ECM Vice-President for the Meetings Industry, Heike Mahmoud, explains the virtuous circle that European Cities Marketing members and the meetings industry create together.
You have been ECM Vice-President for the Meetings Industry for 4 years now, can you give us a picture of how ECM keeps on contributing to the recognition of the value of the meetings industry worldwide?
Being active on the global level is mainly done via strong cooperation with key partners and through ECM membership of the Joint Meetings Industry Council. Meeting with other counterparts globally is second to none. As a JMIC member, we have the opportunity to take part in a Conference on the Value of Meetings that will be held in May in Paris prior to IMEX this year. We will bring our know-how thanks to several case studies and to our Meetings Statistics Report.
Our yearly review mainly focuses on the association and corporate but we have additionally considered other segments of the meetings industry such as non-corporate meetings which are usually not included in the definitions applied by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and the Union of International Associations (UIA). The outcome of this conference will be extremely precious when reporting to a panel of government officials from all around the world at the IMEX Politicians Forum in Frankfurt.
Can you develop on the importance of the Politicians Forum for ECM and the Industry?
The IMEX Politicians Forum [May 19] is co-organised by IMEX and ECM under the patronage of the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) and the International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC). The Forum provides an annual platform for international meetings industry leaders to meet with national or regional politicians and government officials from around the world with the aim to demonstrate the economic and social importance of congresses and meetings to politicians, to initiate more dialogs and to emphasize the importance of their role. This finally ensures that public policies remain supportive of the conventions sector. This year, we will focus on how to attract more meetings and events to destinations which is key to the economic development of our destinations.
ECM is the only place where CVBs can meet with their counterparts and exchange knowledge on a European level. What are the next opportunities to network?
Our next ECM Meeting will be held in Turin in June [June 3-6] and it will address how events and infrastructure projects can change the image of a city. We have the example of Dublin’s new Convention Centre which was developed to provide a world-class conference venue in the heart of Ireland’s capital city.
On the first day of the meeting the ECM Meetings Industry Steering Group will host a half day Best Practice session in order to offer a platform for our members to share interesting stories about successful or failed ‘meetings industry’ experiences. This session will be organised as a series of 10-minute presentations which leading to in-depth discussion with the speakers.
On the seminar day, after the keynote speakers, the case studies and the sharing of best practices, attendees will have the possibility to participate to three different one hour long workshops: Tourism, Meetings Industry and City Marketing. Then, each group will share their feedback. Exchanges between members are at the heart of European Cities Marketing and with this new formula I am pretty sure that it’s going to be even more fulfilling!
In term of business opportunity what does ECM have to offer to their members?
We provide each year our members with two business events Meet Europe and the India Meetings Industry Workshop.
The first one usually takes place in December in a city with a wide international associations’ base: Paris. The Meet Europe event is dedicated to organisers of European and international conventions, event managers, meeting planners looking for new destinations in Europe. It’s a half-day event where pre-selected top quality associations meet face to face with ECM members cities. It is the ‘place to be’ for associations that want to meet with circa 25 destinations that are both attractive and ready to make association events a real success.
In cooperation with tmf dialogue marketing GmbH for European Convention Bureaux, European Cities Marketing also offers the unique opportunity to make the connection between planners in India and European destinations! India is an undoubtedly important source market for European Cities. The last edition was held on April 27-30, 2015 in Dehli, Mumbai and Bangalore.
How important is education for ECM?
Education is a big part of the ECM strategy. Every year the ECM Summer School (taking place in August/September) allows people just starting out in the sector to get insights into the meetings industry. It’s a winning formula which has been successful since 1987. We are currently developing the concept to ensure more emerging destinations outside Europe can join in (more on this in MIM127 page 9).
Your mandate as ECM Vice-President will soon come to an end; What is your best memory? What is, according to you, making ECM so unique?
The best memory? This is a hard question... I have so many good memories! If I have to choose one, I would say the successful establishment of the partnership with IMEX Group that really marked a big step for the association! Although my mandate as ECM Vice-President comes to an end, I will still be involved with the association and hopefully be able to trigger more support for the meetings industry!
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