“While I was at school and afterwards, at university, I learned the basic survival skills of life. Now, I think that the importance of any new opportunity lies in having the support of the right team, at the right company,” said Marko Kragulj, at the start of our conversation.
Marko began working in the MICE industry 15 years ago and believes he was lucky to have had the chance to work with industry professionals, people that he was able to learn a lot from. Until recently, Marko worked at HRG, an internationally recognised agency before joining Kongresniturizam as the Sales Director. In this new role, Marko plans to share his gained know-how, to exchange and transfer knowledge and experience and is looking forward to the new challenges set before him. He has always been driven by the variety offered by events and his commitment to the work, and he is confident that from this point forward the responsibilities of his new position will continue to be very interesting.
You’ve been in the MICE industry for 15 years. To what extent have the trends in corporate event organisation changed over the years?
Visually, events are becoming more demanding — complex sound and video equipment is needed, Wi-Fi speed available at venues has become a very important detail that previously had not been an issue. The quality of the coffee served during intermission is probably the only thing that has remained the same, and we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to make hors d’oeuvres (appetisers) more interesting and creative, the stage more diverse and distinct, and the venue a more unique experience. Another aspect that has gain in significance is feedback received from participants during and after the event, with new technologies playing an important role here. Today, our clients want spaces with large exhibit areas and conference halls that offer flexibility and are very multifunctional.
You spent the past 13 years with HRG. What prompted motivated you to join Kongresniturizam?
Yes, this was a long period, but one that I feel was very well spent in a remarkable international agency, but I felt it was time for a change, as change is what inspires us to come up with ideas and create new challenges. I am very happy to have become part of a team that’s new to me but already well established within the industry, one that is both focused and ambitious. This is not a one-man show, and it is important to know that you are surrounded by trustworthy, capable people. And this is precisely was I saw at Kongresniturizam, which is why I joined the team.
In your opinion, what is most important in terms of client communication?
Honesty and the ability to be realistic. To always listen carefully to what the client wants because frequently the client will unintentionally provide important details in regard to their desires. It is then necessary to focus on those aspects. Always be open and direct in voicing what it is that can be done and what we, as event planners, are capable of providing. Demands and wishes are one thing, and we as professionals are tasked with fitting in as many of the requested components as we possibly can, but always keeping the end result in mind. Accuracy and precision are very important, both in planning and in executing an event. This builds client confidence and trust which is not available by default, but rather something that must be built.
How many events have you planned to date?
A lot. In the hundreds, at least. There truly have been a lot of them, all different in terms of participant numbers, location, particular safety requirements and logistical details. Many large conferences organised by entire teams. No two events are the same and each has its own individual particularities, which makes working in this industry dynamic and exciting.
Which event was especially challenging for you?
Good question. Perhaps the organization of the First Forum of Cultural and Creative Industries of China and CEE 16 + 1, an event that was really exciting as well as challenging because of the technical details involved in catering to such a diverse group, the number of delegations from varying countries, and the number of interpreters. This was the type of event that you don’t forget and it was the type of event that generates feelings of satisfaction once its all over.
What do you see as future trends in event planning?
Where minor events or team building are in question, I believe that they will be organised in more alternative venues or in nature. Of course, to an extent that this is possible, because people need to change their surroundings. When it comes to large conferences, RFID technology and various other audio and video equipment will be more widely used. In the past, the average ’conference bag’ contained at least two pounds of printed materials, brochures, programmes, etc. Now, all of this is available in electronically, which is a very good thing. The use of environmentally friendly materials in all segments is on the rise, and the MICE industry is no exception.
What do you pay special attention to when planning events it comes to event planning?
Everything should be linked to everything else and viewed as a whole, as it is very important to be able to see what the final ’product’ will look like, i.e. what the final result will be, from the initial request to final clean up after the event. Focusing on just one component or detail can be distracting so it is important to always remind yourself of what full service truly means. This is why having a good team is important – larger events or conferences are always a team effort. It is also important to be careful in choosing the right suppliers to work with. As far as your client is concerned, you and only you are responsible for the quality of the food, the sound in the headset, the room temperature, etc. When I’m looking to hire a transportation transfer company, everyone always cites the type of vehicle, but I always ask what type of pick-up sign they use. Often, people talk about the size of the venue, but they don’t mention the number of WCs are available in the building. Comparatively, this would be like buying a TV and receiving all the information about the picture quality and screen size, but nothing about how the remote control works, or feels in hand.
To you, what is the most satisfying thing about corporate event planning?
A happy and satisfied client. Those of us who work in the service industry all feel the same when it comes to our clients, a happy and satisfied client brings us unparalleled satisfaction. To achieve this, everyone in the chain must be professional in executing their individual role. When the client approaches you after the event and says, “Let’s plan the next one!”, that brings a smile to your face and makes you happy.