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Photo Credit: Šime Eškinja

Kongres Magazine talked to Sanja Vukov-Colić, Deputy CEO of Spektar Putovanja, who was recently named among the top representatives of the 10 Most Influential Meeting Agencies 2021. Sanja 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?

This has been the eighth year of the running and my eighth consecutive nomination among the most influential people of New Europe’s meetings industry. I would like to thank the hard-working Kongres Magazine team that creates the unique benchmark of “Who is Who” in our industry every year. The title of the most influential individual represents a soft power, the ability to initiate a positive change not only in Croatia but also in the regional market. Belonging to the circle of game-changers is a great honour for me, given the situation the entire meeting industry has found itself in. We have invested a great deal of work, knowledge, and expenses in order to adapt to the only possible technological solutions, to remain ‘in the saddle,’ and to seamlessly resume our activities. We have invested in the future; into a new way of working that is, without doubt, in the foreseeable future.

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

I have been active and have maintained a relevant presence in the Croatian meetings industry for over four decades. Frequently, I find myself inspired by both the clients and the partners we have the good fortune to be working with.

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

My greatest achievement is the creation of a successful and robust congress and incentive department within the Spektar Holidays agency. We have adapted to the changes in the market many times, but the challenge presented by the Covid epidemic has really revealed the resiliency of the team we have assembled.

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Photo Credit: Spektar putovanja

“The hybrid method will undoubtedly live on in coming times and continue to exist permanently.”

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

I would like to see a return to the ‘old fashioned,’ pre-Covid ways of operating, but I am aware that this is just wishful thinking. Although we have ambitiously and, quite rationally, as a team, accepted and integrated new technologies into our operations, I am completely certain that, in the next one or two years, on-site participants will return to their pre-Covid numbers.

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

The industry has changed, and there is probably no going back. I expect the implementation of new technologies will continue at a rapid pace. However, physically-attended meetings will never become replaceable as social interaction is a natural need of the human race. Technology has made it possible for the participants to choose the manner in which they participate in organised events. Sometimes, they will decide to participate online due to time constraints or financial reasons, thus staying in the ‘comfort zone.’ Other times, the participants will elect to participate in person: because of the destination, environment, the participation of interesting and important peers. The hybrid method will undoubtedly live on in coming times and continue to exist permanently, in a certain way. Hybrid events make it possible to achieve greater attendance which would not be possible otherwise. In time, the price of technological solutions will be more accessible. Thus, new technologies will continue to exhibit their advantages and their shortcomings, likewise. We must be prepared for all possible surprises and learn new methods of quick orientation towards novel solutions.

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

My advice would be to harness the experience of meeting industry veterans but also to bear in mind that new ways of thinking are a sure way of re-establishing growth. Young colleagues have the opportunity to be extremely educated, having absorbed cutting edge technological advances practically from birth and accepting them as a normal part of their lives. Any implementation, change, and novelties to be faced are just another working day for them. It is important to stress that this kind of work is not a ‘one-man-band’ type of operation and that the event industry requires teamwork and cooperation on all levels as well as an optimal combination of operational creativity.

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Photo Credit: Ivana Zorić

“We must be prepared for all possible surprises and learn new methods of quick orientation towards novel solutions.”

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?

There is a definitive need for better industry exposure as exposure increases the availability of new opportunities, especially in the international arena. I suppose by having been placed on the list, the wider community became more aware of the possibility of receiving quality service in the Croatian market.

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

It is pleasing to see an almost competently done cross-section of industry professionals receiving recognition for their hard work. I remember seeing many individuals among the influencer list I know deserve to be highlighted. I must restate that creating a “Who is Who” list in these turbulent times is very useful. I believe that all interested parties will know the reason for such an undertaking.

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

That is a very easy question to answer, even though it seems to be quite provocative at first glance. The members of my team are most deserving of the TOP influencer title. Without them, my achievement would never be possible. After them, all the listed candidates, including those who are not among them but have certainly proven and influenced over the positive events in the congress industry during these trying times, deserve the title.

About Sanja Vukov-Colić

Sanja wields more than 40 years of experience in the meetings industry. She is the founder and manager of Spektar putovanja’s PCO department, and Deputy CEO from 1994. Over the years, Sanja has assembled a team of able professionals. Their dedication to the adoption of new technological tools and processes coupled with their tenacity and proficiency has succeeded in proving that the skills, knowledge, and experience of professional congress organisers reign supreme in the meetings industry.