On April 9, the world congress industry experts met in the Prague Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel Prague at the educational seminar “How to win international congresses.” During the event, which was attended by 150 participants, they talked about finding a way in a competitive market, preparing a bid that will win, and the significance of the Olympic Games and their contribution to the city on the example of London.
The Prague Convention Bureau organized this unique seminar, which helps to exchange the information and to cooperate with the world leaders in the field of congress industry, 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, according to whom the 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 about the importance of an added value offered by the destination. According to him, 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 the access – getting delegates to the destination, transport within the destination, and also affordability of the services. The International Confederation Midwives will organize its congress in Prague next year, and expects about 3,000 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 an 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 bureaus should coordinate local suppliers and common activities to persuade clients of the destination. And, however, [an] … e.g. [is] the financial support important – even the greatest one cannot buy personal approach and trust.” Likewise, the Director of the Czech Space Office, Jan Kolar, talked about personal approach, particularly from the PCO side, and showed it on a case study of the candidacy for the International Astronautical Congress, held in Prague in 2010, when contribution of the organizing agency to the bidding process was a key factor for final success.
The Director of the largest convention center in London, ExCeL London, and 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 organizers 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.
The educational seminar was held under the auspices of the Minister for Regional Development Kamil Jankovsky and the Prague City Councillor for Culture, Monument Care, Exhibitions, International Relations and Tourism Vaclav Novotny. The main partners of the event were the Ministry of regional development, the City of Prague, CzechTourism, Czech Convention Bureau, Prague Airport, Prague Information Service, and Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel. The technological partner was Mikenopa, and the media partners were business paper E15, C.O.T. media publishing house, and Metropol TV.