is a typical example of a strong desire to progress, and many other local stories from Copenhagen are driven by this very same desire.

Been There

Return on Meeting Investment We all wish that the time and money invested in meetings were usefully and wisely spent. That is why in this matter measuring event effectiveness is crucial. We need to measure whether we have increased awareness of the product, created competitive advantage and ultimately created a profit. If I look at my last visit to Copenhagen and compare it to a theatre piece, for example, I can say it has fully satisfied my expectations. I believe that the conference organisers feel the same and will certainly know how to measure the conference’s ROI. And what of all of the above-mentioned can we, as event organisers, immediately use and transfer to our work and practice to create a true conference “hygge”? I have summarized a few of the ideas and pieces of advice into ten recommendations that you can use in organising your next congress or event.

2. The participants must be placed at the forefront: Careful planning means delivering your best – for place, time and circumstances of the event – all within available financial capacities. This also means adjusting the accompanying programme and not burdening participants with an overloaded agenda. Less is definitely more in this context.

5. Cultural heritage as an inspiration: The legacy of the past that influences our present lives is of great importance for congress participants. In emphasizing the importance of cultural heritage we must avoid everything that is not an integral part of common people’s lives. Authenticity is a basic rule in incorporating this element to the event’s programme.

3. Change congress halls into living rooms: Classic congress halls can be the first obstacle in creating a pleasant congress atmosphere. If we come to terms with the average appearance of congress halls, we will hardly achieve the other phases of “meetovation”. The room where the congress is taking place must be inspiring from first glance and it often doesn’t take too much to transform a completely dull conference hall that resembles a tomb into a pleasant socializing area.

6. Activate the participants: A variety of methods and techniques that were presented to us at EMEC in Copenhagen by Ann Hansen and Bo Kruger can be used straight away. For more information visit: meetovation-meeting-designs.

1. Where there’s a will there’s a way: For every event, no matter whether it’s the first, tenth or hundredth time you’re organising it, it is necessary to organize it with the same care and precision as if it was your first. The most important step is to define your objectives and to determine to whom the event is intended. You should address your full attention to it and then subordinate everything else to the event’s participants.

4. Special venues for special participants: If you look around yourself you will immediately be able to list at least a few really special venues located in your neighbourhood. Lifting the veil of mystery and exclusivity of certain places is generally rewarded with great participant enthusiasm. These places are usually more connected with the local community and create a better event dynamic.


7. From stable to table: Local self-sufficiency is growing in importance and whilst caterers will try to convince you that organising local food supply is difficult, it is in reality very simple and cost-effective. Insist on local supply - participants will know how to appreciate it. 8. The best food for the brain: The brain needs quality fuel! Healthy fats, antioxidants, the right dose of “healthy” carbohydrates. These are main ingredients you should demand from the dishes of your caterers, hotel or inn.

Been There 9. The pace of the event: Music is an important part of events, as it dictates rhythm and creates harmony. Music is a universal language to which we react spontaneously. Learn how to create your own specific groove and beat of an event. 10. We don’t create events, we create stories: Stories have always united and inspired people. Through stories we learn about life and values. Learn how to incorporate them into your events. We share our stories with our participants, telling them who we are and what inspires us in making each event a special one.

The Vikings have made their own way and they have succeeded in creating an authentic, sincere and above all useful methodology: MEETOVATION. To top it all off, this innovative and original concept plays the leading role in the Meetings architecture strategy, where other generic models are hardly able to keep up. If you like to play games you will be most definitely be impressed by The Meeting Game Design, just as I was. I have actually become its biggest fan and user! Through this funny game you will learn different management skills in organising events and maybe even develop your own congress story. To conclude: the ability of good storytelling has always been a highly valued skill, so it’s time for you to start your own story.



PAMPERING YOUR TASTE BUDS WITH EXQUISITE CULINARY CREATIONS Grand Hotel Union‘s restaurant Smrekarjev Hram introduces new Chef de Cuisine – Jorg Zupan Text by Polona Ponikvar Photo Marko Delbello Ocepek


n January 2016 the Grand hotel Union introduced a new Chef de Cuisine. Where precisely, you may ask? Well, where else than in its famous and prestigious restaurant Smrekarjev Hram. Young, vigorous and wildly creative, chef Jorg Zupan joins this iconic restaurant already well known for its ambitious and excellent cooking to further spice up its offer and give it a very special twist. The restaurant is named after the talented Slovenian illustrator Hinko Smrekar, who frequently visited the hotel’s old restaurant (in the same place where Smrekarjev hram is today) back in the early 1920s and 1930s to socialise with other artists and writers, such as the famous Slovenian writer Ivan Cankar. You can still admire his work today, as two of his illustrations decorate the walls of the restaurant. Originally built in 1905, the restaurant offers modern cuisine, but it also serves traditional Slovenian dishes made from locally produced ingredients, so you can get the full flavour of a typical Ljubljana lunch. The restaurant’s menus are lightly influenced by Mediterranean cuisine, but what stands out most is that the plates explode with modern, innovative and highly creative dishes, which is why Smrekarjev hram holds its position of being one of the most elite restaurants in Ljubljana, providing a memorable “fine dining” à la carte culinary experience. With a primary passion of cooking stretching back to teenage days (in his teens he used to cook lunch for his family every day after school), the 28 year old chef Jorg Zupan has quite a rich variety of experiences in the culinary world. He started working at the gourmet restaurant Promenada, part of the “Bled Sava hotel resorts”, where his cooking mastery evolved under his mentor Bine Volčič, one of the best and most recognized chefs in Slovenia, especially since appearing in the “Gostilna išče šefa” (The Inn is Looking for the Chef ) television show in 2012. For Jorg, however, this was only to be the beginning. Leaving Promenada he headed for Sydney, Australia, where he completed his internship in Quay restaurant and then continued his culinary adventure in London. It was there that he engaged himself as a cook in a one Michelin star restaurant for a year, where he learned the

basics of the classical French cuisine. He came back to Slovenia in 2013 to work in another eminent restaurant, along with his greatest mentor and idol, Igor Jagodic. Jorg likes to point out how grateful he is for collaborating with Igor, who gave him all the freedom to explore his own culinary potential and motivated him to develop his own creative cooking ideas. During this period he visited the United Kingdom once more, but this time he was aiming higher: he worked as an intern in a three Michelin star restaurant, the Fat Duck, an experience that is, according to Jorg, best described in two words: “Absolutely fantastic!” We teamed up with Jorg to so he could tell us something more about himself, about cooking and about the culinary trends that are about to conquer Slovenian chefs.


Q: How would you describe your style of cooking (your kitchen philosophy)? I try not to use the word ‘style’ too much when it comes to cooking, as I find it a bit limiting. I follow the seasons and I let the ingredients guide me. I also put a lot of mind into my technique, classical as well as modern. Q: Where does your inspiration for cooking come from (art, music, outdoor activities, etc)? Inspiration…hmm…mostly nature, but also music and art. Sometimes even a conversation with a colleague or a mentor. Q: What are your other passions besides cooking? Do you have any other specific hobbies that define your life style? Cooking takes up most of my time, but I enjoy sports and hiking. I used to play cricket and was a member of Kranj’s cricket club. I don’t have


the time to play that much anymore, but cricket is still my favourite sport. I also love music and I just love Vinyl. Q: Which restaurant do you most enjoy eating at on your night off? I tend not to visit the same places often, unless they are exceptional. I like trying new stuff all the time. Q: What food trends are you expecting to emerge in Slovenia in 2016? The world is still very much under the influence of the modern Scandinavian cuisine. Local ingredients, modern techniques, fermentation etc. I think it will last for some more time, due to the fact that it is so nature based, which I also like, but in the future I wish for Slovenian cuisine to stop following trends and start setting them. Q: In 2013 you participated at the Month of Design in the “Food Design” category, where chefs were to produce a culinary product with the criteria of good design. Together with chef Igor Jagodič you created a pastry, a sweet illuminated circle. Can you tell us something more about this experience? Up until that time I never participated in any cookery contest, as I‘m not a great fan of culinary exhibitions and similar cooking duels. Food, in my opinion, is to be consumed and cooked for guests, not judges. But the idea of cooperating with designers attracted me. This project was mostly mine; Igor helped me as a mentor, as in this area he has much more experience. When I heard that we got 1st place in the category of culinary excellence I was impressed. In the future I will probably participate again in a similar event, but only if the competition concept intrigues me. Q: What are the biggest challenges you are facing working at Grand Hotel Union? Can you share with us your menu-planning strategies to upgrade their culinary offer? There are many challenges. The biggest ones right now are coping with the new working environment, systems, the transition, building the team… Strategies for the future? An all tasting menu concept. Q: You are preparing a gala menu in February together with renowned Slovenian chef Alma Rekić. What’s it like to work with one of the best pastry chefs in Slovenia? I have known Alma from before, but this is the first time we are cooperating professionally. We have a very relaxed relationship and I think we make a great team. We divide our work in testing and tasting different dishes for the menu and then together we analyse the results and we try to make recipe improvements.

Q: Is there a special chef that you most admire or that you have learned from? There are many… lately and most importantly is Igor Jagodic. Q: What are your essential ingredients, the things you couldn’t live/cook without? Salt and Water (hahaha)! Q: What’s the modern kitchen gadget you couldn’t live without? Thermomix.


Q: Are your recipes influenced by the specific cuisine of other countries? Where do you think your greatest influence lies? French cuisine is my foundation, but lately I must admit I am sourcing quite a lot of influence from the Japanese. Q: Can you reveal the 3 best restaurants in Slovenia? Strelec, Hiša Denk and of course Smrekarjev Hram.

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Union Hotels Briefing

”Olympic ReUnion” connecting Slovenia with Brazil


s a proud sponsor of the Slovenian Olympic Team, Union Hotels seized the approaching Olympics & Paralympics in Brazil to organise a series of events that under the “Olympic ReUnion” brand will connect Slovenian athletes with their fans, present the preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games and current events in Rio, and build a bridge between the two destinations – Slovenia and Brazil. Programme highlights include concerts, the largest gala masquerade ball held in the Union Hall, culinary events, travel lectures, sports chats in the Grand Union Café and the culinary-musical summer festival. In January, the Grand Union Café held the first such concert where Christiane Ruvenal charmed her guests with an interpretation of Brazilian dance rhythms. The next event to fall under the “Olympic ReUnion” brand was the Cooking Academy, led by Brazilian Chef Silvia dos Santos and Union Hotel’s very own Gašper Hebajec. Guests were also able to taste Brazilian specialities in the Lounge Bar of the Union business hotel on 30 and 31 March.

Slovenian taste meets Hungarian delicacy In cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Hungary, Grand Hotel Union provided the venue for the first Hungarian culinary week “Slovenian taste meets Hungarian delicacy”. The event featured a menu created by Jorg Zupan, Chef of Smrekarjev hram, under the guidance of an acclaimed Hungarian master, Chef Mr. Krisztián Bérci. Based on the concept “More than goulash”, the carefully prepared menu complemented by fine wine chosen by a Hungarian Sommelier from Vinoliva Ltd. was first presented to media and culinary experts during the gala dinner held on 7 March and later on also served to guests of the famous restaurant Smrekarjev hram.

The Green Capital of Europe 2016 has its own cocktail

Have you ever wondered what a cocktail dedicated to a Green City might taste like? Now you can find out at Grand Hotel Union’s Café, where Aleš Ogrin, the only Slovenian to ever win a world championship in mixing bar drinks, has created a cocktail dedicated to Ljubljana – The Green Capital of Europe 2016. A delicate mixture of Peach liqueur, Menthol syrup, orange and lemon juice will satisfy event the most demanding of cocktail lovers. You are very warmly welcome to The Grand Union Café that has been Ljubljana’s vibrant pulse since 1905!


Young Talents

NEXT GENERATION Young Talents 2015 in love - all the unknowns and vulnerabilities included. And I have been rewarded for it a million times over!

1. What is your favourite meetings brand?

I love my job, it‘s a wonderful blend of creativity and business where I get to see ideas brought to life. But knowing that the world is a big place, waiting to be explored, I might choose to move to a different part of the world to experience event management and marketing with a local flavour. 3:

2. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done? 3. What’s your alternative career fantasy? 4. What are you obsessed with at the moment? 5. Your goals before 50?

Apart from enthusiastically soaking up new knowledge as part of my masters studies in tourism management and gaining invaluable experience at Union Hotels, I am addicted to an active lifestyle. My greatest passion is to explore foreign countries and cultures. I am currently getting ready for my trip to the USA and Canada next month. 4:


Union Hotels, Marketing assistant Career path: Being a social butterfly, I’ve always been attracted to people and done quite a bit of volunteer work from an early age. Working at the National Gallery of Slovenia and the SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana allowed me to learn about the world of culture and events, which I later got to know even better by working at Ljubljana Castle, the Ljubljana Festival and the Ljubljana International Film Festival. Through studying management and law I have gained invaluable work experience and have participated in projects by the companies Pristop, Event Design and Lek Sandoz. I have done promotional work at various international trade fairs and conferences. I continued my master studies with a Master in Tourism Management at the Faculty of Economics, and at the same time I also got a wonderful opportunity to become part of the Union Hotels team. Here I immensely enjoy my work as an assistant to the Marketing Manager and coordinator of cultural and promotional events.

To remain fearless in the pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. And to be filthy rich. Rich in adventure, knowledge, laughter, family and love :) 5:

 Union Hotels. For me, it is a synonym for a whole set of memories, stories, and relationships with a single address - in the heart of the city. It is home to dedicated meeting and event venues with the highest quality and satisfaction level, a superb location and excellent facilities for the world of corporate, association and governmental meetings, cultural events and diverse social gatherings. 1:

Allowing my heart to win a battle against my fears. The hardest, bravest and best thing I’ve ever done was letting myself really fall 2:


Miss KRISTINA PANGOS Sava Hotels & Resorts, Sales representative MICE

Career path: After graduating from the Faculty of Tourism Studies, majoring in Tourism and partaking in a bachelor exchange in Vienna, I continued my postgraduate studies at the FELU. At IMB – an International Full Time Master Programme in Business Administration – I ad-

Young Talents


BEST MEETING DESTINATIONS 2016 62 Meetologues of New Europe 220 new features and attractions from destinations for 2016 17 countries

ditionally developed my life and business skills before continuing my career path in the MICE industry at Sava Hotels & Resorts. ď€ƒ I would have to say Sava Hotels & Resorts – with its diverse destinations in different regions of Slovenia offering every MICE customer much more than just the essential elements needed for a successful event. The dedicated and specialized MICE department pays particular attention to requests that give every event a unique character. 1:

I believe that every change requires a certain amount of courage and that there are many ways to be brave. I made many decisions that led to changes in my life and even though they were sometimes hard, I always told myself that success is not final, failure is not fatal and that it is the courage to continue that counts. 2:

My alternative career fantasy would be something involving design. In my youth, I became quite enthusiastic about interior design and was even considering pursuing my education path in that direction. I am still very passionate when it comes to design of any kind. 3:

I haven’t really thought of myself as being obsessed with anything. Nevertheless, I love the opportunity to express my talents through work and that keeps me motivated to overcome any challenges that appear and become better and better at what I do. 4:


n line with the Kongres Meetologue project we have once again been discovering meeting destinations new and old to compare and evaluate them based on: - Natural and cultural factors - General and transport infrastructure - Tourist infrastructure - Meetings infrastructure - Marketing buzz

During my career, I would definitely like to work in an environment that will fulfil my desires for personal growth, competitiveness, creativity, leadership and opportunities. I would like to travel the world and learn something new wherever I visit, and also keep finding time for myself and the people I care about the most. 5:

Given the many changes and new innovations that have happened throughout the past year, we have also re-evaluated destinations that have already been assessed in the past. To date, we have visited and evaluated 62 destinations, adding a subjective grade to each and every one of them. As an additional criterion we have also taken into account the ICCA Country and City Ranking 2014 and any data available on quality of life (Numeo) for the individual capitals. To carry out a fair and balanced assessment the cities were divided into three categories: - Large and medium sized cities with more than 150,000 inhabitants - Smaller regional and local towns with less than 150,000 inhabitants - Small tourist destinations with less than 15,000 inhabitants


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The Grand Hotel Bernardin’s sweet coffee moments


his year’s Conventa trade show’s coffee corner was provided by the Bernardin Group Hotels&Resorts from Portorož, Slovenia, the owner of the first and the largest convention hotel in Slovenia - the Grand Hotel Bernardin. Since the ritual of drinking coffee in the SEE region is considered to be one of the essential daily routines, the Bernardin Group accepted the challenge and impressed the guests with top professional services with added personal touch. It is estimated that over 2.500 cups of the delicious Illy coffee were served during coffee breaks, accompanied by three different chocolate sweets (with nuts, dark chocolate and lavande). Best business connections are established precisely during informal and relaxed moments like coffee break, so the next time you attend a conference at the Grand Hotel Bernardin don’t miss the charm of sitting at the hotel’s 11th floor open-air terasse, with sweeping panoramic views over the blue horizons of the Savudrija bay and the Gulf of Trieste and pamper yourself with a cup of coffee that will awaken your central nervous system, fill your body with nutrients and antioxidants.

Grand Hotel Bernardin hosted the Slovenian Youth Chess Championship


hess amongst youngsters in Slovenia is gaining increasing popularity, at least according to a significantly large number of contesting participants recorded at this year’s Slovenian Youth Chess Championship held at Portorož’s Grand Hotel Bernardin during the 20th and 27th February 2016. Namely more than 250 participants aged 5-18 years registered for the competition, organized by the Slovenian Chess Federation, where they demonstrated their skills in strategically thinking and in advanced foreseeing of the outcomes of each chess move. The young players first tested their chess knowledge in standard chess, which in some cases lasted for more than 6 hours. The next day it was the speed of making smart moves that defined the level of “chess talent” of each participant who engaged in fast chess competition category. The outcome of the championships was as follows: Slovenia got 12 new national champions in both, standard and fast chess categories.


Behind the Scenes

VILA VIPOLŽE European Incentive Destination of Excellence Text by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief

Photo Vila Vipolže

Quality, hospitality and an authentic congress experience in the heart of Goriška Brda in Slovenia “Residents of Brda connect Vila Vipolže with many beautiful memories of their youth dances, St Martin’s Day, weddings, pubs and socializing in the various local societies,” recalled Tina Novak Samec, director of the Brda Institute for Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport. She took over the position as director of the institute last summer, when the property was handed over by the Ministry of Culture to the institute’s care. With more than 15 years of tourism experience

working for Hit, as a local resident Tina felt that Goriška Brda has an enormous potential that will only be enhanced by the Vila Vipolže offer. She was thrilled to see that the Brda residents have embraced this property as their own and are passionate to see it come to life again. A RICH HISTORY FROM THE 12TH CENTURY In the field of tourism Brda made a huge leap forward in the last twenty years and is now upgrading its offer with boutique tourism too. A kind of forerunner to this story lies in the formation of the old manor – the romantic Brda hills have always been at the crossroads of three worlds and cultures, where the noble families of Herberstein, Della Torre, Attems and Teuffenbach enjoyed the boutique comfort of the manor, an ideal spot for hunting, from the 12th century onwards. 48

Today the greatest potential of Brda lies in its people. For more than 20 years, and in the most previous years under the leadership of the Mayor Franc Mužič, the stubborn locals had been insisting on the reconstruction of the building. Once the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia handed the management of the villa as a monument of national importance (and renovated with European funding) over to the municipality of Brda, the Brda Institute for Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport immediately set about the realization of its ambitious plans to revive the property, and without doubt their extremely positive energy will help them pull it off. This year, the offer will be upgraded with the opening of a cafe and wine bars, while Vila Vipolže can already boast numerous cultural and congress events.

Behind the Scenes

securing corporate events, in particular the new product launches. The picturesque location has already been discovered by Mercedes, who is considering their journalist event there and just a week ago Vila Vipolže was hosting an event for Citroen too. Aljaž Filej, a representative of the Brda Institute for Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sport, said the location is also an extremely popular official wedding venue where you can get your marriage license. This summer almost every weekend has already been booked. The key to a happy ensemble (not just married couples!) is to combine the Brda offer with congresses, all based on tradition and the Brda experience. Vila Vipolže will work with the best caterers from the region and beyond. The placement of the property allows for a unique fusion of different culinary styles, accompanied by fine wines. Brda is considered one of the best wine destinations in the world and this part of the offer definitely needs to be included and profiled in incentive programmes. Last year the - Tina Novak Samec prestigious American magazine Wine & Spirits named two local winemakers on ‘The 100 Best in the World’ list. There is awareness that the road to recogniTHE PERFECT PLACE FOR tion is a long one and a step by step process. An CORPORATE EVENTS interesting route of promotion is cooperation Tina told us that different incentive programmes with the embassies and today five embassies compliment the current offer. After a high-pro- have already opened their cultural embassies at file opening in October 2015, they have primar- the Brda winemakers. Many see a big potential ily focused on the Slovenian market, but are now for tourism and have brought their companies planning to present Vila Vipolže on the interna- from abroad to the Brda region. It can’t be overtional market as well. The focus is currently on stated, however, that the local winemakers are cultural events and is gradually also directed at probably the best promoters of the region.

“If we want to be sustainable and preserve natural resources, the way to go is to focus on boutique tourism, including congress tourism. The foundation of the whole package is the natural cultural heritage and gastronomy”.


FEATURES AND BENEFITS The big advantage of the location is that it is well away from the hustle and bustle of the city, so that an event can be set in a romantic and tranquil atmosphere. At the same time Vila Vipolže is one of Slovenia’s most modern centres for cultural, business and educational tourism in terms of technical equipment. A special attraction is the cooperation with local providers who come into contact with event participants through the local cuisine, wine and culture. On the first floor of the manor, that The Venetians named Piano nobile, one can find a hall ideal for congresses, receptions and gala dinners. The 200m 2 space can be divided into three sections and includes a system for simultaneous translation. Next to the hall there is a banqueting space with a kitchen. The second floor is decorated with a beautiful fresco that has been carefully restored. Guests especially enjoy the big underground cellar that is great for socializing in a relaxed atmosphere and again great for wedding receptions.

Behind the Scenes

“My favourite place in the villa is the entrance hall, which serves as the information desk. Here we are the first ones to welcome our guests and catch their positive first impressions. An additional advantage is the informational centre and a lovely gift shop, “Briška butiehca”, filled with selected local products.”

Brda is a boutique incentive destination that offers a-one-of-a-kind experience for small groups and no other destination in Slovenia is a match for it. Boutique accommodation is availa - Aljaž Filej ble within a small, 15km area, which is another unique feature that you will not find in large cities or hotel resorts. The future is in boutique tourism and the numerous small venues that 50

tempt meeting planners, and the role of Vila Vipolže is to connect them and include them in their incentive offer, just as they already connect culture and experience. The unique story here and the engagement with the Brda environment makes it ideal for car launches and tests. This is a logistical and likable property with a large car park area, service fa-

Behind the Scenes

cilities and a location that allows for combining the experience of driving on rural roads and motorways with a culinary experience of Brda. The team led by Tina Novak Samec is not short of energy or ideas on how to go about their work, as Tina considers that the management of Vila Vipolže is “not just a job - it is a lifestyle”. Their formula for success is definitely hard work, flexibility and great hospitality.

The phenomenon of the “Ena žlahtna štorija” series In November, Planet TV organised a party in Vila Vipolže celebrating the end of filming of the second season of the popular “Ena žlahtna štorija” romance comedy series that contributed to the promotion of Goriška Brda. Since the filming started, the site visit has significantly increased.

Some of the most important events held in Vila Vipolže since the opening in October 2015: - Workshop on Japanese green tea, March 2016 - Festival Svirel, March 2016 - Days of Slovenian Tourism 2015 - Meeting of Slovenian state councillors, December 2015 - Meeting of the Board of EU Cohesion Policy, November 2015 - Slovenian Association of Liquidators, December 2015 - Association of Dermatology, December 2015 - Conferences NIJZ, ZVKDS - Corporate events Pfizer, Citroen - numerous cultural events - numerous protocol events


Location: Vila Vipolže stands among the hills of the Brda region, very near to Nova Gorica, the region‘s main town, and to neighbouring Italy. Address: Vipolže 29, SI-5212 Dobrovo, Slovenia Distances: 26 km from Trieste airport, 135 km from Ljubljana, 143 km from Venice airport, 200 km from Klagenfurt E:

Kongres magazine

Best event I’ve worked on? »HEALTHY!«


ESRA Congress 2015 The European Society of Regional Anasthesia & Pain Therapy, scientific programme combined with exhibition

The 40th World Scout Conference with over 1200 people from 130 countries



Naomi Campbell, Kevin Costner, Ben Affleck … Gala receptions of the Diners Club Slovenia

Kurzschluss, the hottest pop up festival club in Ljubljana, with Europe’s finest music talentsevery December

»FAST AND EFFECTIVE AS A SUPERSONIC CAR!« The 5th Trade for Automotive parts

GR-L JUBL JANA Exhibition and Convention Centre

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Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre - Briefing

The 55th Home Fair in Ljubljana - the European Green Capital 2016


he GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre once again hosted the annual Home Fair, the biggest specialized international fair promoting the building and construction industry of Slovenia as well as of the neighbouring regions, covering 20,000 square metres of exhibition space and where 517 companies from 32 different countries presented their various construction services and products. This year the Fair was organised under the auspices of the Municipality of Ljubljana’s project “Ljubljana – the European Green Capital 2016”. The city of Ljubljana is one of the most sustainable cities in Europe, priding itself on a city-centre closed to all traffic and an excellent waste management system that yields great results. By adopting a “Zero Waste” strategy, Ljubljana became the first European capital progressing towards the goal of creating a zero waste society. The GR - Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre can also pride itself on receiving a special environmental award, granted by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, for encouraging green trends and sustainable construction technologies.

Explore undiscovered adventure destinations at the Natour Alpe-Adria fair


n January 2016 the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, in conjunction with Toleranca Marketing and GIZ - Hiking and Biking Association of Slovenia, hosted the Natour AlpeAdria boutique fair. The fair once again attracted all nature lovers, travellers, mountaineers, hikers and other professional/amateur athletes wishing to discover what the companies specialised in organising active and adventure holidays had prepared for this year’s sport tourism offer. A total of 301 different tourist services from 12 countries were present at this year’s fair and it was visited by approximately 15,000 people over four days. The fair had a rich accompanying programme, where visitors could attend interesting travelogue lectures and other presentations, among which the “From Turnc (Slovenia) to Himalaya and back” lecture presented by Slovenia‘s mountaineering legend Viki Grošelj was, as expected, the most inspiring one. Viki Grošelj is the first Slovenian to climb the highest peaks on every continent and has conquered 10 of the 14 Himalayan 8,000m altitude summits. Every hundredth visitor at the fair received a gift - a book by Viki Grošelj, “Forty years of my encounters with the Himalayas” (40 let mojih soočanj s Himalajo), signed by the author. The money received from the books sold is to help the post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepal.





ne of Conventa highlights by which it differs itself from other meeting industry trade shows is an outstanding Conventa networking dinner. Traditionally hosted by CD Congress Centre this evening event was in hands of SORA Catering. About 500 business guests were invited to this dinner party with high networking expectations. Ambiance and culinary offer had to create a suitable environment to support guests’ needs. SORA Catering used a corporate hospitality catering concept. This type of standing reception is suitable for business receptions at the highest level. Selected catering setting, furniture and quality lighting were unified to create a trendy ambience in this outstanding CD Congress Centre reception hall.

SORA Catering offered an amazing culinary experience. Special service plan was made according to organisers programme and according to the expected flow of guests in the hall. Food counters were placed in a way that most effectively accelerated the food distribution at the end of the official programme. Culinary offer was on the highest level. Chefs cooked live in front of guests. Illuminated counters gave show cooking a special effect. Food and wine selection followed the guidelines of Slovenian gastronomy. Local and regional dishes were made in contemporary and sophisticated way. A special highlight in catering services were performance of star chef Luka Jezeršek from SORA Catering and his colleague chef Karim Merdjadi from Atelier Karim. They are both judges at MasterChef Slovenia TV series. “I am


always happy to be involved in SORA Catering events. Luka and his team are passionate about creating unforgettable events and it is a pleasure to be a part of them,” explained chef Karim Merdjadi. Guests could relax in the lounge area created by Hiša vizij in the frontal part of the hall. Another wine bar was placed in this area. After a tasteful culinary experience this was a great starting point to Conventa after party.,

Meet Busters

•BELGRADE MEET BUSTERS• Congress myths that you did not dare to ask, or know whom to ask:


Nomen est omen: The CONFIRMED first Slavic mention of the city was recorded in the year 878 and its translation would be ‘the White city’. The main reason for this name of the city is the white limestone used to built the fortress that once stood in the same location as today’s Kalemegdan. Prior to that, a Roman settlement, Singidunum, stood at this location. From today’s perspective it seems strange to call Belgrade the White city, as it is more of an offwhite colour. Until, of course, the sun comes out and springtime arrives!

MYTH 2: THE WORLD’S ONLY SILICON VALLEY IS IN CALIFORNIA BUSTED The famous Silicon Valley can of course be found in California, USA, and indeed all of the major IT brands and websites were created there (Microsoft, Facebook etc.). But it is also true that Belgrade has its own “Silicone Valley” – well, it has a lively street where you will meet the locals that leave their fancy cars right on the street (only those who have small cars park them on the properly marked parking spaces) and there’s no shortage of the perfectly styled Belgrade women often corrected by silicone either. The lively street is full of cafes and bars and it is definitely a place where people like to ‘show off’ what they’ve got.


The New and the Old Belgrade –it is at this point, at the symbolic level, where the influence between East and West has always intertwined. Today the mighty Ada Bridge over the river Sava reminds us of this. In the heart of the Balkans the bridges represent some prophetic buildings and Sava symbolically divides Western and Eastern Europe. The previous point of conflict is now the point that connects and holds together the West and the East, and its epicentre is the new Ada Bridge.


Mainly in the sixties and the seventies of the 20th century, the former Yugoslav capital was a very important player in the international political arena. In 1916 a Non-Aligned Movement began in Belgrade, which successfully opposed the bloc division. During the recent Balkan wars the power of Belgrade declined. With projects such as the Belgrade Waterfront and Air Serbia,

it seems that the city that was usually the first to get the big projects will once again become a regional centre.


CONFIRMED If you love to have a good time, Belgrade will not disappoint you. Many bar owners have made good of the fact the Danube and Sava rivers run through the city by turning their rafts into nightclubs and anchoring them to the river banks. At night this is definitely the place to be. The city operates around the clock, so finding entertainment after hours and at other spots throughout the city is easy. Parties happen spontaneously and you can quickly end up partying until the wee hours.


Belgrade has long been the most accessible capital in the region. Just last year, 4,776,110 passengers travelled through Belgrade airport, which is almost twice as many as through Zagreb airport (2,587,798). Air Serbia operates fantastically well; last year they brought more than 2.5 million passengers to Belgrade, which is an 11 % increase on the previous year. The strategic location at the crossroads of rivers, good roads, rail and air routes strengthen Belgrade’s position as a regional transport hub.


CONFIRMED ‘Turbofolk’ is a well recognised and probably one of the most problematic trademarks of Serbia. It was based on a series of historical myths that arose after the collapse of the former Yugoslavia and is a blend of different musical traditions - Serbian traditional music, Gypsy brass, Central European rhythms and Turkish and Greek pop music as a derivative of Balkan folk music. When in Belgrade it’s hard to avoid the kitschy musical format that is a part of the mass Serbian culture and is led by Serbian Divas with Ceca at the forefront. 55


Balkan cuisine is not really a vegetarian heaven, as it is a very special walk through different historical periods of the city, with Turkish, Greek and Austro-Hungarian influences, and meat is the main ingredient. Nevertheless, one can always find a dish for vegetarians, such as cabbage rolls and layer cakes, and Serbian cuisine has been reviving of late. Although it is based on traditional recipes it is also in step with modern times, so the good news is that a visit to the best restaurants won’t hurt your wallet and you’ll leave the restaurant feeling full and with a smile on your face.

MYTH 9: SMOKING IN CAFES IS FORBIDDEN BUSTED Café culture is an important part of the Belgrade lifestyle and the coffee that was introduced to Serbia back in the 16th century by Turks was soon taking over the nation, so drinking coffee became a big part of their everyday life. The first café opened its doors in 1522 and entering the smoky cafes is now part of the anthropological experience of the city, with fanatical smokers excited about the fact that in Belgrade they can freely enjoy their cigarettes along with a cup of strong black coffee.


Belgrade’s largest conBUSTED gress centre, and once the largest convention centre in Europe, is a living encyclopedia of the modern history of Belgrade. It was built in a record time of 6 months for the needs of the Conference of the OSCE in 1977, which lasted a marathon period of eight months. Almost by accident and under the command of Tito, Belgrade gained the most modern and largest convention centre in Europe. It was then considered a technological marvel and it followed the first wave of constructions of congress centres in Serbia and abroad. The design still keeps up with the times, but the interior needs renovation. The refurbishment has been scheduled for this year.

Best Venues 2015


Best Venues 2015


Q: Since its opening in 2014 what kind of events has ICE Kraków been mostly attracting? In the past two years what has the ratio of congress/conference events to other organised cultural (concerts, exhibitions, theatre, etc.) events been? Izabela Helbin, Director of Kraków Festival Office – ICE Kraków’s operator: The ICE Kraków Congress Centre was opened in October 2014. However, the Kraków Festival Office, operator of ICE Kraków, already began intensive work in 2007. The team was present at the most important business meetings and conferences around the world, presenting the facility’s brand (Convene Wilno, Meedex Paris, EIBTM Barcelona, IMEX London) for many years before it opened, promoting Kraków as the perfect destination for the meetings industry and organisation of congresses and conferences. This resulted in a very rich calendar of events. In 2014, out of the approximately 70 days available from the opening, nearly 90 % was booked. The very name of the facility, ICE – International Conferences and Entertainment – shows that it is a facility designed to accept almost any type of event: from congresses, conferences, symposiums and forums, to cultural events (classical and pop music concerts, theatre and opera spectacles and acrobatic shows [the stage of the Auditorium Hall was even the site of a children’s revue on ice], to social events and television productions). ICE Kraków is a multifunctional site – and what is very important, the project was consulted with representatives of the meetings industry and representatives of the world of culture. Today, about 60 % of the events hosted there consist of conferences and corporate meetings, while 40 % is culture. The Congress centre is also able to accommodate trade fairs, although we do not hide that we are not strictly an exhibition facility. There is no doubt, however, that during the organisation of events – beyond the cubic capacity of the facility – our only limit is our imagination.


Q: The centre is undoubtedly an architectural masterpiece, its modern form with an ingenious interior design, with its multi-storey foyer offering a panoramic view of the old city centre and the Wawel Castle hill is absolutely outstanding. But still, this 36,000m2 complex, with its intelligently designed roof formed into cascades flowing down towards the Vistula, which visually diminishes the scale of the building, is nevertheless a huge building standing out like a giant. How did the local people accept the building, or how are they experiencing it? Michał Zalewski, PR & New Media Manager: Kraków had been waiting for a prestigious congress centre since the 1970s. The plans changed many times, until finally in 2007 preparations for the construction began. Today, as a thriving facility, we describe ourselves as a next generation public institution. The facility is owned by the Municipality of Kraków. With the residents of Kraków in mind, we regularly organise free social events – Open Days, a festival of European funds, open rehearsals of orchestras, meetings for fans of mobile photography, and meetings with writers. There is also the possibility of touring ICE Kraków with a guide who, during the 1.5hour tour, talks about the facility operations and the architectural solutions implemented in its construction. Many groups have taken us up on this offer, including local preschools, pensioners’ clubs, associations, universities and high schools. As you might expect, the publicly-funded construction of such a large building was controversial. However, through our openness, willingness to enter into a dialogue and – most importantly – effective operations, we are showing that it was worthwhile to invest in the construction of the Congress Centre. With the opening of ICE Kraków, the immediate vicinity also changed – the area around ICE Kraków has become increasingly attractive. A new bus terminal was opened, the area was landscaped and planted with new vegetation, many sidewalks were renovated and a cycling path was opened. The nearby public transportation hub was also modernised. This was truly a comprehensive investment.

Best Venues 2015

Q: How has the centre increased tourist visits or congress dynamics in Krakow? Izabela Helbin: Kraków is a well-established tourist city. Every year, it is visited by over 10 million tourists (the permanent population of Kraków is about 800 000 people). About 20 % of the population makes a living off the broadly-defined tourist services. Now is the time for specialised tourism. We have a very rapidly growing religious tourism – this year, Kraków is hosting World Youth Day, and we’re expecting about 2 million guests. Investments in infrastructure for the meetings industry mean that today Kraków is ready to accept almost every event. Its offer is complete – in 2014, three facilities were opened: one of Europe’s most modern sports halls, the TAURON Arena Kraków, the trade fair and exhibition centre EXPO Kraków, as well as ICE Kraków. This facilitated further specialisation

of tourists. What is important, ICE Kraków generates an economic impact for the city – the income of the congress centre also means an income in the service sector (transport, hospitality, catering, individual tourism, trade event services, event equipment suppliers), which translates into significant tax revenue for the city’s budget. All the meetings that take place in Krakow annually generate more than 1 billion PLN of GDP, which is 2.37 % of the GDP of the entire city economy.


Q: How many events have taken place since the opening in 2014 and how many are you expecting in 2016? Ryszard Strojnowski, Senior Sales Manager: In 2015 alone, the facility was visited by nearly 230 thousand people during more than 200 events (since the inauguration on the 16th of October 2014, nearly 290 thousand people over 240 events). The booking of the ICE Kraków calendar remains at a very high, constant level. Even now, nearly 90 % of all weekends of 2016 are reserved and we’ve signed contracts for approximately 50 % of them. Currently we are working on the event calendar for the year 2020 and we’ve recently booked the first congress for 2026! This kind of information gives us great strength to keep going.

Best Venues 2015

by the congress centre in Ljubljana – despite the fact that the facility has been operating for many years, its functional solutions are timeless.

Q: Which other convention centre in the EU or worldwide could ICE Kraków be compared with? Ryszard Strojnowski: In planning the marketing and communication strategy for ICE Kraków, even before the opening, we searched for benchmarks – of course, Vienna, Berlin and Prague are very strong in the market. It is worth observing and adopting good practices, but there’s no denying that we have a long way to go before we can compare ourselves to these cities. We’re also keeping an eye on the convention centre in the capital city of Iceland – HARPA Reykjavik. Despite the geographical isolation and different geopolitical conditions, out facilities are almost identical in terms of functionality and the events organised – we focus on both the MICE market and the broadly understood entertainment industry. We are very impressed

Q: What are the advantages of the centre from the standpoint of your potential customers - congress participants? Also, whilst the centre is in itself an events magnet, in your opinion what does it take to maintain a good reputation for it – the staff, the choice of events, the flexibility of the management? Michał Zalewski: ICE Kraków is an extremely multifunctional facility. It meets the requirements of international organisations: ICCA, SKKP (Polish Conference and Congress Association), MPI and AIPC. ICE Kraków is located virtually in the centre of the city, right on the Vistula River, across from the historical heart of Poland – the Wawel Royal Castle. A splendid panorama of the city can be viewed from ICE Kraków. The international magazine TRAVEL+LEISURE selected us as one of the 25 most important tourist attractions of 2015, thanks to the glass-enclosed foyer, which offers a truly breath-taking view. We have at our disposal VIP spaces – separate entrances, corridors (lifts, hallways), a VIP lounge and a VIP bar. The design of acoustic solutions is under the care of companies responsible for the Oslo Opera and the Disney Theatre in the United States. In the immediate vicinity of ICE Kraków are 6 hotels (best walking distance), and the distance to the nearest transit stop is only 50 metres. The stop “Centrum Kongresowe” is served by around 20 bus lines and around 10 tram lines. Also significant is the proximity to the International Kraków Airport, as well as the railway station – guests can arrive in about 15 minutes. We’ve said a lot about the technical and production infrastructure, but the success of any facility depends largely on the work of the team. We probably haven’t had a client who didn’t call attention to the excellent organisation of work, professionalism and manners of our team. We particularly remember the remark of an agency from France, which hosted an international congress for over 1,000 guests with us: “How do you do it, that you’re always exactly where we need you at any given time?” We often remember this collaboration. The atmosphere of the city is not without significance – in Kraków, you just feel good – excellent cuisine, historical heritage and an extremely varied cultural offer. What more could you want? Q: What have been ICE Kraków congress centre’s biggest achievements to date? Izabela Helbin: We’re extremely proud of the fact that despite being a very young, brand new facility, we’ve become one of the most important players in the Polish meetings industry. From the very beginning, we’ve focused on professionalism. However, we learned everything ourselves – we didn’t hire experts who implemented ready-made strategies. Our hard work was rec59

ognised at the beginning of 2015, when not even 3 months after opening, we were named the best congress centre in Poland. That gave us a lot of energy. The next honour was the Meetings Star Award. As a public institution, we pay attention to our image – we try to operate very responsibly, talk with the local community and listen to the voices from the industry. We do not conduct aggressive marketing, but we are one of the market leaders. It may sound cliché, we are pleased that through our hard work, we’ve gained the respect of many people and institutions. Q: What influence does the centre have on the general appearance of Kraków? Do you consider it a modern “Arc de Triomphe” kind of construction, a new representative object, symbol of new, modern, prosperous Poland? Michal Zalewski: It’s funny that you should ask that. Even before opening, we wanted ICE Kraków to become a business and cultural landmark of the city. All our actions were focused on this big idea. Analysing the events calendar, we realised that we hosted very diverse events. The advertising slogan and the main idea we are guided by came to us very naturally and is very simple. Business, Culture, Science meet in ICE Kraków – we create a platform for dialogue for all of these sectors, all of it in a beautiful, modern and functional facility. It may sound a bit immodest, but we’ve managed to get all the elements to work really well together, so we can say that we are a symbol of modern Kraków and contemporary Poland. Q: At Conventa 2016 you received the award for best congress centre in New Europe – what does the award mean to you? Izabela Helbin: According to the idea of the competition, the jurors submit candidates and evaluate facilities on their own initiative. The fact that we did not submit ICE Kraków as a recommended site confirms that our operations are not only visible in Poland, but they’re noticed and appreciated outside the country. Thanks to this, we know that it is worthwhile to pursue our goals. The additional Meetings Star Award is excellent promotion for Kraków as a destination for the meetings Industry. Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about ICE Kraków that perhaps describes it best? Michal Zalewski: Modern society lives very quickly and requires information here and now. People expect valuable content, provided in an aesthetic form. From the very beginning, we focused on new media. We intensively operate in social media, we conduct dialogue, and the materials we prepare are always visually appealing and modern. In communication, we let ourselves be a bit nonchalant and relaxed. We believe that this is the reason why we meet with such a positive reception.

Been There

ACE OF MICE – ISTANBUL See and be seen


Been There

TURKISH AIRLINES – AMBASSADOR OF TURKISH HOSPITALITY Interview with Mr. Ahmet Olmuştur, The Chief Marketing Officer Q: How do you assess the meetings industry market in South East Europe and what are the biggest trends impacting on it? South East Europe is a very important market for us. We are providing access to the region with reasonable connections from all over the world – Asia, Afrika and the Americas by covering all of the major hubs in the region. When it comes to meeting industry, we know that the region carries a lot of potential. We already have some good dialogue we have established with convention bureaus and important DMC’s in the region. And we are constantly exploring new opportunities by extending out partnerships. Q: How would you define Turkish Airlines philosophy towards meetings industry? Turkish Airlines is very aware of the importance


of the meetings industry. This is why we have a department and multiple products dedicated to providing services to international meeting planners and attendees. We have a Turkish Airlines only meetings product called Turkish Conventions. We have received some very positive feedback about the product and our services. But of course, we carry on constantly improving our products in line with the feedback provided by sector professionals and meeting attendees. Q: Where has the bulk of your business wins come from in the last year? We took part in many different international events, varying from Far East to North America, as the official airline partner but our biggest business pie belongs traditionally to Europe when it comes to meetings industry. 

Turkish Conv ilan (ENG) (210x297)_BASKI.pdf










t the end of his rousing opening address to formally declare Meetings Africa 2016 under way with the symbolic ringing of the bell, the evergreen South African Minister for Tourism, Derek Hanekom, proudly stated that “Africa is open for business”. Looking back on a hugely successful outing of the event that took place in Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre from February 23-24, it is clear that Africa is not just open for business, but that it is surging ahead on how it is doing business and attracting events to a continent of boundless potential. There were a significant number of initiatives taking place at this year’s Meetings Africa that not only made it a very special year, but one that will ensure that solid foundations are in place for what is certain to be sound and sustainable growth of both the event and the industry across the continent. The first such initiative was

holding the European Cities Marketing (ECM) Academy at the event from 22-24 February, bringing a number of high-profile European speakers to share their knowledge and experience and develop domestic thinking around the knowledge economy and event innovation. This was especially significant as it was a landmark first time that the academy has taken place anywhere outside of Europe. ”It is a privilege to have the ECM Academy here, for the first time in Africa,” said Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB). “Our goal is to grow the business events industry on our continent and we aim to achieve this by growing our skills and expertise, thereby bolstering our professionalism. That is the main reason for this partnership.” ”The business events industry is a great driver of economic development and South Africa’s 64

business events strategy is focussed on building and accelerating its knowledge,” added Sthembiso Dlamini, Acting Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism. “South Africa is leading from the front in continental collaboration and partnerships to grow our own industry and contribute towards growing continental capacity and ultimately spearhead profound transformation in Africa.” A further key initiative at this year’s event saw Tokozile Xasa, the Deputy Tourism Minister of South Africa, officially open the new headquarters of the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE), established at last year’s event, a body that is anticipated will help propel Africa further forward as a premier business events destination through the better rotation and coordination of meetings.


”This is a ground-breaking and innovative development in the Africa business events industry,” said Xasa. “Through this association, we will be able to encourage meetings to be held and rotated across our own continent and thus befitting the African economy. We have taken a huge leap forward in the collaboration and partnerships that are necessary to grow the meetings industry in South Africa, and the continent as a whole.” ”With each association meeting held in our country and our continent as a whole our knowledge economy grows and our meetings industry is given the opportunity to shine and expose its world-class meetings infrastructure,” he added. “There is a lot to learn.” Putting the potential of AfSAE into perspective, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo was also keen to add that “of the approximate 700 international associations in Africa, only 280 are really active,

so where are the rest and how do we tap into this market? It is time for us to look ‘inside’ and identify opportunities to bring delegates to Africa – not only for conferences and meetings, but also for major trade shows.” Pushing to attract more delegates to put their faith in Africa as a destination - and not just association delegates - Meetings Africa was a powerful showcase of what is on offer in the great continent. Almost 60 exhibitors from 15 African countries outside of the host nation of South Africa were these to share the best of what the country can offer, representing tourism boards, airlines, premium hotels, safari tours, CVBs and a number of other services. Moreover, the quality of convention facilities in host country South Africa itself, as well as facilities in the pipeline, is already at the top level: the sprawling Sandton Convention Centre in the heart of the business area that is powered on renewable energy, 65

Durban’s vast ICC with the largest column-free multipurpose event space in Africa, and the beautifully located Cape Town International Convention Centre are all world-class and just a few to highlight. And further showing their commitment to developing the meetings industry Cape Town has just received the new Century City Conference City and Hotel with a capacity for up to 2,000 guests across 19 venues, the capital city of Tshwane is looking forward to its new International Convention Centre coming on stream, and works are currently under way for a huge extension to Cape Town’s existing ICC that with a further 10,000m2 of multi-purpose conference and exhibition space will double existing capacity, not to mention the extra 3,000m2 of formal and informal meeting space that will be available. With so much going on at this year’s Meetings Africa under its theme of Advancing Africa Together, as well as across the continent in bolstering its meetings industry, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom was keen to stress that “people throughout Africa will benefit significantly from growing the tourism footprint through more jobs and opportunities to become part of the tourism value chain and Meetings Africa brings Africa together and helps us move forward as a continent united through tourism.” ”However, there is great potential to do even more to reap the full benefits of tourism for the continent,” he added. “As the meetings and events segment contributes significantly to the overall performance of the tourism sector in South Africa, it has huge potential to contribute to tourism growth in our country.” ”This event is about our continent at its best, it’s about putting our excellent tourism products and services on the world market,” continued Hanekom. “From our convention centres, hotels, lodges and restaurants, to our professional conference organisers, from our banks, roads, airports and telecommunications infrastructure to our universities and colleges, Africa is advancing. Today we can truly say – Africa is open for business.” Having witnessed the strength of Meetings Africa and the positivity about the continent’s future potential, Kongres wholly agrees that Africa is very much open for business and looks forward to following and supporting the growth of this business in a collaborative way in the successful years ahead.




ndoubtedly the key goal of any conference or event is to deliver and secure optimum business results, but if the event happens to be taking place in South Africa it would be a big mistake not to consider partaking of the many opportunities for recreation and incentives available there, simply because there is nowhere else on the planet that can offer what South Africa has. Kongres magazine was honoured to be invited on a post-show tour to get a taster of what’s available and is stumped for superlatives on the diversity and quality of what a single day in South Africa can offer. During the days of Meetings Africa, spending time on the trade show floor was mixed with an international media group being shown some of the more colourful sides of Johannesburg. South Africa’s biggest city has been through many layers of transformation, from its early gold rush days and construction boom to the multi-faceted city it is today. An open-top bus tour shows the many sides of the city, and unlike some of the more ‘chocolate box’ tours on offer in European cities it doesn’t spare some of the challenges it faces today and in the future, showing its many faces “warts and all”. The evolution of the city is explained through an informative audio guide available in a number of different languages – just don’t forget the sun cream for the open top!

At one stage of the bus tour it is possible (and advisable) to disembark and transfer to a really special experience – a journey through Soweto with Soweto Outdoor Adventures, a series of minibuses for up to 12 people and each with a local guide. The Soweto township is a remarkable experience, populated as it is by more than


4 million people and having been through some of Africa’s most turbulent episodes, no less so than the shooting of schoolboy Hector Peterson during the student uprising of 1976 and the apartheid era, with a museum and memorial today standing where the fateful events took place. And just yards from this spot is Vilakazi Street, which


despite not meaning anything to many people, is the street that housed both Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, making it home to Nobel Prize winners and unique in the world. Back into the city and a trip to the haunting Lilliesleaf Farm is a moving experience. The Rivonia area of Jo’burg where the farm is located was the spot where the African liberation movement centred its operations, but also where it was brought to a juddering halt as a police raid uncovered all of the group’s leaders – including Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu – and was the beginning of their long incarceration on Robben Island. From Jo’burg and after Meetings Africa the media group was then taken to the bizarrely impressive Sun City, a 2-hour drive away and set within sprawling grounds containing hotels, convention facilities, restaurants, numerous leisure options including golf and a huge water park, as well as a capacious casino for those fond of a little flutter. The standard of every aspect of Sun City is somewhere way above remarkable, with the rooms amongst some of the best it is possible to stay in anywhere and the food offer exquisite, not to mention the attentive and super-friendly staff available at every turn. Ordinarily, when staying at such a luxury facility having a 4am alarm bell wouldn’t be the most welcoming of starts to the day, but when it’s the

call to get ready for a hot air balloon over the adjoining Pilanesberg National Park then even your correspondent is willing to make a little exception! The safari bus trundles through the dark of the early morning, with the experienced driver taking the opportunity to point out the nocturnal African wildlife (and most of the passengers hoping it won’t be a springing lion or raging elephant) on the way to the clearing where the balloons are being readied. After filling them with hot air and getting the passengers on board, with 10 to a balloon the once-in-a-lifetime experience takes you over the African plains in a glorious dawn sunrise, with the zebra, giraffe, hippos, crocodiles, white rhino and even scarce black rhino all making an appearance down below. After an hour of gliding through the air in such an amazing experience, the champagne breakfast on landing isn’t a bad way to finish it off. Having seen some of the best of Jo’burg and Sun City, it was then time to head to Cape Town for some more action-packed days of South African hospitality and showcasing. After a 2-hour flight from Jo’burg and a drive around the city the media group was given a tour of Cape Town’s latest meeting and convention facilities at Century City Conference City and Hotel, where the smell of fresh paint and newly laid carpet signals just how recent these modern, well laid out and very tastefully furnished spaces are. 67

The next morning it was time for a site inspection of the convention staple of the city, the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where following a tour of the main spaces that the centre has – and wonderfully versatile they are too – it was time to don hard hats for a tour of the extension currently under construction, which will double the existing space and within its architecturally stunning glass shell will prove to be not just a major asset to Cape Town, but also to South Africa, and especially so under the guidance of its wonderfully welcoming and engaging CEO, Julie-May Ellingson. Cape Town clearly has a very bright meetings and events future ahead of it. With the hard hats returned it was time for headphones and rotor blades, as we were whisked by helicopter from the nearby V&A Helipad to one of the many stunning wine estates dotting the Stellenbosch area outside Cape Town. For the media group it was the Cavalli Wine and Stud Farm, a family project of impeccable architectural taste and a gem for smaller group events, as there is high-end dining, wine tasting tours and even an art gallery integrated within it. The grounds of the estate also have some very intimate spaces for weddings and other such events, and it should be said that the eatate’s wine went down rather smoothly as well. The final step in quite possibly one of the best itineraries it is possible to conceive was a more sombre and reflective moment, with a visit to Robben Island. The 45-minute boat journey, where whales can be seen surfacing along the way, takes you to what was Nelson Mandela’s home for the best part of three decades, as well as for many others too. The tour of Robben Island is given by former inmates, making it an even more poignant experience – how man can be so cruel to his fellow man is baffling, and it is incredible to think of the fortitude and willpower of the men once held there. It is a historic and haunting place, where every step sheds another part of South Africa’s incredible story to the present day. Leaving South Africa after such an introduction to its abundant riches was difficult and the trip home was full of wonderful images and memories of equally wonderful encounters, no less so than the hearty company of group leader Funeka, who held things together under any challenge and always brought her cheerfulness to the group. It must also be said that there are challenges with South Africa. There is a lasting perception of it as a destination with safety issues, yet not a single issue was recorded in the 2010 FIFA World Cup there. And if anywhere is braced to address and experienced with addressing external concerns of safety it is South Africa, where arrangements were flawless from end to end. That matter dealt with, the decision to host an event or an incentive – or preferably a healthy dose of each – in South Africa will be something event planners will never regret and delegates will never forget.




s Conventa was reaching full swing in January and proudly showcasing the best of South East Europe to its esteemed international audience, on the other side of the world, in the Philippine capital of Manila, the best of South East Asia was also standing shoulder to shoulder at this year’s ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) Tourism Forum (ATF) held there, coinciding very nicely with the 2016 Year of the Philippines (again!). Bringing together the ten nations who make up the ASEAN region – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - may be something of a logistical minefield, but it is one that bears ripe fruit in terms of helping not only strongly promote the best of the region, but also to accelerate strategic decisions that can boost its competitiveness on the world stage in how it can attract visitors and events. In ensuring that this takes place in both the planning and execution of the Forum, its most notable aspect is the high level of political commitment afforded to it, with each of the member states sending a prominent political envoy to attend. This dedication to promoting the region had a profile opening, with the gala

night opening speech delivered by no less than the Philippine President, H.E. Benigno Simeon Aquino III, after which the 35th iteration of ATF quickly moved through its business gears – after some wonderful gala night festivities, of course. Over its three days the show floor was abuzz with 2,620 delegates, including more than 1,000 ASEAN exhibitors, 457 international buyers and 175 international media. Being at home, the Philippines made up the lion’s share of the ASEAN booths and marked their largest participation in the history of the event. Beyond the show floor there was also much buzzing going on around the impressive arena for the event, the SMX Convention Centre Manila, with each of the ASEAN nations giving media briefings and ministerial, NTO and other meetings all taking place on the fringes. For the media briefings, each country was keen to set out their growth targets and forward strategies for achieving them, with Indonesia even honouring media delegates by presenting Arief Yahya, the Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Indonesia, to present their briefing! Given that each country of the ASEAN region was exhibiting itself distinctly, however, and that they are indeed distinct destinations, one might 68

lose sight of the regional focus, or as ATF 2016 Philippine Host Committee chairman and DOT Tourism Development Undersecretary Benito C. Bengzon Jr. said, “promoting all ten members of the ASEAN region as one destination might seem ‘undoable’ because of the region’s archipelagic nature.” ”However, getting the industry to package tours covering three or more countries and involving land, sea and air transport could be the most exciting and attractive value proposition a tourist could get,” he added, keen to highlight the success of the ATF’s intra-travel campaign under the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015. With this in mind, it was timely that this year saw the release of the region’s latest strategic vision, the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2016-2025, setting out the two major strategic directions for the coming decade and the strategic actions and activities for how they will be delivered. The plan is something of a benchmark for how other regions can better coordinate their own activities and reap full dividend from a healthy co-opetitive approach. In making the plan a reality and getting the region out to the world, many of the key goals begin right at home, with Mr. Zulzalani Osman,


Acting Head of Marketing and Promotion Centre from the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism of Brunei Darussalam noting that “although many ASEAN people are quite familiar with their neighbouring countries, there are still plenty of unique tourism attractions in each ASEAN member state yet to be visited and experienced. We’d like the people of ASEAN to be fully aware, appreciative and proud of the great diversity of tourism assets in the ASEAN member states.” This support from home is bolstered by each of the ASEAN member states taking on a key focus in the growth of the region: Brunei Darussalam promotes community-based tourism, Cambodia and Myanmar promote ASEAN culture and heritage tourism, Indonesia endorses ASEAN spa and wellness, Lao PDR advocates nature-based tourism, Singapore promotes cruise tourism, Vietnam river-based tourism, Malaysia adventure travel and Thailand experiential and creative travel, all with an eye of regional promotion. As with the many initiatives and aspirations of the ASEAN region, ATF has become a benchmark event for how regions can elevate their standing on the global stage and attract more visitors and events to visit a recognised ‘region’. The strategic plan and unwavering political commitment to its success guarantee that the ASEAN region is set to go from strength to strength.

the event’s last night at One Esplanade (Mall of Asia Complex), a lovely waterside venue, sent everyone off for their post show tours. This was where the chance for the host country to showcase itself kicked into full swing, with an unprecedented ten (yes, really!) options for post-show tours available to delegates. Each of the options captured a different slice of the Philippine islands and lifestyle, and none would disappoint the delegates, including your correspondent who was fortunate to be invited to Palawan, an island to the west of the Philippine archipelago and quickly gaining recognition as one of the world’s top destinations. ”The tours showcase the efforts of the local government units in preserving, developing and promoting their respective tourism assets the way every ASEAN-member country and its component communities should,” said Benito C. Bengzon Jr. “In effect, we are sharing our best tourism practices in ASEAN with the rest of the world.” Over the four days, groups had the opportunity to experience some of the most wonderful incentive-style activities on offer anywhere,

‘More Fun in the Philippines’ With this year’s ATF being hosted in Manila, it was a guarantee that alongside the core business and political matters there would be a lot of fun – as per their marketing slogan – and the host nation didn’t disappoint. Manila itself is another sprawling Asian megacity, one considered by many leading economists as “the next big thing” in Asia in a country for which the economic fortunes are projected to grow notably in the coming decades. For now, however, Manila is having to carefully manage its development – with cranes peppering the city, traffic gridlocked and poverty visible around the city, there are many challenges that the city faces as it pushes forward into the twenty-first century. What is common to all of the Philippinos, though, is the desire to enjoy life to the full and to have fun, which permeated all of the social activities and the post-show tour. The pre-show tour was the chance to see a little of the city’s historic side, with a tour of Intramuros, the walled enclave of old Manila carrying its history of Spanish, British and American rule, as well as Japanese invasion. It wasn’t long before things got into party mode, though, and the TTG late night function after the gala night at the Chaos: City of Dreams venue ensured that delegates could flex their dancing shoes early on. The Singapore Tourism Board-hosted cocktail event the following evening was the chance to digest the information load of the day and make some new connections, before the farewell party on 69

from snorkelling to crocodile farms, heritage trail visits, wellness, open-air dining and much more, and all in the company of the extremely friendly Philippino hosts. ”The tours and the many other component parts of ATF 2016 are similarly diverse, but are made possible by a common factor – government and industry cooperation – the same element that will make the ASEAN tourism integration a success,” said Bengzon. This would seem to be the case. ATF 2016 highlighted a number of things: that the Philippines is a truly welcoming destination and a fine host for a regional event, that the ASEAN region is on a sold trajectory for growth and that other regions around the world can learn from the initiatives and efforts taking place in the ASEAN region and from the ATF project. Next year ATF will take place in Singapore and it will be enlightening to learn how the strategic plan has helped take this dynamic region forward.




ollowing a productive business year the reward of an incentive trip promises endto-end pleasure far from the demands of business life. Behind any successful incentive trip, however, is an experienced planner who knows the potential pitfalls incentive trips can throw up and how to avoid them. With more than four decades of experience in business and incentive travel Kongres magazine got to speak to Bernard Daly of Irish company BD Incentives, a man who truly knows how to maintain the “harmony” of his incentive groups. ”I started in the travel industry in October 1973 with Thomas Cook in Dublin in the Post order Department and after a few years I was promoted to Business Travel Manager,” said Bernard. “I called on the existing corporate companies and suggested that they should do a dealer trip - invite their top customers away to an exotic destination as a ‘thank you’ for the business of the previous year. It would be

a self-financing trip as their customers would have to reach a target. The idea went off like a bomb and this escalated over the next 20 years - sometimes I would have ten or twelve groups a year!” ”In 1992 Thomas Cook was sold to American Express, so my GM and I left Thomas Cook and opened up our own travel company. We had a great ten years together, but in December 2001 my partner retired and in January 2002 I opened BD Incentives, so I am now 43 years in the travel industry.” Over his 43 years of incentive trips Bernard has learned much about the industry through both great high points, but also, sadly, through some lows too. ”In the course of 43 years there have certainly been some highlights, the main once being Las Vegas, when I had a group at the Mirage Hotel in 1993 and got tickets for the Lennox Lewis versus Tommy Tucker boxing match,” said Bernard. “It 70

was a who’s who of who was there – Tina Turner, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson…I even had Whitney Houston for my gala night, which was a nice surprise for the group.” ”Over the same time there were also some lows, none more so than in Honolulu in 2001 when one of the dealers had a heart attack on the gala night and passed away,” added Bernard. “The incentive went from a very high to a very low and I learned a lot from an extremely sad situation. I got great help from the GM of the hotel and we became great friends.” Inevitably over the course of such a long and colourful career Bernard has seen much change and has to respond to the relentless pace of technological progress, yet there has been a core of incentive planning tenets that he considers invaluable no matter what the era or tech equipment you might have at your disposal.


”When I started out all we had was a phone and a telex machine,” said Bernard. “All air, sea and rail tickets had to be hand written, so we were all very happy when the computers arrived and we could issue tickets so quickly. The fax machine was the next to arrive and then came the internet, which for me was the downfall of many travel agencies. As it got more sophisticated many companies can now book their dealer trips online and have everything else prepped on arrival.” “There are a number of key things that I do for every trip to make sure there are no hiccups,” said Bernard. “Take photocopies of all passport details and visas if they are required and have these details to hand at all times. Also find out if a client has a foreign passport and might need a visa i.e. don’t assume they will have the passport of the country they are in. Try to organise boarding passes in advance for flights so there is no waiting at the airport. Check if it is possible to have pre-check in at the hotel, so that when clients arrive the keys are handed to them straight away. Always know the proper names for e-tickets and hotels, as the names of spouses and partners can differ. If a group is arriving before 1pm I will always book the hotel rooms the night before (the last thing you need is a groups arriving at the hotel after a 12-hour flight and no room available until after the check-in time of 2pm, that’s disastrous!) When arriving after 1pm I always check with the hotel on arrival at the airport that the rooms are ready and if not I will take the group on a short sightseeing tour planned in advance. I always advise the clients that the hotels are not responsible for anything left in the safe in the room, as this is just a convenience, and recommend the security boxes at reception. And lastly…I always check the ladies bathrooms at restaurants for hygiene!” ”When I do an inspection visit of a country my priorities are to know what the emergency numbers of the country are and where the hospitals are,” Bernard continued. “I have been very lucky to have excellent local contacts (DMCs) in the various countries around the world. It is very important that they can speak perfect English and have excellent knowledge of the group requirements.” Over and above all of the professional eye for detail that such a long career has nurtured, Bernard also brings a very special quality to all of his trips: Music. It is something that your correspondent has the pleasure of enjoying first hand on a recent trip to The Philippines for ATF 2016. ”My family is very musical as my Mum was a great piano player and my two sisters teach music professionally,” said Bernard. “I sang with the Palestrina choir at the pro-cathedral in Dublin for 15 years and I sang when the Papal Annuncio from Rome attended the Eucharistic Congress in June 1968 at Croke Park and on one of my inspection visits to Vegas I went to

see Shania Twain and was the lucky one she invited on stage to sing with her! It was a great experience.” ”As you know Irish people love to sing - just go to any pub in Ireland and after a few drinks they would have a great singsong,” added Bernard. “In most of my incentives I will always find a pub or venue with music where I can organise a musical night. My gala/farewell dinner is always with music and after dinner I normally have a 15-minute cultural show with participation, so I will have most of the group on the floor followed immediately by the band for dancing. I will never forget when we visited Panama with an incentive - I used a Panama Bus for the transfer to a restaurant and had a live band on board with lots of beverages. The group went wild! I had to go around the block twice where the restaurant was, because they enjoyed it so much! As for being able to tap into a tune or two to kick things off, Bernard has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music, giving a well-stocked jukebox a good run for its money. ”My parents brought me to see many live shows in the Theatre Royal in Dublin and I saw so many famous singers – Bill Haley & the Comets, Johnny Ray, Billy Fury, Pat Boone and much more,” said Bernard. “I was also really into rock & roll and went to see the Beach Boys, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Del Shannon, Cilla Black, Cliff Richard and Gene Pitney during the sixties! I just got to know most


of their songs. All the lyrics were very simple during the sixties, not like today! I still have their LPs and singles at home and I have a small jukebox in my house where I can play the music. I do have many songs in my head but I never put a number on the songs I know! Music played a major part of my life - I feel it is the only international language that all nations understand.” ”Many times I’ve used music to “raise” up the atmosphere,” Bernard continued. “When I had a group in Canada we were coming back to Toronto from Niagara Falls and I had a feeling that music on the bus would lift the atmosphere. I always have CDs with me, so I played ABBA and GREASE and they were singing and dancing on the bus all the way to Toronto! All arrived at the hotel in great spirits. And at ATF in Manila this year during the pre-show tour we visit a museum in Intramuros. There was a stroller group in the courtyard, so I asked them if they knew a few songs of mine. We had a great singsong in the courtyard - even our guide sang and the locals came to join in! All went back to the bus in great form.” Keeping an incentive group in top form is a key goal of any incentive, but rather than try to propose a formula for how to do this, it’s best left with a motto that Bernard Daly himself likes to share: “It makes no difference if you win or lose, it’s what you do with your dancing shoes”.




hen dealing with a convention bureau, there’s absolutely nothing better for meeting planners than the sense that they’re getting a personal service. This should especially be the case when the convention bureau in question has “My” at the heart of it’s marketing name, so Kongres took the chance to discuss with Malaysia’s MyCEB (Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau), one of the ten participants at the 2016 ASEAN Tourism Forum, just how good a year 2015 was for them and Malaysia and what they thought the future might hold. ”Malaysia continues to progress in a positive scale from one year to another and in 2015 the Malaysia business events’ industry showed an impressive return of investment and has witnessed hundreds of thousands international delegates coming over to Malaysia for business purposes,” said Noor Nazatul Janah Bt Mahmood (known as Naza), PR and Communications Manager at MyCEB. “For the third quarter of 2015, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, supported a total of 147 events and received 339,137 delegates

with an economic impact of USD258.1 million.” ”Malaysia also improved her position in the ICCA Global Ranking 2014 (ICCA Report 2014), jumping five places to 30th out of 115 countries,” Naza added. “The country also reaffirmed her credentials in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East region with a seventh placing, up two positions from the previous year and testament to Malaysia’s capability to successfully host largescale, high-profile events and reinforcing the country’s reputation as the preferred business events destination that is equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities and a leading meetings venue in Asia-Pacific.” ”The ICCA Report 2014 ranked Malaysia’s main city of Kuala Lumpur (KL) as the 28th (up two places from 2013) most popular city out of 400 for international meetings,” continued Naza. “KL also leapfrogged Asia-Pacific and Middle East counterparts Bangkok, Shanghai and Dubai to improve on her regional city ranking by two positions, to seventh. These achievements augur well in positioning Malaysia to attract business tourism – an industry with immense potential for growth. The industry is expected to bring a greater flow of high yield business.” 72

Malaysia’s achievements in 2015 will undoubtedly be improved upon in the years ahead as a number of improvement and expansion plans in the country’s key meetings destinations have either been unveiled or are currently under way, including 10,000m2 expansion at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), the revamp of SPICE Penang, the opening of Langkawi’s International Convention Centre (LICC) in April of 2015, the forthcoming 42,000m2 Sabah International Convention Centre and the scheduled 2017 delivery of the Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (MITEC) that will be a whopping 10 times the size of KLCC. ”Malaysia is a premier destination for meeting, incentives, conventions and exhibitions and the country offers a huge range of state-of-the-art facilities for business events, with the choice of venues purpose-built for flexibility, expansibility and space,” said Naza. “Technology that is built-in is the latest in the state-of-the-art offerings. Professional organisers and planners come with vast experience. And the modern infrastructure is truly conducive for hosting high-profile international business events. With its fusion of lifestyle, attractions, entertainment,


shopping, food, culture and the arts, Malaysia is a fertile urban ground for endless inspiring discoveries and due to this improvements to the current conventions centres have taken place since last year.” Whilst much of the business events growth in the wider region that is driving such uplift in meetings infrastructure is coming from China, Malaysia is still a key association destination for both the European and US markets and expects this to be the case for the years ahead. ”The main inbound market for business events in Malaysia are association conference and corporate meetings and incentive,” explained Naza. “For association conference, approximately 50 % are from Europe, 40 % from Asia Pacific and 10 % is from North America. And for corporate meetings and the incentive market, 80 % is from Asia Pacific. In order for Malaysia business events’ industry to grow bigger, the European market is indeed crucial for Malaysia. To date, 50 % of the business events held in Malaysia are from Europe.” Whilst 50 % of the business events are from Europe, it is some of the major incentives from China that have genuinely tested MyCEB’s ability to deliver that ‘personal touch’, an area where they are happy to report some glowing successes. ”The major event for MyCEB was the Perfect China Incentive Travel & Seminar 2015, which was held in July 2015,” said Naza. “A group of 6,000 delegates from the major multilevel marketing company for consumer goods has made Malaysia its incentive destination previously in 2011 and 2014, returning with the biggest group after notable impressions.” ”The group covered five main destinations in Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh (Perak), Penang, Langkawi Island and Kedah,” Naza added. “The notable success of the Perfect China group is a testament of dynamic partnership between Destination Management Company (DMC) and Malaysia’s leading bureau, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB). The 6,000 delegates were flown in through four major airlines in staggered phases and they stayed in 30 major hotels across all destinations. Though several of the confirmed itinerary venues could not accommodate the full capacity of the group, the organiser worked closely with MyCEB to ensure that the different group of delegates arrived at different destinations, but at the same time arrival. Though the groups alternately stayed and visited different locations, they had the best experience – a pleasant journey and a memorable stay in Malaysia. The Malaysia King and Queen even took the courtesy to meet and greet the top achievers from the Perfect China group by inviting them for a breaking fast session at the Anak Bukit Palace in Kedah (as the event was then held during the Holy month of Ramadhan).” With a growing portfolio of top quality venues, boundless possibilities for events and incen-

tives and an importance given to the industry that even the royals are willing to acknowledge, MyCEB’s work is clearly on an upward trajectory and with 2015 behind them they have been putting all their focus on 2016 and beyond. ”MyCEB unveiled two key initiatives in 2015 designed to draw business events to the Southeast Asia country – Malaysia Like Never Before (MLNB) and Malaysia Twin Deal X (MTD-X) – that are respectively incentive promotions and value-added corporate meetings,” said Naza. “Malaysia Like Never Before highlights five key Malaysian destinations for event planners: Langkawi, Georgetown, Kuala 73

Lumpur, Mount Kinabalu, and Kuching, and has re-imagined these destinations, guaranteeing a fresh experience to visitors. The Malaysia Twin Deal X (MTDX) programme aims to encourage and provide support to international corporate meeting and incentive groups travels to Malaysia from all countries by enticing event organisers and business associates with incentives, rewards and a touch of exclusivity – depending on the size of the group.” ”For year 2016, MyCEB will focus on promoting two of these main campaigns.”



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Kongres Magazine is far from being just a magazine. It is the only provider of integrated congress marketing communications, with which you can make effective dialogue with the meetings industry audience. Because we know what meetings industry payers really need and how to ensure their long-term loyalty, we can make above-average, high-quality, relevant, independent, in-depth and interesting meetings industry stories. In 2016 they will be dedicated to you and your customers even more.





Daily newspaper, which will be released during the Conventa trade show and which brings to exhibitors and hosted buyers daily news from Conventa.

SPACE CLOSE: 11.12.2015

MATERIALS DUE: DELIVERY: 18.12.2015 20. - 21.01.2016





Special edition, published as a catalogue of Conventa together with extensive destination presentations and presentations of participating partners. In terms of content this is the most comprehensive overview of the meetings industry in the region of Central and Southeast Europe.



In Focus: TASTE - five senses

Participants will always remember an event by its sensory, gastronomic experience. It is well known that humans can remember almost everything, if they are able to hear, see, touch or taste the information. Like nothing else food can ignite truly nostalgic feelings. In the spring issue we will present a number of ways to create different impressions at events, everything from those connected with time (traditional, futuristic) and technology (natural, organic, artificial) to those geared towards sophistication (exclusive, grand). Hot Spot: EVENT CREATION How to create creative experimental events Themed supplement: CATERING SURVEY 2016

SPACE CLOSE: 12.02.2016

MATERIALS DUE: 19.02.2016

DELIVERY: 26.03.2016



SPACE CLOSE: 11.12.2015

MATERIALS DUE: DELIVERY: 18.12.2015 20. - 21.01.2016


THE POSITIVE PATH TO THE PARTICIPANT’S MIND TAKES US THROUGH OUR SENSES In Ancient Greece Aristotle outlined the 5 senses that we all now and understand today. The coming year will be dedicated to those senses, which are also the biggest amplifiers of emotional experience in your event. With the proper use of our senses we can establish either a positive or a negative attitude towards events. This important subject will be founded on a scientific as well as completely practical viewpoint, through best advice on how to set off the right set of stimuli.



Since 2010, Kongres magazine has been publishing CONGRESS TRAVELOGUES, which were renamed MEETOLOGUES. International meeting planners thus discover little-known European convention destinations. All existing travelogues of the NEW EUROPE will be issued in a special issue of Kongres magazine, which will be released prior to IMEX trade show. With high-quality editorial content, travelogues completely replace the tedious and irrelevant catalogues of meetings suppliers. Digital versions of MEETOLOGUES are currently the most read sections of the Kongres magazine.

SPACE CLOSE: 09.04.2016

MATERIALS DUE: 16.04.2016

DELIVERY: 14.05.2016

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TOTAL AUDIENCE of 60.700 readers:


meeting planners

------------29,65 % of total number





Meeting planners wish for something new. You would like – for the same or lower price – to see the yet unseen places, taste un-tasted delicacies, unknown wines and experience undiscovered experiences. Central and South East Europe offers numerous pleasant incentive secrets in the worldwide meetings industry, waiting to be discovered.

SPACE CLOSE: 14.05.2016

MATERIALS DUE: 21.05.2016

DELIVERY: 18.06.2016



In Focus: SIGHT - five senses

Colour, light, darkness, design and unusual imagery that reach out beyond the regular boundaries can arouse your curiosity and have a direct effect on your emotional sensors. Today, technology offers unlimited visual solutions that can be used at events, but we will also point out the problems with an overload of visual images. Today images also aren’t enough in themselves, so we must keep our participant’s nostrils and ears open at the same time and receptive to new smells and sounds. In our summer issue we will also cover the important role of branding and creating the perfect event.

Hot Spot: EVENT PRODUCTION How to organise viable events

MATERIALS DUE: 25.06.2016

meeting planners

34.000 meeting


------------1,98 % of total number

(e-magazines and e-newsletters)


In Focus: TOUCH - five senses

If you want to showcase a new product, you have to make sure that participants can feel it and get familiar with its texture. If the presentation is about services, you have to have the right marketing materials, as well as the social networks to generate the right experience. Getting to ‘touch’ a brand is only possible through the use of good materials, varied surfaces and interesting shapes. Touch not only has a physical effect, but also a big mental one, as it creates memories and stirs personal emotions. Hot Spot: EVENT MARKETING How to make desirable events Themed supplement: INNOVATIVE PEOPLE & EVENTS

SPACE CLOSE: 20.08.2016

MATERIALS DUE: 27.08.2016


DELIVERY: 23.07.2016

In Focus: SOUND - five senses

In the auditory sphere humans are highly affected by different sounds and particularly by music. Music is a way an artist expresses himself and his emotional body language, and it has an extraordinary power of stimulating our sensations. How to create the best musical atmosphere, make an event jingle with excitement and bring a personal musical signature to an event will all be revealed in the winter issue of Kongres Magazine. Hot Spot: EVENT DIFERENTATION How to stand out from the crowd

SPACE CLOSE: 15.10.2016

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appr. 7.500

meeting planners

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Based on more than 100 hidden guest’s ratings, which have been published in the Kongres Magazine.

SPACE CLOSE: 11.11.2016

MATERIALS DUE: 25.11.2016

DELIVERY: 15.12.2016


DELIVERY: 17.09.2016





Themed supplement: ADVENTURE PARKS 2016 OUTDOOR VENUES 2016

SPACE CLOSE: 18.06.2016


FALL 2016




DELIVERY: 15.11.2016













KONGRES MAGAZINE Stihova 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana, T: + 386 (0)1 430 51 03, F: + 386 (0)1 430 51 04, M: +386 (0)40 530 112, E:,

Voice from the top

VOICE FROM THE TOP Q: Why is your destination/country the best in the world? I know that it will sound like a cliché, but my favourite country is Slovenia, my home country. It is a unique destination, full of natural beauties, and you can do so many things in such a small territory – we can still ski in April and swim in the sea in September. And no destination is more than one hour away by car. Q: What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to your country? Something that we still really know how to do is to enjoy a glass of Slovenian wine and a good dinner combined with Slovenian hospitability - it is always a winning combination.

SANDI KOVAČEVIČ Executive Director Hotel Cubo Ljubljana


Q: Have you always wanted to work in the meeting industry? Well, I have more the feeling that we found each other! I always knew that I would be working in the hotel industry, as it is a family tradition and I didn’t even consider any other profession. In my early twenties, I was one of the founders of the Hound Dog club. It was quite successful at the time due to the concerts and stand-up shows which we organised. That was my first experience with event organisation and I was “hitched”. When I actually started working in the hotel industry, implementing previous experience to my new work was a logical step. Now that I can organise events and work in the hotel industry I have two things that I love bound together. It is never a struggle to wake up in the morning when you get to do things that you love.

Q: What has been your star moment so far and your favourite project with which you would praise yourself? Definitely CUBO hotel in Ljubljana. I have been with it since the beginning and I am glad to see how the baby is growing up. We are setting the standards for the boutique hotel industry in Slovenia with it and we are constantly receiving great reviews from guests. Q: What motivates you the most at work? The best motivation is to see when an event turns out as a success and becomes a standard bearer for the following ones, especially when we have been preparing it for a month or more. Q: In what way do you deal with stress? Well, I don’t need to deal with it. I guess I am in stress like everyone else, but to me unexpected and tense situations are a positive thing, which give me energy and motivate me further. Q: When were you last angry/disappointed and why? I don’t waste my time with anger; it is counter-productive. When I am disappointed, it is usually because of things over which I have no influence. I was disappointed to learn that the renovation works on the main street in front of Hotel CUBO will take much more time than initially anticipated. But when you are aware that it is because of ancient Roman archaeological artifacts discovered on our doorstep, you take it easier. Q: What will be new in your business in 2016? In Hotel CUBO we have just finished with the renovation of all of the rooms. The next part to be renovated is the lobby; we plan to extend the bar as far as the street and create a more comfortable and open space. Currently we are also working on a project to add 78

two new meeting halls, which could be ready by mid June and will increase our capacity for various events. Furthermore, we will unite several on-going projects under the CUBO group name. Besides the hotel in Ljubljana, another hotel will be added to the group. The hotel is located in Bovec, Soča river valley, one of the most beautiful parts of Slovenia. We expect the complete renovation to be finished by the end of 2018. The third member of the CUBO group will be Enso Village – a group of luxury private villas built next to a golf course just outside Ljubljana. Q: Where will you spend this year’s holiday and why? I spend most of my holidays at equestrian competitions (show jumping is my hobby). This year, I will also ride horses outside competition times; I plan to do horseback travel through Tuscany. Q: If there would be no time or financial constraints, where would you go? I would travel to all the best and legendary hotels in the world to experience them as a guest. Q: What would be the title of your life autobiography? Hotel je hotel (a word play in the Slovenian language – the title can be interpreted and translated as “A hotel is a hotel” or “He wanted a 5* hotel”).

Voice from the top

VOICE FROM THE TOP Slovenia: you can ski in Alps in the morning and swim in the Adriatic sea in the afternoon. We should also not forget about our position on the map, being centrally located in Europe. Q: What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to your country? Slovenia is well known by its pearls of Bled, the Postojna Cave and Piran, which definitely cannot be left off a visitor tour. However, Slovenia has so many other attractive, lesser known destinations too, for example the Logarska Valley, Štanjel and Goriška Brda, which should be also a must-see, especially for the visitor who has visited Slovenia previously.

URŠA RADANOVIĆ, MSC, Executive Director Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Ljubljana


Q: Have you always wanted to work in the meeting industry? Yes, as having a Bachelor and Master’s degree in hospitality management my first step into the hospitality business started with the hotel where I have been gaining valuable experience for the last 13 years. To be successful in the hospitality business you do have to be in with the whole hard slog and you can’t just step out from this path - it’s been like addicted to this industry J. As the inside of the hotel business is very much interlinked, I was also involved with the MICE segment from the beginning. Q: Why is your destination/country the best in the world? Based on the overall situation around the world, we have to point out a high level of safety in our country. Another point that we should highlight is definitely that it is a green destination. The most amazing thing is the size and nature of

Q: What has been your star moment so far and your favourite project with which you would praise yourself ? To be part of the pre-opening team in one of the largest hotels in Ljubljana is without a doubt one of my preferred and most experienced projects so far in my profession. To have directed and coordinated the rebranding from Plaza Hotel Ljubljana to Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Ljubljana is certainly another of the key assignments in my career. Q: What motivates you the most at work? To have successfully established and managed one of the most beautiful hotels in Ljubljana is certainly a story which I can be very proud of. For complete guest satisfaction it is necessary to combine many factors, which means that the work of each individual is of great significance. Most of my working time I spend with my team - from sales managers, receptionists, cooks and waiters right through to the chambermaids, because this is the only way to assure one of the best hotel services in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Many positive comments by guests, which just brought us to being the number one hotel by Travelchoice on Tripadviser, and a growing numbers of guests who are returning to us are just the signs that I’m on the right track with my team. Q: In what way do you deal with stress? To cope with long working hours, golf is giving me motivation and energy and is my best “battery charger”. That is way I like to spend my free time during the weekend and even on holidays on a golf course. I also like to occupy myself by playing tennis, swimming and skiing. Q: What will be new in your business in 2016? In December 2015 we joined the Rezidor group as Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Ljubljana. In February we established a new, stylish “Super Breakfast”. 79

In the next couple of months our plan is to launch the ‘Experience Meetings’ concept, which offers all the ingredients for successful meetings, including our award-winning catering concept Brain Food, which offers optimum nutrition for maximum focus, lower stress levels and truly productive participation. For all those who like their food a bit more “naughty,” we will be introducing four exciting new Food Trends to bring the latest food and drink fashions to events, from the latest veggie trends or interpretations of Grandma’s classics to stimulating food for your soul and hip street food creations. Q: Where will you spend this year’s holiday and why? Due to the nature of our business I’m taking my main vacation during the winter - golf destinations in warmer climes are just perfect solutions for active holidays and recharging my batteries. This summer I would like to have a little bit of a different vacation, so I’m planning to go to Uganda and experience the different culture and nature of Africa. Of course, jumping on the nearby golf course during the extended weekend is something I just can’t resist. Q: If there were no time or financial constraints, where would you go? I would travel through South America and experience their culture and especially enjoy the countryside. Q: What would be the title of your life autobiography? Committed to excellence.


SUBOTICA INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2016 Natural and cultural factors: 


General and transport infrastructure:  3,97 Tourist infrastructure:


Meeting infrastructure:


Subjective grade:


Marketing Buzz:


ICCA index:


Numbeo quality of life index:








stroll around Subotica is full of surprises and if you’re a lover of architecture here you will be able to enjoy outstanding Art Nouveau, neo-baroque, classical and modernist buildings all in a small area and very tightly bound into a visitor-friendly package. The city is the cultural capital and surprises with its intellectual drive and multicultural ease. Each year Subotica hosts around 18 festivals, from music to children’s theatre. It has three theatres, a Philharmonic and numerous cultural associations… in fact, it would be difficult to find anything similar anywhere else in Serbia. During the summer months virtually not a week goes by without some kind of significant festival or other cultural event being held in Subotica. Culture is here the bedrock for a positive experience for congress participants and organisers. THE SALT TRAIL Whichever direction you look in the view extends to the expansive fields - when the Pannonian Sea retreated, it left Subotica filled with sand deposits. The Subotica-Horgos desert has nothing in common with other deserts as we know them, as the sand deposits north of the city are ideal for wine and fruit growing. Vast wheat fields in the south are the basis for a highly developed food industry, which is best represented to the gourmets by the Pionir factory. As a rule, through-


out history cities grew alongside rivers, just as Subotica was developed on the confluence of the rivers Tisa and Danube in the middle of the sandy desert. Due to its natural features the former nomads liked to stop at this point. Later it spontaneously began to develop trade, initially mainly with salt on the way from the Carpathian mines northward to Budapest and Vienna. Subotica has been a trading post for centuries. Although it may seem at first sight a bit remote, it still successfully performs its strategic role today. THE HEAVENLY PALIĆ Another striking image that imprints itself in the memory is the green area - everything gravitates to the famous Lake Palić that in 1845 was declared a health resort. The Hungarians arranged its surroundings, built a park and the beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. It quickly became a cosmopolitan resort known throughout the wider region. Today it is a popular resort that especially in the summer time attracts tourists from Serbia and Hungary. The reason for its popularity can probably be traced to the fact that the original soul of Lake Palić was preserved - a soul from the times when Subotica was the third most important city in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, just behind Belgrade and Zagreb, and Lake Palić was its most important tourist spot.


THE CITY OF RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING OF DIVERSITY It seems that it is through cultural events and festivals that Subotica is showing its most precious face. The city has today 150,000 inhabitants from 20 different nationalities. The decoration of the city are its many churches that give the town its seal and are part of the famous city panorama that can be admired from the roof of the Hotel Galleria. At every step you can find churches of all religions, the most powerful one being the Jewish synagogue, which is currently being renovated. The remarkable culture of the city is being manifested through its relationship to architecture and preservation of traditions.

SECESSION CITY In less than two decades, Subotica developed into a modern Central European city. The development was accelerated by the arrival of the railway in 1869 and at the turn of the 19th century the city recorded an amazing level of development. At that time the buildings that we can still admire today emerged: the City Hall, Raichl Palace and the Synagogue define Subotica as the European City of secession. For

many, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city is the City Hall. This huge property, which today manages city administration, was built in a record two years, from 1908 to 1910. One can today organise various events at the town hall. There are four meeting rooms with the largest, “vječnica”, proudly representing the artisanal skills of Art Nouveau masters. In our experience, this hall makes it on to the Top 10 list of special venues of this region. 82

MANY CULINARY DELIGHTS FOR LITTLE MONEY If you’re on a diet then you’ll be disappointed, as for real gourmets it is clear that Subotica is one of Serbia’s gourmet capitals. The mixture of cultures is the local cuisine’s biggest charm. For an unforgettable stew you will need to take your time and enjoy the slow rhythm of the locals. The organic ingredients are truly organic in Subotica and we promise you that the forgotten flavours of childhood will here be fully restored. There is a variety of flavours, both traditional and modern tastes; food is high on the list of priorities of the people of Subotica and the sounds of tambourine players will make you forget the passage of time. Exceptional wines and spirits of the region complement the experience. Incentive programmes, from the cutting-edge contemporary cuisine that you can enjoy at the excellent Zvonko Bogdan wine cellar to authentic experiences in one of the “salaši” (farms), are all available.


FAMOUS WINERIES Because of the wines, the New York Times added Subotica to the list of destinations one must visit. The Serbian wine revolution began in Vojvodina and we can easily say that the Subotica-Horgos wine region is among the best in Serbia. We were convinced immediately after visiting the Zvonko Bogdan winery, that has no competition in the region when it comes to technology and appearance. The impressive building itself speaks of the passion the owners have in perfecting their offer of wines and the winery experience. The broader offer varies from family wineries to world-class wineries. Some names that you have to remember are Tonković, Vinski dvor, WOW vinarija and DiBonis Winery. Conference guests will be enchanted by the local wine varieties of kadarka and kevedinka, as well as over the excellent Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet offers. CONGRESS VOX POPULI The heart of the city’s congress offer is the Galleria hotel. The property is an exciting contextual crossover, which dictates the rhythm of Subotica’s meetings industry. The hotel’s main advantage is its multifunctional offer that is very convincing as a package. Below the line, for the amount paid you get a lot of space, quality services and the priceless Pannonian friendliness. The congress offer at Best Western Galleria is also

very agreeable, offering a medieval congress experience in a former Franciscan monastery. The Patria hotel also has a solid and diversified hotel offer. All of the congress hotels are located in the city centre, so in the case of a large number of participants the logistics are pretty simple. Everything is within a short walking distance. SPECIAL VENUES WITH SUBOTICA ENERGY The city is overflowing with special venues that have a unique energy. The City Hall, reflecting the unique spirit of the city and taking you to the heart of its Art Nouveau past, takes first place. Another secessionist story is the Palič convention centre that offers a large terrace, Eco Centre and a summer theater. The large multifunctional hall of the Eco Centre can accommodate up to 360 participants, while the summer theatre has a capacity of 800 people. During the visit we were also impressed by the Raichle palace, which is today a museum of modern art as well as a remarkable event space in Art Nouveau style. The offer of special venues complements the “salaši” and already mentioned wine cellars, which are located in the vicinity of Subotica. “Salaš” names like Majkin, Rokin, Jelen are names to remember if you are looking for an authentic experience.



Destination grade: QUALITY MEETING DESTINATION Grades: 5 excellent convention destination 4 quality convention destination 3 recommendable convention destination 2 average convention destination 1 so so


INDIVIDUAL GRADES: Natural and cultural factors: 4.45 Serbia’s most northern city lies at the confluence of the Danube and Tisa rivers. It is defined by a rich history, picturesque architecture and multiculturalism, all of which gives the city a special charm. The experience value of Subotica is rounded off by the Nature Park Palić with its lake and the historic Grand Park. As a whole, the city has great potential for adventure and as the seat of various institutions also a high potential as a congress destination. General and transport infrastructure: 3.97 Just 200km away are three of the nearest airports (Belgrade, Budapest, Temišvar). Given the current development of transport, the main aviation hub is Belgrade. Most congress guests arrive at their destination by car via the E-75international highway. This is one of the most important European routes linking Central Europe with the Aegean and the Black Sea. Subotica is also easily accessible by train. Just how important and competitive the destination actually is can be seen in the fact that the famous Swarowski opened one of its factories right here in Subotica. Tourist infrastructure: 4.12 Subotica is famous for its relaxed atmosphere, good food and quality wines. In recent years it has also greatly improved its tourism infrastructure. 63 % of its total capacity is represented by hotels, among which the 4 **** category dominates, which is all very positive for congress tourism. Tourist traffic is dominated by visitors from the region coming mainly from Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Macedonia. Key tourist products are transit, health and congress and business tourism. Especially noteworthy is the transit during the summer months.

destinations in Serbia. We find Subotica is an ideal regional conference destination for all types of events with up to 300 participants. F. Marketing buzz 4.31 Subotica is represented on the international market by the Subotica Convention Bureau, acting in concert with Serbia Convention Bureau. The result of the work is clearly profiling the city amongst local regional convention destinations. It is necessary to highlight the marketing efforts of the key Hotel Galleria that takes a large part of the credit for the congress breakthrough. Given the great potential of the city, a more coordinated and targeted international marketing with a clear positioning of the destination will have to follow in the stage of motivating customers. Brand Subotica is in fact very well known locally, but much less regionally and virtually unknown internationally. COMPARISONS WITH THE REGION Subotica has a soul. It is a city where it seems that time has stopped. The proud town centre merges almost imperceptibly into the surrounding melancholy plains. Economically and culturally Subotica is one of the most developed cities in Serbia. Congress guests will be impressed by the multicultural spirit and European charm, which is reflected in a large number of special venues in a small area. Welldeveloped albeit not connected is the offer of various incentive programmes. Subotica has a functioning Congress bureau, the hotel facilities are good and the culinary tradition is an extra plus. All of this represents an exciting congress package calling out for more penetrating international or at least regional marketing to exploit the full potential of the city. We see this especially in the development of incentive programmes and smaller professional meetings and conferences taking advantage of the scientific and cultural potential of the city. To top it all off, Subotica offers a lot of music for little money.

Congress infrastructure: 4.25 The solid hotel and convention infrastructure is especially suitable for smaller events with up to 300 participants. Taking the size of the city into consideration, we were very impressed by the numerous special venues Subotica has to offer. The extremely well developed gastronomic offer has great potential for the development of different incentive programmes. Another major advantage is the operation of the Convention Bureau, which connects the offer of the whole destination and successfully takes care of its promotion with a range of modern tools and highly transparent online presentation. E. Subjective grade 4.12 The city’s energy and numerous attractions signal the potential for further development of congress tourism. The key drivers today are mostly the hotels, with the biggest hotel Galleria right at the forefront. Thanks to them Subotica has quickly transformed into one of the four key congress 84


DID YOU KNOW Subotica Synagogue: Designed in the late 1890s and built in 1902, the Subotica Synagogue is among the most impressive examples of art nouveau ecclesiastical architecture in the region. As such, it is a significant monument in the region and a visible reminder of the long and prominent history of Jewish culture in the area.

WHAT‘S NEW 2016 1. Femus Festival, March 11 - 13, 2016. Femus is a music festival of international character that brings together students and teachers of elementary and high music schools from Serbia and abroad. 2. European Youth Go Championship, March 25-27, 2016. The tournament will be in the Congress Centre “Grand terrace” Palić. 3. Stringtown festival, April 30, 2016. Rock festival at Palić Lake that brings together the biggest rock stars of the former Yugoslavia. 4. Etnofest, June 21-26, 2016. 13th festival edition of world and ethno music. 5. European Film festival, July 16-22, 2016. The International Film Festival Palić was founded in 1992 by the Municipality of Subotica. From the earliest small and unpretentious film screenings in Palić, it has grown into an important spot on the European film festivals map.

BEST INCENTIVE IDEA Stallion spirit: At the northernmost point of Serbia, at the very border crossing and just minutes from Subotica city centre lies the widely renowned Kelebija Horse Farm. Modern stables with a Coach Museum under the same roof, a race track, an artificial lake and a nice park are just some of the highlights. The famous Lipizzaner horse have been bred here since 1580 and the times of the former Habsburg monarchy. Race your own race. Choose your favourite horse and compete with others. Or have a nice horse ride through the forest area in one of the thirty authentic coaches. For winter groups you will be afforded an unforgettable sleigh-ride across the Subotica fields. COOL MEETINGS Pörkölt (gulas with special pasta) – hearty and savoury, accompanied by a wine from the vineyards surrounding Palić Lake. WHO TO CONTACT Congress Departement/ Tourist Organisation of Subotica Trg slobode 1, Subotica T: +381 24 670 350


Off The Beaten Track

OFF THE BEATEN MICE TRACK ZVONKO BOGDAN “Zaustavite Dunav” (Stop the Danube)

OUT THERE The characteristics of the climate gives music and wine its character, just as the sounds of tambourine players are a part of the life and the sounds of the legendary Zvonko Bogdan. Over the years the philosophy of his songs became infused with the philosophy of his wines, so his name that is now a synonym for a superb musical experience has naturally been transferred to his wines. The dream estate that is home to these wines is located on the eastern shore of Lake Palić and on ideal sites for fine wine production. In his quest for perfection he has made what is probably one of the best-equipped wineries in the entire Balkans, deriving from the region’s wine tradition that was also rebuilt and upgraded on that same property: Music, horses and grapes!

STAY Soon the Art Nouveau style facilities will be upgraded with a hotel with 100 rooms and a wellness centre. Ten exclusive suites will this year already be available to guests. The junction of the modern and traditional, with antiques and high quality pictures, is impressive and the true sense of nostalgia makes for a home away from home. You will also get the feeling that there is nothing standing between you and the beautiful vineyards beyond. For larger groups we currently recommend accommodation at the Galleria, which is known for being the best congress hotel in Subotica.


MEET IN STYLE The designers of the complex worked on sustainability and the modern culture of pleasure in delivering a modern and functional appearance that dispenses with all the clichés of Pannonian pleasure. In addition to the main venue, which can accommodate up to 300 guests, we were impressed by a tasting room rounded off with a library. The glass wall gives it a modern feel, while the wine barrels are set as a part of the scenery. The terrace and numerous outdoor locations perfect for dining among the vines are also great venues for events. Immediately beyond the entrance area one can also find a conference room for 60 people.

Off The Beaten Track

TOP 3 INCENTIVE IDEAS 1. Zvonko Bogdan “salaš” experience: Enjoy a traditional Vojvodina's cuisine and the tradition of the Slavonian salaš (traditional type of farm in the Pannonian Plain region). 2. Zvonko Bogdan Wine tour: Visit the winery along with a tasting of five typical wine varieties accompanied by selected cuisine. 3. Great experiences in a Kelebija horse farm: At the horse farm delegates can choose their favourite horse and compete with others, or take a nice horse ride through the forested area in one of the thirty authentic coaches.

OFF THE EATEN TRACK You really have to experience and savour the wine and the ambience of the property to understand it. A real revelation is the cuvee of ‘8 tambourine players’, which impresses with its freshness and fruity aromas. When you see the oak barrels, which mature the best vintages, you realize that nothing here is left to chance. Quintessential barrels, numerous awards from wine fairs and the wines being found on the wine lists of leading restaurants are a guarantee of a top quality culinary experience. ‘Sustainable and organic’ is the formula for success of Zvonko Bogdan’s wines.

LOCALISM Zvonko Bogdan farm is located next to Lake Ludaš and can accommodate 60 people. Here you can enjoy the traditional specialities of Vojvodina cuisine and the atmosphere, along with quality wines and all complemented by the sounds of tamburica music. GET THERE Subotica is a city located in the very north of Vojvodina, which itself is located in northern Serbia. The A1 motorway (E75), Serbia's longest and most important road, passes through the city, if you prefer to get there by car. Subotica is also accessible from both Belgrade and Budapest by the highway. Most of the city's important


sights are more or less within walking distance of each other (which is also the best mode of travel through the city for appreciating its architecture and atmosphere).

Directory VINERY ZVONKO BOGDAN Kanjiški put 45, Palić T:024 415 02 75


SUBOTICA - A CONGRESS DESTINATION WITH A SPECIAL SPIRIT Interview with Mrs Ivana Anđelković, Director of Subotica Tourist Board Interveiw by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief Q: Why Subotica? Subotica is very different from the other congress destinations in Serbia. In our offer we do not have large halls for congresses like they do in Beograd for instance. But on the other side, we have a special spirit. Your congress can be held in buildings more than 100 years old, in their original ambience, which gives a completely different note to the event. We are authentic, romantic, can evoke classical scenes and offer a better spirit for establishing bonds and connections.

“For the last 5 or 6 years, Subotica as a congress destination has been recording constant growth. In 2010 we had 96,000 overnight stays, while last year the number of overnight stays had increased to 154,000. We believe the positive trend will also continue in 2016 and the near future.”

Q: How popular is Subotica as a destination for events? In Serbia, Subotica is a very popular congress destination and it is ranked in third place by the number of congresses held - we are right behind Beograd in first and Novi Sad in second. The number of congresses and other congress-related events is growing each year. For example, in 2015 we recorded 20 % growth of events organised against 2014.

times, it is kind of logical that they are then seeking a new, fresh destination – and here it can be our turn, so what the Serbia Convention Bureau, of course together with the Tourist Organisation of Serbia, are doing for us is really essential. Regarding regional congress organisers, many congresses are organised by people from Hungary and Croatia. In order to get different congresses into our destination, we have to talk about our capabilities in marketing and wider circles. Together with the Serbia Convention Bureau, we attend some international exhibitions, where we promote Serbia and Subotica as a congress destination. Unfortunately, in Subotica we do not have a special agency for the specific needs of congress organisation and promotion, with agencies from Belgrade and also Budapest covering our market at this time. In the future, our will and wish is to take over a part of this business, but due to the fact we are a public service we have to see if this is possible.

“We cannot boast of large congress halls. Subotica stands out as a congress destination mainly because of its diverse incentive offer.”

Q: What are Serbia's strengths as a meetings destination? The quality of service compared to price is very advantageous. This is one of our biggest strengths. Considering what you get for a favourable price, we doubt you could get that elsewhere in the region.

Q: What large events are coming to the city in the near future? Besides classical pharmaceutical and medical events – if they are not held in Beograd, we have a high number of sporting events with a large number of participants. More and more meetings are organised in relation to the Art Nouveau style or secession art, which is a distinctive style in our region. Especially big European meetings like to make art nouveau its main event theme. Q: What do you see as crucial marketing elements to lure meeting planners? It is important that Serbia promotes itself as a destination suitable for hosting different events. When one event is organised in Beograd a few 88

Q: How do you see Serbia's meetings industry scene? We are more of an incentive destination, due to the number of participants our venues can hold. We cannot organise events for two or three thousand people. We have a lot of different products that can satisfy the needs of incentives, for example, “salaš” (farmhouse), winery, rural tourism – these are all possibilities to learn a variety of traditional manufacturing techniques, specific for our geographic area. So, overall, incentives and smaller events. Q: Message for Kongres magazine readers? I would like readers to know that when they come to Subotica the feeling is totally different from the one in large metropolitan areas. The pace is slower, the mind and body can calm down, food and drink is very tasty and, after all, we also work well. We are inspirational and this is more than sufficient reason to come and experience it for yourself.


The most beautiful in Slovenia, a perfect MICE destination

Renaissance villa

TIES BETWEEN WORLDS AND PEOPLES Organise the most memorable meetings, congresses and events halfway between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. Vila Vipolže will charm you with romance, inspiring landscapes, a sophisticated atmosphere and genuine hospitality. One of the most beautiful centres for business, social and cultural events in the region is nestled in Brda, the land of invigorating moments offering some of the world´s finest wines. The Villa´s Venetian architecture and modern interior have lent it an air of timeless elegance. Vila Vipolže was awarded by the Italian UNESCO clubs for the most beautiful restoration.

Bookings and information: Vipolže 29, 5212 Dobrovo v Brdih, Slovenia, t +386 31 699 458, e,


The operation entitled “Complete renovation of Vila Vipolže (heritage register no. 820)” was partly financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund. The operation was carried out within the framework of the Operational Programme for Strengthening Regional Development Potentials 2007–2013 under the “Integration of Natural and Cultural Potentials” development priority and the “Networking of Cultural Potentials” priority axis.

Special Venues

INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA FAFLÍKOVÁ, LEGOS REGIONAL PR & EVENT MANAGER To create an outstanding event, turn on your imagination, use all communication tools and stick to simplicity Text by Polona Ponikvar


Special Venues


he LEGO Group, one of the world’s leading toy making companies that has been nurturing the imagination of both young and old for the past 84 years, is today still pushing the creative boundaries with its innovative and fresh ideas that spark creative thinking, encourage learning and provide endless opportunity for hours of fun. The secret to the world‘s most famous family company’s success certainly lies in their motto: “Only the best is good enough. But providing top quality products isn‘t in itself enough without a carefully designed concept and an original story that gives rise to sustainable growth; namely, the essential pillars the LEGO group built its success on are creativity and playfulness. The group‘s winning approach that enabled them such business success is basically one of “creative fun”, best described by them as “play is a key element in children’s growth and development and stimulates the imagination and the emergence of ideas and creative expression”. The principle of having fun during play can also be transferred to the process of developing good business ideas. If the business idea is built on good and attractive content that provides growth and learning potentials for everyone involved it will without doubt, ensure long term successful outcomes.

We asked Andrea Faflíková, LEGO’s regional PR & Event Manager, who joined the LEGO Group in 2014 and is in charge of setting PR & Event strategies in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA) to tell us more about the challenges of event planning in one of the leading companies of the world and to share with us her views on what it takes to become a successful event planner.

Q: Can you tell us something more on how your career led you to become Event Manager at the LEGO Group? After spending a decade in communication agencies, primarily at Euro RSCG Prague (now Havas) in the role of leader of a Corporate Communications unit, I joined a newly formed team within the Czech Football Association (CFA). I was appointed Managing Director of the CFA’s subsidiary, established to support and promote Czech youth football. Currently, I work at the LEGO Group. I’m responsible for setting and implementing PR & Event strategies in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (the CEEMEA region).


Q: What does it take to become a successful event planner? Does this profession demand specific characteristics or is just about how creatively one approaches event projects? Please state 5 strong personal characteristics that characterise a good event planner. I think that you have to have certain personality traits and gain specific skills to become a successful event manager. I would summarize them in the following five points: • Great communicator • Excellent time manager able to adapt to change • Innovative & creative with attention to detail • Able to solve problems • Handling stress well

Special Venues

Q: What marketing tools do you find most efficient in promoting an event that attracts potential stakeholders? Seeing the character of most of our events – B2C targeting families with children aged 2 to 12, I find the following tools the most relevant to us: • An event page on the company web, including news related to the event • TV add-ons if a bigger event is involved • Promotion on location (when the venue premises can provide for high potential traffic) • Social media, including creating an event page on FB – although in this case you always have to ask yourself if you have enough resources to handle conversations on the page • PR support Q: In your opinion how does a company’s heavily recognisable product like the LEGO brick, or, if we speak in terms of the event industry and business tourism, how can a certain destination/event venue maintain its top position? If we speak about a destination – say, a city or country, I believe that maintaining a top position can be possible using several tactics of different types of support. It seems to me more challenging to maintain selected event premises – e.g. an exhibition centre – to keep them attractive, to innovate, to provide services and client service at a high level, to make deals with subcontractors that are beneficial to all parties, and to be sufficiently flexible. I think it is a constant series of challenges. Q: How much focus should event planners put on sharing details of successful event stories on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter)? I believe that it can be very beneficial if it is done properly. In order to attract people and make them view or even share stories, the shared content has to be truly attractive to viewers. Therefore, the action has to be well thought through and the content must be unique and desirable. If you manage that, you can greatly increase the event’s reach and its post-performance value. However, I would like to add that what makes a true difference for the event and the brand is when visitors of the event actively share their experience and their insights. Q: How do technological innovations and new communication possibilities impact upon the world of event management? Enormously! Moreover, in a form which is truly significant for event marketing. The impact of new technologies and new communication methods – headed by social media – is simply revolutionary. Thanks to the greater reach of target groups through events, event marketing has finally become an integral and important part of marketing strategy. In addition, having a 92

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bigger reach makes events preferable if you look at cost per contact, and that is another reason why events gain in importance. Q: How have participant expectations evolved and changed over the last 10 years. What are they mostly looking for in participating at a certain event? Event visitors have changed from passive observers to active participants. They are now also key influencers of the event flow, as well as its communication. For example, ten years ago you prepared an event and invited people. They attended the event and saw what you prepared. After that, you emailed them pictures or you created a page where you published the photos. This communication was one-way. Nowadays, you experience two-way communication or even multidirectional dialogue with many different stakeholders involved in all three phases of event planning – 1. Pre-event 2. At-Event 3. Post-event. Such communication is much more fragmented, but it also has a greater effect. You invite people to an event via social media, where everyone can interact, share, and comment. After that, people interact during the event itself and communication continues after the event finishes. It must be noted that the communication is not under your control anymore. On the one hand, that’s great, but on the other, you also have to watch out and be ready for unexpected situations that you might be creating. Q: You once said that the “success criteria is no more based on the number of people who attend the event, but more importantly on the final number of people reached via the event and its communication”. So, is the story behind the event and the unique experience of participants the true fundamentals that make a memorable event?

I believe that this was also valid in the past, but now you do not have just one hundred or one thousand people to experience the story and to judge it – you can reach tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of your existing consumers and prospects, that is, potential consumers. In that way you can design and implement an event that makes a real impact; nevertheless, you also have many eyes watching you. Q: Today events, and especially business events, are not based on monotonous lectures and coffee breaks. Technology enables us to be more interactive, to actively participate during lectures, workshops, and to add value to discussions. Is the future of events not just transmitting the basic content, but engaging delegates to redefine and co-create events themselves? Yes, I see it like that and it is not the future: the future is now! Visitors are already redefining and co-creating events. Their impact is tremendous. We empower attendees with shareable assets; we want them to raise their voice and actively participate on brand development and engage. Q: What are three biggest challenges and biggest difficulties faced in terms of event planning? From my perspective as LEGO CEEMEA Regional Event Manager, I see three main challenges: Complexity: We have a full spectrum of markets under our team’s leadership – from mature markets where we have offices to developing ones in which we do not have an active presence and are represented by distributors. These markets are very polarized; they have different goals and needs, and in practice every country has a different official language. 93

Scalability: We have to make sure that events that we develop are relevant to different locations; therefore, we have to think how to produce them to fit diverse event premises. Timing: Developing event concepts for more markets that are not necessarily on one continent makes the lead-time challenging. You have to make sure that you are in line with the marketing strategy; you have to have time to develop the “big idea”. Along the way, you have many internal and external stakeholders involved, whom you have to inform about the development process and get approval from. On top of it all, you must have in mind a delivery time not only within EU countries, but in our case also, for example, for African countries. Q: You said in a recent interview that “Creativity is a crucial element in producing outstanding events”, and since LEGO provides endless opportunities for innovative creation, how do you personally engage in keeping up with fresh ideas, and where do you take your inspiration from? We have a good, competitive advantage in that our product is perceived as being very creative and we have stories that are created as an integral part of the product offer. This is a definite advantage. On the other hand, you also have to respect these settings and make sure that you follow the storyline and the related rules. It is crucial that the creative idea is simple, so it can be easily communicated to given target groups and not lost in translation. The best ideas are also the simplest ones, but it is so hard to invent them. It is important not to stay in a “tunnel”. I see it as very beneficial to be part of different event forums and communication platforms. It is a great eye-opener. I am personally very happy that I got a chance to be part of the EuBEA festival, where I could see many inspirational events using new technologies and implementing brilliant ideas. I believe it is worth it for all event managers to be part of it.


GLAMPING INCENTIVE 2 Night incentive / 48 incentive hours in Gorenjska region and Savinja Valley Overview: Glamping tents offer an extraordinary luxurious space and the only thing that might remind you that you are in a real tent is the sound of raindrops falling on the roof, the nightly owls’ hoots from the forest and the morning’s bird songs. Camping becomes ‘glamping’ from the moment you open the zipper and find yourself in a tastefully furnished “hotel” suite with your own private terrace, jacuzzi, spacious bathroom and a setting in direct contact with nature. With our incentive programme you will discover two Slovenian glamping hubs and two amazing touristic destinations - Bohinj and Bled, and the Savinja Valley. 1. Moments of Zen: Herbal Glamping resort Wellness 2. Quality time: Camplet experience 3. Must see: Bled and Bohinj 4. Must do: Scout teambuilding 5. Our pick: Genuine contact with nature ITINERARY DAY 1: Back to the Basics 10:00 Arrival at Ljubljana Airport 10:30 Eco rally towards Bohinj Drive electric vehicles to Bohinj and compete in a minimum fuel consumption challenge, with the winner becoming the leader of the incentive camp. On the way we will stop for a team test at Bled glamping. 12:00 Camplet experience Glamping trailers, equipped with everything you need to survive in the wilds, await you in the Bohinj camp. During the afternoon the preparations of each camp will take place, followed by a competition for the most beautifully furnished glamping tent. 18:00 Campfire Once gathered around the campfire, prepare yourself for several scout challenges and for dis-

covering the scouting lifestyle, which is built on a love of nature, exploration and the protection of nature. Anybody who’s been dreaming about sitting next to a campfire since childhood will find it difficult to resist the charms of a scout’s challenges. 20:00 Scout’s dinner A romantic scout dinner that you prepare for yourself, followed by a competition for the best goulash. DAY 2: Herbal glamping 08:00 Taking down the glamping tents and cleaning the campsite After a scout breakfast you will engage yourself in a team task of taking down the glamping tents and cleaning the campsite. We will turn this usually quite stressful chore into an interesting team experience, where you will get the chance to prove yourself by tying knots and by testing your sense for orientation. 11:00 Towards Ljubno After a short snack we will continue our journey towards Ljubno near the river Savinja, where the first boutique glamping resort, recognizable for its herbs and aromatic plants, opened its doors. The entire settlement is laden with sustainable concept stories - from a picturesque herb/vegetable garden right through to its natural swimming pool. 13:00 Being accommodated in glamping tents Each of the 10 tents has a double bed and another decent bed on the floor. There is space for four people in one glamping tent and a special treat are the showers surrounded by wooden walls and covered by a glass roof that gives the impression of taking a shower under the stars. The owners have equipped the tents with great care given to the finest details and to providing top lighting conditions. They also ensured the possibility of heating, meaning that the resort can welcome guests all year round.

14:00 Cookery course and herbal workshop After fishing in the nearest river and picking herbs from the garden, you will prepare lunch with the help of a restaurant chef. The ingredients for the courses must be local and of organic production, so herbs and aromatic plants can be freshly picked from the garden. On the cookery course you will learn about the herbs and how to use them in the production of cosmetics, teas, liqueurs and herbal spirits. 17:00 Free for wellness pampering Relaxation and pampering with herbal scents to bring an end to an unforgettable day. 20:00 Glamping campfire In the evening we will gather together around the campfire, where everything is already prepared for the teambuilding challenges. Just in case it rains, the restaurant in the main building that holds 40 guests is always there as an alternative. DAY 3: Departures 09:00 Transfer to the airport, with the possibility to extend the stay in the wellness centre. Getting there: Airport Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Accommodation: Glamping tents Camplet and Herbal Glamping resort Eat and drink: As with scouting custom you will prepare most of the food yourselves and we, as organisers, will provide you with the necessary ingredients to prepare the courses. To wrap things up you are invited to the Herbal Glamping resort in Ljubno to try their superb cuisine. Gateways: Bohinj is an hour away from the airport. Glamping is located in the heart of the Upper Savinja valley and is an hour away from Ljubljana.

CONTACT US: Blue Ljubljana Office, Štihova ulica 4, SI1000 Ljubljana, T: +386 (0)1 430 51 03, F: +386 (0)1 430 51 04, E:, W:


Kongres magazine


Croatia Addendum


Croatia Addendum


Editor: Daniela Kos

Croatia Addendum

DUBROVNIK – MERCEDES BENZ ‘S “FANTASY LAND” The German manufacturer Daimler AG, world's biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles with a global reach organized its major annual event – the Mercedes-Benz Global Training 2016 in the ancient city of Dubrovnik text by Daniela Kos



n the past few years Dubrovnik gained a worldwide reputation as the perfect movie set backdrop for scenes of the world-famous Game of Thrones TV series, where beautiful medieval walls became a true Fantasyland. Since the city played an important role in this popular TV series, it has understandably attracted thousands of tourists, including the attention of the Event Manager at Daimler AG, who decided to organise its annual global training sessions - the “Mercedes - Global Training Experience 2016” - in Dubrovnik. This year’s Mercedes’ training days set for its employees and agents and held in Dubrovnik started on 4th February and will run until 14th April. Approximately 12,000 delegates, including 150 members of the team of organisers, have attended the event and every week 4 groups of around 350 to 400 delegates arrive at the Dubrovnik’s airport. The event is considered a world-class one, just as the Mercedes brand ranks as a world class brand among cars. But what has made the event more special is this year’s presentation of the E-class luxury cars, which is organised every seven years in this way. For months Mercedes Benz’s C, S and E class cars are being showcased on the streets of Dubrovnik and for this particular occasion Mercedes brought around 340 cars to Dubrovnik. New Mercedes Benz models are exhibited at several places in the city centre and have been attracting the attention of locals as well as the attention of guests visiting

Dubrovnik. All the test drives are organised in the city and its surroundings, as well as in the port of Dubrovnik. Apart from successfully establishing the necessary event infrastructure, organisers also received help from the municipal administration, namely for the needs of the event, and were allowed to use Dubrovnik’s port areas, the main Dubrovnik street – Stradun, and some other locations in the old town. Every day participants are being invited to the restaurant Klarisa, where special evening events are organised, or they can choose to individually visit other locations in the city. For the purposes of making this attractive event and for exhibiting Mercedes Benz cars the local administration and other municipal sectors, chaired by Dubrovnik‘s mayor Andro Vlahušić, enabled the use of public spaces such as parts of the main street and other streets of the old town, allowing the installation of promotional banners and similar hi-tech promotional gadgets that are very eye-catching and have been grabbing the attention of local inhabitants and visitors. “In addition to the tremendous importance of publicity the event produced, the fact that the global training of the Daimler AG company is held in the period from January to mid-April has a direct impact on business operations of several tourist companies in the area and increasing the tourism income of Dubrovnik during these months,” stated the team from the Tourist Board of the City of Dubrovnik, aware of the level of importance of such international events. “Promotional effects are immeasurable, but from a local point of view the direct economic effects are even more important. Numerous companies in Dubrovnik have significantly benefited from this mega-event.” Guests invited by the organiser, the Daimler AG company, have filled up several hotels‘ accommodation capacities in Dubrovnik, such as Valamar President Hotel, Valamar Lacroma Hotel and Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel. In Dubrovnik Sun Gardens they expect to register around 14,000 overnight stays during the event. Mercedes E-Class is the main product of event, which holds the largest share of sales, and since Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotels enjoys the same reputation, declared as the E-Class hotel, the whole event is marked by the E-Class category.

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99 “What is particularly interesting is the transformation of our sports centre into a ‚training centre‘,” said Perica Andrić, Sales Manager at Dubrovnik Sun Gardens Hotel. “Also, one part of the garage is intended for training, while the other part of the garage serves as the part in which the cars are prepared for test drives.” This automobile event is not the first one to be organised in this resort, which, in addition to the traditional hotel infrastructure, offers a variety of possibilities suitable for organising this kind of event - all facilities within the resort can be accessed by car, organisers can use a multitude of options for branding, the versatility of spaces allows the transformation of the sports centre into a training center, and as the resort is close to the main road it offers the conditions for good timing and appropriate exchangeability of test drives. A significant contribution to the successful organisation of the event was made by the local DMC agency DT Croatia, which was responsible for part of the evening programme, sightseeing, assistance in hotels and information centres, recruitment of hostesses, logistics, rental of public land and Dubrovnik‘s port area and for the branding arrangements in the city. “In addition to this great automotive industry event, along with the already mentioned Game of Thrones, this March the city of Dubrovnik served as a film set for shooting scenes for

the most popular film series in global aspect - the 8th edition of Star Wars,” said a satisfied team from the Tourist board of the city of Dubrovnik. “With similar global world events and the filming of mega-popular series and films such as Game of Thrones, Bollywood spectacle “FAN” and the latest film production “Spacebear”, Dubrovnik becomes globally more recognizable. All mentioned above are additional references to our city, which facilitate the presentation of the destination and motivate further on the decision makers in the organisation of big events.”

Croatia Addendum

INCENTIVES ON A GREEN ISLAND â&#x20AC;&#x201C; NO CARS ALLOWED! Near the world famous city of Dubrovnik, in the middle of the Elaphiti archipelago, the island of Lopud is a hidden gem for fantastic incentive travels

text by Daniela Kos



verybody certainly knows of Dubrovnik in the southern Adriatic coast, but few know anything about the astonishing beauty of the Elaphite islands. The archipelago, located just nine nautical miles from the city of Dubrovnik and a pleasant one-hour ride with the local ferry boat, offers a unique experience: not only will visitors get to enjoy sunsets from paradise, but also the perfect tranquility of nature, as no cars are allowed on the 4.63 sq km island of Lopud, the second largest and most beautiful of the three Elaphite islands. All of this makes it a natural paradise thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique in the world - noise and air pollution are unknown here. If you dream about kicking back from your everyday work stress, there is no better place to consider in planning your next incentive travel. Lopud island has 11.5km of coastline, of which 1.2km are marvellous sandy beaches. There are on average 2,584 sunny hours per year on the island, which equates to about 215

completely sunny days. The culture and architecture evoke ancient times, as the island has been inhabited for thousands of years - the Roman name of the island is Lafodia and many remains of ancient Greek, Roman and Slavic buildings and ruins have been found on it. Remnants of old Croatian culture from the 9TH and 10TH centuries are still present in the pre-Romanesque chapels: St. Mary, St. John the Baptist, St. Peter and others, with a total of 36 churches to be found on the island. In 1457, Lopud was one of the regional centres of the Dubrovnik Republic and at that time the island was inhabited by over 1,000 people. Today, there are only about 400 inhabitants and Lopud, the only settlement, is located in a bay from which there is a path that leads to the sandy Bay of Sunj on its far side. During an incentive group free time or time set aside for building team spirit, there is the possibility to choose from many activities, such as kayaking, sailing, hiking, Nordic

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101 walking, private sea excursions and much much more. Besides the outdoor activities and excursions, business travellers can enjoy the hospitality of the island’s biggest hotel – Lafodia Sea Resort. Owned by Italian businessman Gian Pietro Severi and his family, who fell in love with Lopud after their first visit, it was completely renovated and reopened in 2011. They also offer a private fleet of boats, so the transfer from Dubrovnik Airport is yet another part of the complete experience. Set in 12,000 sq.m of privately owned parkland on Lopud, the Hotel Lafodia offers elegantly designed rooms and suites, a multifunctional Avatar conference room suitable for 180 delegates, a variety of venues for personalised events and tailor-made team-building activities. The Avatar meeting room is illuminated by natural light and equipped with cutting edge audiovisual technology, and in the evening, if it’s not occupied, it can also be converted into a cinema. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout hotel. To wrap up, the island of Lopud is a very attractive destination for those who want to combine their work responsibilities with the magic of a unique location surrounded by pure nature.

Croatia Addendum

CCMEP - THE FIRST CROATIAN MEETING INDUSTRY CERTIFICATE At the end of 2015 Croatia received the first national certification programme for the professional meetings industry – the CCMEP (Certified Croatian Meetings and Events Professional). text by Daniela Kos



ertification of professionals in the congress industry is nothing new. The world’s most famous – CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) and CMM (Certified Meeting Manager) – are very demanding and can bring certain benefits if you are oriented to the international market. In Croatia, no individual has these certificates, while some members of the industry hold the title CDMP (Certified Meeting Planner Diversity), for which they were trained by Linda Pereira. At the end of last year Croatia finally received the first national certification program. The Croatian Meeting Professional Association (CMPA) presented the CCMEP (Certified Croatian Meetings and Events Professional) certification programme during last year’s Forum of meetings industry in December 2015. This programme is the result of several international programmes, including those from neighbouring countries, the USA, Poland and the United Kingdom, but adapted to the conditions of the Croatian market and business objectives of domestic professionals. A working group worked for over a year on the programme and the CCMEP title is granted only to natural persons, the participants of the MICE industry, with a minimum of two years’ experience and after completing lectures and passing the exam. “The certification brings additional competitiveness and ensures customers that their service provider is a professional who approaches each project in accordance with the rules of professional conduct,” said Ranko Filipović, Vice President of the CMPA. “The certification programme has also been recognized and accepted by the public sector, of which we have full support. The Association is conducting several public relations activities which will reveal another special quality of the future certificate, and each member will have the possibility to individually capitalize from the ownership of the certificate, primarily from delivering a professional service, excellent business activities and exclusive direct marketing communications.” After the presentation, the first 39 certificates were granted to members of the Croatian Meeting Professionals Association (CMPA) who completed the certification programme in late January 2016. The programme encompassed two sections: the first focused on the

organisation of business meetings, the second focused on market recognition of Croatia as a business tourism destination, followed by group work that resulted in oral presentations and was rounded off by an online exam. The Zagreb Faculty of Economics (Tourism Department), Croatian Chamber of Commerce (Tourism Department) and European Federation of Associations of PCOs – EFAPCO – have supported this project. Since CMPA is its Preferred Provider, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) has credited the programme with 8 CE Hours points. Collecting these points is one of the steps towards gaining CMP certification. CCMEP certificate is valid for five years, after which re-certification is required on the basis of collected educational points and participation in educational events organised by CMP. The next round of certification will be held in December 2016 and January 2017. For more information please visit www. Impressions of Certified Members Anja Novak, head of sales at Dubrovnik DMC agency Idea Exclusive, is proud to receive the certificate, which she regards as a confirmation of their professionalism in dealing with customers and an encouragement for further improvements. “I am proud to have participated at the first certification programme and to have become one of the first certified professionals in the Croatian meetings industry. The certification programme that I attended was a great opportunity for quality teamwork, sharing experiences with colleagues from different agencies, hotels and other business tourism related branches. The programme was a representative example of how synergy provides significant benefits in realizing a certain programme. For me this certificate implies an advantage - it provides additional assurance to our future clients, in terms of delivering professional services, and represents the first step and important impetus for further improvements and taking the path of obtaining another international CMP certification. “ Director of the Tourist Board of Split, Alijana Vuksic, pointed out that congress tourism is the future of the whole year‘s tourist offer of the city of Split. “Split has proven experiences in congress tourism mainly through organising nu-

Croatia Addendum

103 merous seminars, symposia, conferences and scientific conferences throughout the year. Split annually hosts a number of senior management business meetings organised by several regional companies. Over the years it has established itself as an attractive destination for organising incentive trips and team building workshops. Split has all the necessary conditions to become a distinctive congress centre. After receiving the CCMEP certificate the city gained additional competitiveness and ensures customers that Split offers not only professional superstructure, but also the services of professionals who approach each project in accordance with the rules of the profession. We hope that the number of congress professionals will grow, since it will represent one of the strong arguments for attracting potential investors to fund congress capacities, since unfortunately Split doesn‘t have enough of them at the moment.” Another of the certified members is Māra Vītols-Hrgetić, Head of the congress centre Forum Zagreb. As the Forum already provides a full congress offer and alongside renting the hall it offers catering services and consultancy in organising business events, the company is in fact registered as a travel agency. Māra considers such a professional certificate as a very useful recognition on two different levels. It acknowledges her professional work and the work of the con-

gress centre in general. “During the process of certification I gained a more detailed insight into the general Croatian congress offer, I met with other members of the profession, and I learned a lot about other destinations and accommodation capacities in Croatia and the structure of congress tourism around the world. I got an insight into the professional terminology and international practices that can be helpful to us in our daily operations. For example, “run on the house” is the term used when a client wants to rent the hall every day at the same time for a longer period of time, but the facility retains the right to not always be obliged to offer the same hall. This greatly facilitates our work, because you cannot always have the same hall available. Another world practice example is when a customer does not want (or need) a catering space in which the event is held, the congress centre or the hotel can charge the client for this specific request.” Mara Vītols-Hrgetić also pointed out that the knowledge she acquired during the programme will help her in providing an even better offer and advice for event organisation. She was mainly impressed by the great collegiality among all the members and a willingness to work together to improve the entire Croatian congress offer.

Croatia Addendum


text by Daniela Kos

104 Q: You have been a member of the Valamar team for quite some time now and you have held several different positions, in the last seven years having been working in the conference sales department. Can you tell us a bit more how your career has evolved over time and can you point out important moments or events in your career of which you are particularly proud? I consider myself as a very lucky person, because throughout my whole career I always had the support of my superiors, and thus a certain degree of freedom. Considering that in

my 15-year career in sales I literally worked in every possible sales sector and I believe that sticking to the MICE sector isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC;t a coincidence; namely, the structure and the processes of sales in this segment are by nature very dynamic, and that is exactly what appeals to me and my character most. I am very proud to be a part of the Valamar team, but mostly I am proud of my department in Dubrovnik! Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC;s hard to single out just one special moment; sometimes an ordinary day at the office can be special. Sometimes it is when we succeed in getting a new project that may not be that well known, but

Croatia Addendum

Marilka Tovarac is the MICE Sales department Manager in Valamar Riviera, one of the leading Croatian hotel groups. Friendly, open and always ready to help, this lady originally from Dubrovnik is the perfect example of an excellent vendor. Knowing that people play a crucial role in the meetings industry, Marilka stresses the importance of a personal approach. We teamed up with the first lady of Valamar’s conference sales and talked about the different aspects of this dynamic yet demanding position, and even discussed some personal issues too. 105 we needed it and it happened to be there in the right place at the right time. However, I can highlight a very important event, namely the opening of the hotel Valamar Dubrovnik 4* in 2009, when my journey into the world of the MICE industry took a more serious turn. In fact, at the same time as the Valamar hotel was built the MICE sales department was established and together with other colleagues we began to think, create and implement all our ideas for positioning the Valamar hotel as a strategic MICE partner for all the clients in Dubrovnik and all other markets too. Today The Valamar Group can boast itself with significant MICE capacities in numerous hotels all the way from Dubrovnik to the island of Krk and Istria, but the hotel Valamar Lacroma still remains our flagship in terms of our best MICE offer, since it offers the largest conference facilities in the region - the main conference hall has a capacity of up to 1,200 people and there are another seven smaller halls and a large business centre. With professional staff, excellent cuisine and an abundance of other activities, this hotel has in a very short period of time set high standards in the field of meetings, incentives, conferences and events. Q: How specific or different is the sale of conference facilities from the sale of other hotel products? It is often said that the only link between business and leisure tourism is actually just a hotel room. This is partially true, but I would still like to use this opportunity to emphasize the importance of each segment. The fact is that, for example, congress events are organised before or after the main tourist season, and therefore in this context the MICE segment is certainly the most important factor. However, each segment needs to eventually contribute within its own abilities, because in the end the results are evaluated in a general and annual basis. Therefore the cooperation with other sales departments is very important, as well as with other hotel operation services, because they are the ones who are responsible for the event execution. It also depends on the product you sell - in this context the hotel you sell. Our situation seems a little complicated at first, because we have so many facilities to offer, but in most cases that is precisely our greatest advantage in relation to our competition.

Furthermore, in the MICE sector we encounter a lot more “obstacles” during the process from the “inquiry to the realization.” Often we find ourselves competing with destinations like Spain, Portugal and other Mediterranean countries, with who knows how many competitive hotels from the mentioned destinations. Then we are confronted with the well-known phenomenon of the ‚destination availability‘ i.e. the need for better air connections, as apparently the demand for more and better flight connections never ceases. Anyhow, the process of obtaining a congress, a conference or an incentive event is often experienced as time consuming and laborious work, but when you finally hold a contract in your hands you are overwhelmed with happiness. Also, when you lose a contract because, for example, Barcelona has several daily flight connections with England and the price of a return air ticket is experience a little bit of disappointment, because in this particular case your hands are completely tied. Q: What qualities must a MICE department salesperson have in order to win the trust of a client? It is not easy to answer this question, because we cannot determine only one or the right style in a sales strategy that will have the same positive effect each time. However, I

Croatia Addendum


believe that the best approach is to combine experience and high emotional intelligence. From these two key qualities the most important is experience. I would like to point out that experience in our sector is not necessarily related to years of working in the sector, but rather to “the number of matches won”. By that I mean that the negotiation in MICE in very intensive - each request is a negotiation, each meeting a face-to-face negotiation, every phone call is negotiation, each view of the hotel‘s a negotiation... Also, no less important is how well you know your product and how much you believe in what you are selling. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, BUT YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO PAY THE PRICE. Q: Conferences and the clients who have organised them often have special requirements that require a lot of preparation and flexibility by a hotel and its staff. Can you give us an example of when you received a really demanding request from a client? We in sales have a catch-phrase that says: “Everything is possible, but be prepared to pay the price.” Jokes aside, in organising a MICE event the most important thing is the implementation of the event. This basically means that majority of the burden falls most heavily on our wonderful colleagues from the hotel operations department, from the hotel manager, assistants, event coordinators, heads of F&B to household services and safety sector…absolutely every department is a very important link in the chain. Of course the main objective in the selling business is to sell, but personally I think my job is more about how to best sell a good product. When you have a well-coordinated team of people supporting you and you have their full confidence, my part of the job seems easier, because I believe 100 % in our product, and I stand behind it 100 %. When a customer notices this you are already halfway to the contract. The Valamar group is known for providing extremely high level services in accordance with international quality

standards and is recognized as one of the best employers in Croatia. The thing that Valamar is particularly proud of is the unique and innovative corporate training system that ensures the continuous development of employees and thus contributes to overall business success. Generally, you can have a luxury hotel, but if you don‘t have a top-quality service and a flexible team, cooperation will not be achieved. The primary goal of every retailer should be a long-term partnership with clients. Q: Up to now you have participated at many international fairs, tradeshows and workshops. In the framework of the congress segment which of them have been the most important ones for and your company? How do you usually begin the presentation of Dubrovnik at B2B meetings - what do you emphasize? We generally prefer the B2B meetings and in my opinion I think these types of meetings are the most effective ones and provide the return on investment no matter the initial cost. Of course, every year we co-exhibit with the Croatian Tourist Board at IMEX and IBTM. It is very important to present ourselves as part of a national institution, as Valamar is not an international company, but nevertheless it represents two key destinations in our country: Istria and Dubrovnik. Among other tradeshows we choose those that are most effective in terms of what markets they cover, and what also interests us is the quality of invited clients and the number and duration of prescheduled meetings. When participating at a similar meeting we primarily aim to present Valamar and all its facilities that are related to the sector, but also Croatia. The beginning of the presentation usually starts in this manner, we talk about the historical and cultural heritage of our country, with an emphasis on Istria and Dubrovnik and generally present Valamar Riviera as one of the most important factors in the hospitality and tourism industry in Croatia. I usually have a Croatian flight timetable, a small map of Croatia, my tablet and a pile of business cards on my table in front of me. I try to highlight the best of what

Croatia Addendum


both of our destinations have to offer for organising meetings or incentives. This implies a good general knowledge of all key aspects of the destination and the knowledge of the majority of the Valamar facilities. DUBROVNIK – A “VALUE FOR MONEY” DESTINATION Q: How would you rate the competitiveness of Dubrovnik in the global congress market and how does its general image as a tourist destination help or hinder its positioning on it? I believe that Dubrovnik is definitely recognized as a quality destination, but of course there is always room for growth and improvement. What makes Dubrovnik a stand out destination, besides its cultural reputation and geographic location, and what are its advantages in relation to its competition, is that the general impression of Dubrovnik, as well as Croatia, is as a “value for money” destination. Although the main source markets have emerged from the recession, I think that awareness of “reasonable” budget still remains somehow an imperative for all customers, so this is definitely our current advantage. However, I think we should give greater focus, and by that I mean Croatia in general, on future projects i.e. on the strategies and visions of conference and incentive offers. Q: In addition to traditional scientific conferences, in the past few years Dubrovnik has become known as a host for film production and automotive events. Should the city position itself as a destination for these special events? I see no reason why not, but at the same time I am a strong supporter of sustainable development of all forms of tourism and of keeping the balance between these same forms. I guess because I grew up in “a small city” I developed a guiding principle of keeping all things in the “right measure” and in harmony. I think that all tourism industry players from the public and the private sector have to work on mutual respect

and coordination and should primarily take into account the public interest and long-term prosperity of the city and its inhabitants! Valamar Riviera has been operating successfully in the tourism sector in Croatia for the past six decades, and corporate social responsibility is part of our tradition. Our facilities have earned many international certificates and awards in the field of sustainable development, which represents a part of our business that we are particularly proud of. Q: Besides your career, the most important thing in your life is your family. How difficult it is to have a private life and thrive in a corporation such as Valamar? We know that working in the tourism industry sometimes demands working overtime, traveling ... Anything is possible if you have a reliable and always available grandma! Indeed, in addition to traveling and being absent from home, the most important thing is to have a person that you can fully trust, and who else if not your own mother or your mother in law! Of course, if you have that luck. Anyway, a dynamic business environment definitely affects the quality of private life, but I try as much as I can to make up for the lost time and I spend it with my family. Q: You have a very unusual name that we believe is one of your attributes that clients remember you by. So, who is Marilka Tovarac? Marilka actually comes from the name Mare - hardly anyone calls me by my name. I like to think of myself as a reasonable and down to earth person who appreciates the little things and loves happy people. At work I am a perfectionist and I try to maintain my professional approach in order to most efficiently transfer my knowledge and skills onto my team and other colleagues. Therefore, in addition to my daily tasks, I take time to read and learn about the novelties from the industry, I work on different projects, I investigate the competition and currently I am working on some new ideas. All in all - I’m always on the move!




lava laguna - Laguna Poreč is one of the largest hotel companies in Croatia. Our 13 hotels have conference halls and meeting rooms which can accommodate 10 to 600 people, providing audiovisual and other equipment. Here you will find everything you need for a professional organization of business events while pleasant Mediterranean climate and natural environment will ensure you get the piece and comfort you need. A combination of the pleasant and the useful - this might just be the essence of our message and the goal of our offer for the organization of congresses, seminars, work meetings, symposiums, presentations, sports events, weddings, gala dinners, refreshments during work meeting breaks, as well as folklore evenings, special entertainment programs and animation in Laguna Poreč facilities. After the regular program, we offer relaxation in one of our exceptional outdoor or indoor sports-recreational facilities, gym, swimming pool or wellness.

Staying in Istria without getting to know its inland would be a real shame. That is why we organize half-day boat tours, tours of the Istrian inland with visits to picturesque Medieval towns and excursions to Pula, Rovinj, Lim channel, Brijuni, Trieste or Venice. So visit us and find out firsthand why your stay and work in Laguna Poreč hotels will be truly successful because: YOUR SUCCESS IS OUR GOAL!

Info & Reservations: Tel. +385 52 410 210 e-mail: 108

In Focus

WHICH DESTINATION HAVEN'T YOU VISITED YET? THE BALKANS A genuine inauguration of the 2016 tourist season at 37th International Fair of Tourism Belgrade Text by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief


Serbia is a welcoming and safe country for Slovenian and other tourists. We always provide a warm welcome for any of our guests and treat each guest with the same respect and attention as if he/she was the most important hotel guest. We don't make differences between tourists coming from the Eastern or Western part of the world. In Belgrade, Russian, Chinese, American and European tourists are equally welcomed.” These introductory words spoken by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic opened the glamorous Belgrade Tourism Fair. After visiting and experiencing the tourism fair we can fully confirm the minister's words, where we also had the chance to listen attentively to a speech by the Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek, who emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in tourism and the many possibilities that can arise by the joint marketing of distant markets. At first glance the Belgrade tourist fair doesn't differ so much from any other tourism fair. The usual crowd at the entrance, luxurious stalls promoting tourist destinations and a vast multitude of smaller exhibitors from every Serbian region. Where it does differ, however, is by simultaneously hosting the Belgrade wine Fair (BeoWineFair) and the Fair of hotel and catering equipment (Horeca). A major difference to other fairs is the fact that its opening was featured in every Serbian media, where it was presented as the most important event of the day. I haven't experienced this type of media attention and so many media representatives in one place in quite a while. Not a single media house missed reporting live from the fair's hustle and bustle, where every expectation and fairground capacity was exceeded on its second day. This year 1,153 exhibitors from 55 countries participated at it.

We have tried to summarize the main reasons why the Belgrade Tourism Fair exemplifies a central, regional, general tourist fair in the following ten points:

1. The size of the market and the economies of scale Belgrade itself is a relatively large market that generates satisfactory economies of scale of the fair's visitor potential. The fact that the city has 1.5 million inhabitants already guarantees a successful turnout. It also guarantees a healthy turnout of potential tourist destinations presenting at the fair. By Serbian guest arrival numbers to Slovenia, the Serbs rank quite high at seventh place. Direct contact with the market is, according to the exhibitors, still the most effective tool in establishing future cooperation.

2. Culture of attending fairs The frequency of attendance at fairs is much higher in less developed markets than in developed tourist markets. The desire for personal contact with suppliers is part of the culture, which in other markets is already being replaced by the desire for more comprehensive experiences, or the search for information and destinations with the help of the almighty Google. Where too much information is served up the desire to visit the fair is usually smaller. In Serbia, however, the desire to visit the fair is high on the priorities list. The attractiveness of the fair is increased by the accompanying wine fair, souvenirs fair and first minute offers, which the organisers have incorporated directly into the fair’s slogan.

3. Quantity vs. Quality

There is a golden rule which applies to every general B2C fair: it is the quantity, not the quality of the visitors that counts. English event organisers use the expression "warm bodies" for 110

describing a high number of visitors. On Friday, school groups occupied the majority of the fairgrounds and created a feeling of an overcrowded space. The fair's daily programme was otherwise adjusted to individual target groups of visitors (seniors, caterers). Almost 80,000 visitors attended the fair, which is a regional record.

4. A good tourist fair needs to be international Visitors and exhibitors rate the quality of the fair by the crowd, by the attendees and by the number of exotic destinations presented. This year, the organisers fully succeeded in delivering all of this. Namely, among the 55 destinations there were exhibitors from Namibia, Malaysia, Abu Dhabi, exotic Cuba and other faraway destinations. The fair has a solid and distinctive regional character, meaning that not a single one of all the major regional tourist destinations was forgotten, including Albania and Croatia.

5. Competition awareness At the Belgrade fair individual providers get a thorough and valuable overview of the existing competition. In most cases this competition sits in new, outgoing tourist agencies that determine market demand by offering luxury catalogues and garish advertising campaigns promising discounts. We witnessed lots of visitors making reservations based on many first minute offers (discounts up to 40 %). That confirms that the classical sales method in Belgrade is in full swing, which is a distinctive advantage of the fair.

6. Accessibility of the destination Even though this might sound like a hackneyed cliché, it is an important factor and it is why we couldn't ignore the fact that the destinations presented at the fair were those with which Air Serbia (the national airline) has good air connec-

In Focus

of the incredible friendliness and hospitality of the hosts. This is the main attribute of the city, which also reveals its zeitgeist, and I believe that exhibitors like to return to Belgrade because of the unique energy that Belgrade pulses with. One of my colleagues from the tourism sector told me he was annoyed by the crowd at the fair and that the wide range of exhibition stands was too much for him. Another colleague said he was disturbed by the poor performance of the mobile apps and the unusual organisation of the press centre. However, the Belgrade tourism trade fair is a success story that along with other international trade fairs has firmly anchored itself on the calendar for many visitors.

tions. Belgrade is definitely becoming a regional aviation hub, so it is no coincidence that Air Serbia started selling tickets for flights to New York precisely during the fair. I believe that the fair will continue to expand, due to ever-improving air accessibility.

7. Strong public support of the Fair The fair is widely supported by numerous trade institutions in Serbia, due to its multiple direct and indirect effects of which all involved are clearly well aware. Importantly, this was reflected on a symbolic level by a visit of the Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić. Every year the fair also selects a partner country, which gives an added event buzz. Slovenia did its best to wisely use this opportunity on every level of communication. It was nearly impossible to overlook the presence of Slovenia at the Belgrade fair. Next year, the partner state will be Montenegro.

8. Accompanying Events Accompanying events give each trade fair a certain sense of dynamic and this year it was the presentation of the new logo of the Touristic Board of Belgrade, the projection of promotional films with the famous Serbian actor Bata

Živojinović and other events organised by the fair's partner state that really lifted things. The activity at the fair is seasoned with a large dose of genuine hospitality, but the main advantages Belgrade has, alongside an extraordinary culinary scene, are the club events and parties, bundled in super-favourable price packages.

9. The fair is top news in Serbia and the region The fair is breaking news in Serbian media, with reports about the event featured in all the main Serbian media and also in the yellow press. The city is overwhelmed with billboard fillings and a conversation with a taxi driver quickly leads to tourism. It seems that the city lives and breathes the fair; communication is multi-directional, as the personal communication story of each partner represents an integral part of it.

10. Hospitality over organisation An attentive fair visitor can quickly unveil several organisational flops - from some incorrect signage, an awkward entry regime, an at times catastrophic catering service through to the obvious technical problems with ventilation and more. All these flops are instantly forgotten, however, and become irrelevant in the face 111

The trade show is also a good business opportunity for the city. As the director of the Radisson Blu Old Mill hotel told me, the hotel accommodations were 100 % occupied during the fair. The fair generated at least about 15,000 overnight stays, which wouldn't have otherwise happened at this time of the year. The event is attended by approximately 6,000 foreigners and the entire tourist industry is prospering on account of its multiple effects. It’s another reason why organisers have 100 % support from every tourism institution that understands the crucial role that the event plays in promoting Serbian tourism. The hotel manager jokingly added that with 20 similar fairs organised each year, Belgrade and its tourism industry would make a great living! PS: Collecting promotional material In the era of mobile apps the printing companies in Serbian's capital are still certainly rubbing their hands with glee - such quantities of prospectuses that the exhibitors presented at the fair and that visitors were taking home is hard to find at any other event these days. You often met visitors with shopping carts full of prospectuses. These scenes are difficult to encounter at the modern European fairs, but considering Belgrade’s eco standards, ecology is more wishful thinking than reality...

Hidden Congress Guest




OPEN FROM June 2007 MEETINGS STAR City Meeting Hotel STANDARD Congress Hotel NUMBER OF ROOMS 80 double rooms, 7 suites, 1 honeymoon suite, 1 king’s suite, 1 president suite ONLINE PRICE EUR (march 2016) ADDRESS Hotel Galleria   Matije Korvina 17 24000 Subotica, Serbia T: +381 024 647-111 E: FACILITIES Panorama Restaurant, Munchen Restaurant, Paviljon Restaurant, Welness Galleria, Fitness Center, Galleria Luxury, Dental center NorDent EXTRAS The biggest welness center in Serbia, which offers 1600 m2 of space.  RESULTS OF ANALYSIS Location Accessibility First impression Lobby Employee attitude Reception Hotel room Hotel bed Bathroom and restroom Hotel breakfast Bars and restaurants Congress hall Additional offer  TOTAL:  

4,65 3,60 4,15 4,05 4,89 4,73 4,35 4,12 4,01 4,04 4,78 4,62 4,92 4,38

FINAL GRADE Premium City Meeting Hotel


Luxury Premium Business Economy Budget

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

LOCATION The hotel is located between 4 streets in the very centre of Subotica, which is easily mastered and memorized on foot. The striking 5 storey building fits in well with it's sorroundings as the building has extended purpose, with a small shopping hall, offices and dental centre. It is all connected by a covered atrium, which could become a unique concert venue, conference hall or juncture for the people of Subotica. The height of 25m gives it a special charm and with the size being 1,300 m2 it is one of the biggest meeting spaces in Serbia. ACCESSIBILITY Subotica is located on the very north of the Republic of Serbia, just by the Hungarian border and is easily accesible by great road connections, aswell as by train. It is interesting that it is placed approximetely 200km from the airport in Belgrade and 200km from the airport in Budapest. Currently most of the guests are regional and come by car, which is why the spacious underground parking is appreciated. The acces to Subotica is far from complicated and surprises with flowy traffic in the city and easy access. COLD APPETISER – Architecture and aesthetics The hotel takes up a whole city quarter and blends nicely with the veduta of the city. The genius is the hotel's roofed atrium, which acts as an extension of the city streets where you can spontaneously wander to the central fountain or the unique beer hall. It is a thought out multifunction space, which gives the hotel a purpose and defines it. We could say that it is the hotel's catedral. The visual image of the hotel lobby is classic with glimpse of elegance, which continues in the interior design of the rooms and restaurants and is the crest of the hotel's style. Amongst other areas, the hotel's breakfast room is a pleasant surprise. It is located on the top floor and gives you an amazing panoramic view of Subotica. WARM APPETISER – Personnel and culinary offer    The proffesionalism of the staff is certain and visible from the first touch with the reception untill the checkout and immense hospitality seems to be the standard in these parts of Serbia. The most obvious thing is the good upkeep of the hotel and all of the public areas. The culinary offer is truly wide. If we start with breakfast, the offer is typical, but I missed some more locality and authenticity. On the bright side, the views from the breakfast room are priceless and make for a great start of the day. A more comlex authentic cuisine is 112

offered in restaurant Panorama, which impresses with quality service and good selection of wine. MAIN COURSE – Congress and hotel offer Most of the guests are bussines man and participants of congresses and seminars. All of the rooms are above average in size and equiped with stylish furniture. For a hotel of this class the furniture is also above standard and most of all well maintained. In the standard rooms the only thing that bothers is a slightly cold looking bathroom, which has all the expected ammenities. The hotel offers 7 conference halls, with the biggest being capable of welcoming 400 guests and is mostly used for weddings. The halls are arranged in floors, which complicates the logistics, but the two elevators offer a preety efficient solution. The before mentioned atrium is a unique multifunctioning venue and definetely a game changer for the hotel. DESSERT – Additional offer A true surprise when staying at the hotel is the trendy hipster beer hall called "Samo Pivo". You will be introduced to the complete offer of the best craft beers from Serbian, aswell as the best European brewery's. It could also be an amazing venue for a congress after party.


FLOP – negative surprises The wireless internet has some bugs and doesn‘t work throughout the floors.


TOP – positive surprises The pedantic upkeep of the hotel together with an immensly friendly and proffesional staff contributes to the overall sense of contentment. Overall impression and credibility The hotel is an intersesting crossover of content, which sets the pace for the congress industry of Subotica. It is an investment that has shown how to smartly enliven the city centre. It's main assets show in the multifunctional offer, which looks very convincing as a package. It seems as a hotel, where you get a lot of space, quality services and priceless panonian hospitality for the paid expense. This hasn't gone unnoticed as the famous New York Times has proclaimed the hotel the best 4**** hotel in Serbia in 2014.

The HIDDEN CONGRESS GUEST section is not paid for. The selection of hotels, which are evaluated by the hidden congress guest, is left to the editorial board. The hidden guest visits the hotels without prior notice.


Final Score

Hidden Congress Guest


CATEGORY ★★★★ OPENED SINCE 1912 opened as Carlton Savoy MEETINGS STAR City meeting hotel STANDARD Congress Hotel NUMBER OF ROOMS 170 INTERNET PRICE 77 - 144 EUR (March 2016, Trivago) ADDRESS HOTEL RADISSON BLU CARLTON HOTEL BRATISLAVA Hviezdoslavovo nam 3 81102 Bratislava Slovakia P: +421 2 59390000 FACILITIES Savoy Restaurant, Mirror Bar, Korzo Restaurant, Sumer Terrace, Olympic Casino, Congress Centre EXTRAS Carlton Hall – one of the most beautiful congress halls in the capital of Slovakia RESULTS OF ANALYSIS Location 4.85 Accessibility 4.54 First impression 4.35 Lobby 4.48 Employee attitude 4.63 Reception 4.58 Hotel room 4.24 Hotel bed 4.35 Bathroom and restroom 4.31 Hotel breakfast 4.39 Bars and restaurants 4.22 Congress hall 4.65 Additional offer 4.56 Total: 4.47 FINAL GRADE Premium City Meeting Hotel


Luxury Premium Business Economy Budget

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

LOCATION The hotel is located on the main square in the heart of the city, which offers a fairytale setting. The city enchants with its beauty, friendly people, excellent cuisine and downright phenomenal beer. Part of the charm of the city is the legendary Carlton hotel, which is located in one of the most prestigious buildings in Bratislava. The hotel is a genuine hotel institution and a place where history has been shaped and where many important guests stayed when in Bratislava. One of the suites is named after Maria Theresa. ACCESSIBILITY The location is excellent and provides easy access to all of the city attractions. Guests arriving by car will appreciate the underground garage, although it is quite pricey. City transport is well organised in Bratislava and the tram station is literally right out front of the hotel. Bratislava Airport is just 13km away and Vienna Airport, as a regional aviation hub, just 62km away. River transport linking Vienna and Bratislava is also an option. COLD APPETIZER - Architecture and Aesthetics In contrast to the outer spirit of protected historic buildings in which the hotel is located, inside a modern design and top quality materials have shaped the interior design: many elegant details and plenty of natural light, despite the dominant white colour ensure that the rooms exude comfort and warmth, while maintaining the original architectural forms. WARM APPETIZER - Personnel and cuisine The hotel boasts exquisite cuisine based on fresh ingredients and recipes from Austro-Hungarian history. Restaurant Savoy is intended only for breakfast, which is varied and complete. In addition to offering some light lunches, during the day the restaurant turns into a space suitable for business meetings and presentations, which can be extended into the evening and be used for socializing or closed group dinners. The Mirror Bar at the hotel reception has a special atmosphere and is a popular meeting place for both locals and guests. The staff is at the highest level. MAIN DISH - The hotel’s congress services The rooms are classically decorated, pleasantly illuminated and in subdued pastel shades. You could say that they have been decorated in accordance with the standards of the hotel chain, although some refreshing of them will soon be needed.


4.47 Final Score

Guests, who are mainly businessmen, mostly appreciate the views of the city centre and the central square with the Opera. Carlton Hall is considered one of the most beautiful congress halls in the city. It can accommodate up to 120 delegates and its special lighting is really eye-catching. The conference centre can host events for up to 380 participants across eight halls and the foyer to the congress centre is spacious and ideal for exhibitions. DESSERT - Extras The best thing about this hotel is the front office staff – they are so helpful and professional.


FLOP – negative surprises Bad Wi-Fi connection in the rooms.

TOP – positive surprises The sheer dominance of the building and the hotel’s city centre location. Overall impression and credibility The hotel impresses with its functionality and elegance, and with its own story and sophisticated details it is definitely a venue that combines the classic and timeless with contemporary functionality for a variety of purposes. Its congress centre is among the best in the city and even though it is very gradually starting to show signs of the need for some small updates, particularly the hotel rooms, the overall package is managing to keep up with contemporary requirements. The hotel is ideal for those who opt for a legendary hotel story, as here they can have on that testifies to the hotel building itself and the rich history of Bratislava.

Hidden Congress Guest




Photo credit HOTEL GOLTE

OPENED SINCE 2010 MEETINGS STAR Mountain resort hotel STANDARD Hotel with Conference Facilities NUMBER OF ROOMS 52 sob, 2 apartments INTERNET PRICE 79 - 90 EUR (October 2015, Trivago) ADDRESS HOTEL GOLTE Radegunda 19 c, 3330 Mozirje T: +386 3 839 11 00 E: FACILITIES 2 restaurants (self service with a terrace and a la carte), Wellness centre, Fitness, A shop with sporting goods, Mountain library EXTRAS Ledenica bar- ice bar with entertainment until the early hours. RESULTS OF ANALYSIS Location Accessibility First impression Lobby Employee attitude Reception Hotel room Hotel bed Bathroom and restroom Hotel breakfast Bars and restaurants Congress hall Additional offer Total:

4.24 3.82 3.98 4.16 4.47 4.14 4.06 4.12 3.98 4.02 4.17 4.39 4.08 4.13

FINAL GRADE Premium Resort Hotel


Luxury Premium Business Economy Budget

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

LOCATION Hotel Golte is located right next to the upper station of the cable car to Golte. Within eight minutes the cable car will take you straight to the hotel reception at 1,430 meters above sea level. The hotel and a comprehensive incentive offer right in the heart of the Savinja Alps Regional Park are still an undiscovered pearl of Slovenia. In addition to the winter season, at for many one of the most beautiful ski resorts with guaranteed snow, the summer season is also incredible. The diverse terrain offers 12 kilometres of ski trails. The rich variety of Golte rounds off the excellent incentive opportunities in the Savinja Valley. The culinary tradition is outstanding, one further reason to make it the perfect base for incentive programmes. ACCESSIBILITY From the hotel to Ljubljana Airport it is about 80km and should you decide to drive to Golte by the highway A1 (Ljubljana - Maribor), use the Šentrupert exit in the direction of Mozirje, from which it is just 16km to the lower station of the cable car. The bottom station of the cable car is located 4km from Mozirje in the village of Žekovec. The car park there is huge, offering 500 parking spaces. It’s important to know that during the winter season the cable car operates every hour, but in the case of an event the frequency can be increased. One can also drive directly to the hotel located next to the upper station of the cable car, 16km from Mozirje. COLD APPETIZER - Architecture and Aesthetics The integrated design of the hotel revolves around the cable car, which leads guests directly to the reception. The modernistic exterior pretty much diminishes the bright interiors with their dominant wood and warm colors. The architectural vision of the hotel caters to active holidays and everything that satisfies guests who are on such a stay. It seems that the architects wanted to create a world that is in contact with the surrounding nature; every room has a view of the forest. Functionally the hotel is well designed, albeit that one must only get used to the different layout of the floors. WARM APPETIZER - Personnel and cuisine You feel like you are staying in a typical Alpine hotel that provides privacy and a genuine direct contact with nature. The staff is extremely friendly and helpful, although it seems that additional help would be needed in peak season. The breakfast is sufficiently varied and satisfactory, with congress cuisine a solid 114

classic, having an emphasis on good taste. What stands out is their apple strudel, which is really excellent. We would love to see a more extensive wine list though. MAIN DISH - The hotel’s congress services The spacious rooms are equipped with modern furniture and furnishings in pleasant pastel shades and are decorated with black and white photos of the mountains. The hotel offers everything you’d expect from a four-star hotel, but the more demanding guests will miss some of the more luxurious toiletries and maybe some additional gadgets. The congress hall is modern, well equipped and can accommodate about 100 people. It can be used for banquets, set up in theatre style or U-shape, and can easily be divided into two smaller units. DESSERT - Extras The legendary Mozirska cottage invites guests to relax and socialise while enjoying a traditional Slovenian alpine experience. Playing mountain billiards is on offer, or even learning how to bake homemade bread.


FLOP – negative surprises Slow internet and bad mobile phone signal (which can nowadays also be an advantage).


TOP – positive surprises The wealth of cultural and natural heritage around; the Alpine garden, Mozirje Grove, Snow Cave, Logar Valley, Rinka Waterfall, Robanov Kot and Potočka Zijalka cave. Overall impression and credibility The hotel is perfect for an active congress experience. It is modern yet homely, but its character leaves no doubt that it is best suited to active participants or those who wish to withdraw from civilization for a while.

The HIDDEN CONGRESS GUEST section is not paid for. The selection of hotels, which are evaluated by the hidden congress guest, is left to the editorial board. The hidden guest visits the hotels without prior notice.


Final Score

Hidden Congress Guest




Photo credit HOTEL PLESNIK

CATEGORY ★★★★ OPENED SINCE 1994 (the predecessor of the hotel was opened in 1933) MEETINGS STAR Mountain resort hotel STANDARD Hotel with Conference Facilities NUMBER OF ROOMS Hotel Plesnik 32 rooms Vila Pajenk 11 rooms INTERNET PRICE 90 EUR (March 2016, Trivago)

Final Score

LOCATION Hotel Plesnik lies at the heart of one of the most beautiful glacial valleys in Europe and the valley’s attractiveness is reflected in the numerous natural attractions and farms that have over centuries have defined the cultural landscape. The valley was declared a nature park in 1987 and in recent years the locals have been striving towards the sustainable development of the natural park and the wider congress tourism. With their hotel the Plesnik family carry on a family tradition that started before the Second World War. It is a good example of a family run hotel with a personal touch and a varied offer, which is one of the formula for success in modern tourism.

EXTRAS Throughtout the year you can choose between rafting, sport programmes, rural Olympics and various culinary incentive programmes.

ACCESSIBILITY Access by car to the most northern municipality of Solčava - and thereby the Logar Valley - is by regional road through the Municipalities of Mozirje, Nazarje, Rečica ob Savinji Ljubno, Luče and then Solčava village, with a tollhouse awaiting you at the entrance to the Logar Valley to issue park tickets. Traffic accessibility has improved since Austria and Slovenia opened the Pavličevo sedlo international border crossing. Solčava is 53km away from the nearest urban centre of Velenje, while the distance from Solčava to Celje, Ljubljana and Klagenfurt is about 70km. The road to the motorway in Arja village (exit Velenje) takes about 50 minutes.

RESULTS OF ANALYSIS Location 4.99 Accessibility 3.94 First impression 4.97 Lobby 4.82 Employee attitude 4.92 Reception 4.95 Hotel room 4.51 Hotel bed 4.42 Bathroom and restroom 4.36 Hotel breakfast 4.68 Bars and restaurants 4.89 Congress hall 4.81 Additional offer 4.74 Total: 4.69

COLD APPETIZER - Architecture and Aesthetics Since before the Second World War the Plesnik family owned a hotel that was located not far from the current property. Unfortunately the hotel was damaged during the war and burnt down. On the basis of creating a smaller, post-war bed and breakfast, the Plesnik family built a new hotel (1992 – 1994), which welcomed its first guests in 1995. Hotel Plesnik combines modern comfort and a country house atmosphere. It excellently fits into a clean, natural environment of the valley. The rooms are rustic and tastefully decorated.


WARM APPETIZER - Personnel and cuisine The hotel restaurant, rustic room and pub offer gourmet treasures and they adapt the culinary offer to the different needs of their guests. Four chefs easily handle modern catering for seminars. Breakfast is varied and offers a lot of local and home-made delicacies.

ADDRESS HOTEL PLESNIK, T: +386 (03) 839 2300 E:, FACILITIES Wellness centre Plesnik, Congress centre: Congress hall for up to 60 people, Two congress halls for up to 40 people (80 people), Two halls for seminars and workshops for 10 to 15 people (30 people), Restaurant, Hunters’ soba

FINAL GRADE Luxury Boutique Hotel Luxury Premium Business Economy Budget

★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★


MAIN DISH - The hotel’s congress services They have several smaller halls, the largest of which can accommodate up to 80 participants. The hotel offers several smaller rooms suitable for workshops. All halls are equipped with modern audio-visual equipment. The hotel also functions as a true resort, combining a swimming pool, sauna, hydromassage, solarium, various manual massages, a cocktail bar, a currency exchange office, souvenir shop and a terrace with wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. This year the Wellness Centre is undergoing a thorough renovation. DESSERT - Extras Plesnik’s elm and Logar’s linden tree in the Logar Valley have become a symbol of the valley and are probably its most photographed trees. Logar’s linden stands at the start of the Logar Valley and was used in one of the evergreen TV Ads for Slovenia, my country.


FLOP – negative surprises Very slow internet connection.

TOP – positive surprises A family tradition that delights at every turn. In addition to a variety of culinary delights it is mandatory to try the Savinja stomach, which has impressed even the King of England. Overall impression and credibility The hotel industry here has already almost a century old family tradition through the Plesnik family. It’s hard to find a place in Slovenia that is so closely linked with the families who live there. The individual attention to guests is embedded in the Plesnik family’s genetic code. Due to the tailor-made offer, high-quality service and most importantly because of the feeling that everything is possible, congress life in the valley is wishing to return. State Protocol finally entrusts them with the most demanding events.

Hidden Congress Guest




OPENED SINCE 2013 MEETINGS STAR Boutique hotel STANDARD Hotel with conference capacities NUMBER OF ROOMS 15 luxury rooms INTERNET PRICE 95 EUR (BB - march 2016, Trivago) ADDRESS BOUTIQUE HOTEL HEMERA PODGORICA Njegoševa 17, 81000 Podgorica Montenegro T: +382 (0) 67 175 000 FACILITIES - VIP restaurant - BAR restaurant EXTRAS An excellent breakfast served in boutique style RESULTS OF ANALYSIS Location 4.95 Accessibility 3.88 First impression 4.62 Lobby 3.92 Employee attitude 4.72 Reception 4.65 Hotel room 4.91 Hotel bed 4.92 Bathroom and restroom 4.95 Hotel breakfast 4.47 Bars and restaurants 4.75 Congress hall 4.75 Additional offer 4.40 Total: 4.61 FINAL GRADE Luxury Boutique Meeting Hotel Luxury Premium Business Economy Budget

4.61 ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

LOCATION Podgorica is one of the cities in the region that in the last few years has been successfully developing in terms of tourism. The line up of new hotels has recently been extended with the opening of Hotel Hemera, which is located in the city centre, that at first glance resembles a hybrid between a bar, restaurant and a boutique hotel. The central part of Podgorica, where the hotel is located, is tidy and offers a lively promenade with numerous bars. ACCESSIBILITY The transit city of Podgorica is where all the main traffic connections of Montenegro cross. Considering its size the city is easily walkable and with a positive surprise that it has one of the cheapest taxi fares in Europe. A drive through the city centre won’t cost you more than 1euro. Airline accessibility is also getting better and better and is allowing congress tourism to flourish.

which looks very refined. Details like the designer shower complete the picture. The restaurant has quickly become an attractive venue for events and corporate presentations. By our assessment it has a capacity for 60 guests and the two levels of the restaurant could be an interesting scene to spice up your event. DESSERT – Additional offer The hotel offers a wellness centre with a Hammam and Turkish sauna, as well as a fitness centre.

COLD APPETISER – Architecture and aesthetics Looking at the architectural quirks, we could easily place the hotel amongst design hotels - the raw structure of the walls matches perfectly with the antique statues, which recall to the story of Hemera. The designer furniture and lighting is particularly impressive, creating a special play of light. The organic shape of the building blends gently in with its surroundings and doesn’t impose too much, rather leaves just its essence. The minimalistic exterior and the simplistic shapes also dictate the interior, which gives the guest a sense of intimacy and exclusiveness. WARM APPETISER – Personnel and culinary offer    What makes the Hemera special is it’s restaurant, where you will be served up a truly rich breakfast by the friendly staff. The hotel is meant for pleasure and the menu is an original combination of seasonal, fresh and local ingredients, which are used in their own specialities. The hotel also prides itself on its wine list, filled with names of the best local wineries. The staff is immensely compliant and professional, and the rooms are well kept and tidy. MAIN COURSE – Congress and hotel offer The rooms are a combination of luxury furnishings and industrial design, topped off with designer furniture pieces and eccentric paintings. It’s worth mentioning the bathroom, where you will find no ceramic furnishings, but instead concrete sinks and flooring, 116


FLOP – negative surprises Smoking is allowed in the restaurant, which bothers the guests.


TOP – positive surprises A library with more than 800 titles in English, French and other languages. Overall impression and credibility With its concept Hotel Hemera is a unique story, which brings great added value to Podgorica. It attracts a different type of guest and opens up the potential for further growth of the region. Hemera fixed itself on our mind, mostly because of its unusual combination of design and classical accommodation. It is attractive, modern and, most of all, different.

The HIDDEN CONGRESS GUEST section is not paid for. The selection of hotels, which are evaluated by the hidden congress guest, is left to the editorial board. The hidden guest visits the hotels without prior notice.


Final Score

Hidden Congress Guest




CATEGORY ★★★★ OPENED SINCE June 2012 MEETINGS STAR City meeting hotel STANDARD Hotel with Conference Facilities NUMBER OF ROOMS 236 rooms INTERNET PRICE 95 EUR (March 2016, Trivago) ADDRESS HOTEL RADISSON BLU PLAZA LJUBLJANA, Bratislavska cesta 8 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia T: +386 (0)1 243 00 00 E: FACILITIES The Plaza Cafe, Plaza Restaurant, Free access to Atlantis waterpark, BTC City Ljubljana is a business, shopping, sport, entertainment and cultural centre, which together with the Atlantis Water Park ranks among the largest centres in Europe EXTRAS Radisson Blu Value for money RESULTS OF ANALYSIS Location 4.10 Accessibility 4.61 First impression 4.29 Lobby 4.59 Employee attitude 4.76 Reception 4.62 Hotel room 4.32 Hotel bed 4.61 Bathroom and restroom 4.43 Hotel breakfast 4.49 Bars and restaurants 4.39 Congress hall 4.64 Additional offer 4.39 Total: 4.48 FINAL GRADE Premium City Meeting Hotel Luxury Premium Business Economy Budget

4.48 ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★ ★★ ★

LOCATION Given its prominent outlook, even in the stages of construction the hotel had already become famous to the residents of eastern Ljubljana. Its façade that comes to life at night is also a recognisable icon of BTC City, as well as of Ljubljana, as it is the first hotel built in the business and shopping centre. The new, generic city is today a commercial and business hub of the city, which is turning into a lively multi-purpose city organism. With some urbanistic touches it could slowly merge with the wider cityscape of Ljubljana. Despite the fact that the location doesn’t seem optimal at first sight, it has proven to be effective, offering great accessibility, easy parking and a variety of content in BTC City. ACCESSIBILITY Contrary to other boutique hotels, the Radisson Hotel is set in a location that is quickly accessible, offers a business and shopping centre within a whisker of its doors and facilities for sports and amusement - basically everything a business guest would expect from a small city. Parking is also not a problem, with spaces in the hotel garage, as well as many public ones in the vicinity of the hotel. COLD APPETIZER - Architecture and Aesthetics Wrapped in black glass, the 17-storey monumental cube is woven with light strips, which give it special dynamic. When the day stretches into night it creates an impression and animates as an attraction. Though the architecture of the hotel is founded on functionality and rationality, it surprises with an interesting staircase and original light pieces, which make the space softer, more enchanting and playful. WARM APPETIZER - Personnel and cuisine Speaking of the advantages of the previous Hotel Plaza now entering the Radisson chain, one of them is definitely the breakfast, which now follows Radisson’s ‘Brain Food’ concept. In practice this means a lot more diversity and carefully chosen ingredients, which allows for a better start to the day or your conference. The staff is faithfully following Radisson’s renowned ‘Yes I Can’ philosophy, which means flexibility, a personal approach and professionalism at every step. Guests who are environmentally more aware will be pleased that the hotel has taken quite a few sustainability measures: electrical energy and the heating is partially produced by the hotel, with modern vent systems allowing a 97 % heat collection from the atmosphere, and 90 % of the lighting is LED alongside many more eco-friendly initiatives. 117

Final Score

MAIN DISH - The hotel’s congress services The rooms are all in soothing, sober colours with panoramic views over Ljubljana from the top floors. The rooms seem quite relaxing and offer quality bedding and a nice bathroom, which is exactly what the business guest needs after a day of meetings. On the 15th floor sits the modern and adaptable congress centre, with a capacity for up to 250 participants. There are two main halls (each can take up to 200 participants), which can be divided into 7 separate spaces in theatre arrangement. The congress capacities are topped off by the trendy Sky Lounge on the hotel’s roof terrace overlooking the city. DESSERT - Extras One of the assets of the congress centre is that it is located on the 15th floor, giving your guests an amazing view that can look out as far as Triglav if the weather is nice.


FLOP – negative surprises Ventilating the rooms can be quite a nuisance, as the glassed facade of the hotel doesn’t allow you to open the windows. When the sun hits your room it is quite hard to figure out the right temperature on the air conditioner.


TOP – positive surprises The service standard and surprises that come along when staying at a Radisson Blu hotel. Overall impression and credibility The hotel has brought a breath of fresh air to the Ljubljana offer and suits the business guest right down to the ground. Though the hotel doesn’t offer a wellness centre, gym or any other extras, the vicinity of the options in BTC makes up for it. As a congress guest the hotel won’t disappoint you, as it is an excellent compromise between an accessible location and a high quality hotel service, which is based on comfort and modern equipment. More than the exterior makes an impression, the interior surprises in ways that we have to emphasize, such as the staff’s hospitality and pleasant little treats along the way. As a whole, the Radisson Blu Plaza Ljubljana is an excellent venue for the organisation of events and can be placed amongst the top competitors in the city. Helping it is also the reasonable ratio between price and the quality of services.

Kongres magazine



PODGORICA vs. SKOPJE A current comparison of the closest competitors on the 2014 ICCA scale following the Kongres travelogue methodology – meetologues.

 tuality of Life Index (higher is better) is an estimation of overall quality of life by using empirical formula which takes into account purchasing power index (higher is Q better), pollution index (lower is better), house price to income ratio (lower is better), cost of living index (lower is better), safety index (higher is better), health care index (higher is better), traffic commute time index (lower is better) and climate index (higher is better). e.g. Vienna index for 2016 is 195.97

PODGORICA SKOPJE *Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2015 139.71

Population: 187.085

Sunshine hours: 2,480 per year

ICCA Country and City rankings 2014 N/A

Hotel Openings for 2016: Hilton Podgorica, opening May 2016

Population: 506.926

Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2015* 113.22

ICCA Country and City rankings 2014 N/A

Sunshine hours: 2,339 per year

Hotel Openings for 2016: Skopje Marriott Hotel, opening April 2016

✚ Montenegro is probably rare countries to have two capitals, the formal one in Podgorica and its capital of the ‘heart’ in Cetinje. If you want to find the true heart of the country, you will have to have to go on a trip there. For now Podgorica can rarely be found on the meetings industry map. Considering the outstanding potential it will over time come to have all that is necessary to be a true meeting destination. Among its advantages there is its strategic position, which enables easy access to the most attractive parts of Montenegro for incentives. Among the weaknesses, however, we have to point out the current state of the meeting infrastructure and its transport isolation. Being an air travel destination it is highly dependant on the number of flight connections, including low cost ones. A convention bureau for the town would greatly help in positioning the destination, which as a capital city it deserves. The town is developing quickly and is looking for the right image, torn between the classic tourism flow and the idea of development into a meeting destination.

✚ Skopje is the heart of the Balkans in both a positive and negative sense: the warmth of the people, their kindness, yummy food and fine wines, but on the other hand ethnic differences and a number of transition challenges. It is a city of great cultural and ethnic differences. Gentrification of the city, improving flight connections, a mix of modern and traditional and energy and a more varied offer are making it more attractive to meeting organisers. As the capital of Macedonia, Skopje is at the crossroads of international paths and has all the qualities for developing its meetings industry. It still has a long road of investment in infrastructure to go. Its near neighbour is the Greek city of Thessaloniki, which is far more developed and hosts up to 15 international congresses annually, in comparison to Skopje, which according to ICCA hosts just 1. In Skopje a convention can be organised with some effort, yet for a serious breakthrough it needs to look to its neighbours for a model of successful development – the Thessaloniki Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Podgorica meetings flashpoints: 1. Hotel Podgoricae – along with 44 elegant rooms, it offers a big Conference Room, a Meeting Room and a Club for hosting Meetings and Special Events. 2. Hilton Podgoricae – Hotel accommodation in the Capital City will be enriched by the Hilton hotel as the first hotel brand of that type in the country. 3. Hard Rock Cafee – the first Hard Rock Cafe in the Adriatic Region as a special venue 4. Plantaže Winerye – a wine region such as the Cemovsko field is the largest vineyard in Europe – try the wine adventure in Šipčanik wine cellar. 5. In the heart of wild beauty - wild beauty is available in every direction and makes for a great adventure in a variety of landscapes.

Skopje meetings flashpoints: 1. Skopje Marriott hotele – opening April 2016 with a nice convention centre. 2. Hotel Aleksander Palace e – Centrally situated, it is one of the best hotels in the area. It offers superior accommodation and event hosting facilities. 3. Holiday Inn Skopjee – situated in the heart of the city it is a modern, multi-storey hotel with a Millennium hall. 4. Skopje Faire – enormous complex capable of holding everything from trade shows and conferences to sport and rock music events. 5. Food scenee – the culinary and nightlife are among the best in the region. The food is simply divine.

STAY: Boutique Hotel Hemera 5*****

STAY: Hotel Arka, 4****

3.56 / 5


3.55 / 5



Been There

EMEC 2016 ATTENDED BY MORE THAN 400 MEETING PROFESSIONALS Text by Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief Photo credits: Copenhagen Convention Bureau


he European Meetings & Event Conference 2016 was held from 7 to 9 February 2016 at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel in Copenhagen. The annual event that was designed in alignment with the unique Danish Meetovation concept boasted a 27 percent increase in attendance compared to the 2015 event held in Kraków and a strong social media campaign that generated 8.4 million impressions ”We integrated the principles of Meetovation into every element of the conference, because we want to practice what we preach,” said Pierre Fernandez, senior director of European operations at MPI. EMEC, as a signature event through which MPI rests on three closely linked and overlapping pillars of relevant education, networking and business exchange, offered more than 30 educational sessions. The four topical areas aligned with the CMP International Standards were Supplier Focus, Meeting Planning & Project Management, Leadership & Strategic Planning and Meeting & Event Design. Over four days 39 speakers took the stage. Other programme highlights included the MPI Hosted Buyer Programme that provided business exchange between 24 industry planners and 21 supplier communities, and the MPI Foundation’s Rendezvous held on 8 February at the Toldboden in Copenhagen. The Rendezvous was attended by 250 attendees, which was a 33 percent increase compared to last year’s event in Kraków. EMEC 2016 will also be remembered for a strong social media campaign. Over seven days, EMEC recorded 8.4 million impressions that included the #EMEC16 hashtag. Nearly 3,000 tweets sent by more than 400 people reached an estimated 884,000 people. Tweets were written in English, Danish, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Haitian, Indonesian and Portuguese, reflecting the global nature of the MPI audience. Meetovation facilitators Bo Krüger and Ann Hansen leveraged social media to capture audience suggestions for the best title for the #EMEC16 book they were co-writing with the audience during the conference. That request generated 109,937 impressions on Twitter, reaching 27,380 people — 13 of whom suggested titles and 50 of whom voted on their favourites via a Twitter-promoted Google poll. The winning title, “MPI: Make People Interact,” was announced during the closing session. The EMEC 2016 audience was also encouraged to tell their own story. In addition to thinking of themselves as the hero, they were asked to

nominate a person at the conference who’d supported them. That Twitter-based task reached 26,180 people, generated 53,427 impressions and elicited nominations for five women. For the first time ever, MPI livestreamed general session content via @MPIinEurope’s Periscope channel; the opening general session attracted 400 live viewers and generated more than 1,000 hearts (viewer likes) from remote viewers worldwide.


The location of EMEC 2017 has already been announced: it is scheduled for March 5 – 7 at the Granada Congress and Exhibition Centre in Granada, Spain. Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of MPI, said: “MPI is excited to hold EMEC in Granada next year. The city’s rich history, beautiful landscape and accessibility make it a great choice for our event.” More about the event at

Been There


Poto: Karmen Razlag


MARIBOR - 5 INCENTIVE IDEAS Text by Polona Ponikvar


iscover and experience the Styrian capital in an entirely new way where you can choose among different themes, from cultural to historical or pristine nature attractions, all depending on your preference or how you might want to impress your guests. Maribor is an intriguing tourist destination, along with the whole Central Styrian region with the Pohorje massif dominating the landscape and offering an incredible diversity of adventures and opportunities to explore the natural wonders of the region. From the taste of the regional wines and gastronomy through to offering many sports and recreation facilities, cultural events, nature activities, rural tourism and particularly eco-tourism, and well-being pilgrimages, Maribor elevates itself as a somewhat shy but well-fortified and proud destination.

1. Discover Europe’s oldest classic wine cellar - The Vinag wine cellar Beneath Maribor’s Trg svobode central square lies one of the largest and oldest classic wine cellars in Europe – the Vinag wine cellar, Maribor’s true oenophile’s treasure trove of underground tunnels stretching for 2.5 km and covering 20,000m², is the size of 3 football pitches. Maribor is well known for its mature wine growing tradition and for the production of its noble and extremely aromatic white wines, such as Laski Rizling. It is therefore no wonder that the city can boast itself of this 200-yearold wine cellar that archives more than 250,000 122

bottles of the best vintages and can store over 5 million litres of wine. The walls of the underground corridors are covered with noble rot that produces a specific microclimatic condition enabling the appropriate wine maturation. The cellar holds approximately 144 wooden barrels, the biggest one having a volume of 16,920 litres and dating back to 1862. There are also 50 different concrete tanks of different capacities, coated with special ceramic tiles (the largest ones hold about 280,000 to 370,000 litres) that you can literally walk into and are justifiedly called the “submarines”. The wine cellar is open for visitors and represents a unique venue, where various protocol activities and other social events are organised. The cellar warmly welcomes every guest with a tasting of three different types of wine. The Vinag brand offers a wide range of different wines, from quality and premium wines all the way to special quality wines, such as the late harvest, selection, berry selection, dry berry selection and ice wine. Some varieties of the white wines that you can buy at the cellar’s shop include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Laski Riesling (Welschriesling), Cuvée, Mariborčan and Traminer.

Advertorial town of Maribor and even continue all the way to the Pomurje region, Carinthia and then on to Austria. The Drava trail officially continues east of Maribor for another 130km to the DravaMura confluence on the Hungarian-Croatian border. Why not enjoy one of the most beautiful rivers in Southern Europe from the saddle and discover some new, warm and utterly charming locations.

2. Looking for an adventure, a challenge or maybe you like riddles, mysteries and mind games? Then Escape Room ENIGMARIUM® in Maribor is the place for you! Exit games are becoming more and more popular. These multi-player real life games, where a team gets physically locked into a room and forced to try to escape, are a true worldwide sensation. If you have a group of curious, playful and insightful people, then you should indulge in a first-hand and unrepeatable experience of an escape room in a fairy-tale atmosphere, in a carefully planned dramatic environment. In Maribor the team has outperformed all other escape room settings with creating a room and the story, as well as the riddles and puzzles, fully intertwined with local history combined with high-tech gadgets that will take you back centuries! Normally teams of 2-6 people get locked up in a room of puzzles, where the goal is to unlock doors by solving the mysteries. The players must investigate their surroundings to find some clues and puzzles and take part in the game together. This is why the escape room is an ideal teambuilding activity where participants must learn to collaborate and help each other in finding important clues and hints. Cooperation and the feeling of a joint victory will contribute to new and refreshed relationships. In a competitive business world it is increasingly important to connect and not just compete. Participants enter the room as individuals, but leave the room as a team! The training programme Team Building Escape room ENIGMARIUM® participants will develop / analyze: - leadership skills, - communication skills - adaptability to new situations - coping with time pressure - team planning and development strategies 3. Experience the beauty of traditional rafting on the river Drava If you want to connect with the rich, bygone tradition of old-style rafting on the Drava river, which dates back to the 13th century, then you will have to visit Maribor and its Drava Regional park. Rafting on the Drava River was once used for transporting army troops and their equipment and when the Drava river didn’t have its own channel this part of the river route also served as a transport link through Ptuj to the

territories of Croatia and continued on to the Danube and all the way to the Black Sea. Due to the increasing demand of squared timber from the surrounding forests of Pohorje and Kozjak in the 19th and early 20th centuries, rafting on the river Drava experienced a boom until the end of World War II, when the railways replaced river transport. The river tour usually starts in Koblarjev bay and ends in the old town of Maribor Lent. The rafts are built in Robinson Crusoe-style, but many of them are equipped with seats and benches, so you don’t need to stand. During the tour guests are also treated with culinary specialities from the region, which makes the journey even more pleasant. You will discover Maribor in a whole new way, where the city’s major attractions like the Old Vine House, two defensive towers along the river and Maribor’s old town Lent will reveal themselves itself in all their beauty.

4. Drava bicycle trail - the ultimate biking experience Along with hiking trips in the Pohorje mountain range wilderness, rafting on the calm waters of the river Drava or undergoing an adrenalin rush in Maribor’s Enigmarium, the city of Maribor has yet another secret to reveal: the Drava bicycle trail. This 366km-long cycling path, which is a part of the international cycling route connecting the three EU countries of Italy, Slovenia and Austria, has been ranked in the top 10 bike routes in Europe. The route starts at the source of the Drava River in the Dolomites (Italy) and predominantly runs alongside the river, offering exquisite natural beauty and diverse cultural attractions just a stone’s throw away, where you can refresh yourself with traditional local cuisine. The Slovenian stretch of the route is suitable for skilled and better-prepared cyclists, so it is recommended to use trekking or mountain bikes. In the Maribor surroundings you will be able to admire the hilly vineyards, the Pohorje forest trails, the 123

5. Maribosrko Pohorje - where nature meets tradition If you want to wow your clients with a unique natural wonderland, there is no better place than the Mariborsko Pohorje - the mountain range that rises directly above the city of Maribor and reaches an altitude of 1,543.5m. Pohorje is the green oasis of the Styrian region, offering wonderful natural attractions such as primeval forests, numerous waterfalls, lakes (Lovrenška Mountain lakes) and much more, but most of all it offers an incomparable tranquillity where you can relax, enjoy the fresh air and pamper yourself in the heart of the majestic forest. If you’re looking for a more dynamic and innovative programme, however, you can also choose from among many sporting activities, such as hiking or discovering numerous secret spots from the saddle of a mountain bike, as Pohorje offers a variety of difficulty-rated terrains suitable for beginners, intermediates or advanced riders. You can also indulge yourself with skiing in the winter time, as Mariborsko Pohorje is acknowledged as one of the most attractive skiing centres in Slovenia. But if you are mostly interested in the cultural heritage of the region Pohorje offers an insight into traditional artisanal activities typical of this area. One of them is the glass industry (»glažutarstvo« in Slovenian), which started thanks to the abundant resources of the mineral quartz in Pohorje. The industry began developing in the 17th and 18th centuries and reached its apex in the 19th century, so today you can find remains of the manufacturers in the villages of Ruše and Jospidol, as well as in the Lobnica vallley, where the oldest glass industry (“glažuta”) worked from 1692-1793. Today you can visit the the open air museum in Jospidol where the processing of glass, stone and wood is demonstrated along with the burning of charcoal, stone splitting, laying of granite cubes, skidding and much more. Another thing worth seeing is the museum house where the culture of living in the old days is demonstrated along with glass and ceramic kitchenware.




n the occasion of this particular Fam Trip our curiosity led us to Maribor, the second largest Slovenian city. On the one hand Maribor is a university city and has its own opera and ballet House - The Slovene National Theatre Maribor - which has been implementing the city’s cultural offer since the 19th century. On the other hand Maribor is characterised by a strong sporting spirit, which is ingeniously passed by Maribor’s citizens onto Maribor’s visitors, mainly through its skiing and soccer scenes. There are a variety of such synergies that interlace with each other through various events, from scientific meetings to business, cultural, social and sporting events. It is something that is also due to the close cooperation between the main tourist actors in the region, the important tourist service provider Terme Maribor and the Maribor Tourist Board. Their successful collaboration is already delivering results, as the number of visits of leisure and business guests is steadily growing. This year’s challenge wasn’t an easy one: in one working day we wanted to make an integrated overview of at least three of the eight hotels in total owned by Terme Maribor, and in addition visit at least two special venues in the city. We started the city tour in the city centre, at the Best Western Plus Hotel Piramida’s Art Cafe, where the story of business tourism in Maribor actually began. The amphitheatrical hall of the club still remains the perfect location for organising lectures, as the hall can host up to 160 participants.

SPECIAL VENUES Among the city’s many special event venues, we decided to take a closer look at the Old Vine House and the Kazina hall in the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor. Old Vine House is an absolute must on the city tour, as it offers a guided tasting of selected Styrian wines and is also suitable for hosting other events. The Old Vine House is famous for preserving the oldest vine in the world, at more than 400 years old, that is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. The preservation and care of the old vine reflects the general attention and care of the city for the destination’s heritage and tradition. Slovenian National Theatre Maribor is an exemplary event venue, since in addition to offering a regular cultural programme it can open its doors for various other events. During our visit Tone Partljič, the Slovenian writer and comedian, revealed some interesting stories associated with the Theatre of Maribor. THE LARGEST CONGRESS CENTRE Hotel and Congress Centre Habakuk remains a central venue and a destination for congresses and meetings. Modern and technically well-equipped rooms complement the superb culinary story following its motto of “Careful selection of ingredients is half way to success.” Hotel Habakuk, situated beneath the Pohorje slopes, where one of the oldest Alpine Skiing World Cups for Women is organised, is just a 124

few kilometres from the city centre and is the perfect starting point for various incentive programmes. We believe that Terme Maribor, in conjunction with the newly created OutboxTrip tourist agency, will now benefit more from the destination’s comparative advantages offered by the natural environment. At the end of our tour we took the cable car to visit the highest lying venue in the destination - the Bellevue Hotel, which is the ideal location for organising smaller events, especially for those who wish to organise business events in a more serene and natural environment. Our host, Mojca Juhart, MICE Sales Manager at Terme Maribor, comprehensively presented multiple location options for organising events that visibly impressed the event organisers from different Slovenian companies and associations. Text & Photo credits: Natalija Bah Čad

Terme Maribor Briefing

The audition for roles in a new Naberšnik film held at the Hotel Habakuk, Maribor

The sporting spirit of Maribor


he company Terme Maribor is known for hosting and organizing sporting events, among most recognisable is definitely the Golden fox FIS Cup for women. But this year the company decided to focus its efforts in attracting even more sports events. For starters the company will host the III. World Boxing Federation Convention (WBF) this September 2016. WBF was established in 1988 in the USA and in the past 28 years sanctioned over 330 championship contests in 40 countries worldwide and thus became one of the most well-established sanctioning bodies in professional boxing today. The event will be held at the Terme Maribor’s hotel Habakuk, situated at the foothills of Pohorje mountain range, that offers remarkable nature scenery and a variety of sport activities. Apart from meetings, seminars and other debates, the convention will be spiced up by the WBF Championship Boxing Night at Dvorana Tabor Hall Maribor.


n the 19th and 20th March hundreds of people mainly from the Styria region came to the audition for the new Naberšnik film to show their acting talents and convince the film crew with the impeccable Styrian accent, since the film will have a strong Styrian note. Namely, the famous Slovenian screenwriter and film director Marko Naberšnik is working on his new feature film entitled “Slovenija, Avstralija in jutri ves svet” (Slovenia, Austria and tomorrow the whole world) and chose the Hotel Habakuk, the leading conference centre in the region, to host this two-day event which was imbued with excitement, a little bit of stage fright but mainly with lots of creativity and good spirit.

The 11th Salsa congress organized in Maribor - a celebration of dance, music and passion


aribor based dance school Rolly with more than than 25-years of tradition with Branko Padjan, the head of the school, organized one of the most renowned Salsa events in Slovenia, the annual international Salsa congress. The congress was held at the Maribor’s Hotel Habakuk, between 17th and 20th March. For three days straight the Hotel was immersed in Latin rhythms, where all together 45 salsa lessons and workshops were organized for beginner and advanced dancers on three different dance floors (hall American, Cuban hall, sensual hall).



HEROES OF EX-YUGOSLAVIA 2 Night incentive / the 48 hours that made history Overview: Experience socialism as a bit of European exoticism! If you have never experienced socialism first hand, this incentive programme offers you the chance to see and experience Slovenia in a completely different way. The journey will reveal some of the most typical features of the socialist period, during which you will be able to admire its architectural styles and see the way of life once lived behind the Iron Curtain. You will experience the 25th May, the Day of Youth, and will be introduced to the highlights of Yugoslav design as well as culinary, lifestyle and motoring fads. 1. Moments of Zen: Visit to Vila Bled, Tito’s former residence 2. Quality time: Walking tour through Ljubljana’s modern architecture 3. Must see: Brdo pri Kranju, Tito’s former residence 4. Must do: Admission to Pioneers into Juniors in Velenje 5. Our pick: Miracle of Socialism, Tito’s Velenje - life in the period of companionship and “rebellion”

ITINERARY DAY 1: Socialist realism 10:00 Arrival at Ljubljana airport 11:00 Bicycle tour of modern Ljubljana An exploration of the urban streets, places and buildings that reveal Ljubljana’s modern architectural character. It is Edvard Ravnikar to whom Ljubljana owes her modern look, as he was the first to apply Le Corbusier’s architectural and urban-planning principles to the city. You will learn about the basic elements of modern architectural aesthetics. 13:00 Rally of the non-aligned We will then take our journey into old-timers to set off on a historical drive to the Technical

Museum of Slovenia, where we will admire the collection of Tito’s protocol vehicles. You will also get a chance to personally see the Yugo, a car that was derided by the entire Hollywood scene, but that was actually a real “people’s” car. 16:00 Tito’s residence - Brdo Our rally tour continues on to Tito’s most favourite residence, Brdo. The property, where he hosted politicians from all over the world, was also Tito’s last residence - in January 1980 he went straight from there to Ljubljana’s Medical Centre, where he died on 4th May. 20:00 Dinner at Vila Bled At Vila Bled you will experience a wine and culinary evening as it was experienced by all the political guests Tito hosted in his favourite residence. After dinner we will watch the legendary movie “Battle at Neretva” in a room where Tito watched movies with his guests. DAY 2: Non-aligned movement 08.00 Breakfast at Vila Bled A typical breakfast as Tito would have preferred it is an excellent introduction to exploring the hidden corners of the estate that lies on the shore of the most beautiful lake in the world. 09:00 Made in Socialism The most famous Slovenian trademarks blossomed during the socialist period. We will take you to the birthplace of one of the most renowned trademarks in the world, the Elan skies, after which we will continue our journey in an old-timer bus to visit Tito’s Velenje, a monumental city that best represents the former Yugoslav economy and vision. 11:00 Velenje - Experience socialism The city built by the graft of hard working men will reveal itself to you in a very unique way and you will be a unique part of creating a complete impression of it: if you belong to the younger generation you will acquire important knowledge in better understanding socialism’s heritage, whilst for others it will revive memories of the days growing up either in a socialist society or in a world with socialism as a big part of it. 14:00 Underground adventure After this we will for a short time put on a mining helmet and delve beneath the surface of the earth to set off on the interesting path of the once active galleries of the Škale cave, which are today part of the museum. As part of a teambuilding programme you will learn about the traditional mining values of comradeship, solidarity and unselfish aid. 17:00 Socialistic foodism Tito was considered a great esthete and indeed some kind of a “socialist foody”. He admired the beauty of the Logarska Valley and therefore loved staying at Pension Plesnik there. He espe126

cially appreciated the famous local sausage that kings, presidents and former political elite have also loved for its exquisite taste. On arrival to the Logarska valley we will treat you to the legendary sausage, “the Savinjski želodec”, and prepare you for the evening teambuilding exercises. 18:30 ‘Slovenia, my country’ We will then continue the evening with the photo safari, where you will look for the traces of marketing history. You will shoot a continuation of the famous advertisement, “Slovenia my country”, which was recorded right in the picturesque Logarska valley. 20:30 Nostalgic Cockta bar in Hotel Plesnik We will end our tour with a cold buffet, introducing you to some typical culinary and some food and drink brands that continue to impress consumers in the region, a typical example of one such socialist brand being Cockta, in which you yourself will have to prepare your own winning cocktail. DAY 3: Departures 09:00 Transfer to the airport, with the possibility to extend the stay in the wellness centre. Getting there: Airport Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Accommodation: Boutique hotels: Vila Bled in Hotel Plesnik Eat and drink: Brdo estate, Vila Bled, Hotel Plesnik, different locations on the road as well world-class culinary strongholds. Gateways: The programme includes visiting some of the most beautiful tourist icons of Slovenia, which in the past delighted both visitors and the top politicians of socialism. We start in the European Green Capital, continue in the Alpine pearl, experience a plot in the currently most beautiful Slovenian town of Velenje and witness a disentanglement in the picturesque Logarska valley.

CONTACT US: Blue Ljubljana Office, Štihova ulica 4, SI1000 Ljubljana, T: +386 (0)1 430 51 03, F: +386 (0)1 430 51 04, E:, W:

Kongres magazine


Top 10

EMERGING INCENTIVE DESTINATIONS 2016 Savinja Valley, SoÄ?a Valley and Tivat in Montenegro are experiencing the fastest development


ratislava, Belgrade and Villach are the fastest growing incentive cities in the region, with among the smaller towns places near the Savinja Valley, SoÄ?a Valley and Tivat in Montenegro are experiencing the fastest development. Many of the Kongres magazine readers have recently asked us about the interesting incentive destinations in the region, those that in the future will be the leaders in the field of incentive travel. We have found that there is no clearly defined criteria of what an emerging destination is. Therefore, we have developed a special assessment matrix and with its help assessed over 40 cities and smaller towns, which in their offer also have incentive programmes.

The criteria were divided into three groups: A. GENERAL 1.1. Climate & Weather 1.2. Accessibility 1.3. Attractiveness for tourism 1.4. Economic stability and local prosperity 1.5. Visa requirements 1.6. Professionalism of local meetings industry 1.7. Safety and security 1.8. Ground transportation & Public transport 1.9. Effective DMO (Destination Marketing Organisation) 1.10. Value for money B. NEW MARKET READY.... 2.1. New Hotels 4**** and 5***** 2.2. New DMCs 2.3. New Teambuilding agencies 2.4. New International airline connections 2.5. New Special venues 2.6. New Adventure activities 2.7. New lifestyle offerings (cooking, wine tasting) 2.8. New CSR programs 128

2.9. New culinary products 2.10. New references - corpo incentives C. CONTENT 3.1. Destination Brand perception 3.2. Interesting history - image and richness 3.3. Interesting culture - image and richness 3.4. Variety of experiences 3.5. Local incentive brands 3.6. Restaurant lifestyle 3.7. Night lifestyle 3.8. Sport lifestyle 3.9. Authenticity 3.10. Tolerance Following evaluation by the event organisers an interesting rating was generated, which was then divided into larger cities and smaller geographic and tourist rounded wholes. Here are the results, together with an expert estimation of which are the already-developed incentive destinations against the individual categories.

Top 10







1. BRATISLAVA, Slovakia Incentive index: 4.2 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.28

1. VIENNA, Austria Incentive index: 4.73 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.93

1. SAVINJA VALLEY Incentive index: 3.92 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.96

1. SCHLADMING-DACHSTEIN Incentive index: 4.26 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.47

2. BELGRADE, Serbia Incentive index: 4.18 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.45

2. ISTANBUL, Turkey Incentive index: 4.43 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.61

2. SOČA VALLEY Incentive index: 3.91 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.95

2. KLAGENFURT, Austria Incentive index: 4.25 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.47

3. VILLACH, Austria Incentive index: 4.03 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.11

3. PRAGUE, Czech Republic Incentive index: 4.42 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.60

3. TIVAT Incentive index: 3.89 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.93

3. BLED, Slovenia Incentive index: 4.09 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.13

4. SPLIT, Croatia Incentive index: 3.80 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.88

4. DUBROVNIK, Croatia Incentive index: 4.26 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.44

4. BANSKO Incentive index: 3.88 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.92

4. OPATIJA, Croatia Incentive index: 3.97 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.01

5. MARIBOR, Slovenia Incentive index: 3.7 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.84

5. BUDAPEST, Hungary Incentive index: 4.23 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.41

5. ROGAŠKA SLATINA Incentive index: 3.79 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.83

5. PORTOROŽ, Slovenia Incentive index: 3.95 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.99

6. PULA, Croatia Incentive index: 3.71 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.79

6. SALZBURG, Austria Incentive index: 4.13 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.39

6. POREČ Incentive index: 3.75 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.79

6. ROVINJ, Croatia Incentive index: 3.94 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.98

7. ZADAR, Croatia Incentive index: 3.6 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.77

7. ZAGREB, Croatia Incentive index: 4.12 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.38

7. HVAR ISLAND, Croatia Incentive index: 3.93 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.97

8. ŠIBENIK, Croatia Incentive index: 3.67 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.74

8. LJUBLJANA, Slovenia Incentive index: 4.10 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.36

7. LOŠINJ AND CRES ISLAND Incentive index: 3.71 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.75

9. SARAJEVO, BiH Incentive index: 3.41 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.48

9. VENICE, Italy Incentive index: 4.06 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.32

10. PODGORICA, Montenegro Incentive index: 3.16 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.22

10. GRAZ, Austria Incentive index: 3.99 MTLG 2015 mark: 4.24

Cities with more than 150.000 inhabitants are large country or regional capitals

Smaller tourist destinations that have developed incentive product

8. UMAG AND NW ISTRIA Incentive index: 3.70 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.74 9. BOHINJ LAKE Incentive index: 3.64 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.68 10. HEVISZ, balathon lake Incentive index: 3.58 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.62


8. KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia Incentive index: 3.90 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.94 9. BUDVA, Montenegro Incentive index: 3.67 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.71 10. BRDA/COLIO, Slovenia Incentive index: 3.61 MTLG 2015 mark: 3.65

Inside Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA UNVEILED AT A FAM TRIP PRIOR TO CONVENTA 2016 As in the past years, designing the programme for the Ljubljana fam trip, which started a day prior to the Conventa Show, was regarded a destination creativity team building among the partners involved. And the effort was rewarded by receiving again the highest satisfaction score in the hosted buyers’ post show evaluations, among the five destinations which organised such study tours.


n just over 24 hours, the challenge was to showcase Ljubljana in a different, experiential way, enabling the clients to catch a feel of its character and lifestyle, combined to contents of professional relevance. In pinpointing the destination’s qualities for meetings & incentives the focus was not on the cliché visit of dozens meetingand guest rooms, but was rather hands-on, instructive and fun. Eighteen hosted buyers from eleven countries embarked on a programme, which in summary featured one congress centre, six hotels, five special event venues and a few restaurants of a different type that are suitable for group events. But the true picture was much more than that. Small tasks and unusual experiences were dotted all along the way to spice up the destination discovery and appreciate the sustainable features of Ljubljana, which proudly holds the title of European Green Capital 2016. The short distances among the key points of interest, the walking character of the city with its compact size, the vast traffic-free areas, sustainability as a common practice, plus the balance between history and the young city vibe did not pass unnoticed. After a hearty winter lunch at Most, a riverside restaurant, where everything – including the bread, is prepared in-house, a short walk to the CD Congress Centre Ljubljana served as a first orientation in the city. Although this venue welcomed one of

the evening functions during Conventa, a structured visit was essential to present the clients the full range of possibilities it can provide for congresses, meetings and other events. The other larger city venue, GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, wasn’t fea-

tured in the programme, as it was the actual venue for the Show. The next stopover, at a short walking distance, was the National Museum, a late 19th century building which features a beautiful atrium occasionally functioning as a special event location. 130

A few more steps eventually led to the door of the Grand Hotel Union, which was otherwise one of the official hotels for Conventa that also hosted the welcome reception in its Grand Union Hall. Therefore – no rooms, no meeting rooms, but... wine culture instead, as a way of getting to know a part of our lifestyle. The Vipava wine cellar organised a tasting led by a sommelier, after which guests, divided into smaller groups, had to identify the presented wine varieties according to their descriptions. That was a different angle on familiarising with a hotel property.

Inside Ljubljana

The evening of day one took the group to the “crown of the city”, the Ljubljana Castle, which sits on a hill above the Old Town. The visit in one of the castle wings disturbed the sleep of one of its oldest residents, also depicted in the emblems of the city – the Ljubljana Dragon. However, after seeing there was no threat, he dozed off to continue his winter rest. The highest spot in the city, easily reached by funicular, is also home to one of the fine dining temples, the Strelec Restaurant, where the culinary excellence of Chef Igor Jagodic presented the local cuisine at its best to wrap up the day with style. Guests were joined by some partners from our local industry, as was the case for lunch on the next day. The next morning Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Ljubljana was the first stop. The short, yet informative tour of this modern property that recently joined the brand also highlighted its functional meeting rooms at the top of the building as well as a selection of “brain food” and fresh smoothies that are a part of their F&B offer. A soft and healthy start of the day, indeed. Austria Trend Hotel Ljubljana definitely took the Clients by surprise.. After some intro words in the Congress Centre the group ventured into a spacious and stateof-the-art fitness centre, which was recently opened and offers a 24/7 schedule. The time was right to do some warm-up exercise and stretching under the guidance of a licensed trainer. The property sees a new business opportunity with this sports-related product, as it is the closest hotel to the Stožice Centre, which comprises a multipurpose arena that hosted among other the EuroBasket 2013, and a stadium. The refreshment served outside was linked to presenting the Tesla S all-wheel drive electric vehicle that impressed both ladies and gentlemen. Four Points by Sheraton Ljubljana Mons outlined its qualities as a hotel venue for conferences and meetings in direct touch with nature and provided the hosted buyers with a very hands-on experience. A number of ingredients were available in the restaurant to compose tapas, whose creativity and aesthetic looks were

later assessed by the General Manager and the hotel’s Chef. The winning one stood out from the others by its unusual design. The central Best Western Premier Hotel Slon has started a partial makeover to acquire a number of superior deluxe rooms, as well as larger ground-floor public areas and a recently opened restaurant. The clients, most of whom have spent many nights in hotels, rarely think of what is going on behind the curtains, taking flawless service as granted. There’s a lot more to preparing for a new guest than making the bed and stocking clean towels and a challenge was in store for them. Briefed by the Sales manager, F&B manager and Housekeeping supervisor, the groups were assigned a number of amenities which they had to use in finishing the rooms’ preparation. And the fantasy in some cases unleashed, but did not necessarily win the highest score! Greetings from Ljubljana on »old-fashioned« postcards were mailed at the central Post Office, which conceals an atrium similar to the one in the National Museum, as they are from around the same period. A walk through the Old Town led the party to the City Museum, another delightful special event venue, where the oldest wooden wheel in the world was presented and guests were shown a temporary exhibition, titled Water. Some data on the water sources and their distribution around the world was food for thought, and Ljubljana is privileged to have tap water that is untreated. The grand finale was at As Aperitivo, a trendy urban lounge restaurant in the heart of the city – with this the Ljubljana discovery with a tinge of dolce vita gave way to the Conventa Experience! Text by: Tatjana Radovič Photos: Ljubljana Tourism/ Convention Bureau, Best Western Premier Hotel Slon / Peter Irman


Inside Ljubljana

GREEN NEWS FROM LJUBLJANA Ljubljana becomes greenest city in Europe

Poto: Nejc Pernek

On 10 March 2016, Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has formally turned into Europe’s Green Capital 2016, the EU title it was awarded for its sustainable development over the past ten years. The City of Ljubljana celebrated with events throughout the day.


n the morning brunch with prominent speakers Đorđe Balašević, Tomo Križnar, Janez Škrabec, Emil Tedeschi and Dr Aleksander Zadel was held in the Estates Hall of the Ljubljana Castle titled “Responsibility today – solidarity with future generations.” Among other issues, they pointed out that everyone has to contribute to a better life and protection of the environment Than followed the mayors’ round table “Cities of the future. How

to be a solution not a problem.”, which included, in addition to the Mayor Zoran Janković, mayors of Belgrade, Budapest, Istanbul and Sofia as well as the European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport Violeta Bulc. Participants agreed that political decisions in the environmental field are insignificant unless they resonate in people’s lives, and the Mayor Zoran Janković additionally stressed that changes require very good planning and, above all, courage. Dr Miro Cerar emphasised, among other issues, that in times when pollution in many cities is on the rise, Ljubljana is even cleaner and greener, and that is why we can proudly call it the green capital of Europe. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs

and Fisheries Karmenu Vella stated that all Europeans can be proud of their cities, but only a few can boast they live in a green capital. He added that coming generations expect and are entitled to a healthy environment, and we owe them that. European Commissioner Violeta Bulc highlighted that for years Ljubljana has been assuming the leading role in numerous innovative projects, also in the field of mobility, and that ensuring sustainable development is important for a green city to be a smart city, as well, open to innovation. The Mayor Zoran Janković pointed out that for him this day is a day of gratitude and a day of pride. He further accentuated the need for solidarity, towards fellow people and future gene­ rations, so we can leave behind 132

nature preserved in the same state as it is now. He added that we will be able to tell our grandchildren – yes, you will inherit a city of which you will also be proud and can develop. “I am proud Ljubljana is green, clean, safe and friendly. Or simply put – for me the most beautiful city in the world,” said the mayor in the conclusion of his speech to the audience at the opening ceremony. The celebration in Ljubljana was staged a month after the handover ceremony, which took place in Brussels on 9 February 2016. At that occasion, Ljubljana received the baton from Bristol in the presence of both mayors and city delegations, as well as European Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Violeta Bulc. The formal part of the event was later enhanced by a concert organised by the Ljubljana Festival at the Bozar Cultural Centre, which featured the iconic band Laibach performing with the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. Text by: City of Ljubljana Photos: Doris Kordić

Inside Ljubljana

Ljubljana introduces a zero-emission sightseeing train


zero-emission tourist train, named Urban, is set to tour the streets of this year’s European Green Capital as of mid-April. Urban, which will be free of charge in the first days after its launch, will connect Ljubljana’s main tourist attractions throughout the year. According to the Ljubljana City Municipality, the state-of-the-art tourist train “is the brainchild of the LPP transport company and Slovenian e-mobility experts”. Urban is composed of three passenger cars and one locomotive. Equipped with 12 solar panels providing the train with energy, it will reach a maximum speed of 25 kilometres per hour. The train’s route is planned to start at the City Hall, taking its passengers on a drive past the Ljubljana Castle, the Špica embankment (or “town beach”), the Trnovo borough, the French Revolution Square, Congress

Square, and Prešeren Square to end at its starting point. As Mayor Zoran Janković said, the final route will be set after some test rides to make sure Urban does not cause traffic jams during rush hours. The train will embark on its route every full hour throughout the year, with 47 seats for passengers, one seat for the tour guide, and one wheelchair space. Passengers will be able to pay for the ride with cash, credit card, the Urbana city card or their phone. Urban is set to start its regular route at the end of April. Text by: City of Ljubljana Photo: Doris Kordić

The first Slovenian hotel to receive Travelife Gold certification Hotel Park Ljubljana is the first Slovenian hotel to have met the sustainability criteria and became Travelife certified hotel. Travelife for Hotels and Accommodations is the only certification scheme that works in partnership with tour operators, both in the UK and internationally, who use the system to increase sustainability in the industry and communicate achievements to customers.

hotel goes further to protect the environment. This spring they plan to set their own beehive and herb garden on the rooftop. Hotel Park also supports local community and tries to involve guests in their sustainability ac-


ast year, eight Ljubljana properties entered the process of obtaining the Travelife certificate. To be granted a Travelife Gold certification, Hotel Park Ljubljana had to meet 150 sustainability-oriented criteria. The hotel has thus reduced its energy use, amount of waste they produce and implemented various methods to save water. They also use an electric car and have their own charging station. As well as these day-today environmental measures, the 133

tivities. The hotel measures its performance regularly to monitor the impact of its sustainability efforts, report on results and plans improvements also in the future.

IMEX in April? Whatever next - Christmas in November? As regulars to IMEX in Frankfurt know, the show always takes place in May. But not in 2016. That’s right – for one year only, the meetings industry’s annual three-day exhibition in Frankfurt will take place in April instead. So pencil in 19–21 April 2016 for your next fix of business productivity, networking and creative inspiration at the most engaging event in the meetings industry’s year.

The worldwide exhibition for incentive travel, meetings and events.


SUBOTICA vs. OSIJEK A current comparison of the closest competitors on the 2014 ICCA scale following the Kongres travelogue methodology – meetologues.

 tuality of Life Index (higher is better) is an estimation of overall quality of life by using empirical formula which takes into account purchasing power index (higher is Q better), pollution index (lower is better), house price to income ratio (lower is better), cost of living index (lower is better), safety index (higher is better), health care index (higher is better), traffic commute time index (lower is better) and climate index (higher is better). e.g. Vienna index for 2016 is 195.97

SUBOTICA OSIJEK *Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2015 136.46

Population: 97,910

Sunshine hours: 2,099 per year

ICCA Country and City rankings 2014 N/A Hotel Openings for 2016: Zvonko Bogdan Winery Hotel

Population: 108,048

Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2015* 195.91

ICCA Country and City rankings 2014 N/A

Sunshine hours: 1,898 per year

Hotel Openings for 2016: N/A

✚ Subotica has a soul. It is a city where it seems that time has stopped. The proud town centre merges almost imperceptibly into the surrounding melancholy plains. Economically and culturally Subotica is one of the most developed cities in Serbia. Congress guests will be impressed by the multicultural spirit and European charm, which is reflected in a large number of special venues in a small area. Well-developed albeit not connected is the offer of various incentive programmes. Subotica has a functioning Congress bureau, the hotel facilities are good and the culinary tradition is an extra plus. All of this represents an exciting congress package calling out for more penetrating international or at least regional marketing to exploit the full potential of the city. We see this especially in the development of incentive programmes and smaller professional meetings and conferences taking advantage of the scientific and cultural potential of the city. To top it all off, Subotica offers a lot of music for little money.

✚ To most people, the extreme north-eastern corner of Croatia is the most marginal, border, multi-faith, multicultural and the most poorly known region. Its character is carved by the Drava and Danube rivers along with its symbolic, functional and aesthetic value. Its self image is one of isolation and the feeling of living on a desert island of convention tourism that only a small number of meeting planners and organisers are interested in. Because of its geographic position, it is economically and politically far from the capital and as a consequence also undeveloped as a convention destination. The focus of the problem is a stereotypical feeling of neglect. Overlooking this, Osijek is one of the freshest and most sustainable Croatian meetings destinations with no real competition in the region. The town has an excellent strategic position with numerous opportunities for the development of convention tourism, but it could also quickly become a convention blind alley.

Subotica meetings flashpoints: 1. Congress Hotel Galleria – a newly-built hotel existing since 2007 and located in the very center of Subotica. 2. City Hall – For many, one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. There are four meeting rooms with the largest, “vječnica”, proudly representing the artisanal skills of Art Nouveau masters. 3. Palić Lake – a popular resort that especially in the summer time attracts with it team building programmes 4. Zvonko Bogdan Winery – The impressive building itself speaks of the passion the owners have in perfecting their offer of wines and the winery experience 5. The Best Western Hotel Gloria – The oldest house in Subotica is part of the hotel complex and is a special venue

Osijek meetings flashpoints: 1. Hotel Osijek – it has a multifunctional divisible hall that can accommodate up to 200 participants. 2. The baroque Fortress (Tvrđa) – which was a military, administrative and business centre in the 18th century, as a special venue. 3. Tramway Disco Party – Ride the tram and enjoy local beer on the oldest tram system in South Eastern Europe, dating back to 1884. 4. Zmajevec – romantic wine cellars have been carved into the sandstone, great for incentive groups and wine tasting. 5. Kopački rit national park – incentive trail following the well-groomed trails of the floodplain area between the Drava and the Danube.

STAY: Congress Hotel Galleria, 4****

STAY: Hotel Osijek, 4****

3.82 / 5


3.30 / 5



Destination in Numbers




12 19



Venue for 1,500 people: 11 Venue for 800 people: 14



Venue for 500 people: 30

› 


Venue for 2,500 people: 6

›   


Venue for 300 people: 55

193,000 m2



24.5 %

Conference/ Congress

0.9 %

Trade fairs/ exhibition


74.6 %

34,725 BEDS

Corporate/ Incentive event


Information and communication

14.7 % Medicine







14.8 % 15.1 %


4 DAYS 201





14.9 %

Economy and politics

31.9 %


Trade and services




Source: 2015 Warsaw Meetings Industry Report


Conventa Addendum



Explore the emerging destinations of Europe over a cup of coffee

THE BOUTIQUE MEETINGS MARKET IS BACK AND THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL Once you’ve seen what CONVENTA can do for you in two days you’ll never want aything else.



18 - 19 JANUARY 2017, Ljubljana—Slovenia

Conventa Addendum


Conventa Addendum















1. Conventa hosting IMEX-MPIMCI Future Leaders Forum 2. SITE Summit Education Day 3. It takes courage and daring to achieve great things - at the Conventa welcome reception 4. Humour and music - two faithful companions of the Conventa Show 5. The delicious and unbeatable taste of Conventa 6. Best ICE CREAM in the world - Lolita Ice Cream 7. No stress, only joy in between meetings and lectures 8. Personal contact is everything 9. The ultimate Twitter experience with the Soolnua team from Ireland 10. Music can improve your management skills - with Miha Pogačnik 11. The Kompas After Party 12. Meeting Star Awards Ceremony

Conventa Addendum

8TH CONVENTA RESULTS “Conventa is one of the best trade shows we have ever attended”


The 8th edition of Conventa will be recorded in meetings industry history as one of the best and most productive trade shows to open the 2016 business year. The satisfaction survey conducted among exhibitors and hosted buyers showed that this trade show is evolving and gaining recognition among the European meetings industry professionals. The Conventa organisers are thus proud to present the survey results that confirm their high level of professionalism, excellence of the event and satisfaction of all that have participated.



he 8th Conventa hosted 174 international and more than 100 Slovenian and regional meeting planners who came to Slovenia from a record number of countries. The Conventa organisers were happy to find out that 89.6 % of hosted buyers attending the show said their participation absolutely met their expectations. On a scale from 1 to 5 their overall satisfaction with Conventa was rated at 4.59, while the reputation of Conventa scored 4.52 points. One of the hosted buyers wrote: “A great show where you meet the movers and shakers of Central and Eastern Europe and the right people who are shaping the right experiences that allow us to design a great travel journey for our esteemed customers.”

Did your participation meet your expectations? Yes, partly 10.4 % Yes, absolutely 89.6 %

The majority of hosted buyers agreed their itinerary absolutely met their expectations The majority of meeting planners attended Conventa because they were personally invited by the show organisers. Almost 90 % of hosted buyers stated One2One meetings between exhibitors and buyers as the main reason why they attended. They believe the success of their attendance depended mostly on networking opportunities (rated at 4.51), as well as on the quality of visitors (quality of companies exhibiting received a 4.5 score) and educational opportunities offered during the show (4.22). Average total number of meetings conducted was 29 Although hosted buyers agree to a minimum of 15 One2One appointments, the actual average number of meetings was much higher than that. Out of 29 conducted meetings, 20 were pre-scheduled appointments, 5 were realized additionally on the spot at stands and 4 during social events. The satisfaction with content of meetings

was rated at 4.44, while the web application for pre-scheduling One2One meetings was given 4.12 points. Did your itinerary meet your business objectives?

Most likely 28.3 % Yes, absolutely 71.7 %

They were very satisfied with several aspects of the show, from the trade show itself to networking lunches and the evening receptions. On a scale from 1 to 5 they rated friendliness and effectiveness of the show organiser at 4.67, quality of service and efficiency throughout their trip at 4.63 and Conventa sustainable measures with 4.49. Among the Conventa publications the best score was given to the Conventa catalogue (4.15). The personal experience is still what matters most Conventa highlighted the personal experience, making sure hosted buyers enjoyed themselves from the start right until the very end, while creating their own Conventa experience. The fam trips, where hosted buyers were given a chance to personally explore some of the best congress desti-

Conventa Addendum

nations in the region, were extremely well rated. The highest score was given to the Ljubljana pre-tour (4.73) that was closely followed by fam trips to Bled (4.62), Zagreb (4.61), Portorož & Piran (4.6), Maribor and Pohorje (4.45) and Kranjska Gora (3.9). Future business initiated at Conventa will be placed in the destination Hosted buyers attending the 8th Conventa are most likely to place future business in the destination (4.46), hotels (4.26), venues (4.21) and activities (4.08). There is always room for improvement The show organisers are well aware of the improvements that can still be made to better the hosted buyer experience. The biggest challenge remains the lack of flight connections to the host destination. The problem is being solved by directing passengers to nearby airports and ensuring a firstclass ground transfer, so that their travel is as comfortable as possible. Another important part of the business experience is a user-friendly system for pre-scheduling meetings. In 2016 Conventa introduced a mobile app for One2One meetings that will be improved and upgraded for the 2017 edition. After working hard to organise Conventa, positive feedback is the most rewarding thing “I would advise all professionals of the Event Sector to take part in Conventa next year: it is very well organised and absolutely useful.” Conventa hosted buyer 2016 “I had never been to Slovenia before I attended Conventa. All I can say is WOW WOW WOW !!!! What a magical, beautiful place with so many possibilities for my MICE groups to enjoy such an incredible place. The Tour Guide and the wonderful staff from the Convention Bureau were very much part of what made the experience special. The history, the architecture, the amazing foods and delicious wines which were so plentiful were incredible.” Annette Fitzgerald, Marketing Director at Top Events Limited, Ireland and hosted buyer at Conventa 2016



ore than 140 meeting providers from 14 destinations presented their meetings offer at the 8th Conventa. Their attendance was repaid through important business leads – more than two thirds of exhibitors generated 1-5 business leads, while 17.8 % of exhibitors gained 6-10 business leads. Eighty percent of exhibitors will also very likely exhibit at the next Conventa and almost all (97.8 %) would recommend the show to their colleagues. The survey results are also reflected in the following statement: “The Conventa trade show is improving every year and exceeds our expectations. We are attending every year as an exhibitor and will continue so also in the future.”

Would you recommend the Conventa show to your colleagues?

Main reason for attending Conventa (multiple choice answers) 66.7 % 75.6 %

Most likely 31.1 %


62.2 % Yes, absolutely 66.7 %

Quality hosted buyers determined the success of participation Meeting providers chose to attend the show mainly because of the opportunity to conduct face-to-face meetings with hosted buyers. The second reason was that Conventa gathers together in one place meeting planners from all over Europe, with the third reason that it offers plenty of opportunities to network with meetings industry professionals. In their opinion the success of their participation has been influenced primarily by the quality of hosted buyers. What also contributed to the success was the number of visitors at their stands and the total number of pre-scheduled appointments, which was on average 22.86 appointments per exhibitor. In total they have conducted 29 meetings and have rated their satisfaction with the number of meetings - on a scale from 1 to 5 - with 4. They thought the One2One application for pre-scheduling meetings was user-friendly, giving it 4.05 points. More than 30 % of exhibitors said the quality of services exceeded the price of participation A whopping 88.9 % of exhibitors think investment in exhibiting at Conventa will pay off completely or at least partly, so overall it’s fair to say that exhibitors were happy with the show and its accompanying events. Exhibitor satisfaction was confirmed by several positive feedback statements, including:

24.4 %

One2One meetings between hosted buyers and exhibitors Hosted buyers from all over Europe Networking opportunities Education “CONVENTA is one of the best trade shows I have ever attended – it started from the organisation through to the pre-appointment-system and up to the great lunch and dinners that are provided! Many thanks to the organisational team and their efforts!” “Conventa has been over four years a regular Feature in our diary.” “You think your dreams can’t come true? Come and try it.” “Organisers of the Conventa Trade Show and Congress Bureau did absolutely the best event till now! It was great to have the possibility to participate at the SITE Education day, as well as have an opportunity to present our services to so many different countries...” “I can only say that I will attend Conventa 2017 without any doubt.”

Conventa Addendum

CONVENTA WITH THE BIGGEST SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ YET Tweeting till your fingers fall off


From 20 to 21 January, New Europe couldn’t stop buzzing about Conventa, the region’s most important trade show for meetings, events and incentives. For a couple of days the business event that officially opened the 2016 meetings season did not only take over the host city of Ljubljana, but it ruled the social media channels as well.


he Conventa team, together with the help of the Irish-based social media expert agency SoolNua, created a social media campaign that got everyone involved. Twitter followers shared their amazing @Conventa2016 experience on the Twitter wall by using #conventaexperience. SoolNua prepared a simple guide for all users on how to tweet and offered their expert advice on site. During the event Conventa gained 100 new followers on Twitter, tweeted 198 times over 3 days and earned 43.4K impressions over a 28-day period. Facebook fans were constantly kept in the loop with posts announcing upcoming activities and events. Photo galleries were the most viewed, shared and liked, while many also decided to closely follow the newest Conventa award winners’ announcement, the Conventa Best Event Award that happened during the show. In just 3 days the

Conventa Facebook page gained 66 new likes, whilst the maximum organic post reach was 5,679. The Conventa team also added new members to its LinkedIn network and made sure to redirect traffic to its YouTube channel, where viewers could watch live streaming of the SITE education day. Videos of the best lecturers are now in post-production and will soon be available, along with the new Conventa 2016 highlight videos on YouTube. As Conventa is a 365-day marketing project the social media buzz will continue throughout the year. Be sure to follow Conventa on Twitter (@Conventa2016), Facebook ( and YouTube ( UCRvLW5_c5ywcWOiwLzxNDqg) to get the latest scoop on the New European meetings industry and the Conventa trade show.

Conventa Addendum

“TO BE, OR NOT TO BE” IS NOT A QUESTION Why participating at Conventa is a smart marketing decision

WHY MEETING PROVIDERS SHOULD EXHIBIT? SAVING TIME AND MONEY In just two days you have the chance to meet around 170 international and more than 100 regional and Slovene buyers, all in one place. What will impress your financial department most is that at Conventa you pay for a lead only one-tenth of the price you pay at other trade shows.

WHY MEETING PLANNERS SHOULD APPLY FOR HOSTED BUYER STATUS? DISCOVERING NEW DESTINATIONS Conventa opens your meetings horizons. The trade show introduces you to around 15 different New European destinations, 140 meeting providers and offers a personal experience of one destination of your choice at a fam trip.

MEETING CHERRY-PICKED BUYERS Around 90 % of meeting planners are new to the show each year and they all have to meet the organiser’s strict criteria in order to acquire hosted buyer status.

ALL EXPENSES COVERED The hosted buyer programme includes a complimentary economy return air ticket from selected destinations, local transfers, accommodation, meals, evening receptions and a fam trip.

NETWORKING EVERY STEP OF THE WAY Conventa is the only trade show that organises joint social events, making sure exhibitors and hosted buyers can continue networking beyond the trade show hours.

PERSONAL ITINERARY OF APPOINTMENTS You get access to the online hosted buyer zone, where you can schedule one-to-one appointments with the exhibiting companies of your interest.

MARKETING THROUGH CONVENTA CHANNELS Conventa continuously communicates with more than 50,000 meeting professionals. Promoting exhibitors and your stories is what we do successfully 365 days a year.

VIP TREATMENT You will feel like Royals with the 24/7 support of the Conventa team, enjoying great hospitality and positive energy in a relaxed atmosphere all packed into a one-ofa-kind Conventa experience.

GAINING NEW KNOWLEDGE Conventa offers several educational modules discussing relevant topics, following trends and answering burning questions. All free of charge and led by the best meetings industry professionals!

The 9TH Conventa will be held from 18 to 19 January 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.


GAINING NEW KNOWLEDGE It has always been important to offer free of charge professional education to you as part of the Conventa experience and on the other hand also give you a chance to educate others about what you do best during the show at our Experts’ corner.


Conventa Addendum

HOW TO STAND OUT AT CONVENTA Improve the visibility of your brand at an early stage


Conventa offers numerous marketing opportunities to its exhibitors of which many are free of charge. Although Conventa is a 365-day marketing machine, here are a few suggestions on how to improve the visibility of your brand at this early stage. NEWS ON THE CONVENTA WEB SITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS The newly launched Conventa web site has a special section dedicated to exhibitor news. Prepare an interesting story about your meetings offer, send the organisers a report of the event you hosted or organised, and share with them the feedback of your satisfied clients. Your stories will be published on the front page and distributed through Conventa social media channels.

Experience point Have your own microsite built and placed in the MICE finder, a search engine through meeting providers and their content that was created within the scope of web portal. With a reach of more than 59,000 meeting planners, Experience Point is one of the most effective and direct ways of communicating with your target customers. Branding and Sponsoring Make sure your brand is an integral part of the event, even if only in a small way. You can confirm a sponsorship of educational modules, Conventa lunches, coffee break area, after party and more at an early stage. Or maybe you have a product, experience, or resource you would like to contribute. Adding products in the hosted buyer bags is thus also an option. Buyers will see it as a trophy, one theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll take home and use proudly. All sponsors will be promoted all throughout the year via different marketing channels and will be highly visible on the Conventa web site. For more information about enhancing your visibility at Conventa please write to

Conventa Addendum

HOT RIGHT NOW Improve the visibility of your brand at an early stage ENTERING THE 9TH ROUND WITH A RESPONSIVE NEW WEB SITE


onventa continues to highlight the ‘personal touch’ with the launch of a state-of-the-art web site that offers users a new web experience. Redesigned to improve user friendliness and appeal, the responsive new design adapts its layout to different type of devices and can now be viewed on desktop PC, tablet and mobile devices. The Conventa organisers are very excited to have finally launched their new website! The site built using WordPress is a mix of fluid grids and layouts, flexible images and an intelligent use of CSS media queries. The new layout gives higher priority to personal experiences, satisfaction survey results and feedback from hosted buyers, exhibitors and partners. It also smartly integrates social media channels and has a large section dedicated to Conventa and partner news. Visit to check out the new web site and enjoy the Conventa experience!



fter the Conventa trade show organisers entered their flagship event in the Eventex 2016 – Global Event Awards competition, it was listed as a finalist for the award in the Best Tradeshow category and went on to make its way to the TOP 3 trade shows list. The Eventex Awards are the only global annual awards honouring meeting and event professionals from all over the world for their work in producing valuable and engaging event experiences. Every year entrants can choose from among 7 groups linking 28 categories. Only distinct event professionals from around the world are invited to be part of the Eventex Jury and categories are assigned to their specific areas of expertise. This year the jury comprised of 30+ members, with some of the biggest names of the industry assessing and evaluating the entries. Being listed as a finalist presents a great honour and achievement for the small team of Conventa organisers. For eight years now they have been working 365 days a year to put together an event that has in recent years proven itself deserving of the title “the friendliest and most hospitable trade show in the area of New Europe”.


Kongres magazine

Think out of the box. Surprise your clients. Exceed your goals. THINK BLUE.

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CROSSOVER - A MARKETING EVENT TURNED UPSIDE DOWN Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Leading Out of the Box Event on Meeting Design, Marketing and Innovation Grand Hotel Union, Ljubljana August 29 - 30, 2016

Expect more engagement, more authentic experience and more live interaction in: - Crossover Caffe - Marketing Ring - Innovation Bar - Case studes Bar - Chit Chat Corner

WE ARE NOT AFFRAID TO BE DIFFERENT! Organiser: Conventa / Toleranca marketing Crossover is a fusion of our events Inside Meetings, Travel Zoom and Conventa Academy transformed into new format.

C oo A G re at f l c Mor C o eegr ao tiea pl c ngt m s ee it ap tin a it gs l a l Fo r

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12/11/14 14:33


March 2016

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