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December 9, 2014

South East Europe: The 30 Most Influential People In The SEE Meetings Industry 2014

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Based on 204 completed surveys of Kongres magazine’s readers and after a detailed analysis we have created a scale of the 30 most influential people in the SEE Meetings industry in 2014. They all have contributed to the development of the region and you have chosen the best of the best!

Candidates were assessed on the following key criteria:

• Achievement of the best financial and other multiplier effects of the meetings industry in 2014 that was significantly above the average;

• Implementation of the most demanding improvements and innovations in their field, which also includes successfully implemented projects that signaled the year 2014 as a special one;

• Help in enhancing the reputation and visibility of the meetings industry in 2014;

• Innovations that facilitate the work of meetings organisers, or have shown the direction for the future.


Romana VLAŠIĆ, TZ Dubrovnik

Romana VLAŠIĆ, TZ Dubrovnik

Director of TZ Dubrovnik and with many concrete years of experience in business has given acceleration to the promotion of Dubrovnik. This is now the most recognisable congress brand of the region and a player in the first congress European league. Dubrovnik could claim that the year 2013 was its year on the conference scene, since almost all the important events of this year were held in this very beautiful city. Among other things, the meetings of NATO, the FIS International Ski Federation, FIA - International Automotive Association and FIFA all took place in Dubrovnik.

Miha KOVAČIĆ, Slovenian Convention Bureau

Active for a decade as the director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, which enjoys an outstanding reputation abroad. In 2013 he was invited to the "Advisory Board" of a new international trade show, the "UK Meetings Show". Through a number of innovative marketing and CSR projects he continually takes care of the growth of the Slovenian meetings industry. The editorial board put a particular emphasis on the Conventa project that, as a brand, has become synonymous with the SE Europe congress product and has significantly assisted with the placement of the region on meetings planners’ list of destinations.

Nik RAČIĆ, Ex-Croatia Convention Bureau

Nik Račić is the second winner of the IMEX Academy Award for lifetime achievement. As a former president of the Skal association he has done so much for the development of the meetings industry of Croatia. Despite the turbulence in the Croatian National Tourist Board Nik Račić is a man who can, through his connections, do a lot for the meetings industry. He is also being placed on the scale with a call to find him a right place in the Croatian meetings industry

Zlatan MUFTIĆ, Zagreb Convention Bureau

With a wide range of activities he is charged with getting Zagreb on to the congress market. It is to his credit that Zagreb is today a modern and distinctive convention destination. Through active participation in all of the regional and international initiatives Zagreb is today a stable, growing congress destination, which over the last few years has been steadily increasing its market share in the associations and corporate markets.

Barbara VAJDA, Ljubljana Convention Bureau

She has ensured that the meetings industry is embedded in the tourism policy and practice of Ljubljana and as one of its key products and as part of its repositioning. Her work is characterised by an understanding of the meetings industry and the international tourism market place. She also deserves her place on this list for actively co-designing the Conventa project. The Conventa Invitation with Coffee would not exist without Barbara Vajda.

Slaven RELJIĆ, Ex-Croatia Tourist Board

A fresh start and a man of the meetings industry on the key marketing function of Croatian tourism is an important event and it comes with a great responsibility to set the meetings industry on the list of key products that will help contribute to the de-seasonalisation of Croatian tourism. This is also an important event as an opportunity to strengthen presence in the professional and business environments. Slaven has many years of experience in economics and undoubtedly has all the credentials for success.

Tatjana RADOVIČ, Ljubljana Convention Bureau

Tatjana Radović has candidacies that she has been preparing with passion and dedication in her blood. In carrying out her role she has for a number of years been linking key Ljubljana meeting suppliers, which this year came together in the Ljubljana Strategic Bidding Team. This gave an additional boost to the work of connecting with the Slovenian Convention Bureau and to a number of important projects of associations obtained for the coming years. The latest success is a successful acquisition of the ABTA Conference, which took place in 2014 in Ljubljana.

Dimitrij ROTOVNIK, Cankarjev dom, Cultural and Congress Centre

Without the vision of Cankarjev Dom’s legendary director, there wouldn’t be a Slovenian meetings industry today. He still promotes congress activity with incredible enthusiasm. He earned this ranking with his team because of the total renovation of Cankarjev dom in the midst of the worst recession in memory. This renovation has placed it among the best European convention centres.

Miloš MILOVANOVIĆ, Serbia Convention Bureau

In a record time he managed to place the devastated meetings industry of Serbia on the international conventions map and has set up the entire congress infrastructure. According to the ICCA statistics Serbia is one of the fastest growing destinations that has everything that larger and more developed destinations have. Miloš is on the scale also because of the many innovative marketing campaigns conducted in 2013, among which the first destination apps and a game on social network Facebook really stand out.

Gordana PLAMENAC,  Serbia Convention Bureau

The recipient of the prestigious IMEX Academy Award as the director of the Tourist Organisation of Serbia has generated an appropriate supportive environment that has enabled the re-growth of the Serbian meetings industry. With this she has facilitated the work of Miloš Milovanović and the Serbian convention Bureau. Serbia is an example of excellent co-operation between tourism policies and the convention industry. Gordana Plamenac is on the scale because of an excellent international network of connections and the visionary management of tourism policy.


Mladjan MIŠKELJIN, Serbia Convention Bureau

In 2008 he was elected as one of world’s top 20 young meeting industry professionals by International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and in 2009 he received “Destination pro” distinguishment of the USA-based Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) association. Since 2014 he has been coordinating SCB activities, of which most importantly the bidding process for international events, congress ambassador programme, statistical research project and international market development for the local service providers.

Goran PAVLOVIĆ, Opatija Convention Bureau

In 2008 he started working for the Opatija Tourism Office as the Head of the Convention and Incentive Bureau. In his current role, Goran is responsible for the promotion of Opatija as a convention destination in Croatia on the domestic and international markets. He successfully completed the ECM Summer School program in 2008 and DMAI Destination Sales Training programme in 2009, so he has been designated to receive the DMAI/ECM Destination Pro certificate. Since June 2013 he has been a Board member of European Cities Marketing, the network of European tourist and convention cities.


Daniel MARUŠIĆ, Dubrovnik Travel DMC

Dubrovnik Travel is recognised in the market as an extremely marketing-oriented company that dictates the trends of regional DMCs. A clear marketing strategy and a systematic operation are visible at both the service level of co-operation with the most demanding clients, as well as in the credible results, which were confirmed through the Gazelle Award in 2011. Daniel is heavily involved in the meetings space, as a member of peer associations as well as being the voice of the convention industry of Croatia.

Tomaž KRUŠIČ and Miro HRIBAR, Intours DMC

Intours reached its star moment in 2013, since when the company has been recording impressive business results, an increase of brand awareness and rapid growth. For the company 2014 has been moving in a broad regional presence, where it has been continuously increasing its market share. Tomaž is also active as president of the council of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, in which he is responsible for improving the visibility of the industry in Slovenia.

Sanja VUKOV COLIĆ, Spektar putovanja

The most recognised Croatian PCO achieves excellent results on the market. They have been achieving quality management and setting high business standards since 1989. They have received the ISO 9001 – 2008 certificate, have reputable international partners and have organised over 20 conferences annually.

Martin JEZERŠEK, Jezeršek Catering

He set out to internationalise the Jezeršek Catering brand through the Sora Catering company and has passed the test with flying colours, taking up the family business management at this year's European Basketball Championship Eurobasket 2013. Catering for VIPs, international delegates, business guests, media and volunteers was this year’s most demanding logistical and culinary catering venture in the region. For about 70,000 meals 150 people were involved and the task was performed with excellence.

Bogdan LIPOVŠEK, Former CEO of Grand Hotel Union

The fount of congress tourism in Ljubljana, who has been leading the Grand Hotel Union for 23 years. Under his leadership, the hotel became synonymous with the convention hotel, which was copied by many followers, while at the same time remaining a Ljubljana institution, because it always maintains involvement in the city’s social and cultural life. Bogdan Lipovšek is also personally the greatest Slovenian advocate of the meetings industry, which has consistently stressed and pointed fingers at the errors of the incapable Slovenian tourism policy, which in relation to congress tourism behaves inappropriately.

Živorad VASIĆ, Crowne Plaza

Under the leadership of Živorad Vasić Belgrade is just a step away from the opening of the Crowne Plaza hotel, which will be one of the most important congress acquisitions for the city and will largely change the face of the congress centre of Belgrade in the vicinity of Sava Centar.

Živorad is characterised by persistence, pervasiveness, professionalism and a personal contribution to the successful implementation of congress tourism in Serbia.

Andrej PREBIL, Sava turizem d,d.

When assuming office, he took a brave decision and put congress tourism into the heart of the new strategy of the largest Slovenian tourism company, which has led to Bled experiencing a revival. This aside, he is characterised by a broad understanding of hospitality, consistency of management and solid work towards achieving objectives. All this is reflected in the good business results in the field of congress tourism. Even in his wider environment, he is through various roles working to promote the meetings industry and its credibility.

Tomislav POPOVIĆ, Maistra Hotels & Resorts

In recent years, Maistra has with bold investments set-up a different meetings product, the peak being a new convention centre at the Lone hotel. With this Maistra has placed Rovinj on the market as a high-quality business venue, which in terms of design and experiential value does not have an equal in the region. With the support of events such as the Weekend Media Festival it has become the focal point of a new creative meetings industry of the future.

Jerneja KAMNIKAR, Vivo Catering

At the 20th anniversary she earned her ranking through the socially responsible co-operative project of setting the Month of Design in the abandoned factory premises of Mladinska knjiga. The revival of this place has created a completely new event space in Ljubljana with an unimagined development potential. Visitors of the event were excited about the look of the premises; this is a completely new dimension of socially responsible conference tourism.

Snežana VEJNOVIĆ, Talas-M DMC

For more than a decade she has been developing real DMC services in Montenegro within the Talas-M agency. With world-class clients she has helped to put Montenegro on the region’s incentive map via its own network of representatives throughout Europe, indirectly contributing to the country’s promotion. Due to a number of fresh ideas, which they have identified in the Ovation agency and within the partnership of the Dubrovnik Talas-M, they have become one of the strongest regional DMC agencies.


Vesna PRITCHARD, Globtour Event

Globtour Event is one of the leading Croatian fully licensed travel agencies with more than 36 years of experience in the travel industry. Vesna Pritchard’s team represent a group of motivated, passionate people, dedicated to the work they do, sharing a common mission, vision and values in order to provide their customers with the best service.


DMC Vekol is the leading destination management and special event service provider in Serbia. They are offering new team building ideas and the best of event planning and management resources all under one roof.


Davor BRUKETA, Bruketa & Žinić

The Bruketa & Žinić agency, which was founded in 1995 by Davor Bruketa and Nikola Žinić, is considered to be the best small marketing agency in the world (AdAge 2013) and the second most effective independent agency in the world (Effie and Cannes 2012). A ranking on the scale was earned by understanding the future of the meetings industry through the integration of creative industries with congress ones, which was beautifully packaged into a complete picture in the Hotel Lone.

Anže ČOKL, Bohinj Park Eko Hotel

He thinks seriously when he is talking about green meetings and has earned considerable attention through the significant expense on so-called green eco-friendly measures, but at the same time he is among the youngest people in the rankings.

‘Eco’ and ‘green’ are terms that all too often suffer from marketing abuse, behind which there is often no proper content. In the case of the eco Hotel Park, behind the word eco there is not only a well-cultivated green philosophy and technical perfection, but also a young and dedicated team that has internalised a green mindset and follows it at every level of the business.

Tomo RICOV, Pepermint

The Weekend Media Festival has completely changed the face of marketing festivals of the region. By the number of participants as well as by the quality of content it became an institution in a very short time. Each year it gathers some 4,000 participants, among whom are all the key players in the field of communications industries.

Kosta PETROV, The P World

An entirely new form of conference organisation throughout the region best captured in their business vision that ‘PI events do not produce events, but experiences’. His work is characterised by integrity and innovation through new approaches in communication that break with restrictive traditions. From Skopje he demonstrates that the organisation of events can also successfully operate in difficult economic conditions and in a non-conference tradition. Events Marketing kingdom and HR Experience have become bestsellers and brands that are carried out throughout Eastern Europe.

Jovan JELOVAC, Belgrade Design Week

A perfectionist, obsessed with the idea of establishing a regional creative hub. Belgrade Design Week is even in global terms an event without precedent. His work is characterised by an understanding of the creative industries and their importance to the revitalisation of society. This results in a changed perception of Belgrade, which Jovan has achieved over a number of years. At the same time the annual event is a surprise in terms of the innovation of its organization.

Marko KRIŽNIK, Promo Agency

Tacit innovator in the field of event organisation, which has earned him his place in the ranking with the region’s most ricocheting corporate event when he managed to turn Elan's sales conference into a ski slope in the middle of Portorož during one of the hottest days of October. He is characterised by a persistent love of events and is an inexhaustible source of new ideas. As he is being formed through practice, his main asset is his number of references.

Dani POLAJNAR, Teambuilding Academy

Dani Polajnar has been actively involved in team dynamics and team work for fifteen years. For several years he was successful in managerial positions in different organisations, where he obtained broad knowledge especially of team work, team dynamic, team functioning and leading teams. In 2009 he was awarded with being included in The Ten Best Lecturers within the Slovenian market place. He is a member of the Harramach & Partner training network with the licence for its implementation in Slovenia in the area of management.

Danica PURG, IEDC – Bled School of Management

Professor Danica Purg is the President of the IEDC-Bled School of Management, Slovenia, and the President of CEEMAN, the association of 219 management development institutions from 54 countries, established with the aim to enhance management development in Central and Eastern Europe. She is also leading the European Leadership Centre (ELC). Purg received the 2010 Educator of the Year Award from the Academy of International Business (AIB) for her outstanding achievements in international business education. Prof. Purg is also a member of several international advisory boards of well-known business schools, a member of the European Cultural Parliament (ECP) and the President of UN Global Compact Slovenia.

Zmago NOVAK, Mesec oblikovanja

Zmago Novak has for 15 years been acting as an entrepreneur. He is the founder and director of Big institute (2003) and the founding father of magazines Hiše and Kontrast. He is a pioneer and director of Month of Design. With his concept and ideas very important persons from the world of creative industries get attracted to Slovenia.


The sixth Anniversary of the EIAT conference showed how important and pioneering was the work of Milan Culić and Bojan Zečević. In the professional field they managed to establish a platform for knowledge sharing in the region, which today brings together more than 400 participants. Their work is concentrated on the effective and efficient integration between academic knowledge and the practice of tourism. Also in this area they successfully navigate between the demands of the global market and the characteristics and specifics of the South-East European market, and they have made a major contribution to the visibility of the whole region


Danijela BREČKO, GV Educations

Dr. Danijela Brečko is the director of Planet GV and a pioneer in the exploration of personal energy. In 2006, in collaboration with the Institute St. Gallen, she has developed the concept of energy organisation, which on the basis of a number of quantitative and qualitative surveys was upgraded to the concept of personal energy in 2011.

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