Interview with Miloš Milovanović – A new consultant at global consulting company GainingEdge
Q: This year you finished your work as director of CVB Serbia. How do you evaluate the results of the work in your tenure?
A: The convention industry is highly important for its essential economic and social influences. That is why these past few years were years full of challenges and I believe that we have done a great job. From establishing the bureau in 2007 with its main mission to develop and build the international convention business for the benefit of Serbia and the members of bureau, while enhancing Serbia’s and the whole region’s image, we are now just putting Serbia on the higher rungs of the destination market ladder. We are now witnesses of huge investments in convention infrastructure and facilities with several major international hotel chains openings, all because of the large potential of the market that has been created during the previous period. Constantly growing demand has enabled Serbia to become Europe’s fastest growing destination, taking 44th place as a meeting destination in the World! Our plan is to maintain growth, which needs some new strategies and improvements.
Q: How would you evaluate the situation of the European and regional meetings industry after your mandate?
A: For sure the situation for Serbia is far better now, after seven years of hard work. But the meeting industry has changed and is now faced with different kind of challenges, especially in this time of crisis. So, if we want to maintain our growth that would be possible only if we are part of some larger strategy, in terms of positioning the whole region as more or less a developed part of Europe in this business. To achieve this, the whole region should have and share a strong vision and should work together more than ever.
Q: What are your expectations on the future of Meetings industry in the region?
A: The meeting industry in the region has huge potential and great strengths for its development. But if we speak about the regional meeting industry it means that we have to recognise or create a regional offer and regional demand. To create this we have to work harder at being more productive, to contribute more for the future role of meetings, transform the economy and take advantage of our resources and technological advancement. The mission of the meetings industry isn’t as simple as it may seem, just to have more meetings for my country. It should be seen as much larger and more important social process of creating a knowledge-based society.
Q: What opportunities can you see in the field of regional cooperation and integration?
A: By promoting Serbia, we are in parallel promoting the entire region as an attractive destination for meetings, congresses, conventions and incentives. Drawing more attention to all of the countries is mutually beneficial. I think that the interest of all Balkan countries is to promote the entire Balkan area. If we cooperate, we can have associations who will rotate their meetings between countries, meaning the quality of services will be better. Also, cooperation within the scientific, medical and academic area will be much stronger, which will create additional benefits for national economies in the whole region.
Q: As a consultant you are waiting for new challenges in global consulting company GainingEdge. Which areas of work will you cover?
A: I have to say that the CEO of GainingEdge, Mr. Gary Grimmer, used to be my teacher and the most important stuff I have learned from him is how to be mission-driven in this business. He explained us that only mission driven people can create an effective bureau, even if they do not have a big budget. Also, he said that our job is to work for our industry in the first place and after that for our destination. During the period when he was our consultant, the Serbia Convention Bureau has established all of its functionalities and I would say became a respected member of the international convention community.
I am really honoured that I am invited to become a member of the GainingEdge team and my job will be to spread that spirit all over the world. There are a number of destinations, even in our region, that are very famous as attractive places, but not so developed in the meeting industry. Our job will be to help them to develop plans and skills on how to improve their position in the meeting industry. GainingEdge also does consultancy for convention centres and a number of destinations want to build their meeting venues, but very often do not know so much about this. Whatever my area will be, I am aware that firstly I will have to invest a lot of effort to learn and absorb new knowledge and I would say that GainingEdge probably is the best place for this.
Q: What are the biggest changes that will shape the future of the meetings industry?
A: There are some studies and research about this and I would advise you to speak with Mr. Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the German Convention Bureau. They have made huge research into future megatrends that will affect the meeting industry and would be very useful if you get some more information to present to your audience. There is also a project named Destination Next, which is prepared by GainingEdge in partnership with some other companies, but this could also be a topic for some next issue of your magazine.
Q: What advice do you have for new destinations entering the meetings industry market?
A: Being proactive is a must! Business will not come to you, you have to work hard and bring it yourself. Organised destinations with firm connections between service providers are the most successful ones, so why not learn from them.
Q: What personally inspires you in your work?
A: When I started this job I realised that the meeting industry is very transformative for society. So, I believe that creating and developing business and professional associations, integration within international associations, bringing new knowledge and technolodgy is all something that makes our societies stronger. Our job is to help them and to help our society be stronger, modernised and more developed.