MARILKA TOVARAC, MICE Sales department Manager. Valamar
MARILKA TOVARAC, MICE Sales department Manager. Valamar

Interview with Marilka Tovarac, MICE Sales department Manager, Valamar [pullquote]In MICE sector we see a big comeback in incentive market, and the budgets are increasing and we love that![/pullquote]

Q: Have you always wanted to work in the meeting industry?
When I take a closer look at my position today, I guess one thing led to another… From how I see it, one has to be a “complete sales person” to be successful in meetings industry: you have to be a negotiator, coordinator, planner, communication expert, designer, AV expert and finally a mind reader. Of course, I exaggerate a bit, but what I want to emphasize is this: when you are involved with this sector, on any side, you have to be up to date and constantly follow up on what’s new, not only on your key markets, but globally as well! This means that continuing education is essential for this industry.

Q: Why is your destination/country the best in the world?
The main reason is our cultural heritage and unspoiled environment, but also a long tradition in hospitality industry. Here in Valamar, we are proud of our presence in two main destinations in Croatia: Istria and Dubrovnik. Each of these two regions represents something of THE BEST from our country: either it is Istrian phenomenal landscape and gastronomy, either Dubrovnik’s worldwide fame! At the same time, Valamar is known for fantastic level of service matching the international quality standards which is our philosophy. Valamar employs approximately 4.000 people during the season and is recognized as one of the best employers in Croatia. The thing that Valamar is especially proud about is a unique and innovative corporate system of internal and external educations which ensures continuous development of people and in that way contributes to the overall business success.[pullquote]I have learned through years of experience in our sector that there is a solution to every problem! If you are a person with positive attitude, if you love what you do, the level of stress on a daily basis should be at minimum.[/pullquote]

Q: What would be the first thing you would show every visitor to your country?
Our Adriatic sea and islands from one of the peaks of Velebit mountain.

Q: What have been your star moment so far and your favourite project with which you would praise yourself?
That would be definitely opening of our Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel 4* in 2009. I feel like I grown together with this hotel. I was so excited to see the works finishing and the final look of this fabulous property of ours! I’m so proud how we positioned this hotel on the market, and of its reputation today! The list of references is stunning: this April we hosted 13th Wonca World Rural Health Conference 2015 which brought together 1200 family practice doctors from rural areas all over the world, while in May our hotels have hosted World Tunnel Congress and General Assembly 2015 with 1500 participants and this was the first time that this event was organized in one of the SEE countries. Some of the other most prominent events were NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s 59th Annual Session, 27th International Project Management Association World Congress (IPMA) and many others. Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel is internationally acclaimed for its excellence in providing the finest hospitality experiences. The hotel has received many awards, including prestigious World Travel Awards in the past few years, as Leading hotel in Croatia and Leading business hotel in Croatia.

Q: What motivates you the most at work?
My team and our working atmosphere is my biggest motivation. Also, when we get some big contract after exhausting negations.

Q: How do you deal with stress?
The lifestyle of a hotel sales person is very dynamic, especially if you have a family at home as well. However, I have learned through years of experience in our sector that there is a solution to every problem! If you are a person with positive attitude, if you love what you do, the level of stress on a daily basis should be at minimum. Of course, there are sometimes challenges one cannot foresee, and when things get a bit intense. That’s when you have to use all of your “super powers” to find that win-win solution for everybody. These situations take much of your energy certainly, than I reenergize by spending time with my kids outside or taking a long walks on my own or listening some music.

Q: When were you last angry / disappointed and why?
I think I’m vaccinated against these feelings… I try to understand people’s reactions and do my best to put myself in someone’s shoes and to solve any possible issue before things explode.

Q: What’s new in your business in year 2015/2016?
Most important and biggest investment in 2015 was Valamar Isabella Island Resort in Poreč, Istria opened in May 2015. The island represents a top-notch resort for guests looking for an authentic island experience with a touch of luxury.
In MICE sector we see a big comeback in incentive market, and the budgets are increasing and we love that!

Q: What did you learn last week?
Last week I learned that “I can make it with a little help from my friends!“

Q: Where are you going to spend this year’s holiday and why?
I choose to stay in Dubrovnik area for my holidays; after years of traveling, I still find my town and the surroundings the best possible place to be at any time of the year. Summertime holidays I spend at Pelješac peninsula where my parents in law have a house at the seaside, and at wintertime, Dubrovnik offers you that unique peace and quiet after a long and hectic season, and you have a chance to experience its beauty on and on.

Q: If there were no time and financial constraints, where would you go?
I love northern destinations where landscape is simple and nature untouched; that is why I would love to spend some time in Lapland, Island or Greenland. It amazes me how people there are adapted to their environment and how they manage to live without ruining the natural surroundings.

Q: What would be the title of your autobiography?
“Amusement park roller-coaster ride”