Have you always wanted to work in the meeting industry?
From my entry into Ljubljana’s High School for catering and tourism I knew that I wanted to work in the hospitality industry. When we opened the renewed Union hall at the Grand Hotel Union in 2002 and started to get involved in conference activity, I started to learn about the meeting industry, at first from a distance, because at that time I changed my reception work to work in sales, and then with years of work I also became acquainted with all the charms of the meeting industry.
Why is your destination/country the best in the world?
Slovenia lies at the heart of Europe, between the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain, which creates something dynamic and an extreme diversity of the landscape. The beauty of unspoiled nature, the rich history and the friendly, hospitable, open-minded people create a pleasant and memorable environment for meetings.
What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to your country?
In addition to more permanent jewels of our country – the Postojna Cave, Bled, and the coast – to me our capital Ljubljana is very beautiful. However, we have much more to show in Slovenia… Viševnik on a warm autumnal day, the Mostnica Gorge, Velika planina (Big Mountain), Prekmurje… yeah, we have a lot of beauty in our little country!
What has been your ‘star’ moment so far and what is your favourite project with which you would praise yourself?
The star moment was definitely about a year and a half ago when I was entrusted to lead the ‘best sales team in the world’, as the sales team at the Grand Hotel Union was named by Ms. Renata Balažic, former Director of Sales and Marketing, upon her departure. My favourite project was the visit of the Norwegian royal couple, who had a very strong business delegation. In addition to accommodating a large number of guests, the visit also had a number of receptions, press conferences, economic bilateral meetings and the opening ceremony at the large Union Hall. We had been preparing for the visit for almost a year. Our team took care of the matters superbly and in the end everyone was very happy. It was definitely one of the events that you never forget.
What motivates you the most at work?
Excellence! When I see that we have carried out the project so well that we exceeded expectations. Customer satisfaction is our biggest motivation. When at the end of the Congress the president of an association says that we have managed to set new standards for their event, this is a good confirmation that we are on the right track. In our business, things are never so good that they could not be better, so there is never a shortage of motivation.
How do you deal with stress?
A day spent in idleness, pleasant moments with family and friends, jogging in nature and the batteries are recharged again!
When were you last angry/disappointed and why?
I get angry when the essence of our business – guest satisfaction – is overlooked. I am disappointed every time we have business failure due to poor international flight connections.
What will be new in your business in 2013?
At the end of 2012, the Grand Union Hotel was merged with Hotel Lev and became a group that combines four hotels in the centre of Ljubljana, with 574 hotel rooms and a comprehensive conference offer. We also provide a wide and complete offer of catering and additional hotel services. In 2013, we will start with the repositioning of hotels within the group. To our guests we want to offer a full range of quality hotels in the 3 to 5 star categories. In parallel, we also launched the redesign of our corporate identity and the introduction of the umbrella brand of the group. Since over the past two years we’ve renovated most of the hotel rooms, updated the communal areas and upgraded the Wi-Fi network, this year we will actively deal with employee education in order to further increase the level of service.
What did you learn to do last week?
For the first time in my life I baked a birthday cake for my younger son by myself and began to appreciate even more the work and expertise of our pastry team.
Where will you spend this year’s holiday and why?
Somewhere along the coast, as the activities related to the sea are the greatest pleasure for my two sons. We are then talking about the stories of our trips, fishing and the people we met, for the entire year.
If there were no time and financial constraints, where would you go?
Exotic destinations have never been on my holiday wish list. An active week or two in the Slovenian Alps or some lonely corner by the sea together with the family, however, always comes in handy.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
Since the title SREČAnja (meetings) has certainly been used on several occasions, the title of the book might also be ‘Dolce Vita’.