Kongres Magazine talked to Tanja Bogdanov, Managing Partner and Founder of Vekol DHC, who was recently named among the top 10 Most Influential Meeting Agency Representatives in 2021. Tanja 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 flattering title and confirmation of my life’s work have arrived just in time to wrap up a very important career stage in my life when I am starting to get widely appreciated as a professional not only in my home country but also in South-East Europe. To be officially recognised as someone who has the power to influence the MICE landscape in Serbia and beyond comes with great honour but even greater responsibility.
Q2: Can we say that you are a newcomer in the meetings industry? What inspires you?
I believe we can say quite the opposite: I am proud to have pioneered and established this “melting pot”, which the industry of meetings & events in Serbia undoubtedly is. As a veteran in this field, I started our business from scratch and became acknowledged for meaningful relationships that I managed to build with both our clients and suppliers based on utmost loyalty and trust. That gave me a solid foundation to further evolve as a professional in a dramatically changing business landscape, and I never take this privilege for granted.
Q3: You have contributed a lot to the development of the meetings industry. What would you say was your greatest achievement so far?
Due to my teams’ (un)healthy commitment to excellence and persuasion, Belgrade has become a first-time host city for top-notch upscale events for some Fortune 500 companies such as Disney, Microsoft, Real Madrid, Deutsche Telekom and many more. We have seen and experienced so much, but there is still so much more to be done. I will settle for nothing less than doing my absolute best to impose the meetings industry as an integral part of the destination’s branding strategy.
Q4: What changes would you like to see in the meetings industry in 2022?
It has been such an overwhelming journey for all MICE players across the globe. I believe we went full circle, and now we are back to the basics: meaningful experiences that help business professionals achieve their professional goals while enriching their corporate culture and pleasing their appetites for growth and pleasure.
Q5: What is your prediction for the future of meetings?
In highly developing and transforming countries such as Serbia, the meetings industry is the one missing link between leisure travel and trade investments. Hence, for me, the question regarding the future is rather conceptual than technical, although I do give advantage to live, face-to-face events. I would like to see the MICE industry be perceived as an industry that creates new business opportunities while supporting the local economy rather than a wasteful, show-of distraction for rich companies.
Q6: What is your advice for young colleagues making their way in the meetings industry?
Find (or create!) a supportive working environment that resonates with your personal values and beliefs in order to perform your best! Learn how to adjust fast, but always stay true to yourself. Stay curious. Stay foolish. Stay wild at heart.
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?
Being one of the very few destination management companies that made it through the pandemic unharmed, I myself faced a growing interest in the past few months for telling the world my story and sharing some valuable learning outcomes and life lessons from this unprecedented challenge. Being shortlisted as the “TOP INFLUENCER” for the second year in a row definitely contributes to this publicity and puts you on some covers.
Q8: What are your thoughts on our selection of the influencers?
I truly honour and value every single person that was shortlisted this year, and yet I still find so many professionals missing. The MICE industry is one of the fastest-changing and covers such a wide range of disciplines – there are plenty of people whom I consider to be the drivers of overall progress. I appreciate how you manage to give the deserved spotlight to so many of them.
Q9: In your opinion, who deserves the title of the TOP influencer if you had to choose from the finalists yourself?
There are too many incredible biographies and outstanding achievers to choose from. I believe we all leave a great legacy behind, so it would be well deserved anyway.