#Croatia #FullOfOpportunities #MEETEX2020

Recently I had coffee with Adem Braco Suljić, one of the founders of MEETEX, in beautiful Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb. We made friends at last year’s event in Zagreb (first of its kind) and are in contact since.

As now, we are getting closer to the second edition of MEETEX from March 9-11, 2020 in Zagreb, I was curious to “squeeze” Braco for some more background information about the MICE industry in Croatia, the type of exhibitors and challenges and last but not least about Braco himself. I think our chat can create strong motivation for MICE and congress planners to consider Croatia as a future destination for their events and to come to MEETEX this year, to start learning and building up relationships in the market.

“A bit less than 3 years ago, I was asked to employ my experience for a project which brings greater good for the industry and community and which would help to promote Croatia as a MICE destination. I therefore co-founded and since then run MEETEX the only Croatian Meetings Industry B2B Trade show as their show director”, says Braco.

Together with Ranko Filipović, president and co-founder of the Croatian Meeting Professionals Association (CMPA) and a team of great professionals, Braco has the strong goal of improving the MICE community and products in general and raising the perception of Croatia as a very potential destination for congresses, events and incentives.

Braco has over 30 years of experience in MICE industry, all the way from family owned tech support and meeting organization company founded in 1969 introducing new technologies to the SE Europe market ever since, over international career as GM at BRÄHLER Spain where he supported large projects such as Olympic Games and conferences with up to 20.000 participants, followed by setting up and controlling distribution network for BRÄHLER in SE Europe, all the way to consulting, planning and executing meeting infrastructure projects on three continents, with clients such as UN, NATO, EU, State Parliaments and Governments etc. Now he decided to make the best use of such extensive all-round-MICE-experience in destination marketing projects and knowledge transfer efforts.

Q: Was it a good timing for Croatia to start an inbound MICE event like MEETEX in 2019?

Braco: Definitely it was good time to kick off due to various reasons: the Croatia National CVB has been re-launched after a long break and the new team is now very active in promoting and winning business for the destination at international Tradeshows and through many campaigns. We need a showcase like MEETEX to familarise the new buyers.

There is a lot of fantastic private engagement from the side of local hotels, massive investments in congress infrastructure around Split and Sibenik in Dalmatia. Zagreb as capital is flourishing and sees record numbers in visitors and new destinations for MICE come up and offer awesome choice of products, like Rovinj and the Hinterland in Istria with its gourmet offers.

Also, now in 2020, Croatia takes over the EU presidency in the first semester, what will bring a LARGE amount of new Meetings & Events to the country — and after the Presidency ends, the general volume of business will definitely increase, just as it did in all other smaller countries which were up to the period of holding the Presidency traditionally “2nd tier destinations”.

So what we now need to achieve is two-sided:

One is that Croatia lacks education for the many newcomers in the MICE sector, and we are trying to change that through our CMPA Certification Courses and other education efforts. They need to learn about marketing, quality expectations and standards in the international buying ecosystems and also to deal with new social communities; as we Croatians are a traditional society, we find it sometimes hard to understand some not really fair business behaviour and the straightforward working ethics we have been used to.

The other is to showcase the MICE capability of our destination to international “buyers”, Croatia is known “only” as a tourist destination to many and has yet so many other surprising elements and innovations to offer for MICE which comes as a surprise to many, although the first written trace of international conference held in Croatia goes way back to 1885. We believe international buyers should also take the effort to learn a bit more about our working conditions and environment — bureaucratic rules in Croatia are very strict as of who can do what in tourism — so the tracks for co-operation in projects also need to be understood. This is mainly to the fact that tourism is the main industry and income for our country and high effort is taken to keep supplies transparent.

My personal comment (tmf, Johanna):

I was in Croatia with 2 high-end famtrips recently and feedback was all wow. Everyone was impressed and surprised by the projects and offers we were introduced to. Particularly the last famtrip in December 2019 with international congress planners was showcasing new venues for large events like the Amadria Park in Sibenik, which planners were not aware of. So I agree with Braco, to recommend dip diving into Croatia’s MICE offer and let yourself surprise!

Braco: “MEETEX has an overall importance for the destination and employs a wide mix of competence. The project is co-funded by public money through the National and Local Tourist Boards as well as other institutions, and we are open and flexible to new ideas and projects. The MICE industry changes a lot, sustainability and nature are of utmost importance, we have great universities and passionate people. And we have a beautiful country, that has products for every kind of event or business group. We are gourmets, spoiled by local fine produce and wines; our hotels are of the highest standards, travelling is easy, nature is amazing. Croatia is easy to reach and has big business potential in neighbouring countries — just to name a few reasons. Come and see by yourself, join MEETEX, and we will do our very best to get you in touch with the people and products that are most relevant to you.”

If you plan conventions, meetings, events or incentives, we look forward to your support, interest and registration to come to MEETEX from March 9 – 11, 2020 in Zagreb!

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You also find a short video and images from the first 2019 edition of MEETEX on their website: https://meetex.eu/