Maja Konečnik Ruzzier (www.majakonecnik.com) is a docent at chair for marketing at the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana.  She chairs the general marketing class Basis of Marketing as well as two specialized classes – Management of Trademarks and Marketing in Tourism. She is the author of numerous scientific and professional articles, which achieved international recognition in a short time. This year she republished the book Destination branding: Theory and Research and Marketing in tourism. She is also a consultant in the field of strategic brand development. Among others, she was a part of creating the national brand I feel Slovenia.

1.    Why did you decide to republish the book Marketing in Tourism? Who is the new edition aimed at?
I decided to republish the book because I wanted to create a Slovenian book dealing with the area of marketing in tourism, which would encompass the entire area and would offer a theoretical basis as well as appropriate practical applications. The book is therefore aimed at representatives of Slovenian tourism, who are looking to refresh or strengthen their knowledge on marketing. It is also aimed at Slovenian students especially those taking my class on Marketing in Tourism at the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana.

2.    What is the difference between the new and old book?
The biggest upgrade of the new edition is the introduction of many new practical examples, over a half of which include Slovenian businesses.

3.    What are the modern challenges of marketing in tourism?
Marketing in tourism is becoming more and more wholesome and deep. It needs a clear and long term orientation for individual tourist businesses as well as quick reactions to the changes in the environment. Current biggest challenges are in shaping new innovative tourist products, which the target groups recognize as unique experiences. The ways of communicating with the target groups have changed severely as a consequence of new information-communication technologies.  And finally new environmentally friendly strategies are emerging, be it sustainable, green or other. Without the care for the environment tourism has no long-term future.

4.    How should a modern successful marketing strategy look like?
As I previously mentioned, they should be long-term and strategically planned and at the same time capable of rapid reactions to the changes in the market. They should be focused on a specified target group or target groups of tourists, who are the centre of the destination’s strategy, since the services or better – experiences are marketed at tourist destinations.

5.    Could you introduce and highlight a few good practice examples from the area of marketing in Slovenia?
One of the good practice examples is Bohinj Park EKO hotel, which offers a wholesome experience for those groups of tourists (business or leisure), who are concerned about the preservation of the environment.  I salute their strategic way of thinking since it is completely in tune with current trends. I am therefore not surprised they received the Golden Sejalec award from Slovenian Tourist Board in 2010.
I still think the strategy of hostel Celica (first recipient of Golden Sejalec Award in 2004) is really good and is specifically aimed at their target group – travellers.
There has been significant improvement in the case of city Koper, which is aware an active and competitive approach on the market requires more than just a well-kept city infrastructure and events, which have not been scarce lately.
The current brand I feel Slovenia also stands on solid foundations and highlights the experience of Slovenian green nature and stresses the strategies to preserve the natural environment.

 
6.    What about around the world? Were you surprised by a good practice example from abroad lately?
There are many individual good practice examples in the world; of course they depend on the nature of the tourist company or destination. I couldn’t really highlight a single case.

7.    We are mostly interested in the influence new technologies have on marketing in tourism (Communication 2.0). Where do you see the opportunities (or maybe even traps) of their use?
As I’ve mentioned, new technologies are and will continue to change the way marketing in tourism works. Since most of the new technologies enable cost-efficient marketing, which needs to be used clearly and target a specific group, smaller individual suppliers can be very active in the market and reach their target groups. At the moment smaller Slovenian tourist suppliers can reach their target groups at the other side of the planet with relative ease, which used to be very difficult in the past. Two-way communication enables the focus groups to actively participate in shaping the marketing approach of a specific market provider and thereby increase the power of their trademark. Of course this active creation of contents and opinions of tourist, especially when not supported by the supplier, can be detrimental to the strength of the trademark in the eyes of other visitors.

8.    What do you think would be the best way to make Slovenia as well as SE Europe more recognizable on the meetings market in Europe? What strategies should be used?
First of all I would like to stress strengthening the position of each new country on the international market is a long-term process. The shift in strengthening this position is in my opinion even harder in the area of the meetings industry, which is by nature a field which demands more credibility and stability than leisure tourism. We therefore need to follow a long-term and clear strategy of marketing Slovenia as a meetings destination, thereby taking into account our identity – knowing our strengths as well as our weaknesses. In all probability at the time we have a better chance of succeeding in SE Europe, where we are more recognizable and credible as in other parts of the world. Of course, this shouldn’t men we are only focusing on the area of SE Europe. A common performance and marketing of Slovenia and other SE European countries is in my opinion sensible, especially when tackling markets where we would have trouble succeeding alone.

9.    Where do you see the opportunities of Slovenia as a meetings destination?
I think we have good advantages in the area of marketing smaller meetings and events, which appreciate the authenticity of the destination. Also, we are pretty competitive in offering a professional and genuine level of services for the agreed upon price.

10.    Do you think Slovenia should present itself as an individual destination or as a part of the European destination on the world market?
I think the answer cannot be one-fold; it mostly depends on the target group. If we are addressing European tourist, Slovenia has already achieved a good level of recognisability and image with them, since they are willing to choose it as an independent destination – therefore it makes sense to introduce it independently.  At remote markets (perspective markets such as China and India) where tourists usually select more than one European country as their travel destination, it is more appropriate to market Slovenia as part of the European destination.

11.    What do you think Slovenia’s current marketing strategy for the meetings industry is?
I think it’s good. I see a lot of individuals who are in charge of marketing congress Slovenia with plenty of zeal and energy.  I would give a good grade to the campaign of the Slovenian Convention Bureau. If such actions continue in the future we can expect relevant changes in the way Slovenia is perceived as a meetings destination abroad. As previously mentioned I am noticing important steps towards establishing a wholesome marketing strategy of meetings services. Of course a more competitive presence on the world market requires cooperation of individual Slovenian meetings suppliers – only together they will be able to offer a wholesome experience the modern day meetings visitors appreciate.