Photo Credit: MEETEX

The third, virtual edition of the MEETEX event gathered a record number of Croatian exhibitors and international buyers from the meetings and incentive industry from more than 20 countries.

After two very successful live editions, this year the third edition of the national meetings industry show MEETEX – Croatian Meeting Experience Summit took place in a digital format. The circumstances caused by the pandemic and the fact that no live meetings could be held were an additional incentive and confirmation of the importance of this event, which is reflected in the great interest of international buyers in Croatia’s meetings and incentive offer. MEETEX 2021, which took place from 16 to 18 March, gathered the largest number of Croatian exhibitors to date, who held up to 1,000 one-on-one meetings with hosted buyers from more than 20 countries.

During the opening of MEETEX, the participants were welcomed by the President of the MEETEX Organizing Committee Ranko Filipović and representatives of the main partners of the event: Zagreb Tourist Board’s (TZGZ) Convention Bureau Director, Zlatan Muftić, and Vice-President for Agriculture and Tourism of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce (HGK) Dragan Kovačević. Everyone particularly emphasized their satisfaction that, despite the current circumstances, the third edition of this important event for Croatian business events industry is taking place, albeit in virtual form, and that great international interest in Croatia has been expressed.

Photo Credit: MEETEX

Informative, educational and interactive content

The third edition of MEETEX traditionally began with a lecture given by the renowned meetings industry expert Dr Rob Davidson, who spoke in a unique and entertaining way about the unmatched benefits of live events and why we can expect them to return as soon as the circumstances permit. This was followed by a presentation of Croatia as an ideal destination for small and medium-sized incentives and congresses held by Mirjana Resner, Head of the Convention Bureau of the Croatian National Tourist Board (HTZ).

During the breaks between the meeting blocks, the buyers had the opportunity to get acquainted with the great wealth of the Croatian meetings and incentive offer through video presentations of the exhibitors and the largest number of county and local tourism boards from all over Croatia so far. For the first time, the counties of Varaždin, Osijek-Baranja, Krapina-Zagorje and Međimurje presented their video material, along with already known destinations such as Istria and Kvarner, Šibenik, Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes, Zagorje and Zagreb.

On the second day of MEETEX, an interactive presentation of Zagreb as a meeting and incentive destination was held for all hosted buyers. A two-minute promotional film Let’s Meet in Zagreb was shown, followed by a 10-question quiz for buyers. Those who answered the questions the fastest won prizes provided by the Zagreb Tourist Board. This was followed by a presentation of the Around Zagreb project and a plethora of outdoor incentive programs offered at the Zagreb Green Ring.

Photo Credit: MEETEX

In addition to Rob Davidson, educational lectures were given by renowned national experts: Goran Vlašić, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Economics and Business in Zagreb and President of the Innovation Institute Academic Council, spoke about changes in doing business, i.e., ways to overcome changes in the market logic. An interesting lecture on the importance of social networks in destination marketing and communication was given by the marketing and media expert Jasminka Đaković, who is also the owner of the travel agency Putopis.

Great interest of European buyers for the incentive offer of Zagreb and its surrounding area

Once again, Zagreb Convention Bureau had a busy schedule of online meetings with hosted buyers as part of this year’s workshop. More than 30 meetings were held with buyers from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Israel and Singapore. Most of the meetings were held with organizers from France and the United Kingdom, and particularly surprising was the interest from buyers from Denmark, where Croatia and Zagreb are evidently becoming a very popular destination. In addition to the usual presentation of Zagreb as a meetings and incentive destination prepared in advance, the buyers were introduced to accommodation facilities, the capacity of the halls for organizing meetings and events, and the restaurants.

Due to the understandably uncertain circumstances, organizers are currently in the process of gathering information about the destination and considering what events and activities they could offer their clients. Currently, they are thinking mainly about incentives, outdoor programs and activities, wellness and well-being, as well as the environmental sustainability of projects. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that great interest was expressed in the possibilities of organizing various incentive programs in Zagreb and its surrounding area. The first organized arrivals are not expected to take place until late 2021. Some are planning their inspection visits as soon as circumstances permit, while the more specific meetings and trips are planned for 2022, 2023 and the coming years.

Photo Credit: Davor Rostuhar

A joint virtual cocktail party to conclude a successful event

On the last day of MEETEX, a virtual cocktail party took place after the business meetings, where all participants could contribute with pictures and sound and share their impressions. Another prize contest, with questions about the Croatian meetings and incentive offer, included nice prizes for the buyers who answered the questions the fastest. The prizes went to France, Denmark and Germany.

Representatives of the MEETEX Organizing Committee addressed all those present and thanked them for their participation, highlighting their extraordinary satisfaction with the response from both exhibitors and hosted buyers. The director of MEETEX, Adem Braco Suljić, summarized the success of the event in one statistics: “The average percentage of no-shows to pre-arranged meetings held at events of this kind is 30%, and yesterday we had a no-show rate of only 1.7%! I think that number says it all,” he pointed out. There was a lot of praise from buyers and exhibitors for the organization team.

If epidemiological circumstances permit, the second, live part of MEETEX 2021 will take place in the autumn, in the form of study trips to Zagreb and other major Croatian meetings and incentive destinations.