Milica Filipovic: “Niš is an authentic blend of traditional and modern”

Interview with Milica Filipovic, Coordinator of International Cooperation at Niš Convention Bureau

Conventa Try Before You Buy commenced the 2024 season with a resounding event in the southern capital of Serbia, Niš. Our team had an in-situ talk with Milica Filpovic, Coordinator of International Cooperation at Niš Convention Bureau, who helped co-organise the event and who knows the city like the back of her hand. Milica explained why Niš is the perfect incentive destination and a rising MICE star and why the city of electronics, as it used to be known, would be the ideal host of international IT conferences.

Q1: A while ago, you joined the team of the Niš Convention Bureau as a Coordinator of International Cooperation. What are your short-term and long-term plans in your new position?

At the end of 2023, the Tourist Organisation of Niš established a special sector – the Convention Bureau to support the MICE sector in planning events in Niš. My plans in this position are to, on the one hand, be an unbiased and reliable contact for the organisers of events and motivational trips from the country and abroad and give a comprehensive insight into the destination, data and contacts, which will facilitate and improve the organisation itself. On the other hand, my goal is networking with local businesses at the destination, i.e. improving cooperation and connecting all service providers at the destination to increase the number of events and achieve the best possible results that will affect the overall development of the City of Niš as a tourist destination. What awaits us is the implementation of market research and analysis, gathering data, and analysing industry trends to identify emerging opportunities and understand the advantages and drawbacks of the destination and the needs and preferences of MICE organisers.

Q2: Can you tell us more about the role of the Niš Convention Bureau and the services the organisation offers?

Niš Convention Bureau supports the MICE sector in planning events in Niš by providing information and recommendations on accommodation facilities and congress spaces, with special attention to incentive programs, establishing contact with service providers at the destination, support in the organisation of inspection tours and destination fam tours, as well as marketing campaigns and promotion of destinations in international markets, by the campaign and activities of the Serbian Convention Bureau. NCB should initiate continuous improvement of the offer, updating technology and facilities to accommodate larger events & developing comprehensive event packages.

Q3: How would you justify why every destination needs a convention bureau?

The role of the convention bureau is multifaceted and pivotal in promoting a destination. Local convention bureaus should support the National Convention Bureau, following their work and providing up-to-date information about programs, contents, and capacities. In Serbia, apart from Belgrade, which of course leads the way, several destinations can be said to be MICE destinations, such as Novi Sad, Subotica, Zlatibor, Vrnjačka Banja and Niš, and only through joint and coordinated activities can we influence the development of the whole of Serbia as such a destination.


Q4: What do you believe is the right path or strategy for Niš’s success in the international market of the meetings industry?

I believe that the right way is to nurture and promote “the feeling” you get when you are staying in Niš. Niš is the most charming city which embraces you and warmly welcomes you. Here, you will activate all five senses and make lifetime memories. In combination with the fact that Niš is a capable, innovative and active city, I believe we offer an original package for organising successful events.

Q5: How are meetings and events contributing to your city in terms of legacy?

Meetings and events play a crucial role in shaping the legacy of the city in several ways: by stimulating economic growth through increased tourism, hotel and restaurant booking, and local expenditure, infrastructure developments such as upgraded transportation system, venue renovations, and urban beautification projects, which can have lasting benefits for residents and visitors, opportunity for cultural exchange, fostering understanding and appreciation among attendees and locals, facilitating knowledge exchange and innovation which can contribute to the city’s reputation as a hub of expertise, and positioning the city as a desirable destination.

“Events such as Try Before You Buy by Conventa are perfect for developing MICE destinations such as Niš. This kind of event provides a firsthand experience for participants, in this case, tour operators and event organisers.”

Q6: What is the added value of events such as Try Before You Buy by Conventa? What is their purpose?

Events such as Try Before You Buy by Conventa are perfect for developing MICE destinations such as Niš. This kind of event provides a firsthand experience for participants, in this case, tour operators and event organisers. The added value lies in allowing participants to gain intimate knowledge and insights into the destination, venues, attractions, and experiences, enabling them to better promote and sell it to their clients. They also facilitate networking among industry professionals – buyers and local service providers and help build relationships that can lead to future collaboration and business opportunities. This event was especially important for us because we got immediate feedback from buyers, and it will be easier for us to segment the market and adjust our offer.

Q7: What differentiates Niš from other neighbouring destinations?

In my opinion, the attractiveness of Niš as a MICE destination is reflected in achieving a perfect balance between business and leisure. It has sophisticated quality event planning and organisation services with modern, equipped conference halls and venues that meet high standards for holding conferences, seminars, symposiums, and other gatherings. In addition, Niš offers excellent value for money. Niš has an international airport connected to European destinations that are then connected to distant markets. Niš is considered the central development centre of the Serbian IT industry, a university centre with more than 30,000 students and a medical centre with experts from different fields of medicine. On the other side, Niš is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the Balkans, surrounded by breath-taking nature, only 15 km from the city centre, with diverse offers of incentive trips that range from adrenaline and active to cultural and historical experience, with unique southern charm and hospitality, lively nightlife and authentic food and wines. So, it is an authentic blend of traditional and modern – culture and nature.

Q8: How would you describe Niš in one sentence?

I wish to quote one person who has greatly supported us on this path of development and promotion of Niš as a MICE destination, Gorazd Čad: Niš is all you wish!


Q9: On a personal note, what would be your ideal event to host in Niš?

Try Before You Buy experience by Conventa was the first event I helped organise as Coordinator in the Nis Convention Bureau, and, as I said earlier, it is an ideal tourism event for the destination of the city of Niš.

On the other side, considering that the city of Niš used to be a city of electronics and today it is a serious IT centre thanks to the excellent University that offers extensive knowledge and academic experience to young people from all over the world, at the same time representing the academy centre of experts and leaders in the fields of information technology, and thanks to the Science and Technology Park, it would be an ideal host of international IT conferences, which would have multiplicative effects on the city.

Find out more about Niš Tourism Organisation here.

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