Convention tourism is regarded as the Holy Grail of Slovenian tourism. We read about this in numerous supplements that have been springing up like mushrooms after the rain and covering this subject matter in a more or less professional manner, even though they are, by definition, intended for marketing advertising space. When reading such supplements, one gets the impression that the situation in the Slovenian meetings industry is ideal. But let us take a look at some of the current problems we are facing:
1.    The 2009 meetings season was predominantly rescued by local and regional events and congresses, which is an analogy with the entire tourist sector. This year, the situation will be similar. This supports the theory that the industry’s key providers (especially agencies) have not done enough to internationalise our activity.
2.    There is a market for medium-sized events and it has remained vital across the globe (congresses with up to 2,000 delegates). The Slovenian meetings industry however does not aim its marketing activities in its direction. Cankarjev dom says that they have hosted just two large congresses with over 1,000 delegates since 2005.
3.    The organised meetings offer does not include an entire sector of marketing agencies and research and scientific institutions that organise congresses according to their own rules. As long as this part of the congress offer fails to agree with congress standards, it is difficult to speak of their actual value.
4.    According to IMAD (the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development), the financial situation of companies in the tourist sector is bad. In 2008, 2,318 companies in the branch generated a cumulative net loss of 28 million euros, while the situation was still positive in 2007. The return on assets and return on sales are negative with below average added value per employee. Such results require more detailed analysis and will undoubtedly have an effect on cleaning up the meetings market.
5.    Poor payment discipline has strained company operations to the extent that some companies are unable to pay their obligations. The legislation needs to change by implementing statutory insurance coverage for intermediary agencies to protect the interests of clients. This is especially important for larger international congresses where clients already require these guarantees.
6.    Often the reason for the difficult situation in our branch is unfair competition. The market needs to be regulated by implementing statutory limitations, as it is in the interest of the state to stop the grey economy. Is it normal that an international congress is not organised by a PCO but by the administrative staff of a scientific institution working in the afternoon?
7.    Unfair competition is further presented by the state in its infrastructure used to implement government events. Thinking radically, this infrastructure should be left to the market and market logic, while their low prices are currently destroying the entire branch. This conforms to the definition of the abuse of a dominant position on the market of government conferences and meetings.
8.    In Slovenia, we are faced with unjustified price increases on the part of hotels during large congresses. Sometimes they even go above the publicly published hotel price. This again conforms to the definition of abuse of a dominant market position.
9.    Foreign event organisers are knocking on our doors. It is merely a question of time until matters find new frameworks and than the meetings policy will be shaped by the logic of profit and the corporate growth of large multinational corporations that will, acting from the viewpoint of purchase logics, see to reducing the added value of the entire supply chain and especially hotels.
10.    Marketing needs to be target-oriented and directed towards realistic congress projects that Slovenia is able to attract. Obtaining such events has to find financial and organisational support until the acquisition phase.

Unfortunately, the most important indices of our global competitiveness are average and even very poor in some fields. We need to face these challenges as soon as possible if we wish to emerge from the crisis more successful than the others as a convention destination. Fortunately for us, the crisis has substantially stirred up the situation. For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to use our knowledge and innovation to generate added value and increase our competitiveness.
The Slovenian issue of Kongres magazine will also research and raise less pleasant topics. Progress is only possible if we remain open as an activity and do not only follow our narrow business interests. As incorrigible optimists, we will remain by your side with current information and total professionalism. For progress, innovation is required and innovation requires knowledge and knowledge can be found, among other places, in our magazine. The Holy Grails are knowledge, innovativeness and creativity.

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