I need to get it off my chest one more time. During the recent European Cities Marketing (ECM) conference in Reykjavik I couldn’t help but feeling jealous of the organisational model of the European Tourist Bureaus. It seems to work really well. They have come together and set up a platform where knowledge and skills are being shared, where research is carried out and where new initiatives are introduced.
It is very obvious that members feel very much at home. However, since the European Convention Bureaus were consolidated in ECM (2007), I must admit that I have lost my sense of belonging. To be honest, I almost felt a bit like an orphan during the conference. I didn’t really get many opportunities to network and although the subjects being presented were very appropriate for the tourist sector they were not really relevant for the Meetings Industry.
One exception was the presentation by Bettina Reventlow-Mourier (Wonderful Copenhagen CVB) and Iftah Amit of the Kenes Group. It captured my attention. Their focus was on DIY Congresses or the invention of congresses in a town. The Kenes people are specialists in initiating new congresses and together, the two of them told us all the tips and secrets of DIY congresses. These speakers were inspiring and as a result I was once more eager to support the idea of a single European Convention Bureau Platform, uniting all of Europe’s bureaus in one solid wing of the ECM, with its own annual convention and a strong name whatever that may be.
The gap between Tourism and the Meetings Industry is too big to try to put them both in the same pot. Of course, there is a lot of overlap but on the whole not really enough to start covering the soul of MICE. Putting Bettina in charge of a Meetings Group within ECM, working with a team of committed members, might be the first step towards creating a new model capable of once more placing our European cities in a leading position on the map of conference hosting and organisation. Those who are most in need of such a platform are the corporates. This is probably the most neglected business group in Europe these days. DMCs and PCOs have not succeeded in promoting cities in a coordinated and professional manner. To some extent this is understandable as it must be difficult for them to remain unbiased. So now it is high time that Meetings Cities once more take matters into their own hands.
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