Kongres Magazine talked to Maja Pančur, Project Manager at Bled Tourist Board, who delved into Bled’s sustainable endeavours, the competition Bled faces and why a partner network is fundamental for development. Maja Pančur also shared tips for newcomers in the meetings industry.

INTRO 1: How would you describe your destination if you could only use two to three words?

Unique, Green, Alpine.

INTRO 2: Which destination do you believe is your biggest competition?

Within Slovenia, I believe Ljubljana and Portorož, which represent the top MICE destinations in the country, together with Bled. If we look further, I believe Istria, Croatia and the Alpine region of Austria represent our biggest competitors.

INTRO 3: Which destination is an inspiring role model to you?

Tirol, Austria.

Q1: How do you see the recognition among the top ten meeting destinations evaluated according to the Meeting Experience Index?

We are honoured to be ranked among the top ten meeting destinations. I believe the biggest credit for the results goes to the strategic management of all the stakeholders in the destination over the past 70 years. We get recognition for our work from our clients and guests all the time, which gives us great confidence in what we do, yet it is important for us to see the results of a professional evaluation.

Q2: What sets your destination apart from your competition, and what will ensure you have a competitive edge in the future?

Bled stands out due to its unique landscape. It is world-renowned, with a long tradition and experience, which results in a high level of trust. It is rather small and safe and offers a high standard of infrastructure and services. We believe our green story will have a competitive edge in the future. The entire destination has been working on this for decades and will continue to do so in the decades to come.

Photo Credit: Sava Hotels & Resorts

“Luckily, we kept the pace and direction of developing a high-quality and sustainable tourist offer.”

Q3: We live in uncertain times; in the past two years, we have learned how to battle the crisis caused by the corona crisis and face the economic crisis caused by the war. How does your destination cope in such challenging times?

The first thing is flexibility, followed by cooperation. Since our destination is traditionally dependent on foreign markets, we were facing great challenges in these past years; yet, we stepped together and with support from Slovenian Tourist Board and Slovenian Convention Bureau courageously walked further. We have turned to the domestic and neighbouring foreign market, which brought other challenges for our destination, from increased personal vehicle traffic to a lack of parking areas in the high season. And those things are yet to be improved and managed. Luckily, we kept the pace and direction of developing a high-quality and sustainable tourist offer. We now look further with lots of optimism.

Q4: How do you foresee the future of the meetings industry in the next decade? What topics must the industry address immediately?

I believe the meetings industry will inevitably become digitalised, yet live events will stay vitally important for driving new ideas and businesses. In ten years’ time, every live event will need to have hybrid components. The meeting industry should address the topic of sustainability immediately. All the events should become more responsible.

Photo Credit: Jošt Gantar

“Demanding partners push us further to grow and create personalised and unforgettable events.”

Q5: How does your destination stay up-to-date with the turbulent changes sweeping the meetings industry? What is your advice for our readers?

We are happy to have strong partnerships we can rely on. The strong players connected us and paved the road to resilience, which we followed. As a whole, our meeting offer stayed the same, with some new additions. The advice I would give is to keep following your work and connect with others to grow or get past the obstacles together. In short, be alert, informed and ready to adapt.

Q6: What should the meetings industry do to attract talented individuals? What is your advice for young talents starting their careers?

In Slovenia, not many people know about the meetings industry, making it extremely hard for people to get in touch with them. We might be able to improve the situation with education by either including this segment in the business and tourist school curriculum, opening a short educational program or opening mentorship programs. Young talents starting their careers in MICE can benefit from knowing that getting into this field requires stamina, curiosity, confidence, organisation skills, openness and hospitality. It is an inspiring job where you get a chance to meet and work with many different professionals.

Q7: Where are you positioning your marketing efforts this year and the next?

Trade shows.

Q8: Your partners are possibly the most demanding meeting planners. What is it like to work with them and meet their needs?

Having demanding partners presents a challenge in a good way. They are the ones who push us further to grow and create personalised and unforgettable events.

Learn more about Bled Convention Bureau here.

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