The congress guest is a leisure guest at the end of the day

22. 11. 2017
Interview with Vesna Klemenčič, Head of the Convention Bureau Bled

Interview by: Jasmina Jerant

Photo credit: Tina Ramujkić 

Q: Bled has over 2,000 accommodation facilities and is constantly rising in the world's conference map. How many events were hosted by Bled in 2017? Are there any that you would like to particularly highlight?

Bled is gaining its momentum of a MICE destination primarily through the intense promotion that has been done through the years by the Slovene Tourism Office, the Slovene Convention Bureau and Tourism Bled. This can be seen both in the area of leisure guests as well as international congresses and conventions. Statistically, the season from spring to autumn of last year brought over 80% of guests, which makes it a 5-month high season in Bled. This is being largely extended into winter, especially by congress guests. From congress data, it is worth mentioning that some of the most important events brought not just an event, but a global promotion of Bled as a place for international events, such as the Curling Congress, the Masters Rowing Regatta that brought some 4,000 participants to Bled, and the Bled Strategic Forum, which is an annual governmental event that brings to Bled some of the most prominent international political personalities and decision makers.

Q: Bled is certainly one of Europe's most stunning meetings destinations. How does the Convention Bureau Bled attract meeting planners?

Since March this year, as the Convention Bureau of the Tourism Board of Bled started off its work, the planning of an engaged and attractive marketing strategy to position Bled as a MICE destination has been in progress in cooperation with the Festival / Congress Hall, the hotels, the Municipality of Bled and other Bled stakeholders. Among other things, the cooperation of the destination’s stakeholders proved to be fruitful, as we submitted a joint candidacy for the World Rowing Championship, both under-23 Junior and Senior. In September, we won the candidacy against the Polish city of Poznan, and Bled will thus host the world rowing championship for the fifth time since 1966. Among other activities of the marketing strategy was the revamping of the existing Meeting Planners’ Guide, establishing of the Bled CVB Social Media tools (you can now find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn), B2B events abroad and FAM Trips to Bled. In my experience, once the client arrives in Bled for an inspection visit, most of the job is done. The clients are usually smitten not just by the beauty of the destination, but mostly because of the comfortable logistics within the destination, suitable facilities and the hospitality of the locals.

Q: How does congress tourism blend in with other sorts of Bled tourism?

The congress guest is a leisure guest at the end of the day. That is a guest looking for comfortable accommodation, restaurants, clubs, spas, activities in nature, cultural visits, shopping, etc.  As much as the destination has to offer, it will be spent by the guest. Nowadays, we observe that guests are looking to experience traditional and local services or products. This is why at the Bled CVB we tend to offer local gastronomy, traditional activities, activities in nature and activities that include local customs. Baking the traditional Potica Cake on the Island of Bled, producing honey, traditional gingerbread hearts’ workshop are some of the activities that we tend to offer to our guests when there’s some extra time to be spent in Bled. Nevertheless, nature is the wow factor of Bled and taking the traditional Pletna boat on the Lake, gliding over the water in the silence of nature is the true heart of Bled that brings a person back to their inner zen.

Q: How much does Bled pursue green tourism and sustainability, and how does it apply this to the meetings industry?

Congress industry trends have moved into a sustainable, technologically developed and "smart" future. The Bled Congress Bureau set out its plan following the direction of the entire destination that is led by the Municipality of Bled. Our wish is to present our destination as a hospitable, sustainable and authentic one. The programme objectives of the Bled Congress Bureau are aimed at acquiring events of international associations, sports, and governmental events. The Tourism Stakeholders of Bled are at the moment developing the so-called ‘Greene Scheme of Bled’, which will set the parameters of Bled as a green destination. Among other achievements, it is worth mentioning the bypass that is currently under construction and is designed to take the traffic out of the heart of the town. It is a great improvement of Bled that will show Bled in a new light, comparable to the one it had a few centuries ago when it was a gathering place for the royal families and the political elite. Every infrastructure development presents an advantage for the destination. We are also eager to follow the renovation of the Festival – Congress Hall in Bled that is now turning its break-out rooms into a flexible space, appropriate for additional flexible conference rooms as well as an open space for gala or special events, with a beautiful view over the lake and all the commodities of a modern meeting space.

Q: When it comes to meetings, what are the Convention Bureau Bled's plans for the future, considering that the usual tourist flow is growing dramatically? How can Bled manage both kinds of huge groups at the same time?

The flow of tourists to Bled is a gain for us all. The increase of guests goes hand in hand with infrastructure development and the improvement of facilities and services, which in the end are an advantage that the locals are able to enjoy long after the guests leave Bled. We are happy that Bled is gaining in popularity and in facing the growth of visits we are facing the need to strategically plan and distribute visits throughout the year. This is why the Bled CVB aims to bring events to the off-season time and make Bled a vibrant and hospitable town in other seasons too.

The interview was published in the KONGRES Magazine, November's issue

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