The Conventa Academy gathering in Portorož in mid November did in my opinion convey very clear messages and at the same time prompted many positive responses to facing up to the challenges of winning new and increased business.
One of my friends in the global meetings industry Linda Periera delivered an energetic, passionate and serious message to the Slovenian Meetings Industry. The message was simple – it’s up to you to get your product and service messages to the market. This was perhaps perfectly highlighted by the fact that only one of the delegates who attending the C level presentation had even googled Linda or her hugely successful company. Over the next two hours only one other delegate talked to her about their product. Linda is recognised as one of the Top 100 PCOs in the world who had largely negative or at best neutral perception about what Slovenia has to offer the meetings industry. Her experiences over the four days she spent in Slovenia, during which time she visited Ljubljana, Bled, Piran and Portorož and paid a truly memorable visit to the Lipizzaner Stud Farm, has apparently changed her perception greatly. The challenge of the industry is now to make Slovenia not only the 84th country to host her company’s events but also to do so on a regular basis. In addition the issues of quality standards and consistent attention to detail were shown to be of paramount importance.
A key message from both Linda and me is to understand what makes meeting planners choose destinations BEFORE they even consider issues such as gastronomy, culture, landscape and the weather and this last function is not that important at all. There needs to be a systematic approach to business development preferably adopting a partnership approach to clients needs rather than a commodity sell. The need for clear policies and practices in the area of mark ups, commissions and fees needs urgent attention and the stories of the levels of some mark ups on hotel rates were truly worrying.
There is a lot to do but the very positive and determined response Linda and me experienced, suggests an improved market position for Slovenia. The Slovenian meetings supply chain needs to act as a single entity. Let’s start doing this as the norm and ensure we get the other top 99 international PCOs to bring their events to Slovenia as well.

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