Interview with Gorazd Čad
The SoolNua team has known Gorazd Čad for many years. He’s a true believer and meetings industry legend who has been leading the conversation in the Central and South East Europe region around the business value of meetings and events. He’s also the owner and publisher of Kongres Magazine, a MICE periodical with over 50,000 readers. Recently he interviewed @Supergreybeard and me and his clever, probing questions drew out some interesting comments that I though worth published on this platform. First up is @Supergreybeard:
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you and Pádraic met?
I did Hotel management in University and worked initially in hospitality befiore moving to the Irish Tourist Board as a hotel inspector. I was then given the opportunity to move to sales and marketing and headed up the Irish Tourist Board’s interface with the growing MICE industry in the US for over 10 years. I then returned to Ireland as Sales and Marketing Director for Adare Manor, a 5 star resort in South West Ireland. Finally in 1994 I started Delaney Marketing Consultants with Pádraic. Pádraic and I are life long friends and despite the commonly held opinion that you should “never go into business with your friends” we have successfully worked together for over 20 years. Pádraic comes from an academic background having taught at secondary and university levels for many years. I started my career in hotel operations and moved on to destination marketing, promoting Ireland in the United States. We joined together in 1993 and formed Delaney Marketing which evolved into Ireland’s leading DMC, Ovation Group. Ovation, in turn, merged with the MCI Group and we launched the Ovation brand in over 100 destinations world wide.
You’ve been in Slovenia and Croatia recently. What are your impressions of the local meetings industry?
Both Slovenia and Croatia have a rich and long history in the meetings industry however both destinations are suffering from a lack of focused development of their physical infrastructure. Thankfully this situation is changing and they are now involved in a major drive to catch up. The other challenge, of course, is that of limited air access, especially in the case of Slovenia.
How did you feel about the Slovenian Convention Bureau brief for cooperation?
We are really excited about this co-operation as the Slovenian Convention Bureau and Miha Kovočič, in particular, have a reputation for innovation and not being satisfied with the status quo . We firmly believe that a destination can only be successfully marketed if it is willing to be disruptive in its actions. There are too many safe, “me too” destination activities which are not based on a clear, measurable and focused strategy. If you are going to cut through the clutter of the avalanche of messages in today’s marketplace, you need to re-engage your customers with content that matters.
What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?
We have been worked in the Meetings Industry for over 25 years, running meeting and events in every continent and being actively involved in the promotion of the various Ovation destinations worldwide. During this time we made many mistakes, but we also had the opportunity to be involved with and observe many of the most successful destination promotion activities. These campaigns have used social media and training to drive and deliver increased market share among customer groups and supplier partners. In particular, we have been passionate proponents of training programmes which genuinely engage participants and we have been delivering this type of training with in our own company as well as all the main Industry Associations. The challenge was to showcase these capabilities to a wider audience which thankfully is now happening .
What kind of first advice would you give to destinations that want to host international meetings?
There are no quick fixes to being recognised as a viable meetings and events destination. It takes time, hard work, funds and will not take place without a clear strategy and total destination stakeholder support. A first advice would be to look in your own back yard and find an academic, a professor or an industry thought leader who is contributing something of significance to the knowledge economy. Leverage his international contacts to bring international meetings to Slovenia.
What advice is there for someone just starting out in meetings industry?
Be interested not interesting, that is try to be open to understand what is important to your customers and then try to deliver it. This attitude will make you always on the look out for new ideas and ways of doing business which are relevant and realistic.
How strong is the outlook for DMC’s? What services might they offer? Will they still be around in 10 years time?
Absolutely but not as we know them today. With the rapid growth of technology and the sharing economy many of the services and added values a DMC used to provide are no longer needed or, to be more precise, customers are not willing to pay for them. However, a good DMC is totally immersed and connected in their destination and is uniquely positioned to mediate between the goals of the customer and what the destination has to offer.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing our industry now?
To stay relevant to our customers. The real benefits of organising face-to-face meetings and events need to be highlighted and celebrated. In a world where societies are disconnected, individuals feel dis-enfranchised and alienated. Collaboration is greatly enhanced and facilitated when interested parties get together in a structured face-to-face environment.
First published in Kongres Magazine – with thanks to Gorazd Čad and team