Q1: In May 2022, it will be three years since you joined Bratislava Convention Bureau. Can you briefly describe the career path that led you to this position?
Before I entered the tourism industry, I worked in different sectors. After university, I started in an insurance company and later on, I joined a start-up team of the third telco operator in Slovakia. I used to work on business analyses and processes for international corporate companies. But deep in my bones, I always felt that I was born for something else. Therefore, I made a big change and entered tourism. It was not easy, but when you feel it, you can do it. I joined the biggest tour operator on the market, where I gained a lot of knowledge within one year. Later I worked in a luxury tourism outgoing company, where I was responsible for new products, marketing, communication and PR activities. And from there, it was only a small step to destination marketing. When I was attending tourism fairs across the world, I always dreamt about working for a destination itself.
Q2: What is the best part of your job?
The best part is that I enjoy what I am doing. There is a passion because I love the city of Bratislava, and I am proud of it. That is why I always explain to everybody at tourism fairs and B2B forums why they should consider our city with sparkles in my eyes. I am simply a Bratislover :). I love the product I promote. Sure, I could promote insurance, telco products or bicycles, but I believe only feelings and passion for the product is what makes the difference from others. No strategy will work if the chemistry with the product does not work in all parts.
Q3: What would make your job easier?
Because I work in the public sector, there is a lot of paperwork for all the activities we do. Also, you do not have that much freedom in your decisions as there are many stakeholders. However, as we are a team of great people, we can get over obstacles together. A good sense of humour also helps us with everyday work and makes it all easier. Also, there are many aspects we cannot affect, and we can only pray and believe that, hopefully, the world will come back to peace and normality soon.
Q4: What was the main lesson you learned from the corona crisis?
In these times, nothing is certain and nothing can be planned. We had planned some activities, which we then had to replan shortly due to the situation with the pandemic. In the meetings industry, the inability of planning is really frustrating. On the other hand, people in the tourism sector learned to be humble and patient. Also, we all learned to be more empathetic. Because we are all in the same boat, and, unfortunately, we cannot affect the pandemic. We just have to survive it, and I am sure it will be better. I know it has been long now, and many people in the industry do not have clear prospects. We have to help and be kind to each other, not fight one another.
Q5: What are your expectations for 2022? What do you think the future holds for the meetings industry?
I am optimistic, and I believe live meetings will slowly come back. We can see it also in the number of RFPs we are getting for 2022. Sure, meetings will be different. They will be more local and with all the strict safety standards in place. Nonetheless, the show must go on. Some meetings can go virtual, but people crave personal contact. Not everything can be replaced by the online and virtual world. I also think hybrid will remain alive, especially for large events. It will take a lot of time to get to the pre-pandemic situation. Yet, slowly, the meetings industry will do it. Another point is that we cannot predict how the Ukraine situation will develop and affect the meetings industry in the region.
Q6: What are the main advantages of Bratislava for meeting planners?
The main marketing baseline for Bratislava is Surprisingly Close and Exceptionally Smart. With our location in the middle of Europe on the river Danube and our great flight connections provided by Bratislava Airport and Vienna Airport, the accessibility is unbeatable. The city is also home to many start-ups and innovations as Slovaks are skilled, multilingual and smart people. Did you know that the automotive know-how is highly concentrated within the city? Bratislava is home to the VW factory, while Slovakia is also home to Jaguar Land Rover, Peugeot Citroen and Kia factories. I would also like to mention the Slovak Flying Car, which recently received its official certification. Another advantage is the price and quality ratio, given that the services in Bratislava are affordable but are on a very high qualitative level. Nowadays, safety and especially health safety, has become very important. We are a great destination for small and medium-sized events with high safety standards. The city is also increasingly developing, and alluring new venues and several ultra-modern studios for virtual and hybrid events are being brought to life. Bratislava also offers a great range of hotels, including international hotel chains and small boutique hotels.
Q7: Which is your favourite part of Bratislava that visitors should not miss?
Bratislava is a compact, super walkable cosy city full of historical heritage and charm. Honestly, for me, it is exactly that place where you have to take your time, just relax, and not rush anything. You simply walk the streets of the old town, sit down on the terrace and enjoy your cup of coffee and the no hustle-bustle atmosphere. In comparison to larger, more famous capitals, our city is quiet and calm. Also, visitors should try to breathe in its authenticity, which counts a lot. Still, many locals are in the streets of the old town. Not least, try to prolong your Bratislava visit for at least one day. You can use that extra day to visit the surrounding region, full of nature and beautiful vineyards with great gastronomy. My favourite spot with a unique spirit not far from Bratislava is the small town called Modra. Actually, it is my hometown.
Q8: What are you most proud of in your professional and private life?
On my professional path, I am proud that I was brave enough to make the big change within the sectors because I realized that neither money nor high positions or success can make you happy. Sometimes you have to give up on your standards to get something new that makes you happier because the best things will happen just when you get out of your comfort zone.
Privately, I am proud that I did not give up on my dreams, feelings and kindness :). I still believe EQ is more than IQ, and I try to surround myself with people sharing the same spirit. I am also proud that I keep my word and promises I give to people, and when I cannot keep it, I at least let the people know and communicate to them directly and honestly.
Q9: Your life wisdom/motto?
It has been said that you should follow your heart but take your brain with you. I would say vice versa, follow your brain, but take your heart with you. Nowadays people try to be wise, they think too much about what they are doing, but somehow they forget to use their hearts. Without listening to your feelings, you will never do what you really want. Life is short, and we cannot live longer, so live and feel deeper both in professional and private paths.