Interview with Jan Oršič, the newly appointed Head of the Ljubljana Convention Bureau
Q: In your opinion what role do convention bureaus play in the development of congress destinations?
Convention bureaus have a very important role, since their aim is to connect players in destinations, helping them to develop new products and activities in general. An additional aspect is promotion and marketing of entire destinations, particularly in the international business environment. I would point out the importance of co-operation between local and national bureaus, which, I believe, is already working synergetically in Slovenia. I would add that leading congress destinations also have the most developed convention bureaus that have already been operating on the market for a long time.
Q: 2018 promises to be an exceptional year for congress tourism in Slovenia, which is certainly the result of good work in the past. What is the marketing strategy for maintaining such results in the future?
The meetings industry can be desribed as a long-distance run. The events calendar of the Ljubljana Convention Bureau, which we are constantly updating, already has events published for 2019. We are now working on events that will take place in Ljubljana post-2021. The marketing strategy is long-term, however, of course, we are constantly adapting to new factors and rapid changes, and strive for even greater connectivity in the destination.
Q: What can Ljubljana offer event organisers that other destinations cannot?
I think that the residents of Ljubljana and Slovenia are ever more aware of how special the places are in which we live. This is also confirmed by prestigious awards and titles such as ‘European Green Capital 2016’, a triple ranking among the 100 top sustainable tourist destinations, and others. I would say that Ljubljana is very strongly positioned compared to numerous other European destinations in terms of its friendliness, personal and professional approach of providers, safety and quality of the entire attendee experience. The compactness of the city with its short distances between key venues and extensive pedestrian areas is also greatly appreciated. The icing on the cake is the excellent cuisine.
Q: How can the Ljubljana Convention Bureau encourage Slovenian experts and scientists to try to bring even more international congresses to Ljubljana?
At the Ljubljana Convention Bureau we are continually trying our best to help Slovenian experts and scientists in acquiring international congresses. We support all organisers who connect with us in various forms depending on each case (preparation of candidacies, promotion of congresses, promotional and marking materials, co-operating in organising sightseeing tours, etc.). In the future we are planning to introduce a support model, which can be offered to organisers of major international events from the acquisition phase onwards.
Q: Is the quality of the congress offer in Ljubljana at a suitable level?
It is a gratifying fact that everyone in Ljubljana is aware of the strong competition, and this encourages us to make constant improvements and investments. It is essential to look into the future, and then, when new building and renovations are announced and realised, when new air and rail links open, and the awareness about the meetings industry for the destination is enhanced, we can say that things are developing in the right direction, which will speed up the acquisition of events in the future.
Q: You are from a DMC agency; in your opinion what is the role of DMC and PCO agencies in comparison to other stakeholders on the market?
Both are complementary and represent an important link in destinations’ offer in the meetings industry. Like any other providers in the chain, they have their own role and are able to offer specific services. If PCOs actively market and promote destinations especially in the field of associations, DMCs can target corporate clients. Therefore, I believe that through close co-operation with the convention bureau, they can achieve the better results for which they strive.
Q: In your opinion what will the regional congress industry be like in the next few years?
We can certainly say that the entire region has been placed on the congress map. In this area Ljubljana’s story is a very good one in terms of the number and size of the events that have taken place in the past and which are confirmed for the forthcoming period. Of course, it is also necessary to maintain our position and standards and ensure we don’t get left behind. The development of airports, the number of air links, and building of new hotels in neighbouring countries must be taken seriously. We must ask ourselves how our destination will be influenced by the building of the congress centre in Zagreb, particularly after the completion of its entirely new airport.
Q: To what do you attribute the reasons for your appointment as Head of the Ljubljana Convention Bureau?
I can say that I know the meetings industry very well. Over four years I gained experience at the Ljubljana Convention Bureau where I became familiar with the players in the destination, destination marketing and the international business environment. Then, for over four years I was a member of the Intours DMC team, where I had the opportunity to be part of the company’s development, and where I worked on various events both in Slovenia and abroad, especially in Croatia and Montenegro. There, among other things, I headed a car launch for the Jaguar F-Pace, which was the biggest event of its type so far in Montenegro.
Q: In your opinion, which of the region’s congress stories are those of success?
If we consider the great steps and changes that have happened in the last five years, how the region has developed, and how many excellent events have taken place, I think that the entire region is a success story. I would add that this is also thanks to the Conventa show, which will take place this year for the tenth time in Ljubljana; this, for me, is a story of success.
Q: What personally inspires you in the congress industry?
I am inspired by the fact that congresses and other meetings are in some way the driving-force of economic, professional and scientific development. I am inspired by the thought that I live in a city where congresses and other meetings have taken place, where friendships have been made, important decisions have been taken and outstanding discoveries have been made.
Q: What are your hobbies?
My main hobby is music. In my free time I play bass guitar in a rock band.
Q: What type of music do you like to listen to?
I have a special relationship with music and like to listen to various artists and types of music depending on my mood. It’s true, however, that lately at home it is my three-year-old daughter that chooses the music!
Q: How did your career begin?
I think it was my mother’s fault! She convinced me to enrol on a course to become a local tourist guide in Ljubljana when I was in my first year of university. By the time I graduated in Media Sciences, I was already an experienced guide and I continued my journey some years later at Tourism Ljubljana.