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Tanja Bogdanov, Managing Partner And Founder Of Vekol DMC

No Compromise On Quality

Vekol DMC, a pioneer of the business travel and events industry in Serbia, has maintained a market presence for almost a quarter of a century and has spent the past 20 years also cooperating with German companies, including some of the corporate world’s biggest names

Our interlocutor, who has even managed to gain the trust of the renowned Deutsche Telekom, explains that we can only entice foreign guests with quality and that we can only become a leader and a highly sought-after destination with the maximum commitment of all of us.

How would you describe the infancy of your agency, which is today a leader of the business travel and events industry in Serbia?

– When I launched the agency 25 years ago, the idea that guided me was to ensure that I w ould always provide the highest level of service, regardless of the circumstances, and present Serbia to my guests as an outstanding destination.

My cooperation with German companies has endured for almost 20 years, from the moment Vekol profiled itself as a destination management company. Our German partners sought high quality and precision from us, and provided us with security and respected their contractual obligations. German clients are indeed demanding, but they’re simultaneously very easy to work with, due to their precision in their requirements.

You have an impressive portfolio with hundreds of clients, including Deutsche Telekom, Bayern Munich, STADA… How did you gain their trust?

– Bringing Deutsche Telekom here in 2011 was the most difficult job. Serbia still didn’t have developed tourism infrastructure back then, the DMC [Destination Management Company] category of agency wasn’t even recognised on the market. On the flip side, we have Deutsche Telekom, with thousands of high-quality events under its belt and accustomed to the highest standards. We gained their trust, and later the trust of other agencies, through our determination and professionalism.

Every foreign company seeks the possibility of investing in Serbia after experiencing a well-organised event

I’ve never allowed us to offer anything of lower quality, even if a client seeks that or thinks, on the basis of comments online, that some space is better. In the case that I think a solution being sought by a client, on the basis of pictures or comments, is not good enough for them, I don’t agree to compromise. I am more likely not to do an event than to accept to provide a service that’s below our standards.

What will we receive with the construction of EXPO facilities, the new Fair, new hotels and infrastructure?

– Business tourism has incredible potential and brings much higher revenue than classic tourism. Business tourism also brings new opportunities for investment and new companies. The indirect impact of a well-organised event is unbelievable, because every foreign company seeks the possibility of investing in Serbia after experiencing a well-organised event. On the other hand, one poorly organised event can ruin all the state’s efforts to entice investors, because it is through the prism of the event that they see the culture and mentality of the people, the service, the milieu. They get acquainted with Serbia through the event, and if it is poorly organised, they don’t come back.

The EXPO and new tourism capacities will certainly help, but we must simultaneously work to promote the destination much more and better. Serbia still isn’t a destination that’s an easy sale to business tourists. At trade fairs one can still hear people ask ’please tell me something about the destination, I know nothing’. The advantages that we have over the neighbourhood – with our hotel infrastructure, airlines, level of service and hospitality – is always cancelled out by poor destination marketing. And, of course, the entire chain of businesspeople who participate in the creation of a tourist product – from agencies, airport staff and civil servants, to restaurant waiters and hotel receptionists – must understand that it is only with quality that we can entice foreign guests.

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