Tomáš Raboch works at GUARANT International, spol. s r.o. as a Deputy Sales Director. He first joined the company in February 2004 as a part-time worker. After a few months, he was hired as an employee. Tomáš represents the company in tenders, prepares offers and provides new business cases. He has visited almost the entire world on business trips. He had been flying to business meetings several times a month, but this was suspended by the pandemic at the beginning of last year. In his free time, he enjoys sports and spends time outdoors.
You joined GI in 2004, what has changed in your job since then?
The whole world has become even more globalized. There are several associations that have their own strong Secretariat or Core PCO. GUARANT has also adapted to this trend and has their own long-term clients. We also no longer only work in the Czech Republic, but since 2004 we have managed to expand abroad. We also had events overseas, in Mexico, Singapore, Turkey and other exotic destinations.
What has changed in the field of service provision?
As I mentioned, we provide more Core PCO and association management services. In addition to that, new congress facilities were created in Prague. The most important being the O2 Universum, a facility that can bring a more competitive environment for KCP and larger international events to Prague.
The biggest change since I joined in 2004 is that we have our own Core PCO clients. When I joined, we had only a few events abroad, especially corporate ones. The first major event was the Central European Surgical Congress in Katowice. It was such a guerrilla Core PCO that we first went to Katowice and then to Hungary.
Do you ever notice non-standard client requests?
Given that the scope of my work is the business aspect of our activities, fortunately I do not participate in all the preparation and implementation of events. As a result, I don’t come across any atypical, non-standard requirements. Having said that, I’m quite sure that my colleagues can handle almost anything.
What is the most difficult part of organizing an event?
In my opinion, the most difficult thing is to win the tender.
What were your clients’ first reactions to the pandemic? How did you communicate with them? What was the resulting development?
We used to fly several times a month and many times a year to all meetings, many times back and forth on the same day or a few days later. We flew to London, Brussels, pretty much everywhere in Europe and beyond. Now we handle everything online. I have to hard to remember the last flight I took, but I believe it was in March 2020. I didn’t enjoy traveling so much anymore back then, but now I would like to fly somewhere again, I enjoy the change. All aspects of business are still being addressed, we just don’t meet in person.
Were congresses canceled or postponed to a later date?
Many have moved to a later date.
Do you think that after the pandemic, everything will return to normal, or will virtualization continue to affect the congress industry?
At the beginning, it seemed that virtual meetings would continue, but now everyone is looking forward to live congresses because the ones organized online are a bit boring. A live congress is different, it’s a change, you can talk directly to the people who have their contributions there, moreover, in an environment in which you focus on the event and its content. Live conferences will definitely return, people will want to meet. The degree of impact of virtualization also depends on how expensive the tickets will be and how many people will be able to arrive. It will also depend on how the organizers approach online streams and libraries. I think the prices of tickets and services will be higher. We’ll see if prices return to their original levels over time. However, it will take some time.
How do you approach home office?
I was used to home office before the pandemic. I didn’t use it so often, I worked from home when I needed to focus on a problem, which was about once or twice a month. However, when I had to keep home office all the time, even with small children, it was too much. Forced to have home office with the whole family, with children who have distance learning, was extremely challenging. Now I like the change and I prefer to do some work at home. It also suits me to save the time needed to travel to and from work. In addition, I can go cycling or out with my children right after work.
What makes GI unique?
GI is still one of the largest Czech companies and we are a relatively important player among the global competition. I perceive GI similarly as Petr Kellner spoke about PPF. In published interviews, he says that the advantage of his company is that Czechs are among the employees, and also that their Czech company has succeeded on a global scale. GI has also achieved interesting results in our field. For example, we have been selected by the Royal College of General Practitioners to help them with their World Conference. The collaboration with this British organization was amazing. Unfortunately, for political reasons, Melbourne in Australia was chosen to hold the congress. However, the Royal College was so pleased with us that they invited us to apply for the Core PCO tender for their congress. We made it to the finals among the last two favorites, but in the end they chose the company they were working with at the time. The participation in this tender itself was fantastic. However, we must not rest on our laurels.
How do you like GI?
There are interesting people there, we have interesting clients and the corporate culture is also nice.
How do you relieve stress?
I ride a bike and I like sports. I try to lead my sons to the same as well.
What is your life credo?
Everything has to work out, you have to be patient and endure. Keep trying and it’ll work. I enjoy changes, changing things and trying new ways.
What did the pandemic take from you and what did it give you?
It gave us more home office. One now values one’s health more. It also gave us more fear. I was worried about my parents, about my surroundings. I felt sorry for the children who lost their circles and closer contact with friends and classmates. In a way, it was such a very light form of war. It brought restrictions on freedom, a state of emergency and the closure of shops. Many people died, some because of their own stupidity, others, unfortunately, because of the stupidity of others. On the other hand, we went out more with our children.
What makes you happy and what is your driving force?
I enjoy recruiting clients with more complex assignments, where you can see the result. When I started, there was no Core PCO. I’ve been in charge of this area and now we have several Core PCOs. Of course, I would like to get another one. I would like to come to the conclusion that we are not only a Czech company in Prague, but also a Czech company in the world, to move us to the global level.
What event have you enjoyed the most over the years?
I like WONCA congresses.
I also like to get to know distant lands. For example, we once discussed an event with a client that was to be held in Honolulu. I really wanted to see it. I pushed it through with the client and convinced him that we would go for it. We won the event and I got to Hawaii. I really liked it there and I also liked Rio de Janeiro.
How did GI deal with the pandemic?
We do not know if this time is over. The pandemic is not over and we still haven’t won. We’re all on the same ship. I don’t think it will get worse, but it may take longer. I believe that in the spring of 2022 we could have nearly everything behind us.