CZECH REPUBLIC – Seminar in Prague on how to win international congresses
On April 9, congress industry experts met at the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel Prague for the educational seminar ‘How to win international congresses.‘ During the event, which was attended by 150 participants, experts talked about finding a way in a competitive market, preparing a bid that will win, the significance of the Olympic Games and its contribution to the city using the example of London.
The Prague Convention Bureau organised the seminar, which aims to promote the exchange of information and cooperation between world leaders in the congress industry field, for the second consecutive year. Like last year, the seminar was meant for both local and foreign professionals in the field of congress tourism, media representatives, domestic association representatives and public authorities.
The seminar was opened by ICCA CEO Martin Sirk. He commented that success in promotion and winning international congresses lies in awareness of the importance of cooperation. “The successful destinations are able to get the most from the cooperation with others. The example may be Vienna, which cooperates with Barcelona in distant markets and they represent the European culture together, even though they are the competitors. Also the Scandinavian cities represent Scandinavia as one unit, they do a joint promotion and you can find their booths at international trade fairs side by side.”
Malcolm MacMillan from the International Confederation Midwives continued with a speech on the importance of added value offered by the destination. He said that the most important question asked by a convention manager at the beginning is whether the destination is able to attract the delegates. In his opinion, the most important of all is access – getting delegates to the destination, transport within the destination and also affordability of the services. The International Confederation Midwives will organise its congress in Prague next year, and expects about 3000 participants. “Today, the delegates want to spend their money in an attractive destination that has something to offer. One of the reasons why we have chosen Prague for this congress was the fact that delegates wanted to come here.”
Francesca Manzani from the Florence office of AIM Group International and the ICCA Board Member highlighted the importance of understanding the client and pointed out that the companies active in the congress industry should not only focus on the sales, but more on clients` needs and wishes. “Convention bureau should co-ordinate local suppliers and common activities to persuade clients of the destination. And however is e.g. the financial support important, even the greatest one cannot buy personal approach and trust.”
Likewise, the director of the Czech Space Office Jan Kolár talked about the personal approach, particularly from the PCO side, and showed it in a case study of the candidacy for the International Astronautical Congress, held in Prague in 2010, when contribution of the organising agency to the bidding process was a key factor for final success.
The director of the largest convention center in London, ExCeL London, and the ICCA Board Member James Rees built his speech upon the Olympic Games and their benefits for the growth of the congress industry in London. Thanks to the development of infrastructure and evolving relationships with the government, London now attracts more event organisers than ever, because the Olympic Games have changed the view on the city. Thus, London went from 19th place in 2010 to 7th place in 2012 in the world destination ranking.
Bruce Redor from GainingEdge, who moderated the entire event, also talked about the importance of government support and the necessity of highlighting the differences and strengths of the destination.