Managing Customer Relations as a Key to Success of Serbia as a Meeting Destination

Marija Labovic, Managing Director of National Tourism Organisation of Serbia

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Marija Labović, direktorka Turističke organizacije Srbije
Marija Labović, direktorka Turističke organizacije Srbije

How is NTOS approaching to the promotion of Serbia as a meeting destination?

Next year it will be 10 years of the intensive investment of NTOS in promotion Serbia as a congress destination, especially through the operations of the separate sector – Serbia Convention Bureau.
Bureaus major tasks are focuses on the implementation of the proactive destination management and sales on international meetings market.
Bureau is actively cooperating with Partners in Serbia (hotels, venues, PCOs, DMCs), as well as with inter­national clients.

What are the major congress markets for NTOS and the bureau?

Activities are exclusively focused on international association and corporate markets.
When we are speaking about associations, Bureau through the Association Program and Congress Ambassadors Program is gathering our most recognized experts and together with them initiates the bidding process for international events.

Having in mind that Serbia is still seen as a new convention destina­tion, key to success is development of the long-lasting relations and mutual trust with international clients.

Why are international meetings important for a destination?

Every international event created important financial benefits for a destination. It is estimated that international event of 1.000 delega­tes generates income of around 1 million euros for a destination.
Of course, NTOS during the bidding process is investing certain financial resources, but in comparison to the reached effects, these resources are very modest.
In addition, in the year of organization of international congresses, Serbia becomes the center of Europe or world in given field.
On that way, Serbia is positioning as a leader in knowledge and expertise, becomes meeting point of world top experts, and place of demonstrating domestic expertise.
Or to say, congresses are one of the platforms for reaching knowledge based society.

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How are client deciding on destination?

Congress guests are different in their needs, motives for traveling and decision making process from the leisure segment. It is necessary to note that international clients are looking for destination with significant congress infrastructure and hotel capacities (4* or 5*).
Air connectivity is something that goes in favor of Serbia, having in mind development and expansion of our national air carrier. But what makes destination “different” and “extraordinary” are unique experi­ences.

In the new era of modern lifestyle, concept of staying at non-urban environment, combination of tradi­tion and culture, local and organic food, hospitality of local people are something that can make a destina­tion to stand out from others. Good destinations are focused on service quality and on quality experience communication towards the final client.

What congress activities is NTOS focusing on in this year?

First is participation at IMEX Frankfurt. This year presentation of Serbia passed indeed great we had fantastic stand, while our industry Partners took over some activities as well. The fact that over 250 individual appointments with meeting planner has been organi­zed, certainly proof the fact of great stand presentation.

It is necessary to solve infrastructure limits and to improve management system.

Second is bidding process, and already in this year 30 bids are in process or have been completed. Until the end of the year we are expecting results.

And third is organization of famtrips for international meeting planners. This is very important since conditions are finally set, through the stronger cooperation within NTOS and private sector, to bring international clients to experience the quality of products.

What are possibilities for furt­her development of Serbia as a congress destination?

Several years now Serbia is in the top 50 countries in the world (ICCA), but for further results, like increa­sing the number of large events in Serbia, it is necessary to improve congress infrastructure and to solve issue of Sava Center.

It is estimated that international event of 1.000 delegates generates income of around 1 million euros for a destination.
It is necessary to solve infrastructu­re limits and to improve manage­ment system.
NTOS continues the proactive work in attracting international events, and in the next period we are lo­oking forward to the organization of new Congress Ambassador Day, as well as to preparations for next congress season.

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