Photo credits: Sanjin Strukič, Piksell
Croatia’s capital Zagreb has, in recent years, seen a steady growth in overnight stays and received many compliments on its atmosphere, attractive events, excellent cuisine, shopping and safety. This, as well as Zagreb’s good traffic connections, vicinity and excellent value for money, has been recognised by business people who now choose Europe’s newest metropolis as the location for their conventions and increasingly popular incentive meetings. We discussed this with Martina Bienenfeld, MSc, Zagreb Tourist Board CEO, who said:
Zagreb is becoming more and more important both as a convention and as a tourist destination, as evidenced by high growth rates over the past several years. The reason for this is the fact that Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, easily accessible by air, road and sea, it offers great value for money, and it is a safe, hospitable city. In addition, the new Franjo Tuđman Airport opened for business in early 2017, so Zagreb today is well-connected with both European and non-European destinations. Conventions and smaller gatherings can be held at a large number of hotel convention centres, concert venues and sports halls, as well as attractive historical sites suitable for exclusive receptions and smaller gatherings. Most of them are situated at the very centre of the city, where the most important city attractions can also be found, all accessible on foot. Zagreb is also one of the oldest European university centres, with many renowned scientists whose contributions to science are immeasurable.
We are also pleased to see the growth of interest in incentive travel, contributed to by the city’s famous past, interesting stories and attractive environs. Since Advent in Zagreb has been voted the best Advent in Europe for the last two years, and Lonely Planet has named Zagreb the best destination in Europe for 2017, more and more corporations and associations choose this time for their incentives as well as for their business gatherings.
Q: Trends in the MICE industry are constantly changing. Do the hotels and specialised agencies follow them?
MB: Definitely. We follow all trends, and the goal is to provide business guests with more than they expect. The trend of ever-shorter gatherings is very favourable to Zagreb as the choice for conventions and other gatherings. It only takes two hours by plane for participants from the furthest European city to reach Zagreb — and many will arrive much sooner than that. Local PCO and DMC companies, as well as the hotel industry, follow the trends so that, in addition to the state-of-the-art technology, they offer the organisers all the assistance they need in preparing their events and ensuring that the stay in Zagreb and its surroundings is comfortable, interesting, and filled with content. In short, we at the Zagreb Convention Bureau and the professionals in the field follow trends and answer them, while doing all we can to cooperate with direct hosts and go one step beyond, providing the business people with more than they expect. We are happy to see that we are succeeding in it, too, at least judging by the feedback we get.
Q: Do you have any indicators on the satisfaction of business travellers and MICE organisers?
MB: To our great pleasure, the reactions are excellent. In addition to accessibility and safety, our business partners are extremely satisfied with the value they get for their money. Zagreb Tourist Board is constantly striving to create attractive events so that we can say that guests staying in Zagreb will find interesting events in culture, entertainment and sports and enjoy a great atmosphere at any time of the year.
As far as business people are concerned, we see the most immediate reactions to the arrival of prospecting groups. Those who have already visited Zagreb love the changes and the richness of the offer. However, even more, impressive are the reactions of those who come to Croatia’s capital for the first time and see that, as they say, it exceeds all expectations.
Q: Particularly in the Upper Town, but also in the Lower Town centre, Zagreb offers attractive historical locations for business guests. What does this offer include?
MB: Yes, the old Upper Town has a number of historical locations renowned for their beauty and interior design, which exude the spirit of old Zagreb, so the events or meetings held there are especially attractive. The Lower Town also offers attractive locations in cultural institutions, opening their doors for interesting events. Those beautiful locations by themselves are enough to produce special emotional reactions, so any reception or gathering held there will gain additional value, and will be remembered for such an exceptional setting.