Who influenced the meetings industry the most in 2019?

The 5th edition of Kongres Magazine’s “Most Influential People” segment is here, analysing who influenced the meetings industry of New Europe the most in 2019.

Our editorial board has been carrying out the competition since 2014, constantly adding new recommendations from reputable European meeting planners. We assessed more than 185 influencers in Central and South East Europe after reviewing highlights from the meetings industry in 2019. Our assessment was based on several key criteria, such as:

• Achievement of the best financial and other multiplier effects of the meetings industry in 2019, (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 the year 2019;

• Help in enhancing the reputation and profile of the meetings industry in 2019;

• Innovations that facilitate the work of meetings organisers, or in their way have pointed the direction of the industry in the future.

Based on 1273 individually completed surveys and 5559 total individual visits, Kongres Magazine has analysed and shortlisted the TOP most influential people. We have also added 2 newcomers in each category, voted by our readers.

The candidates have been divided into 6 categories


The meeting architects with the most votes are:

CEO at the Slovenian Convention Bureau & Co-founder of Conventa

Active for over a decade as the director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, which enjoys an outstanding reputation abroad, he continually nurtures the growth of the Slovenian meetings industry through a number of innovative marketing and CSR projects. The editorial board has put a particular emphasis on the Conventa project that, as a brand, has become synonymous with New Europe’s meeting & event industry and has significantly assisted with the placement of the region on the meetings planners’ list of key destinations.


Managing Director at Thessaloniki Convention Bureau

Eleni Sotiriou is the Managing Director of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau since August 2018. She has served as senior advisor to the Mayor of Thessaloniki between 2011 and 2018, focusing on the city’s promotion and growth, led by initiatives as the Thessaloniki Food Festival, the close collaboration with the hospitality sector and the development of a strategy on tourism development. She holds an MSc in Economic History from London School of Economics, a BSc in Economics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and is an Anatolia College Alumna. She was the co-founder of Wine Plus, an innovative company specializing in wine promotion, gastronomy and ecotourism and worked as a consultant to the Wine Roads of Northern Greece and to the Greek Wine Federation.


Senior Business Marketing and Promotion Specialist at Gdansk Convention Bureau

Gdanks is Poland’s 3rd city in terms of the number of meetings. More than 4,000 business meetings are held in the region annually (including 3,200 in Gdansk alone) with 430,000 attendees, and the numbers grow year by year. Serving the city of Gdanks since 2005, Micał Brandt is a senior business specialist who has been working in MICE since 2015. Before that he acquired extensive experience as a press officer for UEFA EURO 2012 in Gdansk at the newly constructed Energa Stadium.


General Manager at City of Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau

After obtaining her MBA in business, Eliza started her career path as Assistant Brand Manager at Mattel, moved to Henkel in the role of Brand Manager and later to Gregory’s Food Service Group as Senior Brand Manager. After that she transitioned to the MICE industry and became General Manager of the City of Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau in 2016, where she aspires to highlight Athens as a top MICE, city-break and leisure destination in the international market.


Deputy Director of Azerbaijan Convention Bureau

Sevda started her career in sales and marketing, but soon moved to the State Agency of Alternative & Renewable Energy Sources of Azerbaijan as the Leading Expert in International Relations. After that she stayed in the public sector and acted as Executive Director of the Baku Convention Bureau for a year between 2017 and 2018. Since August 2018 she is working at the Azerbaijan Convention Bureau as the Deputy Director, promoting business event activities and implementing the strategy for the development of the business events industry in Azerbaijan.


Head of Convention Bureau at Croatian National Tourist Board

Karla has been with the Croatian National Tourist Board since 2011. She first started working there as a junior associate and since then moved through the functions of Associate Expert and Head of Study Trips Department to her current role.


Veronika HANDL
Head of Convention Bureau Tirol (AT)

For more than a decade, the Convention Bureau Tirol has been the specialist for congresses, events and seminars in Tirol. Veronika Handl takes care of the experiences that are long remembered and also takes care of the conference guests who become Tirol ambassadors. The CVB Tirol provides partnership in organisation of congresses, meetings, incentives and events in Tirol.


CEO of Moscow Convention Bureau

Tatiana Anisimova is an event professional with a solid executive background, having shaped her skills as Head of Events Team at PricewaterhouseCoopers Russia, Brand Manager at the National Bank TRUST and Project Manager at The Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation. Along the 10 years in the event industry, Tatiana Anisimova has participated in dozens of high-profile international meetings, both in Russia and abroad.


Head of Slovak Convention Bureau

Before taking on the title of the Head of the Slovak Convention Bureau in 2018, Barbora worked as State Counselor at the Ministry of Transportation. Her focus was on the MICE industry, working to drive MICE tourism in Slovakia.


Director at Dubrovnik Tourist Board & Convention Bureau

The director of Dubrovnik Tourist Board, Romana Vlasic, with many solid years of experience in business behind her has accelerated the promotion of Dubrovnik to now being the region’s most recognizable congress brand and a player in the European premier league for congresses and events. Dubrovnik could rightfully claim that recent years were its years on the conference scene, as many important events were held in this very beautiful city. Dubrovnik has been a popular filming location in recent years.

CEO at Serbia Convention Bureau (RS)

In parallel with his academic engagements, Igor joined the Bureau in 2007 and has been actively involved in raising Serbia’s position on the international meetings market as well as making the bureau one of the most recognized destination marketing organisations in the SEE region.


Head of Convention Bureau at Ljubljana Tourism

Jan Oršič has spent most of his professional life in the MICE industry. He joined the Ljubljana Tourism / Convention Bureau team in 2009 prior to which he was working as a freelance local tour guide for eight years, which gave him a valuable practical experience. In December 2017, he was appointed as Head of Ljubljana Convention Bureau. Since 2012 he has been also working on PhD researching the fields of destination marketing, business travel, new media and ROI.

Director at Russia Convention Bureau (RU)

Aleksei Kalachev’s professional achievements are not only in the organisation of event projects, communication, PR etc but in the strategic promotion of Russia’s event potential at the international markets and building up the standards of industry inside the country as well. He has also been the CEO of the first Convention Bureau of Russia founded in November 2017. After the first year of his work, the Russia CVB has already noticed considerable results and Russia is achieving great interest as an event destination among the international buyers and organizers.

Newcomers in 2019, voted by readers


Christian WORONKA
Director of Vienna Convention Bureau

Christian Woronka studied geography with a focus on tourism. He was a member of the team that founded the Cologne Convention Bureau and its director between 2012 and 2019. He has focused primarily on digitization and public relations work. In 2019 he took over as director of the Vienna Convention Bureau and is responsible for management and consolidation of the Convention Bureau and Market Management departments, and for expansion of conventions and congresses, corporate meetings and incentives.


Kadri KARU
Managing Director of Estonian Convention Bureau

The Estonian Convention Bureau (ECB) was established in January 2008 to promote Estonia as a convention destination in order to attract international conventions to Estonia. Before joining the Estonian Convention Bureau in 2011, Kadri was acquiring experiences in event management and tourism at Frens Conference Services for 13 years. In her current role at the Estonian Convention Bureau she works tirelessly to connect institutions from a variety of sectors and businesses and uniting them under the Team Estonia Brand.


Şekib AVDAGIÇ, Istanbul Convention Bureau
Dragana BABOVIĆ, Belgrade Convention Bureau
Danica BUNJEVAC, Montenegro Convention Bureau
Laura FAVARETTI, Padova Terme Convention and Visitors Bureau
Fredi FONTANOT, Portorož Convention Bureau
Tatiana FLEGANOVA, Ural Convention Bureau
Jelena GLUŠČEVIĆ, Tourism Organisation of Budva
Cemil HAKAN KILIÇ Istanbul Convention Bureau
Heinz KALTSCHMIDT, Graz Convention Bureau
Dino KARAĐOLE, Šibenik Convention Bureau
Vesna KLEMENČIČ, Bled Convention Bureau
Petr KUKLÍK, Czezch Convention Bureau
Brenda LEE FABRO, FVG Convention Bureau
Edith MADER, Convention Bureau Lower Austria
Gernot MARX, Salzburg Convention Bureau
Christian MAYERHOFER, Congress Messe Innsbruck
Roman MUSKA, Prague Convention Bureau
Zlatan MUFTIĆ, Zagreb Convention Bureau
Josef RYCHTER, Eastern Bohemia Convention Bureau
Andriy PAVLIV, Lviv Convention Bureau
Goran PAVLOVIĆ, Opatija Convention Bureau

Would you like to nominate an influencer for 2020?

Please tell us why your nominee should be among the TOP Meetings Industry Influencers in 2020 in the online form.