Best Stay Conference, taking place for the 5th year in a row from 13 to 15 November 2019 at the Opatija Hotel Amadria Park, has just ended. Around forty expert speakers with enviable experience and results in tourism, together with 200 attendees have in three days elaborated all key trends and changes, without which it is no longer possible to operate in this industry.

A very interesting case study was presented by Svetoslav Panev, General Manager at Best Western Sofia Airport Hotel from Bulgaria who introduced us with his robot Roomy and gave an insight into how art technologies will assist hoteliers in their daily routine tasks and the impact it will have on guest experience.

Panel debate on Day One referring to the changes in tourism came to the conclusion that it is much easier to approach and come closer to the expectations of guests by using the technologies. In debate participated by Tihana Baždar Gašljević from Marriott Hotels, Marco Gilardi from Italian NH Hotel Group, Jean-François Fontaine-Boullé from French Cambium Networks and Dino Kovačević from Samsung, Croatia. Although there are more and more technology and its impact can no longer be stopped, smart tourism still needs smart people, concluded the presenter and moderator of the first day of the conference and director of Rijeka’s Multilink, Boris Krstanović.

Tour operators Kristian Šustar from Uniline, Goran Biljaković from Katarina line, Andrej Kačič from Slovenian Collegium Mondial Travel and Viljam Kvalič also from Slovenian Happy Tours, discussed what our guests really want today. Best Stay Awards Ceremony concluded Day One – Best Stay Award for the best hotel was won by Maistra’s Grand Park Hotel Rovinj and the Best Supplier Award went to Cambium Networks.

Discussion on competitiveness on the second day of the Best Stay Conference brought together hoteliers from Croatia and the region, who described how to be relevant in an industry that absorbs environmental changes like a sponge. Hiren Mazgaonkar, Commercial Director from Steigenberger Hotel München, Emina Šehalić Fazlagić, Cluster General Manager, Swissôtel Sarajevo and Novotel Bristol Sarajevo, Aldo Krizmanić, General Manager of Roxanich Wine & Heritage Hotel, David Flam, Director of Marketing at Maistra and Miloš Cerović, General Manager of InterContintental, Ljubljana participated in this debate, by giving this topic their valued contributions.

“In Croatia, some projects get stuck for over a period of ten years, because the Government does not know how to attract potential investors and deal with them” – argued Siniša Topalović, Managing Partner of Horwath HTL, discussing the investments in tourism industry with Zhivko Ivanov, Asset and Tourism Director at the Bulgarian Galaxy Investment Group and Ivana Nešković, Senior Manager at the British Agency STR.

In continuation of the conference programme, Krešimir Jusup and Ana Martić from Croatian Telekom presented how to reach the five-star accommodation offer with digital technologies.

Antonija Šarić, Human Resource Manager at Dubrovnik Riviera Hotels spoke about the changes in the hospitality industry to which the HR professionals need to adapt, in order to make their employees feel valued and welcomed. „We must be open to changes and embrace trends as the key to successful HR“ – Šarić concluded. Similarly sounds also the conclusion of UK Director of Rowledge Associates, Adam Rowledge, pointing out that only change is permanent and without it, there is no progress. Practical experiences on how to find and keep the quality staff were presented on the panel by Enis Hadžimujić, Director of Business Development at Rotana Hotels, Danijela Đurović,General Manager at Montenegro Beach Resort, Ivan Gregorović, Hotel Manager of Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel, Stanka Karažija, General Manager of Brown Beach House and Veljko Antonić, Front Office Manager at Crowne Plaza, Belgrade.

Dragan Baričić, Managing director of Hotel Park Split and Fenomen Plitvice, Ivan Kadović, Executive Director of Hotel Sato and Suvad Zlatić, Director of Suwine, spoke about the new trends in F&B and Alexander Novicov from IQD agency, who was the moderator and presenter of the day, gave a presentation on how to increase sales through emotional marketing.

The Conference announced two very interesting news, as well. Leonardo Buzov Vulas, Director of Sales and Marketing at T-Nest Resort of Goran Štrok, has announced that the resort will be opened in late spring next year. Dino Kovačević, IT Sales Manager at Samsung Croatia shared another exciting news with present conference attendees – future hotel guests can hopefully expect the available contents on Netflix, considering that Samsung and Netflix have joined forces and are working on it together.

Maja Lena Lopatny, PR and Event Manager at HTP Korčula, had a presentation on how to attract the younger generation i.e. millennials through their favourite social network Instagram, illustrating it by the example of Port 9 Resort Hotel. How to resist negative reviews on online booking platforms and social networks is a big issue, which was discussed among moderator Ana Penović from Jasno&Glasno and panellists Ana First, Head of Sales SEE at Falkensteiner Hotels& Resorts, Sanela Omerčahić, Hotel Director at Bellevue Dubrovnik and Vasiliki Mavrokefalou, Director Market Management at Expedia Group for Greece, Cyprus and Eastern Adriatic.

How to personalize the travel experience and what are they doing to achieve it, is the topic being shared by Ivan Sarajlić, Executive Marketing Coordinator at Amadria Park Hotel, Maro Kulaš, Corporate Sales Manager at Karisma Adriatic Hotels, Ana Kersulić, Marketing and Communication Manager at Caronte&Tourist Croatia and Larisa Jovanović, consultant from Montenegro.

The three-day Best Stay 2019 Conference Programme was concluded by the presentation on a new era of sustainable development and project Adriatic by Chiara Fumagalli, an expert in marine biology and co-founder of the sustainable clothing brand Salt Clothing and Lovorka Struna, Director of the Maistra Collection Hotels Lone and Monte Mulini.

Best Stay conference 2019 was organized by Proper Events & Research and Lider Media. The conference has been held since 2015 with the aim of bringing together and connecting top hoteliers and tourism experts from the region. Over the years, it has developed into an international conference with attendees from the United Kingdom, Belgium, USA, Turkey, Montenegro, Germany, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and other countries.

Check out the Best Stay 2019 vibe here