milan_sajovic

Dreams don’t come true if you tell them out loud

Hit Alpinea, an internationally recognised Slovenian company for hotel management and tourism with a long tradition in Zgornjesavska Valley, recently appointed a new general manager, Milan Sajovic, who previously managed Grand Hotel Union & Grand Hotel Union Business, and Hotel Lev in Ljubljana. We talked to Mr.Sajovic about his plans for Hit Alpinea, about the Kranjska Gora seasons, and about further development of MICE offers.

Q: Recently you have become the General Manager of the largest Kranjska Gora’s tourism company, Hit Alpinea. Congratulations! First of all, in what condition had been the company handed to you?

Hit Alpinea is not only the largest tourism company in Kranjska Gora, but one of the biggest in the region and it, together with its mother company Hit d.d., forms a very important part of Slovenia’s tourism suppliers. Today, Hit Alpinea is a stable company with big growth potentials.

Q: What is your plan, your strategy for the future?

In the future years, the main focus will be to transform the company into a much more guest focused and profitability-oriented hotel and f&b provider with new, interesting and differentiated products. We wish to become not only a »receiver« of incoming guests but, together with other stakeholders in the destination, also a driver of development. In this area, we have a great potential, but especially internally it has to go hand in hand with setting up a proper internal organization and effective processes.

Q: Hit Alpinea’s hotels Ramada Resort and Kompas Hotel have a long tradition of congress and business tourism. Their seasons has been so far prolonged to October. What is your goal in this regard?

Kranjska Gora is the only destination in Slovenia that has two strong seasons – winter and summer. However, it is also very weather dependent and it has much lower occupancies in spring and autumn months, and on weekdays. In my opinion, these months and weekdays are still underutilized, especially taking into account relatively well-developed local events infrastructure. I believe that with common efforts we can improve the internal MICE product as well as improve the destination’s presence in the MICE arena.

“With rising global temperatures and shortening of winter seasons (lack of natural snow), meetings and incentives are an interesting and appealing option to strengthen.”

Q: After being handed the GM position, you mentioned that you will work on further development of incentive programmes. Where do you see the opportunities?

Incentive programmes are dependent on the destination’s products and a quality hotel product. The latter is our internal and owner’s responsibility, while Kranjska Gora has been, as a destination, already very much aligned with green, nature-connected, healthy and active lifestyle. And most importantly – the destination is not crowded yet, and it has good public infrastructure. The opportunities lie in further development of the »green« product and in connecting with neighboring local (e.g. Bovec, Bled) and regional (Italy, Austria) destinations.

Bled_ horse_carriage_fjakarji1

Q: Will you offer your own (Hit Alpinea) products or will you only connect with the local incentive providers?

We need to do both, also in close cooperation with our sister hotels Korona and Špik.

Q: Ramada Resort proudly owns the latest congress centre in Kranjska Gora and is at the same time awardee for the Best Ski hotel in Slovenia. How can congress tourism connect with the winter time? How do meeting planners respond to this option?

For congresses in winter season this is something that needs to be investigated further, since the winter season is already well occupied by skiers, families … But with raising global temperatures and shortening of winter seasons (lack of natural snow), meetings and incentives are an interesting and appealing option to strengthen. However, in our industry we need to be very careful to structure the segments properly by hotel and season and this needs to be supported by good planning and internal coordination. We cannot offer the same product in the same hotel at the same time to a skiing family on the one hand and to a MICE guest on the other. Leisure and MICE segments are very much different in their needs and expectations. Therefore, the right strategy and product (hotel) differentiation is a must. And this is something that we need to do in the months and years ahead.

“Many still perceive Kranjska Gora just as a winter destination.”

Q: Kompas Hotel’s largest hall accommodates up to 360 persons, while its, cool sounding, presidential meeting suite only 10. What is the advantage of the presidential meeting suite considering that it can only seat 10 persons?

At the moment, it is used mainly for board meetings and organizers’ internal offices at big sport events.

Q: How are you planning to promote your congress offer on the international market?

By product diversification, as mentioned earlier, investments and by strengthening our presence at different MICE oriented tradeshows, sales calls etc., supported by active sales. An interesting factor is also that many still perceive Kranjska Gora just as a winter destination, not knowing that it has a lot to offer in other seasons and product segments as well. It will take time to change this.

Q: What would be your recommendation for a perfect business gift from Kranjska Gora?

We started developing a great gift, i.e. seeds of »Ajdovska deklica«. Many know the image of a girl that nature carved into the northern wall of the local Prisank mountain. This legend talks about a girl – a fortune teller – that every day helped travelers to get across the dangerous mountains and passes over to the Trenta valley. She also visited young mothers and read their children’s fortune. In its essence “Ajdovska deklica” is a symbol of a positive, good-hearted girl that helped other people and travelers.

We wish our hotels to become symbols of this genuine kindness that is spread around just like the actual seeds of “Ajdovska deklica” out of which an edelweiss grows. The story also communicates the green and healthy lifestyle, as well as the destination in which our hotels are in.

Q: What is your wildest dream in regard to your new position? Is there anything particular that you wish you could do but it might be difficult to achieve?

Dreams don’t come true if you tell them out loud.

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