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MEETINGS STAR 2022/2023

A decade ago, at Toleranca Marketing agency, we developed a system of evaluating congress destinations with the help of an original matrix dubbed the “MEETING EXPERIENCE INDEX” or simply MTLG – MEETOLOGUE. Since the inception of evaluating destinations, we have been diligently using the reference system to present a realistic offer of congress destinations through time. Up to now, 118 destinations have been evaluated, including every important congress destination of the South East and New Europe region.

The system is a systematic, structured and analytical process, encompassing numerous factors labelled as important by event organisers. We dare say that our evaluation is the most comprehensive and complex destination grading system. The evaluation is not based solely on the number of congress events taking place at a destination but also delves into analysis holistically.

WHAT IS NEW EUROPE?

The answer to this question is something of an unsolved conundrum. A clear definition of New Europe doesn’t exist, the most general definition being that these are the countries of Eastern Europe that were once behind the Iron Curtain. Technically, this means 24 countries of Eastern Europe, adding Greece and Turkey to them. In our Editorial, we include the fresh, energetic and lesser-known European destinations in New Europe.

M – MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 1,200 congress attendees

2022 M CATEGORY WINNERS

1. DUBROVNIK 4.35

2. SPLIT 4.22

3. PORTOROSE 4.17

4. SAALFELDEN 4.16

5. OPATIJA 4.13

5. SCHLADMING 4.13

6. BLED 4.11

7. ROVINJ 4.07

8. KLAGENFURT 4.06

9. ŠIBENIK 4.05

10. MARIBOR 4.04

10. VILLACH 4.04

1. DUBROVNIK, CROATIA 4.35/5


Dubrovnik is the flagship of regional tourism and is commonly the first association of meeting organisers we meet daily. It is the closest in the region to renowned Mediterranean convention destinations Cannes and Monte Carlo. The modern and well-equipped centres at hotels such as Dubrovnik Palace, Excelsior, Bellevue, Grand Villa Argentina, Importanne Resort, Dubrovnik President, Valamar Lacroma and Radisson Blue are all great for hosting a variety of events. Well-developed is the entire conference infrastructure including destination management and the creative agency scene. The city is safe and one of the tourist icons of the Adriatic and justifiably the most painted tourist skyline with unprecedented experiential diversity for conference guests.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms4,006
The number of 4* and 5* hotels28
Destination population42,615
Banquet hall maximum capacity700
The largest hall in the city890 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,200
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events2
Average internet speed when organising an event20 Mbps
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dubrovnik_croatia
Photo Credit: Getty Images

2. SPLIT, CROATIA 4.22/5


Among the Adriatic congress destinations Split has become serious competition to Dubrovnik in the last years. The main disadvantages of the destination are bad cooperation between the service providers, lack of air traffic connections to key markets and not enough destination marketing. If Split gets a real convention centre in the future, it could become one of the leading congress destinations in the Mediterranean. New and excellent hotel capacities, good road connections to Europe and wonderful surroundings, with islands offering numerous incentive programme opportunities, all bolster this proposition. Split is still one of the most unexploited congress destinations in the Mediterranean.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms3,651
The number of 4* and 5* hotels46
Destination population162,873
Banquet hall maximum capacity450
The largest hall in the city768 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity800
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events5
Average internet speed when organising an event21 Mbps
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split_croatia
Photo Credit: Canva/Pixabay

3. PORTOROSE, SLOVENIA  4.17/5


The historic laurels of the leading Adriatic congress destination are slowly starting to gather dust. Portorož is still in hard competition with Dubrovnik, Opatija and new Adriatic congress destinations that are developing all the time. A rich congress history, tradition and existing infrastructure are a competitive advantage. The meetings industry is by no means a tree to sleep under and simply harvest its fruit from wealthy congress participants. Despite that, Portorož has proven resilient and adaptable many times in the course of history, so some innovativeness and marketing opportunities should ensure it has a bright future.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,303
The number of 4* and 5* hotels21
Destination population17,500
Banquet hall maximum capacity300
The largest hall in the city1,085 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,100
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events3
Average internet speed when organising an event29 Mbps
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portorose_slovenia
Photo Credit: Slovenian Convention Bureau

4. SAALFELDEN, AUSTRIA 4.16/5


Often, things that are hidden are much more interesting. The same can be said about the tourist destination of Saalfelden Leogang. The destination swears by sustainability and strong connections between tourism, agriculture, forestry and trade. From what we have seen, they have been doing an excellent job. A lot of hotels have their own water source, the pools are heated with solar energy and smaller hotels have their own heating stations running on wood chips from the surrounding forests. Many destinations have a lot to learn and Saalfelden is a shining example in this field. Everything functions well, the food is local and the well-being of guests is excellently taken care of.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms1,500
The number of 4* and 5* hotels12
Destination population18,969
Banquet hall maximum capacity700
The largest hall in the city1000 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity600
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events2
Average internet speed when organising an event40 Mbps
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saalfelden_austria
Photo Credit: Michael Geißler

5. OPATIJA, CROATIA  4.13/5


Opatija is without a doubt the ultimate meeting destination. Why? Because few destinations provide such a rich assortment of luxury accommodations in such a small area, whilst Opatija provides 33 hotels offering over 2700 rooms and more than 50 meeting and conference halls along the 3 km of the coastline. At the beginning and the end of the Opatija Riviera, there are two boutique hotels which contribute to the exclusivity of Opatija.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,256
The number of 4* and 5* hotels24
Destination population10,661
Banquet hall maximum capacity600
The largest hall in the city700 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity900
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events0
Average internet speed when organising an event20 Mbps
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opatija_croatia
Photo Credit: Opatija Tourist Board

5. SCHLADMING, AUSTRIA  4.13/5


Schladming is a big skiing centre, the scene of the best slalom races of the season as well as other internationally known sports competitions. Besides that, it is also an excellent congress venue and a place, which stays in the fond memory of every guest. We can say without a doubt that the tourist development in Schladming is a success story and we are certain that will also be the case in the future. Contributing to the success were mostly sporting events, on which they have built extensively. With the event organisation, the destination has gained a lot of experience, which can now be transferred into the congress field.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,362
The number of 4* and 5* hotels60
Destination population6,716
Banquet hall maximum capacity800
The largest hall in the city1,400 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,200
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events1
Average internet speed when organising an event100 Mbps
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schladming_austria
Photo Credit: Steiermark Tourismus/Peter Burgstaller

6. BLED, SLOVENIA  4.11/5


As a recognisable brand Bled stands out among other congress destinations in the region. It most closely resembles Dubrovnik, which caught up with the pre-war congress tempo by taking the right steps. Currently, the biggest disadvantage is the lack of a clear focus on quality rather than mass tourism. This is most clearly seen in the restaurant, nightlife and shopping offers. As a result, the current perception of quality is lower than with the largest competitors. In Bled the saying ‘Less is more’ is very true. The potential for the meetings industry is immense, it just needs to be harnessed in the right way.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms8,217
The number of 4* and 5* hotels12
Destination population7,894
Banquet hall maximum capacity400
The largest hall in the city1,668  m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity512
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event58 Mbps
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bled_slovenia
Photo Credit: Jošt Gantar

7. ROVINJ, CROATIA 4.07/5


If at the destination you have owners who have clear goals and who look at congress tourism strategically, then in a short time you can do a lot. It is possible to revitalize the old factory premises and build a superior conference hotel. Maistra in Rovinj has undoubtedly left its mark. Taking into consideration the geographical location of Rovinj as one of the closest Mediterranean congress destinations for Central and Western Europe, the future of this industry is guaranteed. Missing is only a convention bureau, which would know how to step out of corporate governance of the destination and would be able to serve as attorney of the meetings industry. Otherwise, forecasts of mayor Sponza that Rovinj will be more exclusive than Dubrovnik, can be realized.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms1,342
The number of 4* and 5* hotels6
Destination population14,294
Banquet hall maximum capacity800
The largest hall in the city1,600 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,000
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event20 Mbps
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rovinj_croatia
Photo Credit: Rovinj Tourist Board

8. KLAGENFURT, AUSTRIA  4.06/5


Klagenfurt is a likeable alpine congress destination with a rich cultural heritage and high experiential diversity. The critical advantage is definitely a fairytale-like well-maintained and pleasant environment, the quality offer that is above average in a regional sense, and the professionalism of suppliers. The position at the crossroads of important routes is also an essential factor in the competitiveness of this destination. The city is an important inter-social and European transit region that is easily reachable thanks to modern highways and rail connections. Klagenfurt, the centre of Carinthia with its tidiness, safety and ratio between price and quality, is one of the best convention destinations in the wider region. The city builds its meetings offer on sustainable development.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms700
The number of 4* and 5* hotels12
Destination population103,500
Banquet hall maximum capacity500
The largest hall in the city6,400 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity5,000
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events10
Average internet speed when organising an event40 Mbps
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klagenfurt_austria
Photo Credit: Klagenfurt Tourismus

9. ŠIBENIK, CROATIA 4.05/5


Šibenik very rarely raises any association with the meeting industry. In the process of transitioning from an industrial city into a tourist destination, it has not yet asserted its image among competing cities. Despite this, it is a fact that it has excellent conditions and is somehow considered to be a hidden jewel of the Croatian congress offer. For ease of accessibility, it may be a suitable location for small association conferences as well as a variety of incentive programmes.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms2,676
The number of 4* and 5* hotels8
Destination population46,332
Banquet hall maximum capacity220
The largest hall in the city600 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity500
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event21 Mbps
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sibenik_croatia
Photo Credit: Šibenik Tourist Board

10. MARIBOR, SLOVENIA  4.04/5


Maribor’s modus vivendi is embodied in the oldest vine tree in the world that seems incredibly resilient and vigorous. The same can be said for Maribor’s meetings industry, which successfully defied the corona crisis and now awaits event organisers with a new, refreshed look. Maribor attracts events because of its status as a student city, representing the business, scientific, educational, cultural and political centre of Eastern Slovenia. The sharp contrast between the Drava plains and green forests of Pohorje results in the immense diversity of landscape and experiences. In addition, its rich cultural history and rolling wine hills make it one of Slovenia’s most recognisable destinations. While strolling the streets of the city centre, you can stumble upon pristine nature, as urban and rural go hand in hand in Maribor.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms456
The number of 4* and 5* hotels8
Destination population95,989
Banquet hall maximum capacity400
The largest hall in the city404 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity500
Number of studios for digital and hybrid events2
Average internet speed when organising an event28 Mbps
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Photo Credit: Visit Maribor

10. VILLACH, AUSTRIA  4.04/5


Villach is the second-largest city in Carinthia and its tourist sights attract an enormous amount of visitors. Villach has also become established as a small Silicon Valley in the Alps, with an international character reflected in the town‘s infrastructure. The main reason for the meetings industry in this part of Austria is the numerous incentive programmes, all of which you can engage in a very clean environment. The most charming aspects are the Carinthian way of life, cultural diversity and a general sense of casualness. In our opinion, the main advantages are the size and the feeling of familiarity, along with a modern congress infrastructure. Locals also like to emphasise the border location, sat at the crossroads of three nations, which hasn‘t been totally picked up in a congress sense. Locals also like to emphasise the border location, sat at the crossroads of three nations, which hasn’t been totally picked up in a congress sense.

The number of 4* and 5* hotel rooms517
The number of 4* and 5* hotels5
Destination population61,221
Banquet hall maximum capacity400
The largest hall in the city4,500 m2
Theatre style hall maximum capacity1,060
Number of studios for digital and hybrid eventsNA
Average internet speed when organising an event40 Mbps
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villach_austria
Photo Credit: Region Villach Tourismus

The M Meeting Destinations are destinations that can host up to 1200 attendees. You can find every M Meeting Destination with the help of our SEARCH ENGINE. It is tailored to the needs of meeting planners and their thought processes. Find the destinations at the following link: https://kongres-magazine.eu/search-destinations/.

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