‘Special venues’ – no recipe, no universal rule. There can’t be any rule, as this is something ‘special’, something specific and unique!

I often ask myself if all creators of programmes with added value understand the meaning of the term ‘special venue’ in the same way. I think of the true meaning of the word and the real product and actual activities. It is about special stories at special locations and they have various objectives; they are important for visibility of a state, region or towns, something different, attraction, or it can be all about objectives of a company that wants to find its own recognisable expression. All of these stories are prepared with people in mind, for guests and their well being, when they are deciding for a product or service.

Let’s admit it that all producers like to be good, better and of course even the best and often we all understand and know everything. Our web pages, exhibition stands, USB keys with copyright protected content and information leaflets and brochures are full of superlatives and of words on added value. However, often when words need to be transformed into actions something goes wrong. We all believe that we understand the meaning of individual terms and that we know what it is all about, but often it is not so.

Taking things for granted is, according to my experience, one of the biggest dangers and the point where companies and organisations differentiate.

In our company we have organised numerous successful events with added value, from events where our guests were getting to know Slovenian towns with all five senses. They were thrilled about it – we were driving around Slovenia over 5 days and learned about it on tractors. Also interesting is the experience when preparing an exclusive event for a smaller group, that can include events in various towns and cities, from Minsk, Belgrade, Budva, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, to Venice, where we have not been restricted by budget.

I often note that when organising special events, companies tend to limit themselves to a single country, which is a pity, as we live at a crossroads of cultures, in an exceptional geographic territory. We are privileged to take the best from all, to combine gastronomy and school of mosaics, for instance at Furlanija we can enjoy the colourful Istria, include activities at the mountains of Kärnten and ‘re-discover’ Prekmurje. There is also Venice, the eternal ‘hidden weapon’ that has often aided us in getting business against the competition, where bigger and more visible destinations compete for business.

We also have great potential in our historic towns. Kompas is the official agency that markets this product at various levels. We have great reserves here. I would point out some historic towns where beautiful stories can be implemented: the astle in Škofja Loka, Ptuj castle with its wine cellar, the castle at Bled with the reception by the Lord of the Castle and a medieval feast, Ljubljana castle, where we can create almost anything with sound and visual effects.

There are truly numerous options. The old salt warehouse can be turned into an exclusive fashion show location, where guests become models and stars. We have already organised a cocktail party at Tartini Square in Piran, where guests arrived aboard a boat, wearing medieval clothing and masques. Always interesting are team building sessions and seminars aboard the Prince of Venice catamaran, travelling from Venice to the Brijoni archipelago.

Then there are our priceless natural attractions, like Postojna Cave, where we already combined the natural habitat with musical additions, with history and knights in Predjama Castle, sports activities in the cave itself, always stories with a happy ending.

‘Special venues’ are a challenge for the market, for producers and for suppliers of tourism services. They are also potential and possible steps towards creating true added value for all stakeholders.

Recognising the needs and expectations of a certain client and offering them what they want is the key for success. A special event should in most cases be balanced, like a chemical formula. It is not important if it is about simple or complex product. Besides basic components like accommodation, transportation, guides, food, viewing of tourist attractions, the offer should increasingly include events, experiences and stories that are abundant in Slovenia. However, when we are creating the end product, balancing all of the above can in practice be quite difficult.

Clients’ expectations are great, as they have seen numerous special and unique events, also in cities and countries that have an effect on clients just by being what they are. With their history, attractions and pace of life. How to compete against Paris, London, Tuscany, Prague? Why would they come to us at all? Why would they want to work with us? Can we really answer these questions and convince the client to decide for us? There is simply no space for an average service, we need to find excesses everywhere and those who succeed could be called artists and winners. Yes, I can say that surplus is the most important component of a successful ‘special venue’.

A demand for special products and events come in various shapes and various extents in quality. Choosing the right services can become a lengthy process with an unsure ending. With the right knowledge solutions can always be found and true solutions can only be found by the right people working with the right partners – this is another key to success. Also awareness that we cannot know everything independently and that we know how to find help can lead us more quickly to the desired objective. Our partners and suppliers are key, as everyone is a specialist in their own field and everyone has their own priceless experience.

Organising a special event and recognising the right location for it has to be based on a good story. It all starts with an idea from which a story is developed, then the script, and last but not least, the concept of the event. A luxury hotel is not always the only right choice; maybe somebody else would prefer a hostel with prison cells. Maybe dining in the dark is a daring enough choice for dinner, or maybe team building in the snow the same morning in the mountains and a dinner at the coast, which guests are driven to in oldtimer cars? Or what about taking part at a ballet performance, or opera? Or sightseeing from a hot air balloon? Catering in the middle of a field? Maybe an event in some long forgotten castle, where we create an atmosphere from the past, making the castle lively for a certain client and a certain event only. Clients are special, special each in their own way. They are aware of this and they demand a ‘special venue’ just for them, today and maybe never again. Imagination in combination with a realistic offer is what moves the boundaries.

Each ingredient has to be carefully and individually chosen, adapted, there has to be just the right amount of it and then we have a formula for success. A basic criterion is always set by clients.

Life is made up by special moments and we want to live it like that, today and tomorrow. We are less and less interested in compromises. In fact we would like to lead a life that would be one ‘special venue’.

Vilijam Kvalič