luka_zajc_dekon_slovenia
Photo credit_ Dekon Slovenia

In May 2017, Dekon Group launched in Slovenia’s capital the first international professional organiser of congress activity in Slovenia – DEKON.SI which is co-owned by GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. We talked about DEKON.SI and its work with Sales Manager Luka Zajc. Luka Zajc has more than 13 years of experience in travel, hospitality and events industries both in Slovenia and abroad. He has joined Dekon as Sales Manager in November 2017. Prior to commencing his role at Dekon, he had worked as Business Development Executive for Angela Shanley Associates tour operator in London, Sales Executive at Austria Trend Hotel Ljubljana, Sales and Project Manager at the GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, Real estate agent in Ljubljana, Volunteer Project Manager for a medical centre in Kenya and Marketing Projects Manager at CD Congress Centre Ljubljana.

Q: Dekon is the first international congress organiser based in Slovenia. How does this benefit Dekon’s clients?

With Dekon Slovenia teaming up with the international renowned professional congress organizer Dekon Group, we linked local spirit, contacts, knowledge and mind-set with international congress know-how, benefiting our Slovenian and our international clients. Slovenian clients can finally work with a professional congress organizer which has organised events on almost all continents of the world.

Q: Dekon has been working in Slovenia since 2017. The Agency is co-owned by Dekon and by GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. How does the collaboration work?

I would describe the collaboration work between Dekon and GR as a partnership from which both sides benefit. Dekon Group has already organized four large international conferences and congresses at the GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. Next year we are bringing another large meeting to the GR, the Meeting of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies FEBS. With its 2000 plus delegates it will definitely be the meeting of the year. However, this does not mean that exclusively we only offer GR as a possible event venue but we closely listen to our clients and offer them biggest possible flexibility.  We can organize an event anywhere in Slovenia. We also act as an in-house PCO for GR, which means the GR puts us in contact with their clients who are looking for PCO services.

Q: Dekon has a long tradition, not only in Turkey, where the headquarters are, but also in other European countries. How do you help each other?

We help each other by sharing know-how, knowledge, sales leads, international and local contacts, experience from previous events which help when approaching a local society etc. We always work hand in hand with everyone in Dekon Group and are in close contact on a daily basis. A solution or suggestion is never more than a call away. We also have regular meetings, in person or via video conference to discuss the past and future business, potential leads, challenges or other strategically important questions.

I strongly believe that only a team that has this bond and mutual respect and trust can be strong and will do its job professionally and successfully.

Q: What is the difference between the work in the international and local PCO agency?

An international PCO means a multicultural and global working environment.  Dekon Group is an internationally operating full service PCO that organizes more than 60 conferences and congresses across the globe. Last year we organised events in Japan, Iceland and Spain, just to name a few and this year we are returning to USA. We are heading to Peru for the first time with one of our recurring clients (we are core PCO of some associations as well). This means we can help our international clients with up-to-date knowledge about different destinations and enhance client’s events with latest trends in the meetings industry. We have a large network of international clients and suppliers and excellent connections with international sponsors. We are also a partner of INCON, a PCO partnership of the 10 major PCOs worldwide, like AIM, MCI, EGA or Smithbucklin, the most important AMC in USA. An international PCO in comparison with a local PCO agency definitely has a wider horizon and more opportunities on a global market. Furthermore, our international connections can also be beneficial for participation numbers at events we organize.

Q: What are the challenges when trying to get a congress to come to Ljubljana? Which are Ljubljana’s advantages that perhaps we do not emphasize enough?

The main challenge that remains is the accessibility, by plane or by train.  Ljubljana still lacks more frequent and direct flights with major European hubs. Moreover, as train travel in Europe is environmentally friendlier and many times a better alternative to planes we would need to improve the rail infrastructure and make Ljubljana more accessible with fast trains from other European capitals. Furthermore, other challenges include aging hotels and their sometimes unsustainable price policies.

One of our clients recently said that Ljubljana has a really nice, friendly, open-minded campus feel, and I could not agree more. Ljubljana is a compact city with short and walkable distances between hotels and venues with lots of green areas in-between. Short distances ease the challenges of organising transfers between hotels and venues.  Moreover, Ljubljana is still an undiscovered, new, fresh destination and one of the world’s safest cities located in the centre of Slovenia close to other appealing destinations, such as Bled, Postojna, Piran.

Next year we are bringing another large meeting to the GR, the Meeting of the Federation of the European Biochemical Societies FEBS.

Q: What are the Dekon Slovenia’s future plans?

Dekon Slovenia future plan is to continue to grow as the first international professional congress organiser and use Ljubljana as a hub to extend to other regions of the Balkans.  Moreover, with new hotels and with a brand new conference hall at the GR – Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre we will be able to bid for even bigger congresses so that will be our main focus in the years to come.

Q: You have been working in the meetings industry for many years. What are you most inspired by in your work and what is your biggest challenge?

I am most inspired by my colleagues from Istanbul who are always willing to share their knowledge and are always there to help. Holding a senior or a junior position they are readily available to give their support, their insight or share their experiences and valuable opinions on a certain matter. I highly value their readiness and willingness and I am extremely thankful for being a part of Dekon Group. I strongly believe that only a team that has this bond and mutual respect and trust can be strong and will do its job professionally and successfully. This May I am joining the Dekon Turkey team in Barcelona for the 7th World Live Neurovascular Conference to get the first-hand experience with one of the technologically most advanced events Dekon is organising for its long term client. I really look forward to being a part of the organising team of such a successful conference and I am sure it will broaden my experience in the industry even more.

I believe finding the job I like the most was one of my biggest challenges. In my career I have worked in event operations, event sales for hotels and venues, I volunteered and worked in a completely different industry before returning back to the meetings to start working for a professional congress organiser. I have realised this is the job I do best and enjoy the most.