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Photo: Dragan Arrigler

‘Everything is possible’

PROFESSIONAL

Q: What is the philosophy and main advantage of the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre?

Our slogan, ‘Everything is possible’, communicates our attitude toward our clients: very open, flexible and proactive. Our teams accompany the customer from initial contact to realization. Personal contact is our highest priority. We collaborate with a network of outsourcing partners and together, we take care of everything: the decoration of halls, the supporting program, catering, hotel accommodation, transport, etc. We can provide turnkey events tailored specifically to client expectations.

Our responsive, quick and efficient approach is also possible due to our multifunctional halls which are adaptable according to the extent and purpose of an event and can be totally changed in a relatively short time. For example, the reception hall with the registration desk can be quickly converted for the catering. In addition to business conference halls, we can offer congress organizers a special space for larger exhibitions and vice versa. For fairs, we offer not only halls for exhibition spaces but also spaces for workshops, consulting, lectures, etc. accompanying the program.

Our philosophy has been enhanced with the motivational slogan “365 days of events”, which has been mirrored in practice at various events, from international congresses, business conferences, educational seminars and receptions to cultural and social events, as well as established international fairs.

The advantages of our convention centre are, as already mentioned, the multi-purpose halls with predominantly natural light; our position in the very centre of Ljubljana, an easily accessible location only a few-minutes’ walk to the majority of the larger hotels as well as to the main bus and train stations. We have our own parking and in close proximity there are parking lots with approximately 3,000 parking spaces.

Q: How does GR rank domestically and internationally?

We are the leading convention centre in Slovenia; GR events are visited by 400,000 people per year. In the international context, we are recognized as a contemporary, mid-sized convention centre with a tradition of more than 60-years. The unique location, in charming green surroundings, is an example of modern functional architecture and the building is also a cultural monument. As a result of past investment and several refurbishments, GR is a fresh and tidy venue, giving the impression of a well maintained centre in line with the highest international standards.

This autumn we are hosting eight important international congresses:

  • 23 September: Erasmus+: Successes and Challenges
  • 25 – 28 September: EUROGEO 2016: 6th European Geosynthetics Congress
  • 29 September – 2 October: FIMS 2016: 34th World Congress of Sports Medicine
  • 5 – 6 October: 48th International Danube Neurology Symposium
  • 6 – 8 October: NMDPD 2016: 11th International Congress on Non-Motor Dysfunctions in Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders
  • 4 – 5 November: Translating for the Directorate-General for Translation of the European Commission
  • 22 – 23 November: 7th European Alcohol Policy Conference
  • 28 – 30 November: 9th Conference of the parties to the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents

Another significant advantage of GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, is that it has become more and more recognizable as the host of global interactive exhibitions in the region: Bodies Revealed, Genius – Da Vinci, The Brain – the Inside Story, and 1001 Inventions. Over a few months these exhibitions attracted from 10,000 – 70,000 visitors.

Each year we host up to 20 fairs; the most recognizable are those organized by GR -Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, many of which have a tradition of more than half-century and are internationally recognized in the region. Why are fairs still so attractive for exhibitors and visitors alike? They certainly enable indispensable personal contact with producers and offer an overview of the competition. We are modernizing the existing fairs that we organize with new content and the latest trends. Furthermore, we are developing a supporting program which provides added value for visitors in terms of free professional consultations, workshops, training, etc. As organizers, we encourage innovation, creativity and orientation towards sustainability through special awards which enable additional promotion for the winners.

Main Fairs:

  • For 26 years, the International Natour Alpe-Adria Fair, which specializes in green, active tourism, combined with the boutique business exchange, Natour.
  • GR is a co-founder of Conventa, the largest trade show for convention tourism in SE Europe. Every January, the most important providers of convention services from Slovenia and abroad meet at GR.
  • International Home Fair, the largest specialist international construction fair in Slovenia and the neighbouring regions, and the largest fair in terms of exhibition area and number of exhibitors and visitors.
  • Vino Ljubljana which includes an International Wine Competition. One of the oldest competitions in the world and combined with the International Wine Fair in the autumn,  presents wine producers and growers, wine consortiums, distributers and wineries from Slovenia and abroad, with wine tasting for participants.
  • Ambient Ljubljana, a furniture fair which remains the top furnishing and furniture fair, focused on encouraging special achievements of designers. This year’s Ambient Ljubljana – Furniture Fair will be accompanied under the slogan ‘Everything for your home’ by the Home Plus Fair with the following programme:  civil engineering in building joinery, heating and cooling technology, prefabricated houses, security and landscape architecture. Ambient Ljubljana is the furnishing and furniture fair, focused on and encouraging the special achievements of designers. Top Ideas, the presentation of young, less known designers and architects, remains the highlight of the Ambient Ljubljana fair. The accompanying program consists of free individual architectural and expert consultancy for visitors on building, renovation, efficient energy use and renewable sources of energy. Two fairs which visitors will be able to attend with a single ticket from 9 – 13 November.
  • Nature-Health Fair presenting topics focused on a healthy lifestyle, attracting numerous visitors interested in ecological, sustainable, healthy and alternative products and services.
  • The Fair of Wishes Come True, a New Year fair that traditionally presents the work of craftsmen and entrepreneurs and which will, this year, be accompanied by Lego Planet, a popular exhibition of Lego creations with workshops and competitions for children.

Q: What do you think the future holds for trade shows/fairs? Where do you see the potential for GR?

The potential of fair activity is shown in the development of a national economy and successful international connections. We see the potential primarily in innovation, such as the Forum of Innovations for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia national awards, the annual Days of Nanotechnology that we host every year to bring science and other areas of knowledge such as medicine, biology, and energetics. Together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, we organized the 5th Summit of Small Business in order to shed light on the most burning issues of small businesses and to present urgent improvements. It is with optimism that we monitor the latest trends in the furniture industry and also the recent upward trend in the car industry from the growing purchasing power.

Last August, two weeks prior to the world premiere at the Auto Salon in Frankfurt, the representatives of Audi in Slovenia brought to GR the new Audi A4 limousine and caravan. The star of the evening was Emanuele Pirro, Audi ambassador and ex-Formula 1 driver for Audi and a five time winner of the 24-hours of Le Mans.

In the middle of October, the Trade for Automotive Parts fair was held once again. Last year, the fair attracted more than 3,000 visitors and presented 65 domestic and foreign auto-part manufacturers and partners of the trade organizers – GMT Group from Murska Sobota. The highlight of the event was the presentation of the replica of the vehicle attempting to break the 1997 world speed record (1228km/h) in South Africa in spring 2017.

BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car

We will present sustainable mobility, that is electric vehicles, at the Nature-Health Fair. The Energetics Solution Centre, with its sustainable mobility section, enables visitors a test drive to get acquainted with the most contemporary mobile technologies which do not pollute the environment with emissions and noise.

Finally, we proudly announce the biggest car industry fair in Slovenia: after almost 20 years, the Auto Salon is coming back to GR in Ljubljana!

Q: Many exhibitors are currently checking the effectiveness of their trade fair participation. Are companies rational enough in this respect?
The effect of fair presentation primarily depends on the company preparation, on its pre- and post-fair activities. It is not enough to rent an exhibition space. How to attract the target groups to the fair, which activities to develop for their fair presentation, how to be different, what to use to attract attention, how to use the advantages from their presence – these are only a few challenges for successful participation, all with a common denominator: the visitor/potential buyer is king.

Q: Do real fairs still have the same significance with the existence of virtual platforms?
We live in times of turbulent change in the development of technologies and communication. Digitalization brings, amongst others things, virtual platforms which need to be taken into account. They can substantially clarify a fair organizers’ picture of what can be done in a space. Virtual platforms can significantly upgrade exhibitor presentations.  Personal contact, however, remains the core of one’s presence at a fair.

Q: What trends can be seen in the development of trade fairs in general?
Fairs are more and more specialized, complemented by a strong consulting interactive segment, focused on the business public – an exhibition is accompanied by professional consultation at a conference; contemporary digital channels are extensively included for communication with the public.

ESRA

Q: What is the next project that GR is looking forward to?

At the moment, the biggest challenge is the 24th Auto Salon Slovenia which we are preparing together with the Slovenian Automobile Dealers section of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and is scheduled from 27 March to 2 April 2017. For the last two years, the sales of cars in Slovenia have been on the increase, which is also excellent for the Slovenian economy. The organizers agree that people are eager to see new cars and that we need to make an interesting presentation, to show the novelties here in Ljubljana immediately after the Geneva show.

We decided in favour of the 24th Auto Salon Slovenia at GR due to an excellent experience in Zagreb where, last spring, the show attracted 130,000 visitors. The Chamber agreed that next year the event would take place at GR in Ljubljana where it will be available to the widest circle of people. They also chose GR due to our offer, the price per square meter and a favourable ticket price. The 24th Auto Salon Slovenia will immediately follow the Home Fair, which means that we will have at our disposal additional exhibition surfaces in prefabricated halls.

We plan to present the latest trends in the car industry on 15,000m2 of exhibition surfaces and we expect that the parade of passenger cars will attract 100,000 visitors.

Q: What are the advantages of Slovenia as a location for trade shows?

Slovenia has a developed business environment; within the region, it has an important connective role in the flow of ideas and people. Slovenia is a safe country with good infrastructure, competitive prices, known and appreciated for its openness and hospitality. This is certainly confirmed from our experience. The majority of our references are related to our teams – their dedication, motivation and engagement.

Q: Are the Slovenian and Ljubljana tourist organisations fulfilling their role in promoting trade fairs?

Both organizations are active at the tourism fair Natour Alpe-Adria as exhibitors and co-organizers of the accompanying professional program attended by international experts and representatives from the World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers (FIJET) from the region. They regularly announce our activities in their communications. Cooperation is always useful and enables the exchange of experience, information and knowledge, and better mutual understanding. Networking continually brings new business opportunities, so we are always open to the development of broader collaboration; we believe that together we are more recognizable and popular.

PERSONAL

How would you describe your job?

My work is dynamic, branching into many different areas and therefore interdisciplinary. It is the result of networking and good collaboration with the local community – the municipality of Ljubljana – as well as at the national level.  Monitoring the latest trends in the economy and good connections with various associations and chambers, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia, and the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia, are of utmost importance. Networking at the international level is crucial, too, especially within the CEFA (Central and South-Eastern European Fair Alliance) and UFI (Global Association of the Exhibition Industry), where experiences and ideas are exchanged.

What are the best moments you remember from your work?

The best moments are when the planned route is confirmed as the right one: signing the contract for a new project, a new event; expanding our activities with a new fair and a successful breakthrough among exhibitors and visitors; resounding international congresses at GR and then the feedback of satisfied organizers and participants; who praise our convention centre and exceptional GR team that really give their best.

What kind of people/colleagues inspire you the most?

Dedicated and reliable with a lot of initiative.

What is the best piece of advice you have for those working in the trade show business?

As our slogan says: ‘Everything is possible!’ Believe, persist and do it even if it seems impossible. Opportunity is always within reach!

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