antonio_lorenzo_deperte
Photo credit: Union Hotels / Marko Ocepek

Q: Can you please explain to our readers your business path that led you to Union Hotels?

I truly believe that “word of mouth” is the best marketing one can do, and this is exactly what happened.  I had worked on a similar project in Dubrovnik and because the client was satisfied and spoke well about me, I was referred to Union hotels when they were searching for someone to bring international hotel experience within the company.  My travel industry work experience is made of 35+ years, mostly with luxury hotels in Italy and Europe.  CIGA Hotels, which is no longer … is my inspiration and is my soul and it gave me many unique opportunities such as experiencing the very best houses and the opportunity to know the American luxury travel networks such as Virtuoso and the rest.

Q: With many international experiences that you gain in your career, what would you state as the most apparent advantage and disadvantage of Slovenia?

Slovenia offers still a very humble, clean and simple atmosphere, which marries well with all the natural wonders, wholesome food and unique wines.

The advantage is that we are still dealing with the almost untouched territory, ready to grow, learn, improve and eager to conquer.  Slovenia offers still a very humble, clean and simple atmosphere, which marries well with all the natural wonders, wholesome food and unique wines.  The humble approach in Slovenia, much in touch with mother earth, reminds me much of Puglia, the place I was born in Italy and my current residence, which is Abruzzo. Disadvantage? I would call it more like an opportunity.  The lack of managed international brands, which would bring the know-how of processes and procedures that have been proven to work worldwide.

Q: What is your managerial strategy at the Union Hotels?

A few things I always brought with me into my professional career:  start at the bottom and learn so that as you elevate yourself, you understand what is going on; respect everyone in their role and involve them as the success of the travel industry is made up of good logistics and these can be improved only if the persons directly involved can help improve processes; lastly…always observe and understand how things work, and this compliments my statistical and analytical side.

Q: What are the key challenges for you at the Union Hotels?

Always opportunities! Trying to bring analytics into the equation and trying to stay away from the exceptions.  I believe it is a matter of bringing some international hotel experience while keeping the local Slovenian heritage. 

I believe it is a matter of bringing some international hotel experience while keeping the local Slovenian heritage. 

Q: You have been working in the hospitality industry for a number of years. How did the industry change since you started?

I often lecture in hotel management schools, and after 35+ years I like to start with the explanation of the telex machine.  Many of today’s generation do not even know a fax machine!  I would say that distribution channels have become multifaceted before you could make reservations only via phone or via telex and mostly everything was done via regular mail.  The other side that has become very complex is the promotion of your product before it was TV, radio or print media … now you do not even know where to start and whom you will reach.

Q: How would you describe the potential of Ljubljana as a MICE destination?

I would say a tight network of individuals working in hotels, destination management, and incoming services and in the public sector promoting the destination.  Ljubljana overall is very good value for money, very concentrated in its offer and a “boutique city” that can be as small as one needs or adapt to larger sizes very quickly.

Q: Which is your favorite getaway spot in Slovenia?

I was born by the sea and when I live too far away from it, I miss it.  Here I am only 60 minutes away and the town I have enjoyed most so far is Piran … although I still have a lot more Slovenian sites to explore.

Q: It is a common belief that the Italians have a certain love for food, like no other nations. How would you describe Slovenian cuisine? And what is your favorite Slovenian dish?

I have had the opportunity to taste many dishes in this country and must say that they are all wholesome and have a good taste.   I tend to like a more home-made, rustic/country and simple taste and must say that pork is the best here in Slovenia and my favorite dish so far is “štruklji” (rolled dumplings).

Prepared by: Ajda Borak