Have you ever wondered just who might be the top influencers in the Central and South East Europe Meetings Industry? As the industry rapidly evolves, it’s clear that some key influencers actually have the same reach and draw as big companies, so individuals matter in a way that has never been possible before.

Based on 460 completed surveys, Kongres magazine has analysed and shortlisted the TOP 45 most influential people in Central and South East Europe in 2016. They have all contributed to the development of the region and our readers have chosen the best of the best. We have also added 2 newcomers in each category, voted by our readers.

Juraj HOLUB, Slido

Marketing manager and aspiring meeting designer at the audience interaction platform Slido, Juraj recently received the Young Hero in Meeting Design Award and was selected as one of PCMA’s ‘20 In Their Twenties Class of 2016’ for his work as a professional, speaker and writer in many activities that drive meeting design. Juraj writes the Slido blog and contributes to events industry media outlets such as Conference News, Eventbrite and Prezi blogs, among others. As a public speaker, Juraj evangelizes the importance of audience interaction and meeting design at key industry conferences, such as IBTM, FRESH Conference, Social Media Week and Eventex.

Aleksandra UHERNIK ĐURĐEK, HelmsBriscoe

She is a meeting and motivational event professional based in Croatia and for whom business meetings, educational programmes, conferences, congresses and motivational events are her profession and have been her everyday life for more than fifteen years. Aleksandra holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Zagreb with a specialisation in the Tourism and Hospitality industry.

Gorazd ČAD, Toleranca Marketing

Founder and owner of the marketing and congress agency Toleranca marketing, Gorazd has numerous years of experience in the planning, preparation and execution of major international trade shows and fairs. Having started his career in Cankarjev dom, where he project-led on fairs such as Infos, Kapital, Bits & Fun, Slovenian Wine Festival and many others, work in his private capacity has given him a long and multi-faceted experience of developing B2B trade shows, the most noteworthy of these being Conventa, Space, Natour and Hot-Rest.

Tomo RICOV, Pepermint

Weekend Media Festival has completely changed the face of marketing festivals of the region. By both number of participants as well as by the quality of content it became an institution in a very short time. Each year it gathers some 4,000 participants, among whom are all of the key players in the field of the communication industries.

Marcel WASSINK, Superevent

Marcel Wassink has an MSc in Computer Science from TU Delft. He is a long-term executive who has founded, acquired and sold several innovative companies in various market segments, such as clean energy, event technology, speech recognition and healthcare. Marcel built and managed businesses within Fujitsu, Philips and Nuance. He has lived and worked in several countries. Marcel likes to get involved, invest or lead innovative businesses, developing their business strategy with a hands-on approach.

Jovan JELOVAC, Belgrade Design Week

A perfectionist, obsessed with the idea of establishing a regional creative hub. Belgrade Design Week is, in global terms, an event without precedent. His work is characterised by an understanding of the creative industries and their importance to the revitalisation of society. This results in a changed perception of Belgrade, which Jovan has achieved over a number of years. At the same time the annual event is always a surprise in terms of the new innovation in its organisation.

Davor BRUKETA, Bruketa & Žinić

Davor Bruketa is the co-owner and Creative Director of Bruketa&Žinić OM advertising agency, one of the top twenty leading independent agencies in the world, according to Campaign magazine (London, 2014), “Small Agency of the Year, International” according to AdAge magazine (Portland, 2013), Second Most Efficient Independent Advertising Agency Globally according to Effie Index (Cannes, 2012) and among the best 200 packaging designers globally (Lürzer’s Archive, Vienna, 2015). Bruketa is a permanent member of the New York Cresta Awards jury and he was also a jury member of the Art Directors Club New York, D&AD London, NY Festivals, Graphis and in 2008 he was the first jury president of the London International Awards to come from South Eastern Europe.

Dani Polajnar

Dani POLAJNAR, Teambuilding Academy

Dani has more than 15 years of experience in training, coaching and conferences, and events moderation. He is a founder and CEO of Teambuilding Academy – a company dedicated to developing team work in organisations through interactive workshops, active teambuilding programmes, personalised solutions and modern teambuilding events throughout Europe. Dani is a frequent guest speaker and moderator at different conferences and seminars. In 2009 he was awarded among The Best 10 Lecturers within the Slovenian market.

Žiga NOVAK, Orehov Gaj

Žiga Novak is an entrepreneur, lecturer, innovator and business consultant with more than 15 years of international work experience, primarily in the meeting industry. Since 2013 he has been focusing on running his own event venue – The Walnut Grove, a unique and sustainable meeting place in Ljubljana, Slovenia – as well as their in-house creative agency The Team Building Lab. Žiga is the biggest regional promoter of gamification in events and tourism – the notion that the mechanics of play is the best possible link between stories (based on heritage, business interests, teaching goals etc.) and extraordinary experiences that the meeting (and education) industry needs to create for its ever more demanding customers.

Marko GUČEK, GO.OPTI

Marko Guček is the CEO and co-founder of TM Vista d.o.o. The company offers low cost transport between cities and airports under the brand GoOpti. GoOpti uses an innovative online booking system, pricing policies and optimization of transport. Marko is mostly involved in development, marketing and strategic management. He is also a co-founder of two successful companies in the field of tourism: the centre for business travels TM Potovanja d.o.o., which operates under the UNIGLOBE franchise, and Socinet d.o.o., a web application LinkedAge that offers retirement homes additional revenue by renting out unused space.

Newcomers in 2016, voted by readers

Manolis PSARROS, TOPOSOPHY

Innovator, strategic thinker & planner, debater, and, above all else, a true citizen of the world. Senior manager, consultant, entrepreneur and keynote speaker with over 15 years of experience in tourism development and destination marketing positions, as well as roles at a global level. Since 2003 he has helped DMOs and tourism organisations at the global level to achieve their goals through meaningful strategies and results-oriented tactics. He is currently managing director at Toposophy, which provides tourism organisations, associations and companies (both public and private) with practical solutions to develop, manage and market places as tourism destinations, accompanying them at every step of the way.

Ovanes OVANESSIAN, Eventex

Ovanes is the founder of Eventex and Weemss. He has executed more than 100 successful business events including conferences, congresses, exhibitions, forums, competitions, award ceremonies. Ovanes is an expert on event websites, event registration, and event marketing strategies. He is a keen traveler, so whenever he finds a window he would enjoy a recharge gateway with his partner in life and business, Simona.