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Kongres Magazine talked to Eleni Sotiriou, Managing Director of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau, who was recently named among the top 10 Most Influential Destination Representatives in 2021. Eleni shared her advice for newcomers in the meetings industry and expressed her opinion on the future of events.

Q1: What does the title of the industry’s most influential individual in the region mean to you?

I would like to share this title with all 54 members of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau. We are a member-based organisation, working together for the destination, and I am very happy and proud to participate in this effort and contribute to enhancing our position in the meetings industry market.

Q2: Can we say that you are a newcomer in the meetings industry? What inspires you?

In a way, yes, I have been the Managing director of TCB for the last four years and what I find most inspiring is the broad scope of activity within the meetings industry. Moreover, I am inspired by the agility, flexibility and courage the people of the meetings industry have proved to have, along with all other skills and qualities, in the long-lasting period of severe circumstances we have endured.

Q3: You have contributed a lot to the development of the meetings industry. What would you say was your greatest achievement so far?

Our ability to retain the spirit and coherence of our community during the past months. Furthermore, to take a step ahead in initiating Connect, Tourism & Travel Event Thessaloniki, an event designed and implemented by TCB, to be the perfect meeting place for buyers of the international travel industry and suppliers from Thessaloniki and its surroundings. The first edition in 2021 was virtual, whereas the 2022 version will be Face2Face. We look forward to welcoming suppliers and international travel and meeting industry buyers, introducing our destination and creating new business opportunities.

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Photo Credit: Thessaloniki Convention Bureau

“Destinations also change their perspective, working towards new goals, sustainability and agility coming first.”

Q4: What changes would you like to see in the meetings industry in 2022?

Of course, to be able to meet in person, without restrictions and fear!

Q5: What is your prediction for the future of meetings?

The meetings industry has seen many changes in the way the market operates: digital transformation, hybrid events, innovative ways to create content efficiently and new techniques to approach and attract clients. Destinations also change their perspective, working towards new goals, sustainability and agility coming first.

Q6: What is your advice for young colleagues making their way in the meetings industry?

This is a very challenging period for the meetings industry worldwide as things move on real fast. They will have to struggle in a rapidly changing yet most interesting environment. But there is also magic in this job, as you can be creative and inventive, you will never get bored!

“I think we are on the same line with peers, sharing ideas and common values and, above all, passion for our destinations.”

Q7: Were you more exposed in public after being placed on our list? Do you see this as an opportunity to reinforce the prominence of our industry in general?

For me, personal exposure is an exposure of the destination, enhancing its awareness. I am very happy to see Thessaloniki representatives in more than one top ten list. The expertise of the professionals of a destination is a valuable asset, adding to the city’s charm and perspective.

Q8: What are your thoughts on our selection of the influencers?

Kongres Magazine is a constant inspiration for us for a great many reasons. Being among the influencers, nominated and voted in the top ten, makes me feel part of this community and enthusiastic to contribute in more ways.

Q9: In your opinion, who deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to choose from the finalists yourself?

I am lucky to have met and collaborated with quite a few of my peers on the list. I think we are on the same line, sharing ideas and common values and, above all, passion for our destinations. It is great being part of the Top 10 Most Influential Destination Representatives!

About Eleni Sotiriou

Eleni is the Managing Director of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau since 2018. She holds an MSc in Economic History from LSE and a BSc in Economics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She was the co-founder of Wine Plus, an innovative company for wine promotion, gastronomy and oenotourism, has served as Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Thessaloniki (2011 – 2018), focusing on the city’s promotion and growth and has occupied different positions in the private sector in Marketing and Sales. She believes that at the core of the meetings industry is sharing: knowledge, experience, know-how, and fun!