The Slovenia Times

A New Love Affair Awaits the Meeting Industry



Is there really a perfect meeting destination? Well of course not- there are so many variables. However, as most meetings are not large meetings, my heart always goes to smaller, highly accessible destinations. Places that are on the human scale. Yes, of course you must have the infrastructure and the logistic capability and the qualified human services and the quality etc. But when you add the human scale factor everything just seems to fall into place. Yet smaller destinations spend a lot of their time apologising for their size! This is precisely my experience of Slovenia.
I first walked around the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana, a few years ago, and I loved the way it seemed to envelop me like a welcoming hug. Today every time I return I still get the same feeling, only stronger and it just takes my breath away. I do not know whether it is the friendliness of its people, the layout, the river, but whatever it is the city has a special light and smell - the sweet aroma of the sea breeze. And everyone I know who travels there tells me a similar story.
I am still taken aback by how beautiful the whole country really can look, be it the seaside town of Portoro┼ż or Lake Bled with its towering castle at sunset for example. This has just got to be one of Europe's most underestimated meeting industry destinations and a perfect incentive location- and it is not just a question of quality but of phenomenal quality at affordable prices - for now! There are conference venues for all tastes. Slovenia can house conferences of up to 1,550 delegates comfortably and that would be the bar I would set for it, but it is the endless possibilities of complementary programmes and the sheer tradition of hospitality of its people that truly mark the difference.
Slovenia has a lot of advantages: a very young, well-educated travel professionals and hospitality industry community who are also hungry for the business. They are "possibilitarians"! That is they believe that if they raise their sights and see the possibilities they will achieve anything. This can-do attitude is one of the best features of the destination. The quality-cost ratio and the novelty factor is also an added benefit. Slovenia of course is relatively unknown. I, myself have just come to really know it and feel that I had, until now, been deprived of something. There is a tendency to box all the countries in the region together and just see them from one perspective where they all appear to be very similar. This is not only a mistake but deprives the industry of expanding to new experiences and new ventures.
Of course to become a star in the meeting industry Slovenia must up its marketing game and make itself more accessible internationally. It would definitely benefit from an Ambassador Programme but it has other advantages. It is a young country with young dedicated professionals, it is already actively "networking" itself onto the buyer's horizon and its politicians are listening and watching. It must be able to differentiate itself positively from its local competitors while still benefitting from synergies born out of such proximity.
Slovenia has a meeting industry business plan and it has, so far, taken the right road. The Convention Bureau clearly understands that part of the Slovenian experience is the variety of landscapes, restaurants and places to visit all compacted into short distances; the friendliness of its locals; the surprising taste of its wines; and the exquisite quality of its food - now it must learn to sell its business value, especially in today's economy.
So why is Slovenia still something of an undiscovered secret?
Perhaps therein lies the reason for its perfection.


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