Bled, famous for its alpine beauty, has hosted one of the focal sports international events on the Slovenian territory in 2015. From 9 to 12 April 2015, the Election Congress of European Athletics (EA) has gathered more than 50 countries’ delegations and in total more than 250 most prominent representatives of European and World Athletics. Delegations were situated at the neighbouring Golf hotel Bled and Hotel Savica, both operating under the wing of Sava Hotels & Resorts.
At the Congress, new leadership of the highest European Athletic organisation was elected after 16 years. The 3-day event featured the electing part of the congress and numerous supporting activities and events was attended also by the most important decision makers in the queen of sport.
Local organizer Luka Steiner, Director of Slovenian Athletic Federation has answered on some questions:
Q: We can only imagine how hard it was to organize such congress held on two locations and attended by 50 countries’ delegations with more than 250 most prominent representatives of European and World Athletics. When did you start with the preparations and was the collaboration with European Athletics like?
A: The Slovenian Athletic Federation successfully ran for the candidacy of the Congress in 2013, when the first preparations already started. The intensity of the organisational demands grew every month, with the most time-consuming preparations in the last several months. We had a very small but effective team and also managed to work very efficiently with European Athletics on daily basis.
Q: Where did you accommodate all the guests?
A: All the delegations, coming from nearly 60 countries, were accommodated in Sava Hoteli Bled – Golf Hotel Bled and Hotel Savica
Q: What accompanying events showing the assets of Bled and its surrounding we organized for international guests?
A: We received several feedback from our prominent guests that this year’s congress was the best so far in terms of organisation and accompanying events. We tried to act as inclusive as possible and involve the key stakeholders and players in athletics. For example, we organised the biggest running for children in Slovenia, with more than 12.000 children running simultaneously at more than 130 schools all over Slovenia. Apart of that we organised several occasion where our most promising athletes and our ex athletes could meet the world athletic stars. We also did events connecting sport and business and organised several sightseeing events in Bled, Ljubljana and Postojna to offer the participants the best that Slovenia has to show.
Q: Were you satisfied with the final result?
A: Indeed so. Having talked to the delegates I share their enthusiasm over the whole event and hope that it will contribute to the positive development of athletics in Slovenia.
James Mulligan, Head of Communications of European Athletics has also answered on some questions:
Q: Why did you choose Bled as the destination of 2015 Election Congress of European Athletics?
A: The Slovenian Athletics Federation made a bid to European Athletics to host the Congress. An evaluation commission delegation visited Slovenia to consider the bid and made a report to the Congress in Skopje in 2013. The Bled bid was up against Budapest and the Congress voted for this summit to be in Bled.
Q: What was the cooperation with the Slovenian organizational team like?
A: From start to finish, excellent. It was a pleasure to work with a very professional organisation with top-level personnel in each position. The cooperation was conducted in a great spirit.
Q: What can you say about the host and venue in Bled?
A: The venue of Bled is clearly one of the most stunning areas on the continent, but little known by many, so for people to discover Bled for the first time was fantastic. The hosts in Bled were very welcoming for all Congress delegates.
Q: Will you be returning to Slovenia also in the future for business or pleasure?
A: On behalf of all our colleagues and Congress attendees, I can safely say that I am sure the positive impression left on us all by our time spent in Slovenia means we would love to return to this beautiful country at some point in the future, either for business or pleasure.
Saša Zor, Director of Sales – MICE of Sava Hotels & Resorts has answered on the following question
Q: Bled is an established destination for such prominent international events. Sava hoteli Bled is an experienced host. What was your experience preparing such an important international event with high ranking participants and how could you fulfill organisers and participants requirements and expectations?
A: Even at the time of submitting the bid for hosting the event, it is important that any promises made are realistic and achievable, as this is the only way to ensure that the organisers’ expectations are met. The Sava Hoteli project team made the most of its sales and operational experience due to our extensive related references. Communication with the organiser was regular, up-to-date, and honest – if we believed that Sava Hoteli would not make a self-sufficient choice when it came to the capacities or contents of a specific event component, we worked together to find a new, better solution. Throughout the process, we endeavoured to think outside of the box and come up with ideas that would impress the participants, since the event was also extremely important for the promotion of Slovenia. We exceeded expectations with small details on the spot – we prepared personalised welcome letters for guests in their rooms, served the best dishes made with fresh seasonal ingredients, provided all the necessary material for comfortable and efficient work during the conference etc.
Trust in the staff, product, and service is our biggest value; we nurture it carefully when it comes to any client relationship. Mr. Benčina gave us the opened the doors of opportunity for us to bid for this event – based on the participants’ comments and organisers’ feedback, we can confidently call another Bled story of success.