TOP 2018

Have you ever wondered just who the top influencers in the New Europe Meetings Industry might be? As the industry rapidly evolves, it is clear 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.

This time the Editorial Board of Kongres Magazine has assessed more than 110 influencers in New Europe after reviewing highlights from the meetings industry in 2018 and has based its assessment on several key criteria, such as:

  • Achievement of the best financial and other multiplier effects of the meetings industry in 2018, significantly deviating from the average;
  • Implementation of the most demanding improvements and innovations in their field, which also includes successfully implemented projects that have defined 2018;
  • Help in enhancing the reputation and profile of the meetings industry in 2018;
  • Innovations that facilitate the work of meetings organisers, or have in their own way steered the future direction of the industry.

Based on the 730 individually completed surveys, Kongres Magazine has analysed and shortlisted the TOP 60 most influential people. 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.

The candidates have been divided into 6 categories, here's the fifth one



Izabela HELBIN
Director of the Krakow Festival Office – operator of the ICE Krakow Congress Centre (PL)

Izabela Helbin is the Director of the Krakow Festival Office, which operates the ICE Kraków Congress Centre. Her former positions include those of the Deputy Director for Marketing and the Krakow Promotion Director, as well as the Head of the Press Office of the Mayor of the City of Krakow. She has worked as a cultural manager, producer, co-producer and coordinator of many international cultural and TV projects. She has received numerous awards for festivals, one-off events, as well as innovative campaigns and publications.

Chairman of the Board at Sava Hotels & Resorts (SI)

Sava Hotels & Resorts, the largest tourism company in Slovenia, manages six tourist destinations in Slovenia. Renata Balažic has been since her beginnings in the tourist sector 20 years ago closely related to the field of MICE. She started in Grand Hotel Union where she established MICE department and later progressed to the position of the Director of marketing and sales. Currently, as the President of the Sava Hotels & Resorts’s Board, she is actively involved in the Group’s MICE development.

General manager at Best Western Premier Hotel Slon Ljubljana (SI)

Gregor Jamnik counts among his several memberships also a position of supervisory board member of the British Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia and member of the supervisory board of the Ljubljana Tourism Board. Gregor achieves great results at Slon with the highest occupancy rates among all the hotels in Ljubljana, as well as outstanding financial results within all of the Slovenian hotels. Slon has hosted many important and distinguished guests during his management, with the highlight being the stay of American President Bill Clinton.


General Manager at Falkensteiner Punta Skala Resort (SI)

Georg gathered work experience in different positions and departments across F&B, Rooms Division and Sales & Marketing in Italy, Spain, Czech Republic and Austria before moving up to F&B Manager and later Resident Manager and Assistant General Manager. Since 2008 he has been General Manager of Punta Skala Resort with a grand total of 781 units with approximately 500 employees during the summer months. In 2013, he was also made Interim General Manager for Schlosshotel Velden***** on Woerther Lake.

Chairman of Board of Directors at Union hotels (SI)

Matej Rigelnik has become the Chairman of Board of Directors at Union Hotels in November 2017, after being the Member of the Supervisory Board. He came to Union Hotels with rich experience in management and finance: director and owner of HMR & MTV, director of Asset Management division at Triglav Skladi and Deputy Manager and Heald of Wealth Management at the main Slovenian bank, NLB d.d.

General Manager at Hotel CUBO and CUBO Diners golf course Ljubljana (SI)

Sandi Kovačevič has been general manager at Hotel CUBO since 2010. He has more than a decade of experience in hospitality as well as in meetings industry. With his leadership, hotel Cubo increased its visibility and it has become one of the most important business meeting points in Ljubljana.


Director at Congress and Messe Innsbruck (AT)

Congress and Messe Innsbruck is the leading Conference and Exhibition Centre in Western Autria in the centre of the Alps – offering three state of the art venues surrounded by a breathtaking landscape. The lead company of the Tyrolean event centers is under Christian Mayerhofer’s leadership the location for science and business with a significant importance for the local tourism industry. Christian Mayerhofer has more than 25 years of experience in fair and meetings industry.

Director at GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre (SI)

Iztok Bricl, M.Sc. was in 2010 appointed Director of the GR – Ljubljana Convention and Exhibition Centre. Prior to that, he excelled in his work at the most senior positions where he demonstrated excellent managerial and organisational skills in the Slovenian food industry. As the director of a leading event centre in Slovenia, his greatest achievements are the modernisation of infrastructure of the centre and the introduction of new fair events, in particular the development of congress activities and international exhibitions.

Cluster General Manager at Hilton hotels in Zagreb / General Manager at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Zagreb. (HR)

Josipa Jutt Ferlan has beent the CEO and General Manager at DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb Hotel since 2015 and the Cluster GM at Hilton hotels in Zagreb for a year. She has 20 years of experience in the industry, delivering revenue and profit gains within a highly competitive regional market. She also brings broad hospitality experience, covering international sales, marketing, PR and brand development.

Tomislav POPOVIĆ
CEO at Maistra Hotels & Resorts (HR)

With bold investments made in recent years, Maistra has managed to set-up a different meetings product, the peak of these being a new convention centre at the Lone hotel. In delivering this, Maistra has placed Rovinj on the market as a high-quality business venue, which in terms of design and experiential value has no equal in the region. With the support of events such as the Weekend Media Festival it has become the focal point of the new, creative meetings industry of the future.

Newcomers in 2018, voted by readers


General Manager at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts (SI)

Global hotelier with more than 13 years of multi brand leadership experience in hotel operations at premiere, full-service luxury hotels & resorts. Successfully led Rooms Division, Engineering, Food & Beverage, Culinary, IT and Security teams for MGM Grand, Global Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts in North America, Middle East, Europe and Asia. He has been the GM to InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in Ljubljana, Slovenia, since May 2017.

General Manager at Kompas Hoteli Bled (SI)

Tine Brodnjak has been the General Manager of Kompas Hoteli Bled since May 2017. He came to this position with rich experience in hospitality from various hotels in Slovenia, Croatia and Czech Republic. He holds a postgraduate diploma in hotel and restaurant administration from Brig in Switzerland and he completed a General Managers program in Ithaca in the US.