Page 1

March 2019 //



12 //

IN FOCUS // Engaging introverts in extravert-ruled meetings

39 //

GENDER EQUALITY IN MICE // Carina Bauer, Jeannine Koch and Natalija Bah ÄŒad

// 54 // COLUMN Chaning a three-star meeting

destination into a five-star one

CONT RIBU TORS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF // GORAZD ČAD Editor of the magazine is a geographer and historian by profession. He united his professional education and love of discovering new lesser-known meetings destinations with love and passion for the meetings industry. In meetologues he shares his enthusiasm with the readers. NATALIJA BAH ČAD // MEETINGS AND EVENT MANAGER An unforgettable member in the editorial board of travelogues. She has insight into the soul of destinations based on many years of practical experience with the organisation of events. She is interested in everything from the history, geography and destination marketing to care for the tiny little things that make the big events. ASSISTANT EDITOR // JASMINA JERANT A creative writer since childhood was brought into the meetings industry where she can release her passion for storytelling. She seeks for unusual, hidden, and charming facts that make a town or a building shine in a different way. She believes that places are like people. In each one of them you can find something amusing. MAJA MIRTIČ // CONTENT WRITER A passionate communicator with great interest in international relations, diplomacy and PR, firmly believing that communication can tackle every and any, even most persistent challenge. She trusts in positive, comprehensive, consistent and competent communication. GRAPHIC DESIGNER // BARBARA DIMEC Visual explorer, creative problem solver, graphic designer with interest in creating innovative digital and print design solutions. Curious and always in search for new inspiration and knowledge. She strives towards positive attitude in every challenging situation with goal to translate plain information to compelling visual messages.

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

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




ANALYTICS Marketing analytics

CONTENT Copywriting and Content marketing

SALES Personal sales

EXPERIENCE Sales events

VIDEO Video campaigns

DATABASE Big data targeting


PRINT Image building

ONLINE Digital Campaigns

SOCIAL Social media campaigns

DIRECT E-mail marketing and Telemarketing





The world of events is growing to be nicer and more efficient Gorazd Čad // Editor-in-Chief GORAZD ČAD, EDITOR IN CHIEF //


Behind every successful event is a mountain of hard work, knowledge, and almost every time, a bit of luck. Recently, a large culinary event was held in Ljubljana, which turned out to be a big success. I had to congratulate a colleague, who carried most of the burden of the organisation. Respect, I said. Only those who organise events understand the unforgivingness of the Pareto principle, which I like to sum up as two rules: 1. An event is 80% communication and 20% logistics (event management) 2. 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, which is why a twohour programme often takes a minimum of 8 hours preparation. I’m certain that some colleagues could explain this logic even better, but the fact of the matter is that you just can’t organise a great event without a great meeting architect. Yes, you heard that right. Meeting architects are a thing, and have been for some time now. The market has long been known to separate the experts from the self-proclaimed event gurus fairly well. The latter have been swarming the event world, just like professed experts in football. We only miss meeting architects when something goes wrong. An event falling apart is not just an economic problem, but is also detrimental to your reputation. Just think about a textbook example of an event flop, Fyre Festival. Regular practice dictates that event organisation should start at the end, meaning the logistics, organising the venue, catering, technical support and functional outset. But things aren’t that simple, after all. An event is a strategic marketing tool, the pinnacle of our professional life. An event showcases our visions and lifestyle. It should encourage conversation, exchanging knowledge and personal contact. In the hands of the right meeting architect, all of this can truly come to life. Partnering up with a professional meeting architect is a guarantee for positive results, proven in many cases and backed up by statistics. What separates developed meeting destinations from the less developed ones is understanding the importance of meeting architecture. Destinations should encourage educational programmes focused towards professionalisation in event organisation. An excellent example is the Karlshochschule International University in Germany, which offers special event management programmes. Their students are getting jobs

in the top German event and experience marketing agencies, turning into true meeting architects. If events are created spontaneously, without a plan, only by miracle here and there they result in good outcome; unstructured events in most of the case turn out to be a complete flop. Despite all the talk about getting with the times, the core values that connect meeting planners remain the same. Although there is no prescribed recipe for good meeting architecture, there are some logical frames and structures you can follow. Every event must be formed afresh and from the start, event if it’s the 99th edition. The goals and purpose of the event are changing and the result is often a compromise between what is physically possible and what you envisioned. A meeting architect always faces limitations, whether they are technical, financial or on the basis of content that he or she can fill inside the timeframe. The event scheme all depends on the meeting architect’s creativity and understanding the client. When we designed the “Power to the Meetings” methodology over five years ago, we had a good idea of what we were creating. An environment and tool for a new generation of events, which is now being used or followed in individual stages by more and more meeting planners. They are rewarded with excited and satisfied participants, which is also a big reward for us. We are more than happy when colleagues tell us that they followed our methodology and it worked; we are also always happy to give some additional pointers. When they understand meeting architecture, they start to enjoy the added value it brings and become our loyal followers. This is why we have decided to publish the entire methodology in book form, so let this editorial be an announcement for the upcoming Power to the Meetings book, coming out in autumn 2019. We believe that it will be one more reason for the event world to become a little bit nicer. Meetings Architect - the term was first introduced to the public by Maarten Vanneste, who published a book entitled Meeting Architecture in 2008.



WE OPERATE AS ONE JACK Exclusive interview with Jens Mayer, Managing Director of the Jack Morton Worldwide’s German Offices JASMINA JERANT //


Jens Mayer has built his career helping brands build strong relationships with the people that matter most to them, through live and digital marketing. He leads Jack Morton Worldwide’s (JMW) offices for the German-speaking market. With more than 20 years of experience in the brand experience industry, the JMW German offices are showing significant growth while following Jack Morton’s Worldwide ‘employee engagement’ mantra. We talked to Mayer about the importance of employee engagement, culture inside the JMW, as well as about brands and live events that are his expertise.

"Every employee, regardless of position, has a voice and will be heard."

Q: You have been the Managing Director of the Jack Morton Worldwide’s German Offices since 2013. Your offices grew by 50% last year, making it the fastest growing office out of the entire worldwide network of the Jack Morton. What is your secret? We’re still the youngest office out of the entire network so, whilst we’re very proud of our achievement, it should be seen in the context that it’s easier for us to grow at that rate in comparison to the more mature offices. There is no real secret. We invested in a very talented team. We over-index on our creative team so we’re really focussed on design and new ways of connecting and incorporating innovative technologies and new ideas into brand experiences. Lastly, we’re very focused on creating effective experiences for brands by genuinely adding value to the people that experience them. Q: Jack Morton Worldwide is dedicated to culture of employee engagement. Why is employee engagement important? The value of Jack Morton comes from our employees. They are the most crucial element of our business. We believe that if people enjoy what they do and feel at home and comfortable where they come in everyday, that’s when you get the best from them. Happy and motivated employees is what we aim for and we try our best to keep them happy.


Q: How do you engage your employees? And how do they respond? There’s a series of engagement strategies we use. On a professional level, we have 360 performance reviews annually and we create development plans with each employee to strategize their growth within the company. We also encourage open feedback throughout the hierarchy so every employee, regardless of position, has a voice and will be heard. Social activities, both inside and outside of work are an important part of our culture – we have very active social committees in every office.

"There was nothing we had to specifically focus on or manage to incorporate the varying cultures. It's already in our DNA."

Q: How important is the culture of inclusion: keeping in mind how in recent years an increasing number of companies has been putting emphasis on fair inclusion of women, LGBTQ, for example? What is the Jack Morton’s share in that regard? We work very hard to incorporate a holistic culture of diversity at Jack Morton, integrating inclusion into our every day. We promote growth of


our talent within the agency and ensure that all promotions and new hire opportunities are based on merit and performance. We also work hard to ensure recognition and celebration of diversity is woven into the fabric of our culture in an authentic way. Our DEI Council and ‘I am Jack’ teams run initiatives globally and we’re very lucky to have many members of staff across our offices who work proactively on numerous actions and awareness activities such as #Stickittosexism, Emotional Wellness Month and International Women’s Day.

Q: How do you manage to combine the cultural differences in the office (I assume there are not only native German speakers in your office, but people of several cultural backgrounds) with the Jack Morton Worldwide’s employee engagement goals? In the German offices, we’re very diverse. Most of the employees are not native German speakers. We operate as one Jack, based on respect and communication. We’re a global agency with global clients and global employees. There was nothing we had to specifically focus on or manage to incorporate the varying cultures. It’s already in our DNA. Q: How does employee engagement reflect in your Jack Morton Worldwide’s work with clients? Does it impact people’s relationship with the brand? Our people are our brand ambassadors. The work we do in brand experience can be highly emotional and it impacts our clients and audiences on a personal level. So naturally, the degree to which our employees are happy and engaged with our own brand impacts on how they engage with clients and the quality of the experiences we create. This is just one of the reasons why employee engagement is so critically



important. Q: How much of your philosophy of employee engagement is used in the events that you prepare for the clients? How do clients respond? Our philosophy is people. Our employees are our most vital asset because they define us as an agency. Our mantra is to Do something extraordinary – we cannot achieve this without the commitment and dedication of our incredibly talented people. Our clients work with us because of our people. This gives us our culture, our values and our reputation.

Q: Which Jack Morton Worldwide’s live event has been your favourite one and why? All of the work out of the German offices seem like my children. I can’t really pick a favourite! But if we’re referring to work we create across our Jack offices, I think the work we’ve done with WE ARE Pi for Desperados to create ‘Deep House’ was exceptional. It really was a ground-breaking experience, which captured people’s imagination and truly connected with its audience. To be perfectly honest, it was a really kickass event! Q: JMW’s clients are like Google, Airbnb, Reebook, … In fact, JMW in the past 12 months worked with 1/3 of the Fortune 100. What about your German office? We’re still growing in Germany. We’ve done some work for Google as well as adidas, Skoda, Novartis, HERE, Sabic, MAN and many others. Our clients tend to be more European focussed but it’s also common for us to collaborate with other offices around the world. As I said earlier, it’s

one Jack.

"We want to push brand experiences to the next level so we're able to define industry, rather than follow."

Q: What are the future predictions and plans for the German offices of the JMW? We’re hoping to keep up the growth! It might not be 50% but we’re still targeting a high number this year. Our aim is primarily focused on developing the right team by hiring the right talent and keeping up the sales. We are and will continue to be one of the key players in the German market. We want to push brand experiences to the next level so we’re able to define industry, rather than follow. We’ve taken great steps in this direction with the launch of our global innovation practice, Genuine X, which works to help create the future of brand experiences through harnessing the opportunities presented by innovative technology, content and data. Lastly, we’re going to continue doing what we’ve always done, which is execute great brand experiences!


AN EXTRAVERT, WITH COMPASSION FOR INTROVERTED PEOPLE Interview with Juup Laarman-de Kanter from Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, trainer in lateral thinking and creative thinking, meeting designer, inspirator, facilitator ... JASMINA JERANT //


Juup Laarman-de Kanter started her career in 1998 in a communication and events agency called &Samhoud. After two years she switched to the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences where she became a lecturer. For nearly two decades she has been teaching thousands of students about creativity, concept design and meeting design. She is a trainer in lateral thinking and creative thinking techniques at De Bono Thinking Systems and De Academie voor Innovatief Trainen. Since 2017, she has been combining her work in education with her own company Juups where she offers her skills as an inspirator, facilitator, trainer and co-creator.

Q: You help organisations realise impactful meetings and to achieve their goals through the use of creativity. What kind of companies contact you to help them? My clients are corporate organisations, and (event) agencies but also educational institutions. From the international law firm NautaDutihl and the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences to the Port of Rotterdam. Creativity is important in all branches and for all types of organisations. The World Economic Forum even puts creativity in the top 3 of competencies for the future. Top 10 skills

Source: Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum

IN 2020

IN 2015

1. Complex Problem Solving

1. Complex Problem Solving

2. Critical Thinking

2. Coordinating with Others

3. Creativity

3. People Management

4. People Management

4. Critical Thinking

5. Coordinating with others

5. Negotiation

6. Emotional Intelligence

6. Quality Control

7. Judgment and Decision Making

7. Service Orientation

8. Service Orientation

8. Judgment and Decision Making

9. Negotiation

9. Active Listening

10. Cognitive Flexibility

10. Creativity



You can use creative thinking on any question, but in particular the social issues that require change in behaviour have my special interest. It remains fascinating to get people moving, especially in sectors where people do not find themselves creative.

Q: What kind of creativity do you promote? Creativity is like a muscle you can train. Everybody can improve this skill. During sessions I use a structured approach with proven effective techniques. I stimulate creative thinking by actually doing it, so the participants experience for themselves how the creative process works. It is important to vary every time; working with individuals, duos, small and large groups, walking, standing and sitting, writing, drawing, etc. Q: You are one of the few certified trainers in lateral thinking. Could you tell us more about this? Lateral thinking was developed by Edward De Bono. It is a structured technique to stimulate creative thinking and consists of five steps. First you determine the focus: what do you want to generate ideas for? Then you use one of the four creative techniques: alternatives, random entry, provocation, and challenge. After the third step, in which you harvest (categorise) all ideas, you treat those ideas in step four; you make them stronger and appropriate to the criteria. Finally, you assess the ideas. Harvesting, treatment and assessment in particular are valuable steps in the process and distinguish lateral thinking from creative thinking. The

innovation lies in the elaboration of the weird, absurd and abstract ideas.

Q: What is for you a perfect meeting design? Many event managers organise their event with a focus on theme, speakers and event location. An important insight from meeting design is thinking in terms of content providers; what other elements can reinforce the content? Think of the catering, but also an object, animal, philosopher, child, etc. It is fascinating to convey a message without telling it, but by experiencing it. Perfect meeting design is a combination of three design elements: the objectives, the content and the experience. You combine these elements into a powerful and unique concept that is valuable for the target group. You want to bring a change in this target group so that they leave different from how they came in. Q: How would you compare your training courses with team-building? You can use creative thinking to strengthen a team. But in my case, I am usually approached to guide a creative process, to make people more creative, to give them more confidence in their own creativity and to develop new ideas and innovations. If you do that in a team and collaborate intensively several times, this also effects the strength and cooperation of the team. Because you work together in a safe environment and experience things together outside your comfort zone, you get to know your colleagues in a different way.


Q: What has been the most difficult situation that you had to solve for a client? Law colleagues at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht wanted to offer their first-year students a creative thinking course in order to follow the latest developments in their sector, such as legal design. In five sessions I trained eight colleagues and helped them to design a course for their students at the same time. This assignment was very challenging, because the world of law is very structured. They think in frames and in terms of law books. In addition to creating and training in creative thinking, many stakeholders, such as fellow lecturers, managers, lawyers, judges and students, have had to be convinced of the added value. The course is now running successfully and is being developed further for the higher years in the curriculum. Q: At the recent MPI EMEC Conference you had a talk on how to properly include introverts in meetings. What triggered your interest in this, often overlooked, problem? As a teacher in creative thinking I noticed that not everyone could give their ideas during brainstorms. It is not uncommon that the very beautiful, relevant and new ideas come from still waters: the introverts. I adjusted my approach to give them more attention and that worked very well. I think inclusiveness in meeting design is very important: how do you empower people and get a contribution from everybody.

I think inclusiveness in meeting design is very important: how do you empower people and get a contribution from everybody.

Q: In your experience, how much is open participation at meetings connected to culture and not just to the individual’s character? From research there appears to be brain differences between introverted and extraverted persons. That indicates personal differences. In addition, cultures differ on the dimensions among which introversion – extraversion (Hofstede, 2015). In some cultures, such as in the Netherlands or in America, extraversion is highly rewarded. People must profile themselves and speak out loud. You see that introverted people often exhibit extraverted behaviour, while that is not their preference. I noticed that creating space for individuals to write down their ideas and then exchange them in groups works well, just like being able to contribute questions or answers anonymously. Q: Are you an introvert or extravert? An extravert, with compassion for introverted people.




In one of my classes there was a student named Sanne. She was very quiet. When everybody was talking and bringing in ideas, she listened and observed. Week after week I saw this pattern, until I changed my way of working and brought in a structure to help her. I introduced ‘individual time’ - time to write down your ideas before you share them with the group. That was a turning point. From that moment she could contribute. In the final week there was a test. Sanne had to facilitate her own brainstorm. And she was brilliant. She really understood the creative process, used different techniques the right way, used a relevant focus point. But most important, she made room for both the individual and the group, for writing and talking. In combining these things, she was able to engage everybody and made sure she received valuable contributions from everyone.


Engaging introverts is very important, but it represents a challenge in our business where most of the time we focus on the extraverts. As a meeting designer and participant at events, I often experience that a lot of events are not suitable for introverted people; for the people who, in their natural way, want more reflection time, quietness, smaller groups, and in-depth discussion. But to understand how to change this, we should take a better look at the differences between introverts and extraverts. WHAT IS INTROVERSION? Within personality psychology ‘introversion’ is a scientifically accepted pool of the human personality spectrum. Where there is introversion on the one hand, and extraversion on the other. Although almost every person moves in the space in between, you will feel a natural preference for one of the two. Introversion is an inward-looking life orientation. Introverts often prefer introversion; they get energy from reflection and lose that energy through social interaction. With extraverts this is exactly the other way around. In short: an introvert loses energy in contact with others and an extravert gains energy from it. Introversion is not a clinical diagnosis or disease, but a personality pole as well as an independent attribute.’ (Liesbeth Smit, 2018, p25-26). NEUROLOGICAL DIFFERENCES It is assumed that between 30–50% of the people are introverted. Research shows that there are neurological differences between the brains of introverted and extraverted people. ‘With extraverted people, information takes a fairly short route within the

brain that runs mainly through the senses. Introverted people go through more complicated paths related to planning, remembering and problem solving. The brain of introverted people is stimulated more quickly than the brain of extraverted people.’ (Robert Haringsma, 2019) Because of these differences there are also different preferences. PREFERENCES AND QUALITIES Introvert people prefer to think and rethink their own topic from different angles and perspectives. And only when their story is complete, do they go out and share it. They prefer written communication and listening instead of talking. When they have lack of energy or inspiration, introvert people go inside.



Talk out loud to sort through their ideas

Think things through before speaking

Communicate freely with anyone about themselves

Openly talk about themselves with people they know and trust

Visibly gregarious, sociable

Visibly stay in the background

Prefer communicating on the telephone or in-person

Prefer to communicate in writing including e-mail exchange

Usually prefer getting input from as many people as possible

Prefer one-to-one conversations over meetings


However, connection with other human beings is fine for both parties. And both need to share positive emotions.

One simple question made such a difference: do not ask introverts about their opinion but ask them what they think.

Behavioural characteristics attributed to introverts are ‘thoughtful’ and ‘able to listen well’. They can observe and structure information. These are just some examples of their qualities. These are the qualities we really need in today’s world. And that’s why it is a pity if we miss them in our event design and in our outcomes of events.

TIP 4: Give them time to think As I said before, it is important to give introvert people time to think. They process information differently and often work with quite complex models in their heads. Instead of throwing a ‘Catch Box’ with a microphone to them and ask them to say their name and give their idea, it is more helpful to let them hand in their questions or ideas anonymously. Or at least let them write their ideas on post-it notes before sharing them.

FIVE TIPS ON HOW TO INCLUDE INTROVERTS So, to help you to include introverted people in your audience, I give you five tips based on my own experience. TIP 1: Respect them The most important tip: respect introverted people and do not try to turn them into extraverts. Do not put everyone in the same mould but make use of the gifts of the introverted person. TIP 2: Prepare them Let introverts get used to a new situation by preparing them. Before your event you can manage expectations by sending a clear invitation and a guest list. Be specific about: • the purpose of the meeting; • the location (What is the venue message? Which behaviour is appropriate in this place?); • the setting (active, interactive, listening mode); • the role of the participant (bringing in ideas, being a listener, making decisions, et cetera); • the content and the way a participant has to prepare it. TIP 3: Ask for thoughts instead of opinions If you manage to involve introverts in an interactive session, they can be very helpful because of their skills in organising information and their knowledge to bring in different perspectives and considerations.

One example: It was Monday evening, January 21st, when I was sitting in our conference centre with 12 first-year students and trainer Rick. One of the students was sitting at the back, leaning backwards with her arms crossed. During the day she had been almost invisible and during the evaluation evening she didn’t want to share her opinion. Instead of ignoring her or asking for her opinion, I decided to ask her what she was thinking. That question proved crucial. The girl started to talk for more than ten minutes. She had listened to her teammates, observed them and gave them valuable feedback. She shared her thoughts from different perspectives she thought were helpful in the process. She gave her considerations and the team realised they needed her specific qualities.

TIP 5: Design White space Make time and space for reflection. Think about meditation, a reflection walk, being quiet together in your programme. Or design white space by giving one minute of silence after an exercise. We used this ‘reflection tree’ during our three days Meeting Design Practicum in 2016. We had a special room for reflection. We started the first day with ‘our roots’ of the tree. On whose shoulders are you standing? Who makes you who you are? Who was important in your life? The following days we put ‘leaves’ on the tree, with outcomes of different sessions and at the end ‘the fruit’ of the tree, was our evaluation of the whole practicum. SOURCES • Susan Cain (2012) Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking • Liesbeth Smit (2017) Ik moet nog even kijken of ik kan: de stille revolutie van de introverte mens • Interview Eline Sluys (21-12-2018). She coaches introverts with her company Elinesluyscoaching.nl • https://www.depsycholoog.nl/introvert/ consulted March 10th 2019 CONTACT If you want to react to this article in an introverted way, you can use this email address: juupdekanter@gmail.com. If you prefer to talk with me, you can call me on +31654693556.


WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF EVENTS? If you organise or direct meetings and events for your company, no matter how big or small, then you need to be at Exclusively Corporate at IMEX, 20 May 2019 - a first-class, expert-led education and networking event designed for professionals like you. Meet and exchange ideas with senior speakers from influential brands including Microsoft, Cisco, Barclays, KPMG and the International Olympic Committee who will share their own experiences of innovation, creativity, experiential marketing, intelligent automation and much more. Don’t miss this free-of-charge learning and networking opportunity.

Explore the full programme and register your interest today. imex-frankfurt.com/whats-on/ exclusively-corporate




As the spotlight of the meeting design is increasingly on participants and their desires, we asked a few professionals from the industry for their views on meeting design.

Angeles Moreno

Eric de Groot

Jan-Jaap In der Maur

"The essence of the industry is transforming behaviour"

"Good Meeting Design leads to real results"

"A meeting without clear goals is a waste of time"

Angeles Moreno, an experienced meeting professional with a track record of industry engagement, is an entrepreneur and a Certified Event Designer with a wealth of experience in the international markets. She is the Strategic Development Senior Advisor at MPI Europe and past MPI Chapter President for the Iberian Chapter. Angeles leads the Event Design Collective in Spain and is based in Madrid. She is founder and CEO of the Creative dots, a consultancy company specialized in the meetings and events industry.

Eric de Groot is one of the very first Meeting Designers and his pioneering work started in 1992; now he caters to the national and international market. Thanks to his background in drama-education he takes a broad, human as well as an educational perspective to meetings and meeting processes. Eric regularly conducts workshops and learning sessions for professionals in the meeting industry as well as in other educational contexts. In early 2013 the book he wrote with his co-writer and business partner Mike van der Vijver about Meeting Design was released – “Into the Heart of Meetings”.

Jan-Jaap In der Maur is a meeting-moderator, facilitator and founder of Masters in Moderation, as well as keynote speaker about interaction & moderation. He is a firm believer that a carefully selected moderator-facilitator will make meetings more effective, more fun and definitely more worthwhile. His dream is to raise the standard of meetings worldwide, by providing them with the best moderators.

Strategic Development Senior Advisor at MPI

One of the first Meeting Designers

Masters in Moderation


Kim Myhre

Martijn Timmermans

Ruud Janssen

"We can revolutionise the event experience"

"Our industry has an obligation and opportunity to stay relevant and meaningful"

"The Event Design process must not be mistaken for a recipe"

Managing Director at MCI Experience

Kim Myhre, managing director at MCI Experience who is also an intersectional design thinker, thought leader, innovation activist and brand storyteller. His expertise consists of experience marketing innovation and industry transformation through the application of intersectional design thinking, human-centric design; brand storytelling through visual, experiential live events, and online strategies; Brand purpose & integrated engagement and Technology integration for on-live experiences.

Co­founder and Creative Director at The Red Line Project and Event StoryBoard canvas

Martijn’s career started in customer experience marketing at Disney, Marriott and Singapore Airlines. For many years he served as preferred EU production event partner for Kenwood Experiences, (acquired by George P. Johnson), for clients such as Bridgelux, Intel, Wind River and Seasun Games. He developed a number of tools, such as Event StoryBoard in 2015. A strategic event design tool that synchronizes event design with event owners´ and audiences’ needs, boosting both co creation, innovation, creativity and meaningfulness. As event designer, Martijn co-created concepts for a wide array of events and clients; Amsterdam RAI, ASN Bank, The Red Line Project, Rijkswaterstaat, Invoyage, ICCA World Congress. Martijn won several event awards; Golden Giraffe Award Best Congress and FRESH Conference Award for Best Session Design.

Managing Partner & co-founder of Event Design Collective

Ruud Janssen is driven to help teams in NGOs, membership-based organisations and corporations discover how to design better events to create change that matters. As a globetrotting innovator, he is a trusted trainer and advisor to inspired clients like the International Olympic Committee, UN and Internet Society. He believes in delivering innovation by thinking differently based on functional, social and technological advancements using business and event model innovation. Together with Roel Frissen he created the #EventCanvas and is the co-founder of Event Design Collective -the event design consulting & training firm www. eventcanvas.org.


Q: Why do we need to rethink the way we organise our events? Angeles Moreno: It is necessary for companies to innovate in the design of events and promote the development of skills that allow them to offer transformational experiences: it is necessary to think about generating emotions that go beyond the basic service, to create personalized experiences of the highest quality that contribute to consolidating sustainable competitive advantages and to generating lasting and trusting links with stakeholders. In short, to elevate the event from a logistic project to a strategic project. Eric de Groot: Events have become a crucial element in the education of adults, the creation of solution and cross silo organisational contacts. Besides this we do not have more than online communication and family life. Therefore, the responsibility to enrich these events beyond one directional messaging is huge. Jan-Jaap In der Maur: Because the world is changing and because the way we cooperate is not like ten years ago. We’ve changed from a topdown society to a co-creative one. On top of that, science has shown (over and over again) that sitting, and listening is – by far – the worst way to learn or change. Kim Myhre: The nature of event audiences is changing. The days of thinking of event goers as a passive audience to be presented to are gone. Today’s event audiences are digitally enabled, more demanding, more impatient and have high expectations that events will be more engaging, personalized and participatory. Today, the most successful event experiences are based on significant strategic knowledge of the target audience. This insight is applied to creatively design an experience that is specifically intended to actively engage the audience. Martijn Timmermans: I see 3 big challenges for our industry. 1. Time scarcity. It will be harder to convince people to physically go to your event. We’re competing for time, you’ll need to answer the question “Why should I go”. 2. Technology. AI, Blockchain and 5G, in combination with AR, chatbots and IoT enable experiences we can’t even begin to grasp. People will expect a more personalised event journey and we need to know what’s on the market. 3. Design for Impact: What impact are you going to realise for the people and planet. We can’t neglect the challenges our world is dealing with. As an industry, we have to take our responsibility and tie it into the strategic event design. There are exciting times ahead of us, it’s getting more complex. Our industry has an obligation and opportunity to stay relevant and meaningful. Ruud Janssen: Event owners are faced with the need of change and are frustrated by understanding how to implement that with their events. We use our three-stage process that we teach them or work with them directly on applying it in their organisation. It allows them to get grip on how their own events create value and how to measure success through

behaviour change. Ultimately through applying the Event Design using the Event Canvas™ methodology they become change makers and confident leaders of event design in their own organisation.

Q: What is wrong with the format of meetings as we have them now? Angeles Moreno: In relation to the previous answer, I believe that it is no longer enough to plan events, it is necessary to create unique, memorable experiences that provide a differential value. In order to do this, it is necessary to analyse and design the why and for what of the event before jumping to planning and execution. The main objective of the event must be to change the behaviour of its stakeholders and for this we must know and empathize in depth with those stakeholders. Eric de Groot: We need more action, more result driven programming and more crowd sourcing in our conferences. The world is facing many problems that need a smart meeting culture to get closer to solutions. Meeting Design can help! Jan-Jaap In der Maur: Nothing. And everything. What is wrong, is that we only use one format, over and over again. And it would be just as wrong, not to use that format anymore. What we should do, is choose the best format, every time we organise a meeting. We need to take time and put in the effort to make a conscious choice of format, rather than just doing what we’ve always done. One time a new format may be most affective, some other time a classic format might work best. Kim Myhre: Changing audiences ultimately mean that event formats must evolve. Relying on the traditional approaches and expertise that the events industry has been using for years to design event experiences will not be sufficient to create the next generation of events. Continuing to design events in a traditional, logistics-led way limits our potential to create engaging experiences that connect attendees in much more meaningful, memorable and shareable ways. Martijn Timmermans: I think what is wrong is the way we design events. To design experiences for impact, it’s almost impossible to predict the outcome from the beginning. Our role is changing, we need to update our competencies with strategic thinking, we’re facilitative consultants. In 2012 I was surprised I couldn’t find an event design tool and, thus, created our own. In 2015, we shared the Event Storyboard Canvas with the Industry. The good news is there are many tools to help us with that and there will be more on the market. I teamed up with an innovation guru from outside our industry. We’re prototyping a new design tool and I’m blown away by the test results and can’t wait to share it! Ruud Janssen: Many events apply a fairly simple method. -> Rinse, wash, repeat. If the origins of the event narrative have never been intentionally designed, you cannot expect that to lead to the desired outcome. When the narrative of what behaviour gets changed, for whom and how that is done, fails from the story of the event then it’s usually going to be lame and boring. It takes effort (+some team and time) and a process to articulate the event story and hence we have devised the Event


Canvas™ and a methodology to do just that. Anyone can use it and its downloadable for free including the first 100 pages of the Event Design Handbook at www.eventcanvas.org.

Q: What is a definition of a good event design? Angeles Moreno: Good event design means aligning and identifying the stakeholders involved in the event. Then empathise with their respective needs before and after the event and identify the behaviours associated with their Jobs to be done. By articulating the change, defining the design frame and then prototyping solutions in a rapid sequence. Eric de Groot: Good Meeting Design leads to real results in the real world after the meeting took place. That is the only measurement. Of course, a well-designed meeting can do much more, like giving fun, entertainment and interesting personal contacts, but how the meeting changes the world is key. Jan-Jaap In der Maur: Simple: when the meeting does what it’s supposed to do, the design was good. That means that you always need to be 100% clear on your objectives. Only then you can design properly. A meeting without clear goals is a waste of time and can never be effective. When you do have measurable objectives in place, you can start designing, choosing the best work format for every step of the process. Kim Myhre: Good event design requires applying a set of planning principals that enables us to move beyond the more traditional approach to event planning towards a more structured, attendee-centric, insightsdriven and strategic way of planning events. Design thinking is a unique way of problem solving but with a solutions-focused and human-centric approach. The attendee or audience is very much at the centre of the design thinking process. By developing a deeper understanding of your target audience, you gain insight and empathy to come up with more strategic and creative event solutions. Martijn Timmermans: I call myself Event Designer working on a wide array of events from public, brand to conferences, in a nutshell, and borrowing from design thinking: 1. Set clear Goals 2. Set KPI’s (I always ask the event owner “When would you be satisfied?” 3. KYC, know your customer, empathy mapping helps with that 4. Ideate and prototype a customer journey (storyboarding is extremely effective to display the touchpoints on a timeline) 5. ROI/ROO/ROX (check your customer journey storyboard on the metrics) In essence, you’ve created a blueprint of the customer experience in one overview. From here you craft a story that you can pitch. It’s flexible, you can change it. Shows which jobs need to be done. I believe these steps are essential for good event design. Ruud Janssen: Design (as a verb: to design) is the intentional creation of a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process.

• Consider the word ‘Intention’, it implies that there is some form of predetermination. • And when it comes to Event Design this rings true, during the course of the learning modules we aim to show you how to pre-determine the change you would like to drive with your event. However, even the process itself has been predetermined and it’s important that you, as the facilitator, keep in mind how the process fits together and what the role of the separate elements are. “Everyone designs who devises courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” • The Event Design process must not be mistaken for a recipe. It’s rather a methodology helping you and the team involved in the event design to develop an effective strategy while giving them the confidence to manage and make essential decisions. Great Event Design doesn’t (always) guarantee a great event. However good your event design, it remains an exercise on paper that then needs to be realized by a team who know how to deliver events. Rest assured, the design you have created on the Event Canvas is the best briefing document any event planner could wish for. Knowing the Stakeholders you need to delight, their ENTRY and desired EXIT BEHAVIOURS, what each Stakeholder EXPECTS, their PAINS, JOBS TO BE DONE, and at what COST and REVENUE levels you are going to deliver the PROMISE, as well as having a clear picture on the COMMITMENT of resources of time and expected RETURNS, will prime the execution of the event. It then takes a great team to execute and deliver on the narrative of the event design. This is where clarity in the narrative and great execution is key. Having a common language is king in great execution.

Q: Who is an ‘event designer’? Angeles Moreno: An Event Designer requires very specific professional knowledge and skills. It is necessary to be an expert in designing valuable events, as well as planning and executing them in an excellent way. In addition, he has to develop high doses of empathy, understanding of cultures, negotiation techniques, as well as being an expert in measurement systems, ROI, etc. Eric de Groot: The one responsible for the exact script of the meeting. The script is the final document, in the hands of a facilitator, moderator or chairperson, leading the participants through the meeting program. Jan-Jaap In der Maur: Everyone who designs effective meetings. And that means, design every step of the way: theme, interaction formats, programme, catering, venue ... you name it. Kim Myhre: We’re all designers and with a design thinking mindset we can revolutionise the event experience to engage deeper with our audiences. Martijn Timmermans: You need strategic skills. This is a must! Stay curious, find people with a background working in another industry. Stay open to new ideas. A Livelong learner who tries out different event design methods. Production experience so you know everyone has an important


role to play. Continues reflection, possibly have a mentor. For me, this person is Fritha Knudsen, who introduced me to the event industry. Fritha shares her experience working for Virgin Galactic, Dreamforce plaza, Apple and Google. Lastly and maybe most importantly, leave your ego at home, event designers facilitate a process. Ruud Janssen: The way we design events broken (or maybe has never really existed). Hence, the event owners need to have a way to address what they want from their events with their team. This is the reason why we created the Event Canvas to create a common language and a practice to design events. The Event Design using the EventCanvas™️ methodology can be learned by anyone to design better events. Also, the Event Canvas™️ is published under Creative Commons 4.0 license and translated by the community of practitioners (into 14 language to date).

Q: Give us an example of one of your favourite, well-designed events? Angeles Moreno: WEC (World Education Congress) 2018, MPI’s main event providing first class education, business and networking opportunities for event and meeting professionals, was redesigned through the Event Canvas Methodology and we were also hired by MPI to measure actual experience during the event and design the WEC22 edition with key stakeholder groups. EMEC 2019 has been designed entirely with the EventCanvas Methodology. Every element of the content of the training sessions, networking sessions and entertainment sessions was perfectly orchestrated to get the participants out inspired, motivated and equipped to design change when they returned to their jobs. And this is for me the essence of the Meetings and Events industry, transforming behaviour. Eric de Groot: A couple of things are important to achieve the results as mentioned before. The meeting needs to have action, emotional wealth, process time and diverse contact carriers. This all expressed in a narrative that is felt and understood by the participants. Many meetings we designed had this in the past. An exceptional one was the VNG Congress with 2500 people from the Local Dutch Governmental Organisations under one roof. It had it all! We opened with two Sumo Wrestlers and ended with the Minister of Internal Affairs. In between a lot happened! And every single participant of the 2500 was involved in the meeting’s conversation, and not with an App, but f2f! Jan-Jaap In der Maur: A 2-day innovation lab, to help a traditional organisation work more like a start-up. Or the time we turned a meeting of the Western German and Dutch Football Associations into a friendly ‘test match of ideas’. Or recently, a meeting for the city of Amsterdam: we used story-telling/-writing, playback theatre and the 200-questionslinedance to make their operation more cooperative. Kim Myhre: One of my favourite meetings is One Young World - it stands as a beacon of hope, motivating young leaders to discuss important global issues. It’s powerful to hear personal stories from those who have stood strong in the face of adversity, inspiring others by their courage and passion for change. OYW is designed for a community of bright-

minded, forward-thinking young leaders – I like that it’s designed from the inside out. Every meeting touchpoint is designed with delegates in mind and equally the delegates come to the meeting with a plan in mind - a solutions-focused mindset to enact change on our planet. Martijn Timmermans: A project close to my heart named “Most surprising award winning case ever” by Sjoerd Weikamp, director of the Gouden Giraffe Award competition. A game changer in the truest sense of the word. We challenged the board of directors on their briefing in the pitch phase. By doing this, we changed the goal and purpose of the event and as such realized much more ROI/impact. From 60% saving on the initial budget, 1500% brand name increase to the creation of a new innovation ecosystem. All these things wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t question their objective and applied design thinking throughout the whole event design process. The project is called ZAAM The BattleZ and I highly recommend watching the video on YouTube or contact me as it demonstrates what I mentioned before. Ruud Janssen: There are many well designed events. But there are many more mediocre or even poor events. The most recent events I participated in that get me and our team at the Event Design Collective excited include: • MPI’s European Meetings & Events Conference 2019 in The Hague #EMEC19 • The College of Extraordinary Experience We took the effort to deconstruct their design using the EventCanvas to understand how they created value.

Q: What always makes you smile? Angeles Moreno: When I see talent in action. The professionals in reinvention and constant evolution are what make me smile. Eric de Groot: When participants embrace the fact that they co-create the meeting, and start contributing, and new ideas and insights fly through the meeting room ... Jan-Jaap In der Maur: When a plan comes together. And when participants talk, listen, work hard and co-create, without them actually noticing. Kim Myhre: An inspiring shared experience. Martijn Timmermans: Personally my children and seeing the sun rise in the morning from my home. Professionally, the moment the event owner takes ownership. Ruud Janssen: Great Event Design = a smile in the mind. (to quote a great designer) + any of the projects listed here: https://edco.global/portfolio/



EMEC IS BACK Changing the game while playing it GORAZD ČAD //


There’s no doubt in my mind that this year’s EMEC conference will go down in history as one of the best. Everything that everyone working in the event industry and meeting design dreams of was turned into reality by the Dutch colleagues. My hat goes off to them, and I am sorry for everyone who couldn’t make it to the Hague. EMEC (European Meetings Industry Conference) has been a source of inspiration for me ever since 2007, when I attended the congress for the first time. From a meeting professional’s standpoint, EMEC definitely is impressive. The 2016 edition in Copenhagen and this year’s edition in the Hague in particular speak of that. Both were connected by the same theme: a very strong wish to change the meetings industry, personified by their slogan – Changing the Game. The meeting organisers from MPI Netherlands chapter did it properly. A new way of organising events, where the entire event production is put into the hands of the local chapter, proved to be the winning formula.

They connected the key meeting designers from the Netherlands and created an interactive programme that suited all the participants. The customer journey was well thought out, efficient, fun and very useful as a good practice case for everyone involved with events. At the same time, EMEC provided a strong source of inspiration for all aspects of organising events, from the catering to every little brilliant detail that made the show so interesting. Okay, first things first. The main goal of the organisers was to “Change the way you meet”. Everybody who expected classic boring lectures must have been disappointed, as there were none. Even if there were, they were part of a wider experience. The first obstacle that many event organisers come across are boring meeting halls, which at EMEC were turned upside down. They were turned into living rooms, and playrooms, and participants were sitting on a stage instead of in front of it. They also showed us some really interesting special venues nearby the main meeting venue. Exploring every hidden secret that Hague has to offer


was accepted with excitement. This allowed us to make a more authentic connection with the local environment and feel the true vibe of Holland. Interesting stories were tied into the event’s programme, subtly giving out the message of who they are and what they are trying to change with the event. The boring meeting trap was avoided in a playful and interactive way. The second goal of the organisers was to “Change the way you experience”. Imagine going to 7 different cleverly planned trips across the Hague instead of sitting at 7 different lectures in the same lecture hall. That’s exactly what happened on the first day. After some hard consideration, as all of them were really appealing, I decided to set off into the heart of Dutch agriculture, to the innovative watercress growers (Koppert Cress), who are making a wholehearted effort to turn vegetables into medicine; change our diet so that vegetables make up 80% of the food we eat; help the agricultural region of the Hague become one of the most healthy in Europe; make over 50 varieties of cress known to the world,; and promote their facilities as a special venue for organising events. Throughout the trip we were constantly learning and kept being

reminded, in a fun way, of how to use meeting design in new ways, as well as being given some outlandish prototypes for promoting the 80:20 diet concept (80% vegetables, 20% meat). The third goal of the conference was to “Change the way you learn”. An array of methods and techniques was shown, one of the most interesting being a teambuilding game for over 400 people. Through a fun game, we had to build a giant QR code with which we could escape from the Fokker terminal, a former aircraft hangar turned into an event space. It was probably the biggest escape room game ever. Through personal workshop formats, practical lectures and fun games, networking was made easy, and all of a sudden everyone had something to discuss with one another. One of the things I learned and will keep in my mind is that the brain needs quality fuel. Healthy fats, antioxidants and just the right dose of carbohydrates. All of the food served at the conference followed that blueprint. I probably don’t even have to mention the emphasis put on sustainability.


The success of the conference is illustrated by all the positive comments on social media. I think everyone who attended EMEC can agree that special, genuine energy flowed among the organisers and participants. The moment when the positive energy and the organisers’ authenticity touching the participants form a true chemistry certainly happened in the Hague. As CEO of MPI Paul VanDeventer said: “The growth of MPI relies on European trends, from which it sources its values and builds the brand.” We can’t wait for the next one, which will be in Seville in 2020. Watch #emec2020.



Response: 61 % (198 respondents) Survey powered by

Overall experience

Knowledge level 63% BEFORE attending EMEC19


85% AFTER attending EMEC19


Average knowledge growth

# new connections 17%

Scored 7 or higher

Connection value


11 - 15

> 15

14% 1- 5

1% None




27% 6 - 10

Made minimal 6 new connections


Future attendance

Scored 7 or higher

Recommendation (Net Promoter Score)

26% Certainly

21% Do not know yet 0% Certainly not 8% Probably not




45% Probably Intends to attend next EMEC


68% Promoters


5% Detractors

= 64



Gijs Verbeek is an Executive Director of the Meeting Professionals International Netherlands Chapter MAJA MIRTIČ //


This part was rather challenging. There was a joined event between MPI and SITE in 2019. Meaning that the last EMEC took place 2 years ago. It was difficult to continue building on their legacy. At the same time, it gave us the opportunity to start with a blanc sheet of paper and design the experience EMEC19 that turned out to be great. We used video messages quite a lot in order to have our peers tell the EMEC19 story in their local market. We also made a marketing communication toolkit available for other MPI chapters to be able to send out the right and up-to-date information. We started the communication campaign with an emphasis on the design and later added the content about the speakers to it.

Q: What are you most excited about EMEC2019? I’m extremely proud that we were able to stay so close to our initial event design. In the design phase we knew it needed to be ineffable. I had to look up the word myself to be honest. The feeling that something was great, but you cannot really say why or what specifically made it special. Everything we designed worked out really well and the pieces of the puzzle fitted. From ‘cross industry innovation’ learning journeys to a mega escape room by Sherlocked (name of the company). From a choir of 80 talented youngsters to picking up the delegates at the airport in your own car. It wes all those elements together that made it ineffable. Q: What’s next for your MPI Chapter in terms of developments? Our annual MPI conference in the Netherlands needs to build on the success of EMEC19. We also launched the MPI academy in The Netherlands. It provides the knowledge to help our community become better in their work and as a result, bringing the entire meeting & event industry to a higher level. Q: Where do you Dutch see meetings industry in five years’ time? Live meetings & events will always exist. Live communication will make more use of technology and show-elements in the design of events. We’ll all spend more time on designing great experiences in order to prevent wasting people’s time with events that are not spot on. After all, time is the most valuable thing we ask people to spend when coming to an event. We better make it worth their while.

Q: How has Netherlands capitalised on its Meetings design legacy and

what’s in the pipeline ahead? The success of EMEC19 definitely helped in building the profile of the Dutch meetings & events industry as a whole and MPI the Netherlands more specifically. We were able to change peoples’ perspectives on meetings and event design. The little elements that weren’t on the agenda were really well received. It is these little surprises that touch people and make them remember your event and the message you want to bring across. We received an 8,9 with a 62% response rate. For EMEC20, MPI is bringing together the teams of the last five editions of EMEC to help design the Sevilla edition. It would be a pity not to use their expertise and experience and reinvent the wheel again.

Q: What do you see as crucial marketing elements to lure participants

of EMEC2019?

Q: What inspires you in meetings industry? I feel inspired by the crazy ideas my industry friends come up with, learn from other industries, see how the next generation makes decisions and by working together in small teams that can change from project to project. But the most important is having an impact through the events we organize, because when we meet, we change the world.Q: What is in your opinion the impact of EMEC to European meetings industry? People were inspired and loved the event. I have a feeling everyone who attended feels the urge to add a little magic to their events and feel confident enough to actually do it. There are so many ways people learn, why not use more of them at conferences. We can only measure the real impact after a while. We’ll measure the application of what people learned of EMEC19 after 6 months as 72% of people included in the survey indicated we can question them again after 6 months. It will give us a good idea if people actually changed their behaviour after attending EMEC19. Q: What is the legacy of EMEC 2019? Be a Game Changer. Change the way you Meet, Change the Way you Experience, Change the way you Learn.


TECHNOLOGIES ALSO HAVE A DOWNSIDE AND A RISK Mark Stoop is a co-owner at Scenarios4summits MAJA MIRTIČ //


Q: Are there any new risks that the new technologies bring to meetings and events? We must always look at the risks that new technologies bring along. Sometimes the event industry only looks at the positive side of technologies such as WiFi, information technology and cameras. That is in my opinion dangerous and foolish. Every technology has a downside and a risk. We should be aware of this and act upon those risks. Mitigate them or at least know them and accept that things can be used against you. Building a secure, workable, fit for purpose environment should be the norm. Do not say: “this won’t happen to me”. I think that up to now only few have truly thought this trough for their events. But it is changing quickly. We are losing our naivety. Q: What does the risk management system improvement mean for the meeting planners? To put it simply,it makes you aware of all the different scenarios of what can go wrong. And then you determine what risks you accept and what risks will you mitigate. Look at it as your Plan B for bad weather. By doing this I argue that your preparation for a meeting or an event will be better. And that is a win-win, I would say. Q: What industry insights and advice would you like to share about the future of event risks? Not every event is a high-risk event of course, but we have seen that things can go wrong quite quickly. A few years ago, people did not want to talk about terrorism for instance. Now locations are doing simulation exercises to be better prepared if something like that would happen. Especially the procedures and communication protocols are important. Who do we call? And how do we organise? Realistic training exercises or “table top” exercises help prepare personnel for crisis situations. At the same time, it makes people more confident and just better in their day-to-day job. Also getting experts involved from the risk management industry, will help making the right choices when it comes to risk management.

Q: What are the latest trends in risk management internationally in meetings and events industry? Because of the incidents in the last few years and the ever more complex events that are being organised, there is now more attention to risks in general in the meeting and event industry. The trend is to look holistically at an event and determine the risks on all fronts. And of course, then act accordingly. A few years ago, people were saying that some risks were too big to plan for. I certainly disagree with that and now more and more organisers and locations feel the same way. Prepare for different scenarios also helps you to better prepare your event. This will lead to more resilience and to better events. Technology can help us in that respect, but just common sense and an acceptance that events are subject to certain risks, as other parts of our societies have also experienced already, will go a long way.

Q: What suggestions do you have to help improve event planning? Train your people with engaging and immersive scenarios that demystify risk management. The event industry has the right people to do this if we change our mindset a bit and accept the challenge. Get more out of the yearly fire drill and take your team on a crisis management training. It’s an experience where you combine teambuilding with resilience building. And it can be fun as well! Q: What is the legacy of EMEC 2019? For the first time in the MPI conferences we, as Scenarios4summits, created a specific crisis experience for event professionals. The scenario was engaging, and people learned a lot I would say. Some were already aware, and others were exposed to it for the first time. This joint learning and exchanging of ideas were very well received and I would hope we would make this a yearly event with a different scenario each time. These kinds of trainings make all the difference when it matters.



Steve O’Malley, HMCC, CITP, CIS, is division president for Maritz Travel and 2019 chair of the MPI International Board of Directors. MAJA MIRTIČ //


expectations are rising. It means we need to be creative in order to meet business objectives and exceed clients’ and guests’ expectations.

Q: What are your tips for creating effective brand experience at incentives? We believe every event is a reflection of our client’s brand. That means when we design and deliver an event, each attendee sees it as an extension of the organization that is hosting. We utilize our unique experience design methodology to understand the organizing principle of the event (the one thing that everything should be tied to), what the business objectives are and what key impressions we want the guest to walk away with. Then we design and deliver the event against that framework. Q: What advice would you give to younger colleagues getting into the business right now? Always do more than what you are being asked to do. Volunteer for extra duty. Understand that nothing is outside of your set responsibility and that you can do more, add more to your organization. No one is going to turn you down if you ask to help them. Q: On a personal note, what would be your ideal event to host? I would love to host the World Cup in the United States. The energy and fervour that the athletes and spectators have when it’s hosted in other parts of the world is something I’d like to bring and experience in the U.S. Q: What is the legacy of EMEC 2019? From an MPI perspective, we were thrilled to see a local chapter to take on the complete responsibility to host the event. They delivered exceptional content and the destination was incredible. We were so pleased to see the heightened energy of our European member base and how they delivered this event. I can’t wait to see what the more than 1,200 members do next.

Q: What is the secret to TOP Global DMC? DMCs that have a deep understanding of what we are trying to achieve on behalf of our clients are truly the most successful. Those that partner with us to co-create unique experiences for our clients and their guests are the ones we are always trying to do more business with. But it isn’t just about cool experiences – it’s the understanding of our clients’ business needs and objectives and aligning those with what the destination has to offer. Q: Are you noticing any trend among your clients this year? A couple of things come to mind. First, we are seeing more about “wellbeing” – the idea of taking care of the entire individual while at an event. This isn’t just throwing in a 5K at an event, it’s about making sure the individual has a balance of wellness and work. Secondly, we continue to see constraints on budgets, while participation in events and client


28 - 30 AUGUST 2019 Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana










20 19


Every year Conventa draws attention to excellence in the meetings industry with an award for the best event in ‘New Europe’.

Organizers of mind blowing events from New European region are invited to enter the competition that will again acknowledge the best in the event business. The winner will be announced in August 2019 during the Conventa Crossover conference in Ljubljana. HURRY UP AND REGISTER YOUR EVENT BY 15 JULY 2019.





VENUE ADVANTAGES It all started with beer. Founded in 2013 by brothers Simon and Goran Grbac, the family brewery quickly rose to recognition, mostly due to the quality of the beer based on natural spring water from St. Ivan’s spring. Besides unfiltered, unpasteurised light, red, and dark beer, the Buje brewery also brews India pale ale and American pale ale beers. Soon, the small hill above Buje saw the construction of a country-style hotel and a fully fledged brewery - Beer House San Servolo, which is now also known as a steakhouse serving delicious ‘from the grill’ cuisine that you can wash down with their signature beer. The entire property has a very pleasant atmosphere, perfect for incentive groups, and, together with a guided tour of their production premises and beer tasting, it also presents a very special venue for events. SPECIAL FEATURES One of the facilities that make for the unique experience in San Servolo is a beer spa, the first beer spa in the whole of Istria. The spa offers beer baths, saunas, a fitness area and an indoor pool looking out onto the idyllic Istrian landscape. OTHER INCENTIVE IDEAS Beer aficionados and everyone who appreciates a glass of quality beer have the opportunity to see the San Servolo beer being made, and more importantly, try all of the different flavours from the Croatian brew masters. There’s a lot to be learned about their top-notch unpasteurised beer which is truly full of flavour. CUISINE The region of Istria itself can pride itself on exceptional cuisine and the San Servolo resort is no exception. The chefs at San Servolo especially highlight the steaks and dishes that go well with their beer. The restaurant is also suitable for larger groups, as there is room for around 200 guests. ACCOMMODATION The resort has 14 excellently furnished rooms with very nice views. Half of them are styled in a more traditional way and the other half in a completely modern style, so it’s up to the guests to choose. CONTACT SAN SERVOLO RESORT Momjanska ulica 7 52460 Buje, Croatia T: +385 91 477 2400 E: info@sanservoloresort.com www.sanservoloresort.com

WOW FACTOR The first Istrian beer tourism centre certainly won’t let you down. The San Servolo Beer Resort & Spa Hotel is a paradise for all beer lovers and one of the nicest experiences of authentic craft brewing in the region.




The Benedictine Dveri-Pax – one of the most modern wine cellars in Slovenia – stores 50,000 (out of a total of 300,000) litres of wine in oak barrels. Located in the vicinity of Maribor, the Dveri-Pax Wine Cellar continues an 800-year tradition of Benedictine winemaking in northeastern Slovenia. The superior quality of their wines is well recognised by the most respectful international wine evaluations, such as Decanter in London, AWC Vienna and many more. LOCATION A 20-minute ride takes one from Maribor to the Dveri-Pax Estate, located in the Podravje wine region – Styria. There, more than 73 hectares of vineyards are being cultivated in harmony with nature and tradition while following the latest developments in wine production. The Estate boasts Jarenina Manor, a wonderfully renovated, over 450-year-old manor, where all lovers of wine and aesthetics will find their heaven. The DveriPax Wine Cellar is a true treasure with a rich history, where wine selling and tasting is provided. VENUE ADVANTAGES A beautiful interior, a cultivated environment and a professional kitchen makes the Manor an excellent place for meetings. The Grand Hall has wonderful acoustics. The Wine Cellar can host up to 80 people. There are also smaller rooms, equally beautiful, and each can host up to 25 people. CATERING The catering is provided on site. When a meeting or a conference is being organised, Dveri-Pax and its own celebrity chef, Luigi Petrella, take care of the food, which is described as “a marriage between Italian and Styrian flavours.” INCENTIVE IDEAS At the Estate, besides a visit to the Wine Cellar, the enchanting surroundings provide for perfect outdoor trips. CONTACT DVERI-PAX d.o.o. Address: Polički vrh 1, SI-2221 Jarenina Contact person: Valerija Kolarič T: +386 31 271 215 E: v.kolaric@dveri-pax.com W: http://www.dveri-pax.com


Vuglec Breg // CRO MAJA MIRTIČ //


In the impressive hidden region of Croatia, Zagorje, lies a unique tourist village Vuglec Breg, where the Vuglec family have transformed the heritage of their ancestors into a magnificent green relaxation oasis. The owners have attended to every detail; there you can find everything from stables and a little pond, to a tennis court and football fields, not to mention the gorgeous view over the surrounding hills, of course. Each of the six autochthonous houses is named after its former owners and they have all been renovated, both inside and out, in a sympathetic way that suits contemporary standards of comfort. The main building holds a restaurant and a wine cellar as well as a seminar hall for up to 60 people and a meeting room for up to 30, which makes the location perfect for a business event or the launch of a new product, or it can either serve as venue for an intimate wedding or any other celebration.

Vinarija Galić // CRO MAJA MIRTIČ //


With a long tradition and true dedication, the core business of the company Galić is the production of grapes and wine, while their newest project is tourist oriented. Galić wines have been awarded many times, which confirms the company’s dedication to quality and its owner’s motto “Love of wine is our inspiration and key to success”. Most impressive of all is their new winery in the heart of Kutljevo, which is a truly exquisite contemporary winery for grape processing with a production capacity of up to 330,000 litres. The latest technology and equipment not only serve the owners, but also contributes to the development of the whole region and presents a new tourism potential. For the impressiveness of the building the architects Tomislav Čurković and Zoran Zidarić from Dva arhitekta deserve special credit, as the building is seen as the winery of the future.

Stancija Kovačići // CRO MAJA MIRTIČ //


With a long tradition and true dedication, the core business of the company Galić is the production of grapes and wine, while their newest project is tourist oriented. Galić wines have been awarded many times, which confirms the company’s dedication to quality and its owner’s motto “Love of wine is our inspiration and key to success”. Most impressive of all is their new winery in the heart of Kutljevo, which is a truly exquisite contemporary winery for grape processing with a production capacity of up to 330,000 litres. The latest technology and equipment not only serve the owners, but also contributes to the development of the whole region and presents a new tourism potential. For the impressiveness of the building the architects Tomislav Čurković and Zoran Zidarić from Dva arhitekta deserve special credit, as the building is seen as the winery of the future.



Owerview of the best meetings destinations for 2018 Ever since 2019, the Editorial Board of Kongres Magazine has been presenting fresh and interesting meeting destinations to international meeting planners. Kongres Magazine reviews all destinations on the basis of the field work and thorough research of the individual criteria, in order to get as close to the real situation as possible. Every year the reviews and the Meetologues are reviewed and updated with the latest information that individual destinations receive for the assessment and confirmation. Till this day we have presented 86 Meetologues from 23 destinations. Each destination is evaluated based on 75 different criteria that enable fair comparison of the destinations. Meeting organizers appreciate the expertise, value and practicality of this guide through congress destinations.

4 CATEGORIES XL Destinations that can host more than 2,000 congress attendees L Destinations that can host up to 2,000 congress attendees M Destinations that can host up to 1,200 congress attendees S Destinations that can host up to 600 congress attendees

The winners for 2018 are: XL MEETING DESTINATIONS WINNER


VIENNA, Austria





ZAGREB, Croatia






Best meeting destinations in New Europe


We also compare and reward destinations in New Europe. The organisers of Conventa believe in new, different, charming, and as yet undiscovered meeting destinations. For this reason, Conventa was the first show on the international market that began promoting countries in southeast, central and eastern Europe, which we classify as ‘NEW’ EUROPE.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic

OVERVIEW OF THE BEST MEETING HOTELS AND CONVENTION CENTRES “Meetings Star Awards are tailor-made for meeting planners” The Meetings Star Award rules are clear and firm and the evaluation has been set according to them for a long time and so it will remain in the future. The evaluation is fully recognized as a credible and independent indicator. We decide which are the best hotels in the region on the basis of the original methodology and on the basis of the only quality certificate in the meetings industry based on the real assessment of the hidden guest. Hidden guests rate individual hotels on the basis of 490 criteria. It has been a long-known truth that conference guests are demanding and at the same time have the highest purchasing power. As a rule, they spend more time in the hotel, have more contact with staff and use more hotel services. Usually, they expect a higher level of service, and this is why they earn the highest possible attention. The Meetings Star is a quality evaluation system that provides a simple and clear answer about the services of individual providers as it is based on the assessment of the Hidden Congress Guest. The methodology, enjoying trust of congress organizers since 2007, has been this year upgraded with a certification system.

In each of the categories, the individual hotels are classified into three sub-categories according to the number of points achieved in the hidden guest evaluation:



final score from 4.81 to 5.00

final score from 4.61 to 4.80

BRONZE final score from 4.41 to 4.60

During the 11-year tradition of evaluating meeting hotels and centers, more than 382 hotels were evaluated with a Hidden Guest method. Due to its impartiality and transparency, the methodology enjoys a high reputation among event organizers.




Category - City meeting hotels


Category - Spa meeting hotels


Category - Convention centers

in 2018 based on the scores, given by hidden meeting guests:


WELLNESS HOTEL SOTELIA // Podčetrtek, Slovenia



Category - Resort meeting hotels


Category - Boutique meeting hotels


Category - Best slovenian meeting hotels



KEMPINSKI PALACE // Portorož, Slovenia


PHOTO GALLERY Highlights from the Meetings Star Award 2018 ceremony PHOTO CREDIT: TINA RAMUJKIĆ

ARE YOU A MEETINGS DESTINATION OR A MEETINGS HOTEL? IF YES, THEN BE A PART OF THE MEETINGS STAR EVALUATIONS 2019! We are inviting you to apply for our visit and reportage of your meetings destination or hotel in the new round of evaluations for 2019.

AS A DESTINATION CONTACT US: Gorazd Čad gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu +386 (0) 1 430 51 03








This is a valuable and timely topic that has been building to a crescendo recently: women building more power, respect, and parity in the workplace and society as a whole. Firstly, I think we need to consider the current landscape and there are many recent achievements which we can be proud of. A report by J.P. Morgan found that women’s share of board directorships globally increased last year, with large American companies leading the way. Countries where women advanced most in board participation included Norway, France, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, the report found. This success is set to grow as California recently passed a law requiring more women on boards - California Senate Bill 826 requires publicly held companies based in California to have a minimum of one woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019.

"Don’t expect change in a vacuum. Men and women need to work together to make it happen."

Significant steps are being made on the path to gender equality and I think this should be celebrated. What’s more, the conversation around equality is being expanded to include diversity and there are clear arguments as to why diversity – both in the workplace and across society in general – matters. Having a workforce comprised of people with different backgrounds, experiences and skills means the ideas generated by these teams won’t be homogenous – they’ll be innovative and creative, and that’s key to business growth and success. This can have a significant subsequent impact on an organisation’s bottom line. The proof? A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that “increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance. In short, companies that have more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenue.”


"It’s clear that companies need to do more to instil gender diversity, especially because women remain underrepresented across all levels in the workplace."

Diversity means diversity of people, minds, ideas, and approaches and it’s something we value at IMEX and recognise as crucial to the future success of the events industry – that’s why it forms a core part of our offering at IMEX in Frankfurt this year. We’re exploring diversity – including gender equality –through She Means Business, created in partnership with tw tagungswirtschaft, a conference celebrating the role of women in the events industry. As one of the inspiring speakers debating the crucial issues facing women today, Gernot Sendowski, Director of HR Global Diversity & Inclusion at Deutsche Bank AG, delivers a male perspective on gender equality and female empowerment as well as exploring the German and European diversity charters. Nelly Mukazayire, CEO, Rwanda Convention Bureau will talk about her personal journey from a young girl in Rwanda during the genocide to being one of the youngest CEOs in a country in which 67% of parliament is made up of women. However, in many respects, we still have a way to go. We did a survey

with TW magazine that shows there’s still quite a big gender disparity in the industry. It’s clear that companies need to do more to instil gender diversity, especially because women remain underrepresented across all levels in the workplace. One of the ways to address this is to take a fresh look at recruitment practices across the board and also ensure principles of diversity are adopted throughout company, not simply siloed in one department. What’s more, I believe that management should lead by example. Senior leadership has a role to play in terms of mentoring and supporting. This is something one of our speakers at She Means Business, Martina Niemann, VP Lufthansa HR Management, agrees with. She says: “For me, the topic works when it has become a leadership position - and not “just” a topic of a project group or a diversity department. If the topic is anchored in a department, there is a danger that it will get stuck in this plane and not get the air to breathe. The topic needs management attention and belongs at the management level.” Through She Means Business – and our IMEX in Frankfurt show as a whole – we want to provide a platform where everyone (both women and men) can collaborate, learn and share ideas around gender equality – and then take that knowledge and energy back to their own organisations, events, and communities. Don’t expect change in a vacuum. Men and women need to work together to make it happen. We want to help spread the word! Overall the journey to gender equality is a marathon that will develop over the long term — but it starts with small steps that add up over time.


She Means Business, part of EduMonday, takes place on Monday 20 May, the day before IMEX in Frankfurt, 21 -23 May 2019. It’s free to enter once you’ve registered for IMEX in Frankfurt. Registration for the show is free of charge and open to all in the meetings, events and incentive travel industry. International Women’s Day is on 8 March and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. #IMEX19


IN RE:PUBLICA WE WANT TO MIRROR SOCIETY Exclusive interview with Jeannine Koch, director of re:publica, Europe’s biggest conference on digital culture and the only conference with 50% of the speakers being female. JASMINA JERANT //


Since its beginnings in 2007, the tech event re:publica has become the largest European digital conference. At its 12th edition in Berlin, a total of 19,500 visitors were able to attend lectures of 929 representatives of digital culture. In three days, artists, activists, scientists, hackers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, journalists, social media, marketing experts and many others mingled with digital experts. According to re:publica, this colourful mixture ‘fosters innovation and creates synergies between net politics, online marketing, network technology, digital society and (pop) culture’. The speciality of re:publica is that around 50 per cent of the speakers in 2018 were female, a unique and praiseworthy feature of the tech event that is also changing the future of events thanks to its director who is not afraid of being openly feminist, Jeannine Koch.

"It is very important for the whole structure and dynamics within a team to include different perspectives and also social and educational backgrounds."

Q: In May 2018, we experienced a brand-new conference intended for meetings and event strategists, male and female, to collaborate with and learn from inspiring speakers on crucial issues facing women in the meetings industry. You were one of the keynote speakers at this She Means Business conference which was a part of IMEX in Frankfurt. Why, do you think, is it important to have this kind of events? To be honest, I am actually hoping that soon we won´t need formats and conferences of that kind anymore. I think at the moment it is important and necessary to point out the “injustice” that happens when it comes to gender parity in regards to all different kinds of society. We need to talk about it, but more importantly, we need to talk with each other. It does not support the idea of diversity and gender balance when we stick to ourselves and get involved in our own bubble. That´s why we also have to intermingle, to network, to open up and be inviting and inclusive to everyone. This is something that we should focus on.


Q: It is known that women present a significantly higher share of workers in the meetings industry compared to men. What, do you think, is good about this and what bad? Is there anything you’d like to change or improve? It is actually quite strange that there are so many women in the meetings industry since it is such a –including sometimes physically – hard job. I haven’t done any research on that so far, and I don’t want to reinforce stereotypes such as women having better communication skills and so on. It seems to me that we are encountering a paradigm shift within this industry as well. Meetings and events are becoming more and more important to companies. They are using it as a part of their marketing mix and therefore inventing new formats, spending more money on that and, of course, hiring more people to do those jobs. I always love to work with heterogeneous teams and I think it is very important for the whole structure and dynamics within a team to include different perspectives and also social and educational backgrounds. That´s what I´d like to see growing!

Q: How does the meetings industry take ambitious women? Do they get good opportunities to grow in their career? I cannot answer that question for myself, since I got a great opportunity and I grabbed it. But working with lots of very ambitious and highly engaged women, I can only say that I always try to “develop” (with) them by handing over responsibilities and involve them in all important aspects of an event and project. But there is actually a different aspect that we need to talk about and this is “visibility”. Women tend to “hide” behind their own skills and courage. That mostly leads them to be overseen by the so-called decision makers. My advice for women who want to grow in their career would be to make themselves more visible by standing up for their ideas and their achievements. Women need to dare to be in the front row, giving a talk and being on a panel for topics that they are experts in. Stop saying no to invitations like that. Sometimes people on the outside can see your radiant light even better than you do – once you are able to integrate that into your own mindset and feelings, you might be on the right path.


Q: What would you recommend to women in the meetings industry? Be yourself and don´t forget your private life such as family & friends and hobbies.

"Women should stand up for their ideas and achievements."

Q: re:publica has almost 20 thousand participants among whom there are 49.72% men, 47.44% women, and 2.84% non-binary. I really like that you give an option of the non-binary choice. How come? There is a huge discussion about the question who actually decides what gender you are! It always used to be decided right after the mother gave birth, they checked and made a note in the birth records. From then on,

the child was forced to be “this and that” and had to fulfil a special kind of standards related to that gender and had to act like “a girl” or “a boy”. Especially for transgender and intersexual people it was always hard to identify with the given gender. Since January 2019 we now have the chance to choose between male, female, and other in Germany. They finally realised that it is not compatible with our basic law anymore, which is at least a good first step. With that, transgender and intersexuals and everyone else who wants to decide by themselves got a chance of living a life in dignity and with a positive identity. And because re:publica is a conference with and for the whole of society, we want to include everyone and try to set up a welcoming and warm and colourful atmosphere.

Q: And re:publica is also famous for having 50% of female speakers among the 929. Why has re:publica decided to put so much emphasis on the selection of speakers to be equally distributed among both sexes (well, in the binary meaning, of course)? Because we want to mirror society. And since the world’s population consists of 51% women and 49% men, it just comes naturally to us.


I LIKE THE EFFECT OF SURPRISE Interview with Natalija Bah ÄŒad, project manager at Toleranca Marketing JASMINA JERANT //


Natalija joined Toleranca Marketing in 2008 with ten years of experience as a PCO behind her. She has been a PCO for twenty years now and together with her team of MICE enthusiasts, she has proven that the organisation of a successful congress involves not just logistics, but also creativity and innovativeness. Conventa is one of the projects that she has been involved with from the very beginning and this concept of regional B2B events has also been successfully transferred from MICE to the Spa & Wellness industry, as well as the active tourism field. Recently she was elected to the position of Council Member of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. And since this issue of Kongres magazine is focused also on gender equality in MICE, we talked to Natalija who is one of the most recognisable and important regional MICE experts about her past, present and future work.

"In my work in my own agency, my biggest challenge is to create my own events, where we have more freedom and we can introduce new trends."

Q: You were recently elected to position of a Council Member of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. What does this mean to you? I was pleasantly surprised to be elected, in particular because I realised that the post in the 6-member Council of the Convention Bureau is growing in significance which means that representatives of 70 members want to actively co-shape the strategy of congress development in Slovenia. I have been cooperating with the Convention Bureau through various marketing projects from the very beginning and I am proud of the results! With a small budget, we have done a lot for the recognition of Slovenia in the world. As a member of the Council, I will strive for the visibility of members and their services within Slovenia too. There are plenty of unused opportunities in obtaining congresses. I have no doubt that with the recently started ambassador programme, we will connect better with scientists, experts and businesspeople and thus bring international congresses to Slovenia.


Q: When did you enter the MICE industry and why? During my studies, I helped in the Congress department of the Cankarjev dom. I was impressed by the variety of events, meetings, and professional topics. I am still in awe today when I encounter some special topic of an international conference. Last year we participated in an international weed conference, and in a conference on bear research. From each collaboration, I learn something new and meet wonderful people, completely devoted to their research work. I am happy that we are be able, as congressional organisers, to help them create the best conditions for their scientific meetings. This is the main task of congress organisers. Since trends are moving towards more and more interactive events, we try to help our organisers with our knowledge and experience in introducing more open formats, with more discussion and interaction between lecturers and participants, as well as among the participants themselves. Q: Since then, what have been all the different jobs and all the different roles that you have held in MICE? I never forget to mention that I learned everything at Cankarjev dom, which has been the largest PCO in Slovenia since the 1980s. Nevertheless, I wanted a little more creativity and diversity in my work. After a short period of time in the events agency, I joined my husband and we started our agency. If in the past the biggest challenges were large congresses with more than 1,500 participants, where the most important thing is perfect logistics, in my work in my own agency my biggest challenge is to create my own events, where we have more freedom and we can introduce new trends.

"A team can be considered “the best” when the knowledge and experience of senior staff meet the "no limits" ideas of juniors."

Q: What would you recommend to the new generation that is entering the MICE industry? I am very happy to share my knowledge with young people interested in our business. Each year, at Conventa, in cooperation with IMEX International Business Exchange, we enable 50 young people to attend the Future Leaders Form workshop. Although they are mostly tourism students, many of them encounter the meetings industry for the first time on this occasion. And some of them remain in it. Working in the meetings industry requires a wide openness and knowledge, and therefore their educational background is not the most important thing for me. Organisation of events is considered one of the more stressful professions; therefore, good organisation, communication ability, and an understanding of the needs of clients and participants is important. In our agency, a team can be considered “the best” when the knowledge and experience of senior staff meet the “no limits” ideas of juniors.


Q: You have been one of the key parts of Conventa. Among other important roles in Conventa, you also organise Conventa’s famous evening events every year with some great wow effects. This year, you put the attendees onto the stage and performers in the auditorium. What inspires you? With year-round communication with Conventa participants, constant budget control … my favourite part is the preparation of social events. We are somewhat limited in regards to locations, but this is even more challenging. Can you invent something new in the same room? Our colleagues, event organisers from around the world, are “tough” guests, as they also organise events themselves and are not easily impressed. This year we pulled it off with a simple manoeuvre – we placed the guests on the stage, and the musicians surprised them from the gallery. The cherry on top was provided by the excellent Slovene acrobats Filip and Blaž, who descended from the ceiling amidst the guests below on the stage. At Conventa we have excellent partners who support our “out of the box” ideas. Q: What for you is a perfect event? Despite 20 years of experience, before every event, even when only for 20 people, I have deep respect. I keep checking all the artists, I mentally walk the route that the guests will walk, and still think of some improvements. The perfect event must have a common thread, nothing should be left to chance. I like the effect of surprise and with colleagues we always think of a participant’s journey through an event where the participant should experience at least 10 “wows”.

Q: If you had no budget restrictions, what kind of event would you organise? From experience I can say that we are often the most creative on projects with little budget. Since I have not yet received such an order, where the budget was unlimited, I have not yet really thought about it. But if it did happen, I would be happy to hire the best artists - musicians, painters, dancers ... This approach is closer to my heart than most modern technology and stage techniques. Of course, the combination of both can make a top-notch event. Q: You mentioned that the diversity of projects attracts you. What was your last project and which ones are in the pipeline? The last event was the expert meeting of the 1st Bled Meetings Forum, where together with Bled Convention Bureau we conceived a completely new event from scratch. We prepared the content, complete marketing and logistics, including the event moderation. The next event is the corporate conference of an international pharmaceutical company where our clients have engaged in the conceptual design and implementation of afternoon networking activities and evening events. At the same time, we are preparing a B2B event Incentives Alpe Adria, in cooperation with the Arena Hospitality Group from Pula, where the aim is to present the incentive offer of the Alpe-Adria region to tour operators from Europe. The second part of the team is dealing with content marketing for various subscribers, the preparation of a new edition of the Kongres magazine and daily news from the congress industry, published on our Kongres magazine portal.



The Serbian St Moritz GORAZD ČAD //


ZLATIBOR If somehow a higher force could erase all the bizarre stands with souvenirs and the fast food shops with pictures of food from their menu, we could describe as Zlatibor the St Moritz of Serbia. Although you can still experience something similar outside of the Zlatibor Bermudan Triangle. All it takes is some effort to show your meeting guests the true essence of Zlatibor, hidden from the city centre eyes. But we do believe Zlatibor’s construction of numerous hotels and apartments is a step in the right direction. The city deserves further development and is, in our opinion, a congress destination with huge potential in the region. We can easily place it in the ranks of Bled, Bansko and other mountain centres.

125 YEARS OF ORGANISED TOURISM The remarkable countryside, friendly climate, and special micro geography impressed even the Serbian king Aleksander Obrenović during his visit to Kulaśevac in 1893. This year Zlatibor is celebrating 125 years of organised tourism and among the 250.000 tourists who come each year you can also find many event meeting participants. The meetings are mostly organised by local associations composed of lawyers, doctors, and other professional associations. Next, to the superb meeting infrastructure, the participants are attracted to the divine nature, clean environment and the tourist offer, which is also appealing, offering 150 different restaurants and bars. Nature plays a key role in further development and so the county of Čajeta/Zlatibor has set the goal to make Zlatibor the most sustainable and ecological county in Serbia.



HOTEL EXPANSION In the midst of urbanisation, and hotel and apartment growth, it is hard to distinguish the good from the bad. There are more than 22,000 beds in Zlatibor and over 1,200 of them belong to the 4-star hotel category. Meeting guests generally choose 4-star hotels, among which Hotel Mona, Grand Hotel Tornik, Hotel Palisad, and Hotel Olimp stand out. They are complemented by a line of smaller boutique hotels and apartments. The offer is incredibly diverse and a good foundation for the further development of meeting tourism. Quite a number of hotels specialise in sport and sports tourism, which enables the development of incentive programmes. THE LONGEST FUNICULAR IN EUROPE LEADING TO TORNIK In 2019 the longest funicular in Europe will be finished in Zlatibor, connecting the centre of the city with the top of Tornik at an altitude of 1496 m. The 9 km long funicular will offer 25 minutes of picturesque views of Zlatibor. Up until now, the longest one was in Zhangiasie, a national park in China. Regardless of the funicular, we recommend visiting the resort, which is equipped with modern ski lifts and snow cannons. The resort is attractive in all seasons and offers experiences that are also suitable for incentive groups (tubing, sledding, etc.). NATURAL ATTRACTIONS Most tourists come to Zlatibor because of the beautiful nature, which can be a great starting point for organising incentive programmes. Among the attractions we came across is the Stopić cave. It is an underground cave with several halls, stretching over 2 kilometres and offering unique karst phenomena. Belonging to the category of natural treasures worth visiting, there is also the Gostilj waterfall and only half an hour away, the Tara National Park. The karst plateau in eastern Serbia belongs to the most densely forested region in Europe. The canyon of the River Drina is an ideal location for rafting. Because of its importance, Tara National Park was declared a national park in 1981, with the goal to preserve biodiversity. SPECIAL VENUES Among the Special Venues, you will find the Sirogojno Museum, which is located 24 km outside Zlatibor. The ethno-village showcases the architecture and the life of local people. The village was first mentioned back in the 15th century. It was thoroughly renovated in 1980 and you can get an insight into a typical Zlatibor rural house. Especially popular are the famous hand-knitted pullovers and other handmade souvenirs. There are a number of restaurants furnished in an authentic retro style, also offering the organisation of events and you can find them right next to the road throughout the region. MOKRA GORA, DRVENGRAD Drvengrad is a story all of its own just because of its charismatic founder Emir Kusturica. The film director’s village in Mečavnik was built for the needs of a movie called “Life is a Miracle” in 2004. The wooden village is a mix of modern Western-style and traditional Serbian, where the traveller can either take part in sports or simply take a break and stay overnight. The village has a restaurant, a library, a gallery, a cinema and most importantly, the charisma and brilliance of the director himself. The incentive story can be enhanced by boarding the museum train, which runs through the bridges and tunnels of the “Šarganska osmica” line.

BAJINA BAŠTA You cannot bypass rakia/brandy in Serbia. Among the most recognised providers is the oldest Serbian distillery BB (Bajina Bašta). It was founded in 1953 and is famous for its brandies klekovač, slivovica and travarica. The production covers 11 distilleries, which you can experience when you plan your next incentive programme, also featuring an extremely nice degustation space. The optimal group size is 20 to 50 participants and they are guaranteed a special vibe in a cosy and friendly environment. MEETING SCENE Placed among serious and thriving meeting institutions are Hotel Mona and Hotel Palisad. Mona deserves the title of best in Zlatibor from the aspect of meeting guests. The hotel-meeting offer is still fresh, even though it is not the latest hotel in Zlatibor. Altogether it seems that Hotel Mona is the first choice for meeting organisers wishing to find a good, reliable and an authentic hotel. A serious competitor is the Grand Hotel Tornik with a new congress centre. Featuring a smaller conference room is also Hotel Olimp and the Čigota special hospital. Another option for hosting larger events is the Sport-Tourist Centre Zlatibor with a capacity of up to 1,200 participants (the size of the hall is 14,300 m2). INSTEAD OF A CONCLUSION It appears that a larger, modern multifunctional meeting centre would benefit everyone and further accelerate the development of meeting tourism in Zlatibor. It would come across as a nice addition to the hotel potential of Zlatibor and its tourist offer. At the moment, meeting tourism depends on the proactiveness of local hoteliers and the destination’s accessibility. It is focused on the regional market, but we believe it has the potential to be bigger and in return, the local meetings bureau would benefit as well. In combination with the well-organised Serbian Convention Bureau, Zlatibor could become the host of international meetings and incentives. Zlatibor is a hidden Balkan incentive gem.




• 53rd Serbian Agronomy Meeting / 27 – 31 January2019 The largest international meeting of agronomy experts www.nsseme.com/saps/ • Defectologist Days 2019 / 21 – 24 February 2019 International conference for specialised defectologists. www.pmplus.rs/danidefektologa2019/ • CNN Tech conference / 02 – 05 July 2019 International conference in the field of engineering and process technology. www.cnntechno.com • 6th Regional Conference Transportlog / 7 – 8 November 2019 Meeting of the leading experts in the field of transport and logistics. www.transportlog.org.rs • XXII Congress of The Association of Serbian Cardiologists / 17 – 20 October 2019 The largest expert meeting of cardiologists in Serbia www. kongresi.uksrb.rs/xxi_kongres

• Kustendorf 2019 / 11 – 16 January 2019 International film and music festival www.kustendorf-filmandmusicfestival.org/2019/ • “Village’s all-around athletics competition” / June 2019 A showdown in traditional skills, professions and sports, which can easily compete with the far more renowned games in Scotland. www.zlatibor.org.rs • International Festival of Sports Film / June 2019 Regional competition for the best sports movie www.zlatibor.org.rs • The 46th Trumpeters Meeting / 28 – 29 July 2019 Meeting of the most renowned Serbian Trumpeters bands. www.zlatibor.org.rs • Hillsup Festival / 9 – 11 August 2019 The fifth annual music festival with an impressive line-up of performers. www.hillsup.org

DID YOU KNOW? Zlatibor was the set for several cult movies, which earned the plateau the status of the Serbian Hollywood? Among the most famous producers is without a doubt Emir Kusturica, who built Drvengrad on Mokra Gora to film his “Life is a Miracle” movie.

BEST INCENTIVE IDEA OFFROAD ADVENTURE We recommend riding with jeeps on tricky Zlatibor trails. This is the quickest way to explore the plateau’s beauties and also includes most of Zlatibor’s natural gems. You can climb the highest summits of Zlatibor: Tornik and Čigota. www.zlatiboradventure.com WHO TO CONTACT Tourist Board Zlatibor Miladina Pećinara 2 31315 Zlatibor E: zlatibor@zlatibor.org.rs P: +381 31 845 103 www.zlatibor.org.rs



Zlatibor’s tourist offer is based on exceptional natural attributes and climate, which enable tourism throughout the year. The plateau in the south-east of Serbia is famous for extensive forests and rich pastures completed by golden pine trees, which even gave the name for the plateau. The natural beauty and the rich cultural-historical legacy are a combination that has been attracting tourists for centuries. Zlatibor is also ideal for spa tourism because the sea air mixes with the mountain air here and creates an ideal spot for rehabilitation and healthcare at an altitude of a thousand metres.


Everybody in Zlatibor is nervously expecting the construction of the Belgrade-Čačak highway, which will shorten the trip to Zlatibor to an hour and a half. Until then, you must embark on a long journey on a rather bumpy road which can take up to four hours. At the moment this is the destination’s biggest setback. After the long journey, you are rewarded with enough parking spots and above all, very friendly staff. The public bus system is slightly disorganised, but still connects Zlatibor with larger cities and Belgrade.


Zlatibor is renowned as one of the most-developed tourist centres in Serbia. Over 22,000 hotel beds are filled by spa tourism, sport, and recreation lovers, as well as meeting tourism visitors. These guests are attracted by a complete tourist offer including over 200 kilometres of trails, the Tornik ski centre and attractions such as the Stopiče cliffs, Sirogojno Museum, Drvengrad, the “Šarganska osmica” or the valley of the Uvac river. Lastly, the offer is rounded off by over 150 restaurants and bars. When you combine all these elements, Zlatibor deserves to be placed among the most attractive tourist destinations in Serbia.

D. MEETING INFRASTRUCTURE: 4.39 Hotel Mona and Hotel Palisad offer the largest meeting capacities and are the two pace-setters for the destination, constantly improving their offer. Meetings, which are mostly local, take place throughout the year. The problem we noticed is the lack of connection between those offering meetings, which should be provided by the meetings bureau. E. SUBJECTIVE GRADE: 4.64 Serbian hospitality is one of the advantages of the Serbian tourist offer and especially Zlatibor. A rich culinary scene is part of this story but is yet to be adjusted to the challenging needs of international organisers. It seems as if the destination has not yet realised the potential of meeting tourism. The priority of the destination is family tourism, and that is why Zlatibor still has a long way to go. F. MARKETING “BUZZ”: 3.99 Zlatibor is regionally marketed mainly as a mountain tourist vacation destination. The marketing of the meeting destination is mostly local. Regionally and internationally, Zlatibor still has a way to go; this includes marketing interlacing of the offer to extensive B2B marketing with all available tools. The core of the marketing should be the meetings bureau, which is missing.

COMPARISON TO THE REGION In comparison to similar destinations, Zlatibor has the advantage of having a well-developed tourism infrastructure. Meeting guests are rarely bored during their stay and this holds true for all seasons. The city centre is a city in itself and, together with the diverse choice of restaurants and tourist offer, enables various experiences. To make it onto the international scene the key would be better road accessibility, which is soon to be realised. Until the completion of the road connection, Zlatibor’s meeting events will remain mostly local. Such events should be followed by better local organisation and systematic work when it comes to qualified personnel. Zlatibor is undoubtedly a destination with huge potential for development. COOL MEETINGS Zlatibor cheese – One of the first associations when it comes to Zlatibor’s cuisine. It is an exceptional cheese and can be compared to the best cheeses in the world. The reason behind the quality is in the unspoiled pastures on which the cows freely graze.


ZLATIBOR 2018/2019 Natural and cultural factors: General and transport infrastructure: Tourist infrastructure: Meeting infrastructure: Subjective grade: Marketing “buzz”: ICCA index: Numbeo Quality of Life Index: Numbeo Safety Index: ACI Airport Connectivity Index:


GRADES 4,80 4,40 4,70 4,39 4,64 3,99 1,02 3,50 3,45 2,18


Banquet hall maximum capacity


Number of 4* and 5* hotels


The largest hall in the city (in m2)

14,300 m2

Destination population


Maximum hall capacity in theatre style


MEETOLOGUE CATEGORY: M-MEDIUM M - MEDIUM MEETING DESTINATIONS: Destinations that can host up to 1,200 attendees.


Number of 4* and 5* catego- 1,327 ry hotel rooms


Final grade


CHANGING A THREE-STAR MEETING DESTINATION INTO A FIVE-STAR ONE Or, what can we learn from the tourist transformation of the city of Rovinj? GORAZD ÄŒAD //



Friendly and professional staff, wonderful culinary experiences, surpluses in terms of design and aesthetics of living, adaptation to the needs of guests, rich additional offer, thoughtful design details, a story —and a boutique one at that—told by the destination … All of these sneak into my mind when I think about luxury tourism. In luxurious hotels, which are an integral part of luxury tourism, I am especially delighted by the small details that brighten the day. For example, a hand-written note from the director of the hotel, homemade elderflower juice, real crafted coffee, a rich selection of room fragrances, which I can use accordingly to my mood, an unconventional book of personal impressions of previous guests which makes for a book of memories … I wonder if it is even possible to think in the five-star direction without various investments in infrastructure, human resources and destination marketing. And I’m more and more convinced that to some extent it is. However, it is also true that sooner or later we arrive at the moment of truth, when it is not enough to only collect five-star experiences and tirelessly repeat marketing slogans.

The closest example of good practice is certainly Rovinj. Trapped in winter sleep it lives its own tourist story, which is increasingly becoming the allyear-round story, that is becoming more complete and more luxurious. Maistra’s investment will be joined by the new luxury Park Hotel in April. An investment of more than 80 million euros will round up Maistra’s luxury portfolio of five hotels. It consists of Grand Park Hotel Rovinj, Hotel Monte Mulini, Hotel Lone, Hotel Eden, and Hotel Adriatic. Practically all their stories are designed by the award winning 3LHD architectural studio from Zagreb. Creative agency Bruketa & Žinić & Grey is taking care of their creative image. Interior furniture, lighting and much more is a result of Croatian knowledge. Nothing is left to chance and reading the hotel directions alone presents a real creative pleasure. In this context, Hotel Lone is an exhibition of contemporary Croatian design and architecture. The authenticity of individual stories is guaranteed, which can also be understood from the sustainability point of view in the broadest sense. The result is that every hotel story is individual and deviates from the omnipresent generic hotel design on the Adriatic coast.



14 regional artists contributed, are found throughout the premises. The whole works luxuriously, eclectically and elegantly while being full of various textures and cold tones as well as experimentations with light which perfectly complete the look. A smaller, more demanding incentive group, which would combine various services provided by Maistra on site, would very much suit the hotel. In April the hotel portfolio will be rounded up by Hotel Park with 209 rooms of the 5+ category. At the time of our winter visit to Rovinj, the hotel was a construction site, full of workers who were in the middle of the finishing works. This project was also designed by the 3LHD architectural studio, and the interior by the Lissoni studio from Milan. Cascade architecture works organically and blends nicely into the environment. Within the hotel a small congress hall for 250 participants will be built. It will include a magnificent view of Rovinj through a glass wall of 48 m2, the largest in this part of Europe. A wellness centre with a real Olympic-sized pool of 50 metres is being finalised as well. Six restaurants will be available for guests, including everything else necessary for a luxurious experience, plus a modern marina.

This is also part of a new understanding of luxury, which is increasingly appreciated by tourists from all over the world and people are more and more willing to pay for it. The first among Rovinj’s luxury five-star hotels was Monte Mulini. Hotel designers from the famous British bureau Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo have bet on their tested model of creating luxurious hotels with a touch of prestige, which has already been tested on many of the world’s top hotel chains. In practice, this means a mighty lobby, spacious rooms and superb horticultural arrangement of the hotel’s surroundings. It is a hotel designed for enjoyment to which the whole business philosophy is subordinated. There are only a few hotels that are as impressive as the Monte Mulini Hotel. A true five-star hotel in an excellent location that is suitable for the most demanding and exclusive incentive events. Hotel Lone has perfectly passed the test of time and after eight years of operation the story of the hotel is still an experience that includes reflection and a very personal touch with the culture, nature and cuisine of the destination. Probably the creators of the first Croatian design hotel Lone were thinking similarly; less is more. Fans of glamour and kitsch will not be impressed, but everyone else will be. Luxury is hidden in small details, such as a rich room service menu and superb cuisine. In the congress centre, Croatian designers have taken care of the space that with just a little imagination you can adjust to the needs of your event. The hotel’s meeting room styled to resemble a luxury cruise liner is not just one of the hottest meetings venues on the Adriatic coast but is also very functional. Every hotel has its own story. Hotel Adriatic is one of the best boutique hotels on the Adriatic coast. A hotel with more than 100 works of art is simultaneously a gallery. Installations, graphics and paintings, that

All hotels are gastronomic surprises. Maistra’s menus are compounded by experienced top chefs. Brasserie Adriatic in Hotel Adriatic is marked by Mediterranean cuisine. The boutique story continues at a breakfast service in a café atmosphere and is one of the best on the Adriatic coast. We recommend visiting the Kantinon tavern in the city. Part of Monte Mulini’s prestige is in the exquisite gastronomic experience at the Wine Vault and Mediterraneo restaurants. In Lone, the diversity of the guests is reflected in the fusion cuisine of the Restaurant E and Resolution Restaurants. Many come to Rovinj just for the sake of Maistra’s excellent cuisine, connected by the Out & About project. It is a programme of various culinary and other experiences that you can enjoy in Rovinj and its surroundings which also deserve praise. Congress guests wishing to explore the culinary scene beyond bounds of the hotel will be impressed by some of the best restaurants in Rovinj and the surrounding areas. Among them is Monte, which received the first Michelin star in Croatia last year. You can find more in the latest issue of the Gault & Millau Guide. Maistra, which is part of the Adris Group, invested about half of billion euros in the transformation of Rovinj and have turned it into a five-star destination in less than a decade. A typical example to illustrate this is the Cinderella story of Hotel Park, which will shine in the spring and leave a three-star story long behind. The proof that the investment will pay off is confirmed by the fact of the above-average occupancy of hotel rooms, which also reach above-average prices. The public infrastructure is also marvellous and very well arranged, especially the promenade from hotels Lone and Eden to Rovinj. This is a kind of illustration of the ambitions of Rovinj tourism. Well-organised beaches, top events and an integrated offer that changes and improves the identity of Rovinj also contribute to the luxury tourism there. Hidden Guest: Maistra hotels have already been evaluated in recent years in the framework of the certification for the Meetings Star. They belong to the very top of the region’s meeting hotels based on our precise and thorough assessment methodology.



You can’t be serious, thinking that a company professionalising in creating content, providing a large database of buyers, lives off likes and virtual fame. GORAZD ČAD //


"Modern marketing shouldn’t be intrusive, it should sell indirectly through good stories"


I simply had to put this story down in writing. Once again, I was invited to visit a destination, where, in return for creating several articles, they would provide free accommodation and two sandwiches. All of the expenses connected to text production, proofreading, preparation and distribution would be covered by us, not to mention the travel expenses. To the kind invitation, I replied with a question: “Would you be willing to do your job as a marketing director for three months without any payment?” That’s exactly how much online visibility they expected from our reportage. On a second occasion, the matter regarded video interview production, which, according to some, is a service that can surely be free of charge, as it is so easy. You just pull out your phone and record. Who cares about script, production, post-production and distribution? When I asked them why I have to pay for every single coffee in their hotel bar, I was left with no answer. The third anecdote involves a hotelier, who confidently explained that they are so fully booked that they don’t need content marketing. When I told him that in two years, three new hotels will be competing for the same guests, he replied that that doesn’t concern him at the moment. He will surely be thinking about it when the competition is knocking on the door. Too late for thinking at that point. The fourth and final story sparked from a call by one of my colleagues, who asked whether we could do a campaign on social media. He was certain that he wouldn’t have to pay a dime, as posting on social media is something every 10-year old can do. It was quite hard telling him that social campaigns are a service, not a favour. It’s no secret that content marketing is not a free sandpit, as many colleagues still like to imagine it. It never really was. Content production and distribution can be compared to building a house. You certainly wouldn’t ask your neighbour who hasn’t moved a brick in his life to build you a home. On the surface, everything seems so simple. You open an account on Instagram, publish a few posts and meeting planners will come running with enquiries. The same goes for websites. You build a site full of static content and wait like a spider, for someone to get caught in your web... page. Forget about dynamic content and news, as they are too much work anyway. That reminds me of a fishing boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean, or a jumbo poster in the Sahara. When the fun ends, it’s time to face reality. Facebook, Google and Amazon are not charity organisations. That became clear after all the affairs that have shaken the internet in the last couple of years and their organic reach will keep dropping if they continue happening. The business model is simple: keep giving us money and we will keep your followers. Just like feeding the digital beast. When you stop, the likes stop appearing and the vicious circle continues. It’s when AdWords gurus, influencers and social media managers can’t help anymore. Screaming “If you are not on Facebook, you don’t exist” doesn’t really work anymore. Smart companies in the meetings industry are aware that the new digital ecosystem is something we have to invest in. We have to invest in our own quality stories and media. Relying on reselling information and

freeloading is a dead end, and Facebook proves it. The key question that I get asked by my colleagues is whether good content truly increases sales. We understand good content as everything that users share. Contagious content, but in a good way. We have to take into account that good content works in the long run. To fully exploit your content marketing capital, you first need to find a good storyteller, start measuring direct effects, connect with different tools, multiply stories and have immense respect for your readers. I am a firm believer in the efficiency of content marketing, but you have to be aware of some traps and dangers. Everyone is a self-proclaimed master in event organisation and content marketing. Just like everyone is a professional football analyst. Often times, those people have real trouble putting their thoughts into words. The result? Bad content and bad responses. What’s even worse is not reacting to your readers’ responses. Keep the content fresh, original and if you can, provocative. Luckily, in this day and age, everything can be measured, especially when it comes to content marketing. We all need to learn how to catch fish. But first, we need to learn what bait to put into the water. In other terms, we need to know the needs and expectations of our customers - meeting planners. If we did, we would stop with the usually inefficient “push” marketing, which comes across as very intrusive. Don’t sales calls, telemarketing and aggressive personal sales pitches seem like an invasion into your private space? Rather than “push”, I think “pull” strategies are much more efficient, as the buyer comes to you because of your reputation, word of mouth, or simply because he thinks you put out really interesting stories told in an innovative way. As I have said many times, marketing in the meetings industry is not a sprint, which brings results overnight. It’s a long and sometimes strenuous marathon. Those who understand that, will succeed. Unfortunately, the market is impatient and expects immediate results. The route you take is your decision.


HOTEL LONE, ROVINJ Created for Generation Y MAISTRA

CATEGORY 5***** OPENED SINCE 2011 MEETINGS STAR Resort Meeting Hotel STANDARD Meeting Hotel NUMBER OF ROOMS 236 rooms 12 luxurious apartments PRICE INTERNET EUR 136–155 (February 2019 low season / Trivago) ADDRESS HOTEL LONE L. Adamovica 31 Rovinj, 52210 Croatia T:+385 52 632 000 E: hello@maistra.hr FACILITIES Restaurant ON Restaurant E Restaurant ResoLution Lobby bar Lone Conference Bar Vitality Bar Night Club Wellness & Spa Fitness centre Out & About Programmes SPECIALS The full range of hotels in Rovinj allows event organisers to host various events in the Lone Congress Centre for a diverse audience. In terms of hotel accommodation, there is something to be found for everyone. www.maistra.com/si/hotel-lone-rovinj

LOCATION The hotel is a comprehensive artwork, an exhibition of top design, and an art gallery, has a design hotel concept, and a presentation of local knowledge throughout. Hotel Lone, which we evaluated for the first time in 2013, is all this and more. Therefore, the time has come for a re-evaluation of this five-star hotel, resembling a luxurious ocean-going cruise ship, settled in the middle of Zlatni rt, a protected park on the outskirts of Rovinj. The innovative concept of the tourist company Maistra and architectural office 3LHD has perfectly passed the test of time. Eight years after opening, Lone is a synonym for top design and superior service. Lone is getting better and better every year. ACCESSIBILITY In 2018, Pula Airport marked a record turnover. Compared to 2017, the number of passengers increased by more than 20 per cent, which is a positive message for the future of the tourism industry in Istria. Even more positive moves are expected this year. Increasingly better accessibility is also complemented by solid road infrastructure. For meeting guests arriving by car are well taken care of, as the hotel has a large parking lot and an underground garage. We recommend a walk along the nicely arranged promenade to the city centre. An approximately one-kilometre-long path is arranged to the very last detail and is a balm for body and soul. COLD APPETIZER - ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS The credit for hotel’s architecture goes to 3LHD architectural studio. The studio’s interdisciplinary approach is a model for the development of new tourism products. The project involved local artists, designers and furniture manufacturers. The furniture is the work of the design team Numen/For Use, soft furnishings (as well as the uniforms of the waiting staff) of the studio I-Gle. The wellness centre was created by Studio 92, art installations and graphics are the work of Ivana Franke and Silvio Vujičić, and the visual identity of the hotel was created by the Bruketa & Žinić & Grey agency. The architecture always impresses me, and I find a detail that leaves me speechless during every visit. It is not surprising that the hotel has been noticed by international experts and that it is the most awarded regional hotel. Excellent. WARM APPETIZER - STAFF AND CATERING The hotel service has been upgraded since our last visit. The original culinary story was created by Canadian Priska Thuring, whose legacy is still followed. Breakfast is still among the best in the region and can be described as trendy, modern and simply excellent. There are three restaurants in the hotel, and we recommend a visit to the à la carte ResoLution restaurant. An exceptional wine list is waiting for you, as well as the fusion culinary heritage of Prisca Thuring. Guests are delighted with themed evenings, such as sushi and sweet weekends. The staff is professional and always at hand. The slightly more casual approach is not disturbing, but rather presents a part of the overall hotel experience, although this is the area where the hotel has the most room for improvement to achieve perfection.


MAIN DISH - CONFERENCE HOTEL SERVICE Spacious rooms are defined by a giant panoramic glass wall with zen views over the Adriatic Sea or the heavenly garden and a spacious balcony. The room is full of glass, which creates reflection and introduces the undulation of the sea and the shadows of the surrounding forest. The combination of black walls and bright autumn furniture works elegantly. The tapestry behind bed is an artwork and a source of inspiration. There is enough work space, and the special touch is the exceptional lighting, which I place at the very top. This category also includes the original Croatian furniture of the Numen group. Hotel Lone is at the heart of Maistra’s meetings offer. With its ten halls it is also suitable for more complex events. The largest hall accommodates 650 guests, who will be thrilled by the spacious lobby, suitable for accompanying exhibitions. DESSERT - ADDITIONAL FACILITIES An exceptional wellness centre deviates from the clichés and extends to1700 square metres, and also astonishes with submerged rooms and zen resting places.



LUXURY PREMIUM BUSINESS ECONOMY BUDGET FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES During the visit, we did not encounter negative surprises; the slightly inconsistent staff is a minor distraction, which sometimes surprises in the negative direction.

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

TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES Tiny design details that are unique, thoughtful and inspiring. FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY The visit to Hotel Lone was too short and it seems we could stay at the hotel for a long time. The hotel operates with freshness and originality, and even after a few years of operation, it is still in great condition. A return visit also enables guests to experience a very personal contact with the culture, design, nature and culinary scene of the destination. This is also appreciated by event organisers, inspired by the playfulness, flexibility and originality of the what is available for meetings, which still greatly deviates from what is seen in the competition. It is still true that less is more and this is clearly seen in the case of Lone.

4.90 Final Grade


HOTEL ADRIATIC ROVINJ A black and white art rhapsody MAISTRA

CATEGORY 5***** OPENED SINCE 1913 – completely renovated in 2015 MEETINGS STAR Boutique Congress Hotel STANDARD Boutique design hotel NUMBER OF ROOMS 18 unique suites PRICE INTERNET EUR 90–135 (November 2016 low season / Trivago) ADDRESS HOTEL ADRIATIC Obala Pina Budicina 16 HR-52210 Rovinj, Croatia T: +385 52 803 510 E: adriatic@maistra.hr FACILITIES Brasserie Caffe Adriatic Art at Adriatic (hotel art gallery) Mulini Beach (walking distance) Wellness & Spa Lone (walking distance) SPECIALS The hotel is a unique gallery where you will find the works of many artists which will enrich your incentive experience.


LOCATION Hotel Adriatic is a key part of the tourist postcard of one of the most picturesque Adriatic towns. For many years the hotel slowly decayed, but after renovation became the heart and pride of Rovinj city centre and its inhabitants. The hotel was built in 1892 and was initially a café, and from 1913 a hotel. After intensive renovation carried out by Maistra, the building shone in the spirit of heritage and perfectly complements the cityscape. Today, this is the only city hotel that, thanks to the courage and vision of the investors, embodies the idea of a boutique city hotel. ACCESSIBILITY Rovinj is most easily accessible by car. Such guests are well catered for because the hotel has its own parking space, and an electric vehicle takes you to the hotel in the city centre. Guests appreciate the retro urban bikes that are included in the price of their stay and which work well on the coastal streets and trails. The advantage of the city centre location is the accessibility of all the main tourist attractions of the picturesque town. In recent years air accessibility through the nearby airport in Pula has also considerably improved. There are also international airports nearby in Trieste, Zagreb and Ljubljana. COLD APPETIZER - ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS Credit for the design of the hotel goes to the awarded 3LHD architectural studio. Together with many project partners, they managed to preserve original details. With more than 100 works of art, the hotel is simultaneously a gallery, as installations, graphics and paintings are found throughout the premises. Some 14 regional artists have been hired for the art works, including Jasmina Cibic, born in Slovenia and now working in London. Cibic has taken care of one of the most recognisable installations (also most frequently photographed for Instagram) of Adriatic - the battered white owls in flight, which are supposed to represent the movement between the glorious past and the unknown future. The whole works luxuriously, eclectically and elegantly, full of various textures and cool tones as well as experimenting with light that makes up the whole. WARM APPETIZER - STAFF AND CATERING Andrew Gaskin, an experienced British chef, keeps a vigilant eye on the menus of Maistra. His Mediterranean style is felt on the plates of the Adriatic’s “brasserie”. The emphasis is on seafood, and Mediterranean dishes. The boutique story continues at breakfast, served in a café atmosphere, and the breakfast is one of the best on the Adriatic. It is worth mentioning the unique chic staff uniforms, which are designed by the leading Croatian fashion brand Studio I-GLE. The uniforms also combine classic with modern guidelines. In the culinary field, a large variety of whiskies, served within the rules, is a great deal. The selection ranges from Japanese Suntory to a wide range of Scottish whiskies for connoisseurs. Morning macchiato on the hotel terrace easily matches up to the Italian competition.


MAIN DISH - CONFERENCE HOTEL SERVICE The rooms are white in contrast with the blackness of the corridors, and the spacious rooms are enlarged by high ceilings with preserved stucco. Every room in the hotel is an art gallery. There is no lack of design details, including thoughtful hi-tech lighting. Bed linen is superior and superb. Small attentions especially delight, such as a personal, hand-written note from the director of the hotel, homemade elderflower juice, real Illy coffee, and a choice of three fragrances that the guest uses according to their current mood. A bit unconventional is a book of personal impressions of previous guests, which makes for a book of memories. The hotel room therefore embodies the idea of a boutique hotel room. DESSERT - ADDITIONAL FACILITIES Retro bikes to take you to one of Maistra’s designer hotels in Rovinj or to your favourite corner of the beach. Especially outside of season, cycling along the well-marked paths offers true relaxation.


FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES We did not come across any negative surprises during the visit. TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES Tiny design details that are unique, thoughtful and inspiring. The idea of a book of personal impressions in each room is lovely, and the usual room equipment with great design, inscriptions and execution brings a smile to your face. FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY Hotel Adriatic is synonymous with a modern boutique design hotel with an excellent restaurant and a very well-stocked hotel bar. The hotel is an excellent base for various programmes in Istria. Among these we are especially fond of the wine story in inland Istrian, where you will find some exceptional winemakers (Kozlovič, Roxanich, Matošević, Kabola ...) and excellent taverns (Morgan, Buščina ...). The hotel is suitable for smaller, more demanding incentive groups, that will combine various services provided on site by Maistra. This complex includes several meeting rooms in the premises of the former cigarette factory and the meetings centre at the Lone Hotel. An excellent, if not a top boutique hotel that will impress you and your meeting guests.


GOLD final score SILVER final score BRONZE final score

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


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


Final Grade



CATEGORY 4**** OPENED SINCE 2015 MEETINGS STAR Boutique Meeting Hotel STANDARD Boutique Congress Hotel NUMBER OF ROOMS 19 rooms PRICE INTERNET EUR 109 (March 2019 low season / Trivago) ADDRESS PARK BOUTIQUE HOTEL Jurja Habdelića 6 HR-42000 Varaždin, Croatia T: +385 (0)42 211 466 E: manager@park-boutique-hotel.eu FACILITIES À la carte restaurant (60 seats) Coffee shop (30 seats) Cocktail and coffee lounge Mini wellness centre Lilija Conference Centre SPECIALS A terrace overlooking the city park is a great place for gala events. Accommodates up to 100 people.


LOCATION The name of the hotel also describes its location. Park Boutique Hotel is located alongside one of the most beautiful city parks, named after Vatroslav Jagić, a Croatian linguist. The hotel and the park are both part of the city centre, which is famous for its baroque appearance and many cultural monuments. Namely, between 1767 and 1776, the city was the capital of Croatia, and many palaces and buildings were built at that time, that still make an impression on us today. The hotel is an interesting combination of modern and traditional, which could also be said for the city of Varaždin. The many stories told by the buildings contribute to the interest and the symbols of angels, which can be found on many buildings, add charm to the city. ACCESSIBILITY The city lies 81 km north of Zagreb, Croatia, and only 40 km from Ptuj, Slovenia. Varaždin is well connected as it lies right next to an important traffic route on the way from the port of Rijeka to Budapest. A city of approximately 47,000 inhabitants is friendly from a traffic point of view. You can easily reach all the city’s attractions on foot, and this makes it especially pleasant. Due to the flat terrain, we also recommend cycling. The city’s parking system is exemplary; it only requires keeping track of parking hours. A small parking area is available right next to the hotel, otherwise you can park in the well-marked blue zones. COLD APPETIZER - ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS Renovations in the historic city, where many monuments are protected, are always delicate. However, in case of the Park Boutique Hotel, the architects from Biro Brakus managed the renovation with excellence. The old building, which was the basis of the project, remained practically unchanged and it elegantly rounds off the street. The new extension is unobtrusively complemented and seems to be built in with tall trees. The structure of the facade with iron lamellas (Corten) is reminiscent of the structure of trees, and the rusty colour does not disturb the surroundings. The crafty interior is modern and conceptual. Here and there you can find some inconsistencies, but in any case, it is an urban hotel and the people of Varaždin can be reasonably proud of its architecture. WARM APPETIZER - STAFF AND CATERING As befitting a boutique hotel, the staff are professional and very friendly. It is easily noted that the hotel owners are experienced caterers. The company Gastrocom has been operating since 1993 and owns several restaurants in Varaždin and also provides catering services. Logically, the main part of the hotel are consequently a restaurant and a café, which are both very popular among the townspeople. The quality of both is solid and breakfast is satisfactory with some room for improvement. The most room for improvement is in the promotion of the local culinary tradition, which is very well implemented by the project Taste the Tradition of the Varaždin Region.


MAIN DISH - MEETINGS HOTEL SERVICE Hotel rooms Some of the 19 rooms are partly decorated in a modern minimalist style, and the remainder in a more traditional style. We tried a minimalist room, in which the veduta of Varaždin wallpaper above the bed first catches the eye. The overall result, with furniture pieces of the Croatian brand Prostoria and superior lighting, excites and satisfies the soul with its aesthetics. Additionally, wooden wall cladding in lighter tones, contrasting walls in dark shades and unusual geometric ceilings attract the eye. Pleasant and very elegant. Meetings Centre The smaller meetings centre, which is functional and modern, is located in the basement. The hall can be partitioned into two smaller ones and can accommodate up to 120 people. DESSERT - ADDITIONAL FACILITIES The city park also serves as a hotel garden. If you wish to get some fresh air, prepare a reception with a view or an innovative break with coffee, Hotel Park has excellent conditions.



GOLD final score SILVER final score BRONZE final score

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

FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES Some inconsistencies in the rooms, such as a poorly working hair dryer, glass bulkheads above the bath and not the best dimming with curtains. Minor details that would place the hotel in a higher category.


TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES The choice of food in the restaurant that goes beyond the classic choice offered in hotels of a similar category.

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

FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY At the current time, it is hard to find a better hotel in Varaždin. We are convinced of this by the concept of the hotel and by the highly professional staff. The trademark of the hotel is its restaurant, which is reasonable considering the structure of the owners. The hotel is a superb story, which fundamentally changes the hotel scene in the city. And this is a hidden jewel, waiting for event organisers to discover its stories. Among them, we can imagine various incentive programme organisers, who can take guests to numerous undiscovered gems of Croatian Zagorje and neighbouring Slovenia.

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4.53 Final Grade



CATEGORY 5***** OPENED SINCE March 2009 MEETINGS STAR Resort Meeting Hotel STANDARD Hotel with conference capacities NUMBER OF ROOMS 105 rooms and 15 apartments PRICE INTERNET EUR 150–195 (March 2019, Trivago) ADDRESS A. Smareglia bb HR-52210 Rovinj, Croatia T: +385 (0)52 636 000 F: +385 (0)52 636 001 E: montemulini@maistra.hr FACILITIES A la carte restaurant Mediteraneo Fine dining restaurant Wine Vault Banquet hall Lobby bar Pool bar Wine cellar Wellness & spa centre Beauty centre Sport and fitness centre Boutique SPECIALS Chef’s table can be a unique experience for a smaller, intimate group of people or a top incentive story. You will experience everything that happens behind the closed doors of the Wine Vault Restaurant. A table for up to 6 people is a true paradise for all gourmets.


LOCATION Rovinj is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful and romantic Mediterranean cities. The boutique hotel is located next to the most beautiful bay in Rovinj, just off the city centre along the main coastal promenade. The leading Croatian tourist company has created a superior tourist area with hotels of various categories in the protected park forest Zlatni rt, where, besides the Monte Mulini, the design Hotel Lone, Hotel Eden and Hotel Grand Park, which opens its door in April, are located. Due to its exclusivity, the most prestigious Maistra hotel is included in the chain of The Leading Hotels of the World, which has been bringing together the world’s most luxurious hotels since 1928. It is known for a very strict entry bar and quality standard, and currently represents the 430 of the most luxurious hotels in the world. ACCESSIBILITY The hotel is located by the sea and is only 10 minutes’ walk away from Rovinj’s central town square. The walkway from the hotel to the city centre is well-maintained. Rovinj is considered one of the closest Mediterranean meetings destinations for the countries of Central and Western Europe, located in the most northern part of the Mediterranean. The main advantage is high-quality road connections. A bigger problem is aviation accessibility, which, in the context of the position of the six closest international airports, nevertheless improves yearly. For guests with cars, the hotel has a car park with an underground garage and outdoor parking spaces. The city and main attractions are at your fingertips, and the fastest way to explore the city is on foot or by bike. COLD APPETIZER - ARCHITECTURE AND AESTHETICS The architecture of the hotel is clean, modern and somewhat conservative. A tall lobby with a glass facade overlooking the bay stands out. Hotel designers from the famous British bureau Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo have bet on the tested model of creating luxurious hotels with a touch of prestige that they have already applied to many of the world’s top hotel chains. In practice this means a mighty lobby, spacious rooms and superb horticultural arrangement of the hotel’s surroundings. We do not have any comments on the appearance of the hotel. Quite different to attract and individual enough to be differentiated from the more ambitious designer hotel Lone. WARM APPETIZER - STAFF AND CATERING The properly set room’s interior significantly contributes to the pleasure, comfort, and wellbeing that one experiences while staying at the hotel. This is followed by staff who are at the highest level in terms of friendliness, professionalism and personal attitude towards guests. The most prestigious part of the hotel is the extraordinary gastronomic offer at the Wine Vault and Mediterraneo restaurants, in which the legendary Croatian chef Tomislav Gretić has set the trend. His successors are just as successful and many still come to Rovinj for the sake of top-class cuisine.


The spirit of the French and the tradition of Mediterranean gastronomy is also present in great diverse breakfasts. We appreciate the seasonal adaptation of dishes and excellent local ingredients as well as Istrian dishes. The choice of dishes that you can order à la carte at breakfast is also exceptional. This is certainly one of the best breakfasts on the Adriatic. By the way, the wine shop still offers one of the largest collection of wines on the Adriatic. MAIN DISH - MEETINGS HOTEL SERVICE The hotel rooms are at the top, if not even at the very top of comfort, prestige and with the selection of pampering accessories. For a hotel of this category, it is expected that the hotel will provide accessories that make your stay pleasant and this hotel has certainly done so. The rooms are relatively classical, very elegant and timeless. Hotel Monte Mulini has two smaller, luxury meeting halls for receptions, banquets and other events for up to 250 participants. An integral part of the resort is the Monte Mulini Convention Centre, as they called all the capacities dispersed in the neighbouring hotels Lone and Eden. Together they combine 30 halls, of which the largest is in the Lone Hotel and accommodates over 700 participants. DESSERT - ADDITIONAL FACILITIES The supreme cuisine, which has been designed by Tomislav Gretić, for many the best Croatian chef, continues to attract real gourmets. This part of the offer is a great added value of the hotel. FLOP – NEGATIVE SURPRISES There are only a few trivialities that distract, like not always a super-fast internet connection. Otherwise, it is an exceptional hotel, where there is hardly anything to complain about. TOP – POSITIVE SURPRISES Free bike rental for hotel guests. FINAL IMPRESSION AND CREDIBILITY The hotel was last evaluated in 2013 and after this visit we can conclude that it is ageing similarly to a top-quality wine. This is still a hotel to enjoy, to which the whole business philosophy is subordinated. There are only a few hotels that impress as the Monte Mulini Hotel does. The hotel looks good, is excellently equipped and exceeds expectations in many ways. The longer we stayed in the hotel, the better the feeling was that it is an exceptional gastronomical oasis. Superior staff, quality content and ingredients and a personal approach remain the core of the story. This five-star hotel will get competition this year on its own doorstep and in its own premises. The nearby Grand Park Hotel is supposed to be even better.



GOLD final score SILVER final score BRONZE final score

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


    

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

4.90 Final Grade





Population: 8,171

Population: 43,697

ICCA Country and City rankings 2018 325th place 7 meetings

ICCA Country and City rankings 2018 86th place 31 meetings

Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2018: 3.53

Numbeo Quality of Life Index 2018: 3.22

Numbeo Safety Index: 4.72

Numbeo Safety Index: 4.75

ACI Airport Connectivity Index: 3.16

ACI Airport Connectivity Index: 2.89

Hours of sunshine: 2,100 per year

Hours of sunshine: 2,665 per year

The largest hall in the city (in sqm): 500 sqm

The largest hall in the city (in sqm): 900 sqm

The number of 4* and 5* category hotels: 8

The number of 4* and 5* category hotels: 29

Banquet hall maximum capacity: 400

Banquet hall maximum capacity: 700

Maximum hall capacity in theatre style: 514

Maximum hall capacity in theatre style: 1,200


+ As a recognisable brand Bled stands out among other congress destinations in the region. It most closely resembles Dubrovnik, which has caught up with the pre-war congress tempo by taking the right steps. Currently, the biggest disadvantage is the lack of a clear focus towards quality rather than mass tourism. This is most clearly seen in the restaurant, night life and shopping offer. As a result, the current perception of quality is lower than with its largest competitors. In Bled the saying ‘Less is more’ is very true. The potential for the meetings industry is immense, it just needs to be harnessed in the right way.

+ Dubrovnik is a city growing and developing as a result of its meetings industry. It will be a big part of the future of this industry for the entire region, primarily as the most successful Croatian and regional brand on the global meetings market. With no exaggeration we can claim the destination brand of the entire region will hang on Dubrovnik. It will lead the region as the first destination where international and local hotel chains are opening convention centres and performing intensive cobranding. The results are numerous international corporation incentives booking up the season and convention centres opening one after the other.

Bled meetings flashpoints: 1. Bled Congress Centre - With 512 seats, the Bled Congress Centre is Bled’s largest convention hall. It boasts a superb, lakeside location in the very heart of the town. 2. Rikli Balance Hotel - With as many as eight function rooms and over 1,000 sq. m of meeting space, the hotel is the largest hotel convention centre in Bled. 3. Grand Hotel Toplice - The five-star hotel has retained the elegant style of the 1930s and is one of Slovenia’s most distinguished hotels. 4. Bled Castle – Special Venue and a unique viewpoint, with beautiful vistas across the lake, the island and the surrounding villages. 5. Bled Island - A charming sight that together with the mighty castle adds to the enduring allure of Bled. The ride in a traditional wooden ‘pletna’ boat to reach it is an adventure in its own right.

Dubrovnik meetings flashpoints: 1. Revelin and Lovrijenac Fortress - unique historic venues for a real experience of Dubrovnik. 2. Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik - set in Dubrovnik’s green oasis of Babin Kuk peninsula with the largest conference facilities in the area 3. A tour of the Elaphiti Islands (Koločep, Lopud and Šipan) in a replica of the medieval boat Karaka, with lunch and a sunset cocktail included. 4. Buggy safari - Fun drive with retro cars, learning about the traditional Dalmatian way of life, tasting local products and meeting locals 5. Lazareti – A Unique New Historic Venue in Dubrovnik, recently completely restored and embellished with modern facilities.

STAY: Rikli Balance Hotel / 4****

STAY: Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik/ 5*****



WINNER Dubrovnik


SEIZE THE DAY Mina Krevl, Marketing Project Manager at Cankarjev dom – Cultural and Congress Centre Ljubljana JASMINA JERANT //


Q: What is the best part of your job? The best part of my job is being in constant contact with a variety of people, communicating with them and helping them get the best service possible. I love the fact that every client is different and has different needs and that makes my job interesting. Q: What would make your job easier? Applications. We millennials live with applications and technology and I think that in general we believe that it makes our lives easier. Q: What was your best idea last year? My best idea last year was to seize the day and try to make the best of a situation that seemed bad at the time. I got stranded in Scotland because of the worst winter in the last 50 years. Surprisingly, a lot of good came out of it. I got to meet many new people who I still have contact with and who made an adventure out of being stuck on an island. Since then I have applied the mentality “seize the day” every day at work and it seems that it was the best decision I could have made. Q: What is your most memorable event at work? I have not been employed for very long so I think that it is hard to define just one event. I believe that the most memorable event is somewhere in my future, waiting for me to live it and store it in my memory forever. So I’ll get back to you with this answer as soon as it happens. Q: What are you most proud of in business …? In business I am most proud of every meeting that was successfully completed with smiles on the clients’ faces. However, that was when I was still working at the registration office as a student. Nowadays, I am most proud to be working here full time as the Cankarjev dom is a beautiful building, full of hidden gems (for example, our Štih Hall) and corridors that you can get lost in (for example, the backstage area of Gallus Hall). It is my pleasure to show clients around, to share my love for CD with everyone else and to make them see what I see. Q: … and privately? Privately I am most proud of my family and friends. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is the truth. They stick with me no matter what happens, they help me with advice when I need it and without them I would not be the person I am today, neither in business nor privately.

Q: Wisdom / motto? I have always lived by Gandhi’s motto: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you want something to change, you have to start with yourself. One person at the time, we can change the world and make it a more beautiful one for everyone living in it.


I WAS PUSHED IN AT THE DEEP END … Bernarda Karo, Congress Advisor at Maribor – Pohorje Tourist Board JASMINA JERANT //


Q: What is the best part of your job? It`s the dynamic nature of the job, most definitely, and it is also the challenge. Every day is something different. On the one side, we have clients and on the other side, we have the local suppliers. In the end, our goal is mutual; we all want our event to be a success. Q: What would make your job easier? If there was something, then it wouldn`t be as interesting anymore. I like it complex. Q: What was your best idea last year? Personal: moving into a new home. Business: the establishment of the MICE group for our destination, a partnership of the key MICE suppliers in the destination. Q: The most memorable event for you at work? Definitely 2008 – the Slovenian presidency of the EU. It was my first year in the MICE department, our first year as a member of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, and I got this as my first major assignment… taking care of the 3-day meeting to be held in Maribor, with about 350 participants. It was the best working experience because I was pushed in at the deep end and I had to swim. Q: What are you most proud of in business …? I have to say I am very proud of the MICE group in the destination, that consists of Terme Maribor, Maribor City Hotel, Hotel Mond and Galileo 3000 as DMC. Together we are working on our MICE segment and trying to make our destination identified and known as safe, boutique, green, hospitable… Q: … and privately? … finally finishing my Master’s degree. Q: Wisdom/motto? When life becomes harder, change yourself to be stronger. That`s my motto.


I WOULD ADVISE THEM TO BE BRAVE AND TO DREAM BIG Interview with Luka Zajc, Sales Manager at Dekon Slovenia JASMINA JERANT //


In Slovenia’s capital in May 2017, Dekon Group launched the first international professional organiser of meetings activity in Slovenia – DEKON.SI which is co-owned by GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. We talked about DEKON.SI and its work with Sales Manager Luka Zajc. Luka has more than 13 years of experience in the travel, hospitality and events industries, both in Slovenia and abroad. He joined Dekon as Sales Manager in November 2017. Prior to commencing his role at Dekon, he worked as a Business Development Executive for Angela Shanley Associates tour operator in London, Sales Executive at Austria Trend Hotel Ljubljana, Sales and Project Manager at the GR Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, real estate agent in Ljubljana, volunteer Project Manager for a medical centre in Kenya and Marketing Projects Manager at CD Congress Centre Ljubljana.

"Next year we are bringing another large meeting to the GR, the Meeting of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies FEBS."

Q: Dekon is the first international meetings organiser based in Slovenia. How does this benefit Dekon’s clients? With Dekon Slovenia teaming up with the internationally renowned professional meetings organiser Dekon Group, we linked local spirit, contacts, knowledge and mindset with international meetings knowhow, benefiting our Slovenian and our international clients. Slovenian clients can finally work with a professional meetings organiser which has organised events on almost all continents of the world. Q: Dekon has been working in Slovenia since 2017. The agency is coowned by Dekon and by GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. How does the collaboration work? I would describe the collaboration work between Dekon and GR as a partnership from which both sides benefit. Dekon Group has already


organised four large international conferences and congresses at the GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. Next year we are bringing another large meeting to the GR, the Meeting of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies FEBS. With its 2000 plus delegates it will definitely be the meeting of the year. However, this does not mean that exclusively we only offer GR as a possible event venue but we listen closely to our clients and offer them the greatest possible flexibility. We can organise an event anywhere in Slovenia. We also act as an in-house PCO for GR, which means the GR puts us in contact with their clients who are looking for PCO services.

"Dekon Slovenia's future plan is to continue to grow as the first international professional meetings organiser and use Ljubljana as a hub to extend to other regions of the Balkans."

Q: Dekon has a long tradition, not only in Turkey, where the headquarters are, but also in other European countries. How do you help each other? We help each other by sharing know-how, knowledge, sales leads, international and local contacts, and experience from previous events which help when approaching a local society, etc. We always work hand in hand with everyone in the Dekon Group and are in close contact on a daily basis. A solution or suggestion is never more than a call away. We also have regular meetings, in person or via video conference to discuss past and future business, potential leads, challenges or other strategically important questions. Q: What is the difference between the work in the international and local PCO agencies? An international PCO means a multicultural and global working environment. The Dekon Group is an internationally operating full service PCO that organises more than 60 conferences and congresses across the globe. Last year we organised events in Japan, Iceland and Spain, just to name a few and this year we are returning to the USA. We are heading to Peru for the first time with one of our regular clients (we are core PCO of some associations as well). This means we can help our international clients with up-to-date knowledge about different destinations and enhance clients’ events with the latest trends in the meetings industry. We have a large network of international clients and suppliers and excellent connections with international sponsors. We are also a partner of INCON, a PCO partnership of the 10 major PCOs worldwide, like AIM, MCI, EGA or Smithbucklin, the most important AMC in the USA. In comparison with a local PCO agency, an international PCO definitely has a wider horizon and more opportunities on the global market. Furthermore, our international connections can also be beneficial for participation numbers at events we organise.

Q: What are the challenges when trying to get a meeting to come to Ljubljana? Which are Ljubljana’s advantages that we perhaps do not emphasise enough? The main challenge that remains is the accessibility, by plane or by train. Ljubljana still lacks more frequent and direct flights with major European hubs. Moreover, as train travel in Europe is environmentally friendlier and often a better alternative to planes, we would need to improve the rail infrastructure and make Ljubljana more accessible with fast trains from other European capitals. Furthermore, other challenges include ageing hotels and their sometimes-unsustainable price policies. One of our clients said recently that Ljubljana has a really nice, friendly, open-minded campus feel, and I could not agree more. Ljubljana is a compact city with short and walkable distances between hotels and venues with lots of green areas in between. Short distances ease the challenges of organising transfers between hotels and venues. Moreover, Ljubljana is still an undiscovered, new, fresh destination and one of the world’s safest cities located in the centre of Slovenia close to other appealing destinations, such as Bled, Postojna, and Piran. Q: What would you recommend to associations that have been getting into organisation of an international conference for the first time? I would advise them to be brave and to dream big. Many Slovenians associations and societies tell me that they are too small and afraid to organise an international event. With the right international partner like Dekon, organising an international meeting has never been easier. We take care of all the logistics, or in other words we do the kitchen work; the local association only needs to put together an attractive scientific programme that will bring more delegates. We know that international events are great for knowledge exchange and experience sharing with world-class experts and scientists, raising awareness about local achievements and important for the development of science and improving the economy of the host country. The benefits of organising an international meeting are unlimited and outweigh the challenges. Q: How does your agency help them with bidding for conferences and with the organisation? We offer our clients several different bidding packages that can include preparation of a bidding strategy, graphic and design work, preparation of a bid book and bid presentation by a professional design company, preparation of a promotional video and organisation of site inspections. Our services connected with the organisation of an event include budgeting and pre-financing, event management, accommodation services, membership management, registration services, scientific programme services, sponsorship and exhibition management; we also make graphic design and promotional videos for our clients in our own graphic design company. Moreover, we are active in association management as well (so we understand very well how associations tick and can therefore offer the best tailor made services to our association clients). Q: What are Dekon Slovenia’s future plans? Dekon Slovenia’s future plan is to continue to grow as the first international professional meetings organiser and use Ljubljana as a hub to extend to other regions of the Balkans. Moreover, with new hotels and with a brand-new meeting hall at the GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, we will be able to bid for even bigger meetings so that will be our main focus in the years to come.


"I strongly believe that only a team that has this bond and mutual respect and trust can be strong and will do its job professionally and successfully."

Q: You have been working in the meetings industry for many years. What are you most inspired by in your work and what is your biggest challenge? I am most inspired by my colleagues from Istanbul who are always willing to share their knowledge and are always there to help. Whether they hold a senior or a junior position, they are readily available to give their support, their insight or share their experiences and valuable opinions on a certain matter. I value their readiness and willingness very highly and I am extremely thankful for being a part of the Dekon Group. I strongly believe that only a team that has this bond and mutual respect and trust can be strong and will do its job professionally and successfully. This May I am joining the Dekon Turkey team in Barcelona for the 7th World Live Neurovascular Conference to get first-hand experience with one of the technologically most-advanced events Dekon is organising for its longterm client. I am really looking forward to being a part of the organising team of such a successful conference and I am sure it will broaden my experience in the industry even more. I believe finding the job I like the most was one of my biggest challenges. In my career I have worked in event operations, event sales for hotels and venues, and I volunteered and worked in a completely different industry before returning to the meetings industry to start working for a professional meetings organiser. I have realised that this is the job I do best and enjoy the most.


ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST EVENT Things rocking events and the live marketing scene GORAZD ČAD //


"Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." // Niels Bohr



The accelerating development of the event industry is making predictions about the future increasingly difficult. Most forecasts are based on the visions of technology companies who are solving particular problems specific to their industry segments. This is partly why there is such an emphasis on the various tools that are supposed to transform the event industry. Instead, we decided to get the opinion of event organisers.


A selection of 108 event organisers answered our questionnaire and in-depth interviews. The survey was conducted in the autumn of 2018. For the most part, the respondents are optimistic about the future (as many as 85.6% are highly or moderately optimistic). The number of pessimists among them is insignificant. The respondents were those event organisers who are the most active in the present; belonging to the middle generation, most of them will be between 51 and 70 years of age by 2030. The survey covered individuals from 34 countries, with the majority from Great Britain, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, Austria, Serbia, Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium.


Personal, or “face-to-face”, meetings are crucial for business success.


We participants want connections, excellent communication and a feeling of belonging. This is one of the central findings of the survey. In the survey, we made a comparison of the various challenges faced by organisers today. There is no immediately apparent direct connection between the megatrends and the industry’s current challenges; the fundamental problems in the present are instead things like congress budgets, how to entice participants and creative methods of organising events. These are mostly short-term challenges that respondents feel they can directly influence. They find challenges beyond their control and outside their influence less important. However, a more thorough examination reveals certain correlations that are also significant for prognostication, since they deal with issues that are important now, but will be crucial in the future. For the most part, these are the challenges posed by new technology and digitalisation, as well as the question of event security. The respondents agree that the key trend affecting event organisation in the future is technology, followed by sustainable development. The additional suggestions are interesting as well; standing out among them is security, which was pointed out as a megatrend by multiple respondents and which ranks immediately below mobility. With respect to organising events in the future, the respondents’ opinions are as follows: • the amount of time dedicated to networking will increase, an opinion shared by more than half of the respondents (56.7%). • Just under half of the respondents believe event duration will decrease (49.5%). • Slightly more than half of the respondents believe the duration of workshops will stay the same (51.5%). • Half of the respondents expect the duration of social events to stay the same (49.5%). The following technologies will have the biggest influence on event organisation: 3.5 3.26 3.26 3.23 2.98 2.98 2.92 .

Audience Engagement Tools Augmented and Virtual Reality Interactive Tables and Screens Real time language translation Hologram projections Robotics and Machine Learning Drones


PayPal was not invented by banks, Amazon was not invented by retailers, Airbnb was not invented by hoteliers. We asked the respondents for their personal suggestions regarding future challenges. The answers were classified into two groups.

FUTURE CHALLENGES THAT RESPONDENTS WILL HAVE DIRECT INFLUENCE OVER RAPID TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT Most of the respondents are anxious about the rapid technological development. The dilemma about the merits of virtual meetings remains; the most interesting thing is the perception of technology as a tool and not as the essence of meetings. Almost all the respondents agree that technological progress will be a key challenge of the future. DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION Nowadays it seems like there is no more need for knowledge – everything is just an internet search away, everything can be “googled”. Knowledge is accessible everywhere and anywhere. We are surrounded by inconspicuous services that threaten to displace old business models, so it is necessary to consider the possibility of events being entirely digitalised. COMMUNICATION WITH PARTICIPANTS Participants’ shifting expectations will result in changes to the way we communicate with them. This question is directly connected to rapid technological development which has facilitated more effective communication. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (VR AND AI) Accomplishments in the field of artificial intelligence already provide a great deal of help with organising events. From speech recognition, facial recognition, and self-driving cars, all the way to programs solving the complexities of event organisation – all of these are accessible today and will become ubiquitous in the future. CREATING UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES FOR THE PARTICIPANTS Experimenting with the various forms that we collectively refer to as “meeting design” has become a staple of the job. Familiarity with the context of the destination, authenticity and concern for the environment have become a non-negotiable part of the congress story and their importance is only expected to increase. PERSONAL AWARENESS Integrity and personal responsibility for everything we think and do. More awareness and more concern for people and the planet is our shared responsibility. MEASURING THE ROI (THE ADDED VALUE OF EVENTS) It might sound like a tired phrase, but we live in a time when every link in the congress chain should seek to offer more added value. We need to move beyond conventional thinking, focusing fully on the participants and their needs. SUPERVISION OF THE USE OF PARTICIPANTS’ PRIVATE DATA Congress organisers collect and, in a way, trade data about the participants. This represents an advantage for large organisers with the ability of integrating data from different services and applications, which nowadays mostly takes place using cloud services. Privacy, anonymity and security, or encryption of communications, are a future challenge.




ACCESSIBILITY OF DESTINATIONS Despite the complexities of congress destinations, the key factor is still accessibility, which closely correlates with the safety of various destinations. No large changes are expected in this area, either in the near term or in the distant future.

Moore’s law states that approximately every year and a half, performance of highly advanced integrated circuits (general purpose and dedicated processing units) doubles.

GLOBAL UNCERTAINTY We live in a time of constant global uncertainty; unexpected political and economic events can have a dire impact and thus represent a key problem of the congress industry. ADAPTING TO DIFFERENT COUNTRIES AND CULTURES The “one size fits all” approach stopped being viable a long time ago. Even global corporations will have to adapt events to the specifics of local markets and be as flexible as possible in doing so. CLIMATE CHANGE Climate change is a fact. Globally, the only thing we can do to help is to foster green congress tourism. All stakeholders of the congress industry are compelled to introduce measures to improve sustainability: agencies, meeting organisers, hotel chains and tourist and congress offices. NICHE CONGRESS DESTINATIONS AND PRODUCTS Innovations happen on the margins; that is where new congress market niches and products arise. There are innumerable congress destinations and providers and they all want to succeed. Destinations that wallow in mediocrity will not survive.


The event organisers believe that in the future the most important aspects of event organisation by average rating will be: 4.8 Content 4.7 Networking 4.0 Experience 3.7 Interaction 2.4 Fun 1.4 Sitting and listening

The respondents believe that the experience offered represents an enormously important factor in choosing a destination. Most of the respondents are united in the opinion that experience will continue to represent an important part of competitive advantage. In the area of marketing, the changes will be extremely dynamic. Marketing trends are probably the hardest to predict; no one knows what direction the marketing will evolve into. Topping the rankings are probably the respondents’ pious hopes that the future will bring a democratisation of digital advertising; this is unlikely in practice, since this field is currently completely dominated by global corporations.

Moore’s law will be an extraordinary influence not only in marketing, but in all areas of both private life and business.

Other interesting answers that open further questions include: 1. Values will be crucial in creating content for events. It is on this basis that people will connect in the future. 2. Providing top-notch cadres will be a critical challenge. We will have to do more to retain them. 3. The veritable flood of various events and the problem of choosing between them has become a significant issue, especially because of generic copying of content. 4. The intergenerational gap will deepen further; it remains to be seen what the meeting industry’s response to this will be.

GLOSSARY • Face to face: Directly, meeting someone in the same place www.dictionary.cambridge.org • Audience Engagement Solutions: Engagement could simply mean tools to feel more involved during the event. www.sli.do • Real time language translation: A multi-device, multi-language, inperson translation feature available in the apps for participants. www.microsoft.com/en-us/translator and www.translate.google.com • Augmented/Virtual Reality: Virtual reality (VR) immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment. Augmented reality (AR) overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment. www.augment.com • Hologram projections: A three-dimensional image, created with photographic projection. www.livescience.com • Artificial Intelligence: Any technique which enables computers to mimic human behaviour. Source: www.datarobot.com • Big Data: A collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. www.forbes.com


JOIN US AT CONVENTA 2020! 22 - 23 January 2020 l Ljubljana, Slovenia

OMG! IT'S CONVENTA! www.conventa.si




















The most frequently used words describing Conventa experience (by participants of Conventa 2019)











EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 2019 Conventa, the trade show for meetings, events and incentive travel, for the 11th year in a row gathered the representatives of the meetings industry of New Europe and event organizers from around the world. From the 23rd to the 24th of January, Slovenia’s capital was transformed into the hub of the New Europe’s meetings industry. Conventa, organised by Slovenian Convention Bureau and Toleranca Marketing in partnership with Ljubljana Tourism, Slovenian Tourist Board and destination partners, this year welcomed 132 exhibitors from 15 countries and 238 hosted buyers from 46 countries, among which 61 were Slovenian event organizers. Conventa once more kept the promise to gather high-quality hosted buyers with the real interest in the region, among which 86% visited Conventa for the first time. Ljubljana was for two days a business hub for event organizers of the New Europe region, where 4.274 One2One meetings took place. According to the results of the survey carried out among hosted buyers and exhibitors, the 11th Conventa has been written into congress history in terms of the number of the best results from the satisfaction survey. Here are some highlights:













91,9 %

100 %



86,2 %

100 %







CONVENTA AMBASSADOR AND CONVENTA HALL OF FAME AWARDS Every year Conventa rewards extraordinary achievements in the meetings industry. With the Conventa Hall of Fame the organisers reward an individual who has with her or his extraordinary and invaluable effort made a mark and impacted the development of the meetings industry. This year the title went to the catering partners of Conventa: Vivo Catering, Jezeršek Catering, Kaval Group, and Union Hotels. While the Ambassador of Conventa is the title that goes to an individual or company that has been a longstanding partner and the greatest ambassador of the trade show. The prestigious title this year went to the ICCA (The International Congress and Convention Association) and was collected by Elif Balci Fisunoglu, the ICCA Regional Director for Europe.

THOUGHTS ABOUT CONVENTA Karmen Novarlič, Head of Business Communication Department at Slovenian Tourist Board: »Conventa ranked as must go to event on the European congress calendar for the key stakeholders in congress tourism, which is attended by more than 120 international partners from 44 countries and more than 100 Slovenian business partners this year. The evidence of great importance that the trade show gained are also the statistics from the past 11 years: over 2,500 buyers from abroad, more than 1300 exhibitors and more than 27,000 meetings are pinning Conventa among most important events of business and congress tourism in the region and beyond. The trade show also makes an important contribution to the reputation of our country as an excellent host of quality and professional business events. And impresses foreign visitors with enthusiasm, sustainable approach and genuine hospitality, on Slovenia as a boutique and authentic destination for 5-star experience.«

Jan Oršič, Head of Ljubljana Convention Bureau: »Ljubljana Convention Bureau at Ljubljana Tourism is a proud partner of Conventa and we are pleased that our destination can boast of an event that has already marked the upcoming congress year for the eleventh time by bringing together the whole region and the providers from around the world. Conventa entered the new decade as an established and recognizable event of the international congress industry, which significantly contributed to the establishment of Ljubljana and Slovenia as a meetings destination. The positive responses from invited guests and exhibitors this year again confirmed that Conventa is a trade show with a bright future.«

The organisers of Conventa are therefore proud to present the results of the survey, which confirm the high professionalism and excellence of the event and the satisfaction of all those involved.


EXPLORE NEW EUROPE, MEET NEW PARTNERS AND CREATE UNFORGETTABLE EVENTS Dear meeting planners, On behalf of the Conventa organizing team I would like to invite you to join us at 12th edition of Conventa, that will take place from 22 – 23 January 2020 in Ljubljana, Slovenia and will be followed by the fam trips to most interesting venues and marvelous destinations of New Europe.


Miha Kovačič, Head of Slovenian Convention Bureau and Co-founder of Conventa

• BOUTIQUE – petit in size and big in quality and hospitality • REGIONAL – presenting venues, DMCs, CVBs from the region of New Europe (Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine) • PROFESSIONAL – organised by professionals for professionals for the 12th year in a row • FRIENDLY – networking and relaxed atmosphere helping providers and clients to become true business partners Applications for 2020 are already opened and you are very welcome to apply for a hosted buyer status! Having in mind that more than 80% of exhibitors are coming to Conventa every year, our promise on the other side is to bring 80% of new hosted buyers every year. So, new comers with a real interest to organize events in the countries of New Europe, have priority in being confirmed as hosted buyers. Please note that Conventa as a boutique trade show accepts no more than 200 hosted buyers.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE HOSTED BUYER STATUS? • Complimentary flights or travel costs refund • Complimentary 4 star accommodation in Ljubljana • 2 networking dinners in Ljubljana • On-site hospitality (coffee breaks, lunches) • Plenty of opportunities for informal meetings with exhibitors • Online personalised diary to pre-schedule the appointments with buyers of your choice • Opportunity to join the post-Conventa fam trips • Full support of our enthusiastic and professional team More information on terms and conditions can be found at Conventa website: www.conventa.si/hosted-buyers, where you can also find the Application Form

We are very much looking forward to welcome you at Conventa 2020! For more information please contact me at: miha.kovacic@conventa.info




Kongres Magazine

Kongres Magazine is the very first niche communications agency to specialize in the meetings industry in the region of »New Europe«, creating urban congress stories spiced up with a strong dose of creativity and an “out of the box” vision for over a decade now.

ADVERTISE WITH US! T: +386 1 430 51 03 E: natalija@toleranca.eu

EDITOR IN CHIEF Gorazd Čad ASSISTANT EDITOR Jasmina Jerant DESIGN Barbara Dimec DTP AND PREPRESS Barbara Dimec PROOFREADING Soglasnik, except for the sections Views and Quick Talks PHOTO CREDIT archive of Kongres Magazine and partners’ destinations The Kongres Magazine is entered into the media register under sequence number 1423. MAGAZINE ISSUED IN January, March, May, June, July, September, November ISSN NUMBER 1855-8615 PUBLISHER AND PRODUCTION Poslovni turizem Gorazd Čad s.p., Kamnica 6B, SI-1262 Dol pri Ljubljani T: +385 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@go-mice.eu MARKETING Toleranca Marketing d.o.o., Štihova 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana T: +385 (0)1 430 51 03 E: gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu ISSUE DATE March 2019 For the content production it is required to get the written editorial consignment.

Official magazine of the Slovenian Convention Bureau


Ljubljana Capital for Great Meetings

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