South East Europe
Meetings Industry Magazine
What have been the major changes after all the tourism companies of Sava were integrated into the merged firm ‘Sava Tourism’?
With this integration we became the largest tourism company in Slovenia. We gathered the range of excellent destinations into one offer: terme Moravci, terme Ptuj, terme Banovci, terme Lendava, Radenci health resort, the Sava hotels on Bled, golf courses, campsites and an apartment complex with a total capacity of 2000 hotel rooms. We integrated and enriched our offer – one that is made up of different products, such as wellness, medical services, MICE, golf, gastronomy – and connected our unique ‘water’ facilities, renowned for their curative and beneficial effects. The integration connected employees, their knowledge and ideas.
Which are currently your most important projects?
Apart from the last step of the reorganisation, we are concluding a phase of integration of our sales and reservation service into one centralised service. Our guests will get all the information the need on any of our destinations and services in one place.
How do you see the actual situation in Slovenian tourism?
I think it is not quite as good as it might seem on first sight, as with what is set out in the constant reports on the increase of overnight stays and number of guests, but rather the business results of tourism companies confirm that the situation of Slovenian tourism is very bad. We need new markets and new guests, but firstly we need clever decisions on the direction to take, which goals to set and how to ensure that there is added value to improve the situation in the tourism market.
How does the congress industry contribute to the new strategy?
It is an industry with really huge potential, beginning with the size of market that is waiting for a presentation of the industry and then moving on to the purchasing capacity of guests and the effects of an increase in out-of-season demand and the multiplicative effects of meetings industry on the overall economy.
How do you see the 2012 congress year being?
We already estimated in 2011 that, despite the recession, the meetings industry would achieve very good results in 2012 and now we can confirm it, of course, for those destinations and providers of tourism services who recognised in a timely way that more investments were required in congress tourism as an industry that provides the potential to neutralise the effects of the economic crisis.
Are any new investments anticipated in the field of congress tourism?
Considering the economic situation, important investments are not expected in the near future, but a lot can already be done through raising the service level of employees and with good ideas with a good innovation ‘background’.
The congress industry is strongly connected to the destination and environment. How do you see that context in Bled?
I see it as a huge challenge and huge opportunity at the same time. The meetings industry contributes a lot of positive effects to a destination. At the same time, for the industry the most interesting destinations are always those with a local environment that have the ear for the needs of congress guests, which is evident from the attraction of the local offer, infrastructure …
What will be necessary to achieve considerable development of the meetings industry for the future?
First of all, considering its potential the positioning of the meetings industry at one of the highest levels of Slovenian Tourism’s new strategy, followed by support to the SCB by the Government of RS, including systematic and proportionally high financing and good flight connections.
Which experience from the world of business has taught you the most?
That experience is the best education and the honesty always pays off.
Where would you most like to invite your business partners to a business lunch in Bled?
It would definitely be the Promenada restaurant, nearby the Park hotel. It is difficult to find such a kind welcome, creative and excellent gastronomy and a pleasant atmosphere whilst having a conversation with the chef, the young and smiling Bine Volčič. I can really recommend it.
Is there any little corner outside of Slovenia that you would like to live in?
Well, for a short period of time I could think of several locations, but foreign guests have really opened my eyes since I have been working in tourism: we really do have a heaven on earth here in Slovenia.