Interview with Katja Mlakar, Creative Director at AVI (Agencija vrhunskih idej)
Q: How do you assess the current situation in the event organising market?
I think that in Slovenia there are a lot of agencies that are, heart and soul, involved in event organising. They are not only in it for the money; they are knowledgeable and they listen to their clients and are also able to make something big out of something small. In Slovenia we know how to organise great events which could easily be placed alongside events abroad.
Q: What are the key challenges for the Slovenian ‘events’ industry?
Slovenia is small. There are not exactly a lot of venues, for example, for great parties for more than 1,000 people. In December, in particular, it can be a big challenge to find somewhere to host a great event for a large number of people. Every year it’s the same; a lot of clients want to have events on a Friday. And there are only three Fridays, since the last Friday in the month is usually not of interest to them. It is a challenge to come up with great new locations for events, and also a productional challenge to hold events that involve agencies working together. For a truly top production that meets all the demands of, for example, foreign music acts, a single production house does not have enough available facilities. The challenge is to work together. Instead of each of us tending own own garden, in partnership we can create a very fertile plot.
Q: How has event organising changed in recent times?
In our agency, AVI, we have been organising events for eight years. In this time a large number of new agencies or individuals have entered the field. In Slovenia it is particularly in vogue that everyone does everything and thinks that they are good at it. It is probably obvious that I am a very critical participant of events. If a microphone has feedback, or isn’t plugged in when a host comes on stage…, every little detail bothers me. The worst is, for example, if I see an illuminated tree … and I can hardly wait to see someone lowering from it and doing some kind of acrobatics … however, it remains just an illuminated tree. As you can see, my expectations are really high. I view events through the eyes of the organisers, although lately I have also learnt to look forward to and enjoy events. I am most happy when I am positively surprised by an event, and then with pleasure I praise the organisers.
Q: What do we need to do in Slovenia to be able to host the most demanding events, so-called ‘A-productions’?
Well,… we need to build a venue for at least 30,000 people. Of course I’m joking, although it’s not far from the truth. Two year’s ago, for example, we had everything arranged with Bruno Mars’ management that we would organise a concert in Ljubljana, which would have been part of his European tour. However, just before we signed the contract they cancelled, because in just one day the London venue sold out and therefore they decided they would rather remain another day in London than come to small Slovenia.
Q: In your opinion what is the key competence of event organisers?
They must set about events with passion. With love, with top ideas, which they also know how to make happen. And they must pay attention to detail. I think that detail are what distinguishes good events from even better ones
Q: Can you name an example of a great event that impressed you in 2017?
I would be happy to praise an event arranged by another agency, however, I cannot judge those events that I haven’t been a part of. I have, though, seen a lot of interesting and original pictures from event organisers. Therefore, I can only judge our events. Last year I was most proud of the two-day event ‘Opening of the Bled Royal Golf Club’. Even now I still like to remember all the little details that we organised, as well as all the positive feedback that we received at the end of the event. Such positivity is extremely encouraging.
Q: What has been your most successful event?
Those from which the participants go home smiling and satisfied – that is a successful event. A top event, however, is one which the participants talk about for a long time and has lasting memories.
Q: What is your favourite book, type of music, and sporting activity?
I know that it doesn’t sound exactly academic, but nevertheless I will highlight the book ‘Pippi Longstocking’. Why? Because even still at this age I frequently change into the main character from the book (smile).
Music – the type that gets me onto the dancefloor. I really like dancing. If I join personal with professional, then it would be the music of Tony Cetinski, who our agency takes care of in Slovenia.
Sporting Activity – if I manage to find time for myself, I enjoy going to group fitness classes run by Alja and Tina in Lavrica. They call it ‘Dancing Ladies’.