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Photo credits: Aljaž Čad

On the 21st of March 2019 the Bled Convention Bureau organized and hosted the first Bled Meetings Forum in the Rikli Balance Hotel in Bled. The Forum highlighted the role and importance of meetings tourism in the development of tourist destinations, with an emphasis on Slovene Alpine destinations. The meetings industry is one of the fastest growing segments of tourism and is one of the key accelerators of destination development.

The Bled Tourist Board has established MICE events as one of the three key pillars of tourism development in Bled in its Strategy for the Sustainable Development of Bled Tourism 2018 – 2025. With the creation of the office two years ago, the positioning of the meetings industry in primary strategic development, and with the organized forum in Bled, Bled is becoming the centre of the meetings industry of Alpine Slovenia. In the two years of Bled CVB’s operation, the results are reflected in confirmed events, which in the years to 2020 will bring 2.7 million Euros into the joint destination’s funds. In the search for ways to cooperate and the joint development of the region, the forum offered a unique platform for meetings of all key stakeholders in the region.

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INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND HUMAN RESOURCES

The forum was opened by Tomaž Rogelj, Director of the Bled Tourist Board, who emphasized that Bled must preserve the uniqueness and authenticity of the destination in a growingly competitive environment. Gorazd Čad, director of the Toleranca Marketing agency, which participated in the conceptual design and implementation of the event, demonstrated with 13 examples of good practice how the destination can enjoy great benefits for many years if it properly and enthusiastically runs the right marketing campaigns. Miha Kovačič, director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, expressed his support for the work of the Bled Convention Bureau and the forum, and focused on assumptions about how business events should look like in 2021. He stressed that Slovenia must pay a precise and professional attention to all the needs of the meetings industry in Slovenia, and above all to the increase in the number of flight connections, the training of personnel, the necessary investments in infrastructure, the highly qualified and tuned network of suppliers, a precisely defined brand, an attractive offer, and the experience that provides added value.

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CHALLENGES OF TRENDS AND ACCEPTING THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Vesna Klemenčič, Head of the Bled Convention Bureau, presented the work of the bureau for a period of two years since its establishment, the results of the work and confirmed events, and what effects the meetings industry has had on the destination. The effects of meetings tourism are reflected in the creation of public-private partnerships, the concentration of investments, the increase in the global visibility of the destination, in new jobs, and in a ‘healthy legacy’, such as the modernized infrastructure that remains at the destination after the event, the opportunities for expanding the labour market, the development, and raising the value of, the property market, references to the destination and references to the local profession, the involvement of young people in the profession and, last but not least, the goal is that participants in the event return to the destination as leisure guests.

The effects of the meetings industry are challenged in the forthcoming 4th Industrial Revolution. This brings to the fore big data, digitalization, the robotization of supply, emerging new markets, and the coming group of millennials. Vesna Klemenčič has opened up questions on how to keep up with the times, preserve sovereignty and authenticity, and highlight the possibilities where Bled can gain primacy in the future development of the destination.

QUALITY NEEDS TO BE FURTHER STRENGTHENED

The round table entitled “Is the Alpine meetings product competitive enough and are we making enough use of positive trends in the international meetings market?” and moderated by Gorazd Čad was joined by the following representatives of the meetings industry in Slovenia: Matija Blažič (Hotel and Glamping Ribno), Miha Kovačič (Slovenian Convention Bureau), Matjaž Jug (ETC Adriatic), Vesna Klemenčič (Bled Convention Bureau), Elizabeta Topolnik (TOP Agency) and Matjaž Žnidaršič (Sava Hotels & Resorts).

The discussion was based around the thought that the existing quality needs to be further strengthened. This reinforcement should be centred on digital marketing, sustainable development, strategic investors, while protecting the natural and cultural heritage of Bled. The panellists praised the thorough renovations of recent years, which have brought extra glamour to the Alpine gem, and expressed the hope that the renovations will continue, including the expected South bypass, which would relieve heavy city traffic during the season.

The panellists also paid attention to the forthcoming Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council in 2021. During the six-month presidency, Slovenia will host high-level meetings and, therefore, the Alpine destinations have an exceptional opportunity to present their authentic offer.

2nd BLED MEETINGS FORUM ON 18 March 2020

The Bled Meetings Forum enjoyed a successful launch. Not only in terms of the conclusions and decisions achieved, and the loudly-expressed support, but also according to the results of the survey carried out after the event. As many as 75% of the participants expressed their opinion that they will certainly return to the Bled Meetings Forum on 18th March 2020, while the remaining 25% said they would most probably return. This is a remarkable result, which clearly shows how the Slovenian meetings industry desired an event that would bring together so many stakeholders from different segments of industry and integrate them into joint development planning, in order to cope with all the anticipated challenges and transformational guidelines.

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