As everything is settling back into its pre-coronavirus tracks, the meetings industry is still waiting for the situation to normalize itself. Lifted regulations will not bring back business like nothing has happened, yet everyone is supposed to survive by their own means. We wanted to hear how meeting planners are coping with the situation, what COVID-19 means for their businesses and how they see the future of events.
DIJANA TABORIN, Product Manager – Event Organiser at Go Green
Q: How would you introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t know you?
I am the head of the MICE department at Go Green. By nature, I am an optimist who tries to face every obstacle with positive energy. I also really enjoy new challenges.
I plan different types of projects with great enthusiasm, from the most logistically demanding to content-unique, where eminent participants are used to the best scenarios. I have a degree in economics and have a lot of experience in organizing events at home and abroad. My richest experience is in tourism. I create programs for companies, organizations and individuals, always with a strong emphasis on effective solutions. In my work, I put bold creativity at the forefront and include surprises in my ideas. I believe that the secret of a successful event lies in caring for every little detail.
Q: What is your love story with the world of events?
Already as a teenager, I was eager to dedicate my time to organizing various events. In high school, I embarked on a charity collection of toys for children at the hospital with one of the professors and discovered my love for planning. The success story was also recognized by our largest commercial television station, which reported about the charity event in a daily news program. Just like back then, every successful event still gives me a new drive and fills me with energy.
Q: How has the coronavirus epidemic affected your business and survival?
Although we monitored events around Europe and the world at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 and thought about the consequences, we did not expect such dimensions in Slovenia. Cancellations and rescheduling of events and tourist, business and protocol transports required a change in Go Green’s business plan. In the changed circumstances, the owner and director of the company, Blaž Ahčan, decided that it was necessary to act quickly and reorganize the company. Together with the team, he transformed the business goals and focused on finding new solutions and opportunities. Even though we weren’t doing any events or transports we decided to keep working, to work from home. We didn’t want to wait but were proactive instead. We focused on communication with existing business partners, preparation of content for the website and social networks, creation of new rental vehicle products and events. We are especially proud of the successful long-term cooperation with the Association of Friends of Youth Ljubljana Moste-Polje, to which we offered assistance during the pandemic in coordinating and carrying out the transport of computer equipment and food.
I believe that flexibility in strategic thinking and overall operation is one of the key advantages of Go Green. The customized services that my colleagues and I were able to offer in recent unforeseen circumstances have only further strengthened the satisfaction and trust of our customers. In the past, the company has invested a lot of effort in an individual approach and adapting to the wishes of customers, which we have upgraded in the current situation. We have established even more active and efficient cooperation with existing business partners, both customers and suppliers. Together we have also developed new or refreshed business products and solutions.
Q: How long can you endure the quarantine as a company and as an individual?
By optimizing and reducing costs, reorganizing business processes and upgrading the already safe individual guest transport and designing new products for business car rentals, we managed to keep the company in operation. Now we see opportunities in the organization of smaller events, motivational or incentive events, business meetings and larger web conferences. In cooperation with the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana, we successfully conducted an online conference in June 2020. Although we are determined to go forward even stronger, the company’s success also depends on the epidemiological picture at home and around the world, i.e. on all other external factors that we cannot fully influence. We still have our business flexibility, as we believe that a proactive and positive approach is the only right way for the future.
Q: How satisfied are you with the country’s measures so far? What could be improved upon?
We believe that waiting is not the answer, so we want more measures that work according to the logic of promoting work, adapting existing operations, promoting progress and development. In the long run, waiting will not save our industry. It is necessary to invest in solutions that will restart the industry, and work on the promotion and marketing of Slovenia as a destination that is safe and suitable for meetings.
Q: How will the virus change the essence of organizing events – socializing?
Humans need to socialize because we are social beings; socializing is a part of us and also a driver of development. I am convinced that many of us can hardly wait to start meeting more actively in business as well. People’s habits will change, and I believe that one of our basic tasks in future events will be to provide additional security and to give participants a sense of relaxation and thus maintain their confidence. The basis of socializing and events will not change, we will just have to adjust the way so that the participants will attend social events without worrying.
WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO CREATE A SAFE AND HEALTHY MEETING ENVIRONMENT
Q: When do you think we will be able to move with full steam ahead?
Good transport accessibility of Slovenia and the wider Alps-Adriatic region, as well as a good epidemiological picture of the country, are important. By continuing to adhere to high hygiene and safety standards and practices, we can work together to create a safe and healthy meeting environment. Once these criteria are met, we can expect to go full steam ahead.
Q: What comes after the pandemic?
If the sun shines after every rainfall, the business analogy can be such that after every pandemic, it is time to grow. A realistic assessment of what comes after the epidemic, however, is the establishment of a new, healthy and safe reality.