Stop counting overnight stays and start counting Euros
Stop counting overnight stays and start counting Euros

Last week, Visit Ljubljana informed us that Ljubljana recorded over one million overnight stays already in October. This remarkable result means 19% more overnight stays compared with the same period last year (1.057.713 overnight stays). The result is excellent and confirms that Ljubljana is becoming desirable tourist destination.

Such pleasing information is shown at the end of the tourist season. Several years ago, former director of Union Hotels Mr. Bogdan Lipovšek pointed out that this information is standing on shaky statistics. We’re missing some data that could shed light on the successful tourist season in the right perspective. In one of the articles, Miha Kovačič, director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau wrote that we have to stop counting guests and start counting Euros.

Based on analysis of congress guests from 2011 we can draw simple conclusions. We then found out that the meetings industry across all segments (congresses, seminars, incentive travel) generates 18,5% of all visitors in Ljubljana. Based on successful year, we believe that the percentage is even slightly higher. Moreover, Ljubljana has many other guests who are coming to the city with a business motive (according to a study from 2011 conducted by a company Hosting, 47,1% present that kind of guests).

[pullquote]Speculative conclusions are that meetings industry according to this logic generates more than half of the revenues of Ljubljana’s tourism.[/pullquote] Meetings industry would therefore in the first nine months generate at least 195.677 overnight stays. Research on the profile of congress guests in 2011 reveals that their overall spending is higher than the spending of normal tourists. If asked, hoteliers in Ljubljana will unanimously approve this fact. The average spending excluding transport to the destination should amount to 1.150,77 EUR or three times more than the average tourist spends.

Ljubljana is the most important meetings destination in Slovenia, where due to its meetings infrastructure and accessibility take place most of the meetings. In order to have clearer information on the meetings industry in Ljubljana we would need a system for the systematic data collecting on all meetings in Ljubljana, consistent with the measurements at the national level. In addition to measuring the volume of meetings industry it should also measure economic impacts (direct, indirect and induced), while also evaluate tourist, scientific and cultural impacts.

For a successful long-term development of Ljubljana as a meetings destination, we should put more emphasis on research, especially analyzing our market and most perspective outbound markets. In order to successfully carry out the analysis of meetings industry volume in Ljubljana and its economic impacts we need to:
1. Establish a unified model for data collecting consistent with the national level (Slovenian Convention Bureau).
2. Establish common data and terminology that can be used during discussions in the Meetings industry.
3. Ensure data which would articulate the economic contribution of the meetings industry to the overall economy on local and national level.
4. Prepare a basis for the continuing trend analysis and benchmark analysis.
5. Obtain information showing the importance of the meetings industry and ensure its proper place in tourism strategies and include it in the preparation of satellite research for tourism.

With such statistical data, we could really see the real picture of meetings industry and key reasons for a good tourist and meetings season. Quality marketing part of Visit Ljubljana and hard work of hoteliers and both Convention centers systematically gain international conference and events. A large role in the success have propulsive DMC’s and other agencies. Without extensive promotion of Slovenian Convention Bureau, we would never achieve breakthrough.

Counting overnight stays will not help us very much in the next development jump of Ljubljana Tourism. Of course, we have to tell it like it is and for a beginning include Ljubljana into international comparisons like STR Star benchmarking report in order to see the real picture of Ljubljana tourism. After the diagnosis, it will take courage for radical changes and changes in structure of guests, which we all so much desire.

I personally believe that one of the most important opportunities is meetings industry.