Sunday, 2 October 2022

Croatian Congress Tourism Makes Excellent Post-Pandemic Return

October the 2nd, 2022 - Croatian congress tourism is making an absolutely solid post-pandemic return after two years of uncertainty, instability and a worrying lack of traffic and income.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, much like the regular holiday tourism segment, the Croatian congress tourism segment seems set to return to almost full extent this autumn, after more than two years of decline and stagnation due to the global coronavirus pandemic. National and regional events have both returned to the levels we saw back during the record year of 2019, despite the fact that European and international congresses are still lagging behind.

A hybrid model for this is still being implemented, because it also enables organisers to earn extra money. In addition to Croatian congress tourism, sport tourism is also returning, which traditionally fills up the hotels and destinations outside of the harshly hot summer season, and the "last minute" booking trend still applies to all of them.

However, as in any business, the biggest challenge in this segment is spiralling inflation, which could also affect the quality of events quite easily.

"After an extremely demanding couple of years, we've returned to the old-normal, and although there's still a dose of caution, in the event industry, we've learned to adapt to the situation and have developed new products or solutions for events held during the pandemic. That said, just when the prices on the market, from equipment rental to hall rental and catering, have stabilised and moved away from dumping, a new danger has come in the form of price increases and inflation. There will be events, that's for sure. We can see this from the state of our reservations, and from our competitors, agencies, hotel halls, and other service providers. The question is whether the quality will be maintained, how much things will end up costing, and who will pay for it," warned Iva Saric, project manager and producer at PROteam, which deals with the organisation, production and implementation of events.

It has also been learned from various hotel companies that after a very active September, October and part of November are also very well booked, depending on the destination, and events have made a return to the City of Zagreb as well. Valamar Riviera's business segment this year in the destinations of Dubrovnik and Porec has started to recover well and is catching up with those recorded back in 2019. At the same time, the autumn part of the season is much richer in events than the spring part typically is.

"The trends are as we expected, there's been slight increase in the corporate segment and a distinct 'last minute' trend of inquiries and the eventual realisation of events. Among the more significant business gatherings, we can single out the recently concluded Fusion Technology Symposium in Dubrovnik SOFT 2022 with almost 1,000 participants organised by the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, as well as several larger corporate events throughout the month of October. In Porec this autumn, we're expecting four major conferences in the fields of pharmacy, science and education, each numbering several hundred participants", they revealed from Valamar.

Maistra also point out that national and regional events have returned to the levels of 2019, but events such as European and world congresses, which require longer preparation and a large number of international flights, are not yet at the pre-pandemic level. The most important events this autumn for Maistra are the Weekend Media Festival (Rovinj), which was held last weekend, followed by Reboot Develop in Dubrovnik and the Lions Europa Forum in Zagreb.

"All three destinations, especially Rovinj and Dubrovnik, recorded a notable result in the Croatian congress tourism segment of sales throughout 2022. We expect the continuation of positive trends in 2023 as well, which we base on the current state of our bookings and enquiries," Maistra stated, Revenues from Croatian congress tourism in Aminess facilities this year are even higher than the revenue they achieved in that segment back in 2019.

"We realised the most business events in facilities in Novigrad in Istria. This year, when it comes to Croatian congress tourism, there's been a characteristic trend of last-minute inquiries emerging, which have been much more frequent than they were back during previous years. We mostly organised business conferences and team building sessions for up to 200 people. Our Aminess Khalani Beach Hotel should definitely be highlighted here, which additionally enriched the congress offer of Aminess, but also of Makarska in general. This 5* hotel was already quickly recognised in the first year of its operation by both local and foreign clients, who chose Aminess Khalani Beach Hotel as the location at which to hold important business events. The trend of growth in the number of business events should continue in the next year. Therefore, as part of our facilities that offer a congress offer, we can once again expect good business results in the segment of business gatherings,'' they said from Aminess.

Larger congresses and conferences are returning to the City of Zagreb as well, and with them the traffic in hotels, which traditionally sees autumn marked out for MICE guests (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions). Hotels within the Hilton group almost never have free time, and events take place even on weekends, Josipa Jutt Ferlan, Cluster General Manager at Hilton Zagreb and director of Zagreb City Hotels, explained.

"They aren't even called hybrid events anymore, but on-site events. Reservations are still coming in at the last minute, and those who do make reservations for the future are asking to be accommodated in the event of an escalation of the coronavirus pandemic," said Jutt Ferlan, adding that even the prices aren't being questioned, as they have risen within reasonable limits, which was necessary due to higher costs and ongoing inflationary pressures.

Zagreb's Hotel Dubrovnik is also fully returning to the results they enjoyed from business people back in 2019, hotel director Antonio Piantanida confirmed.

"After a weaker spring, demand in this segment has exploded now, we have very good occupancy rates and results that will bring us back to pre-pandemic numbers, unless something significant happens on a global level. The market has finally woken up, it has definitely been shown that people aren't satisfied with just online meetings if they aren't forced to do so, people do want to come together in person and meet, chat, and network through personal contact,'' said Piantanida, noting that the summer also went very well, with the return of American tourists in addition to European ones.

For more on Croatian congress tourism, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Green Opatija: Kvarner Town Wants to Become "Green Event" Destination

March the 16th, 2022 - Could a ''green Opatija'' be on the cards as this beautiful Kvarner town in the Northern Adriatic region hopes to position itself as a ''green'' business destination? It seems so.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the Tourist Board of the City of Opatija has launched the project Opatija - Green Meeting Destination, which aims to direct this city, dominated by picturesque Austro-Hungarian architecture, towards the status of becoming a recognised sustainable business destination. If it succeeds, the new ''green Opatija'' would join the ranks of European cities like Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Zurich, Glasgow, and if we're looking much further afield - Sydney.

The green Opatija project includes proper education on key subjects of the wider congress offer, in which Croatia as a whole is being more recognised, as well as the creation and implementation of recommendations with criteria for achieving sustainability in the organisation of congress events.

“An increasing number of organisers are paying more and more attention to reducing negative impacts on the environment and on society. By creating an environment in which such responsible behaviour is encouraged and promoted, Opatija once again stands out as a destination that is developing in line with the world's leading trends.

In the realisation of this project, which started back in January and has a duration of six months, the Opatija Tourist Board has established cooperation with the Eventful agency, the only one in all of the Republic of Croatia which specialises in organising and implementing sustainable events,'' they explained from the Opatija Tourist Board.

As part of the project, an educational workshop was held for representatives of hotel companies, agencies and congress spaces, individual meetings with tourism entities will be organised, and the final project will be a pilot business meeting organised in accordance with all of the current, modern sustainability criteria.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

October Looking Promising for Croatian Hotels, Vital Segment Revived

September the 30th, 2021 - The month of October in Croatian hotels looks extremely promising indeed, in some cases exceeding the pre-pandemic period. One vital segment for Croatian hotel business at this time of year is also making a comeback.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Marija Crnjak writes, the autumn occupancy of Croatian hotels this year will, as stated, exceed the pre-pandemic period, and this has been well and truly confirmed by the Bluesun Hotels & Resorts group, whose hotels are open due to demand almost until the end of October. They also report a strong return of congress guests and events.

"With the arrival of September, due to the beginning of the new academic/school year, the structure of our guests changes, and there is a change in the motive for coming, it's not just the sea and the sun anymore. These are guests who require much more additional content, are much more active, much more mobile, more inclined to explore their destinations, the hinterland, the interior of Croatia... They're also usually more involved in sport, more dedicated to themselves, and therefore more into exploring local gastronomy and using the wellness facilities,'' said Stjepko Sosic of Bluesun Hotels & Resorts.

As such, the company put the offer of sport, gastronomic and wellness facilities and packages in the foreground, and in their promotion they addressed couples and individuals, who are the most represented in this period of the season because they want to avoid the biggest crowds and the brutal Croatian summer heat.

In addition to the above, regardless of the fact that the whole of Croatia has been on the ECDC red list since the beginning of September, it seems few people pay attention to it and new reservations are still coming in on a daily basis. "In some terms for the end of September, we had to stop selling due to lack of capacity. Considering that the weather was very nice through September, a large part of the guests extended their stays by a few days compared to the period they initially booked,'' added Sosic.

Currently, in Bluesun's nine open hotels, six of which are on the Makarska Riviera, and one campsite, in addition to an increasing number of individual guests, are sports and fitness groups.

"At the end of September and through October, we have numerous MICE (meetings, incentives, congresses and events) events in our hotels with congress facilities. MICE is much stronger this autumn than we expected and there's been a strong demand from the corporate environment, and we're especially pleased with the recovery of this sales segment, which is extremely important for the extension of the season. These are working meetings and mostly Croatian companies from the field of medicine, the IT sector and the pharmaceutical industry,'' revealed Marija Benjak, the head of direct, group and MICE sales for the company.

For more on Croatian hotels, check our our travel and business sections.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Congress Tourism in Split Stands Out With Le Meridien Lav Renovation

April 20, 2021 - The five-star hotel resort Le Meridien Lav has invested 5 million euros for the renovation of its premises and puts congress tourism in Split in the spotlight.

As reports, Split resort Le Meridien Lav, the only five-star hotel resort in the Split area, confirmed that the crisis should be seen as an opportunity, and welcomes the season with 180 renovated rooms in two hotel blocks and public hotel rooms: lobby, reception, hotel bar in the lobby, as well as at the entrance to the hotel, in which 5 million and 150 thousand euros have been invested so far.

This is only the first phase of the renovation of the Split resort out of three, which will include the renovation of all accommodation facilities, modernization, and expansion of the marina within the resort, additional arrangement of beaches and business premises in the marina, which should be finalized by summer 2022.

‘‘I am proud of the fact that despite the new challenging times, we are following our business and investment plan. At Lav, we look at the challenges with great enthusiasm, so we used this ‘quiet’ period for the first part of the hotel renovation. To many, this investment will seem like an unusual move at the moment, but this is the best way to show how much we believe in our resort and destination”, said Arnoud Zaalberg, CEO of Le Meridien Lav.


Credits: Atellior

This investment is a continuation of the investment in Le Meridian Lav, which began in 2019 with the renovation of the RE: CUPERA spa & wellness center worth just over 2 million euros.

The resort has five thousand square feet of convention space.

In addition to the current renovation, more than two million kunas have been invested in accommodation and public facilities in the congress content - more precisely the renovation of congress halls and meeting rooms, the complete renovation of the tennis center, and the opening of new restaurants and bars.

‘‘Congress tourism, the event industry, as well as the organization of special ceremonies such as weddings are a significant part of our business. Today, the Le Meridien Lav resort has a total of 12 congress halls and event rooms, with two smaller halls on two floors primarily intended for smaller meetings and presentations. At the end of last year, with the conversion of the space, we created three new congress halls. The resort currently has five thousand square feet of convention space that includes a central, largest convention hall with amazing sea views. All halls are equipped with state-of-the-art audio and video equipment”, said Zaalberg.


Credits: Atellior

At Le Meridien Lav, they are especially proud of the fact that despite the pandemic crisis and much weaker tourist results last season, as well as announcements of an uncertain next season, they still managed to keep all employees, and these days are actively working to hire seasonal workers.

‘‘In tourism, the key to success is people! Employees are our greatest strength and we have really made extraordinary efforts to keep all permanent employees despite all the challenges of last year and this year. I am extremely grateful to them that we are all going through these challenging times together with understanding. We are currently, according to the plan, in the process of hiring seasonal workers. My team and I love challenges and share this attitude with our owners from the Odien Group, so we are looking forward to the upcoming season and believe that our efforts will bear fruit’’, said Zaalberg.


Credits: Atellior

Le Meridien Lav is the only 5-star resort in the Split area, located in Podstrana, 8 kilometers south of Split. It has a total of 378 accommodation units and 12 modern conference halls in an area of ​​5000 square meters. Since 2015, it has been owned by the private Czech equity fund Odien Group, more precisely its subsidiary Odien Hotels N.V., whose portfolio this year also includes the Blue Orange Business Resort in Prague.

You can find more information about tourism in Split HERE, and the latest information about flights to Croatia HERE.

For more news about travel in Croatia, check our dedicated page.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Congress Tourism Growing: More Than 500 Guests Expected in Vodice

As SibenikIN writes on the 20th of September, 2019, although the Croatian tourist season is slowly ending, it isn't the end for Croatian congress tourism, a potential twelve month possibility. The Olympia Hotel complex in Vodice will host more than 500 guests over a period of just a few days.

Congress tourism, along with health tourism is a growing trend in Croatia, and two congresses will be held in the aforementioned Vodice hotel complex this week:

The market of the future (Trgovina budućnosti) - The Digital Age of Commerce, which took place from the 30th of September, 2019 to the 1st of October 2019, followed by the twelfth Days of Electrical Engineers, which will be held from the 3rd of the October, 2019 to the 5th of October, 2019.

The halls of the Vodice hotel will be equipped with state-of-the-art technical equipment, a beautiful ambience and the various facilities that Vodice's Olympia Hotel complex offers when guests need to take a break from listening to lectures and talks - the hotel is open all year.

In addition to the multifunctional halls, a great exhibit space is of particular importance for the participants to spend time socialising during their free time. The chance for a poolside coffee, a cocktail dinner at the Sky a la carte restaurant restaurant overlooking the entire beautiful Vodice archipelago or the DJ at the hotel's disco are just some of the options that will complement the stay of the participants.

Every little thing is of utmost importance when it comes to attempting to ensure many years of success in the congress tourism segment. The Olympia Hotel complex is therefore fully customisable to meet client needs and keep up with trends.

The mission of Vodice's Olympia Hotel convention centre is to contribute to the successful organisation of business events with the highest professionalism, support and excellent service.

Make sure to follow our dedicated travel page for more information on congress tourism in Croatia and much more.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

M&I Congress Forum Begins in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik shows off its capabilities as a desirable congress destination.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Dubrovnik Named Best Congress Destination in Central and South-Eastern Europe

Dubrovnik received a total score of 4.27 out of the possible 5, making it the best in the region.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Innovative Congress Tourism: Bale Town Occupied by IT Experts

The Tourism Board of Bale is developing a new approach to tourism 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Dubrovnik Ranked Among Best Congress Destinations in Europe

At the trade fair "Conventa" which was held in Ljubljana from January 18-19, the best congress destinations in Europe were awarded.