There are places in the world that offer experiences that go beyond the conference itself... and then there is Iceland. Meet in Reykjavík explained to us its focus on environmental and social responsibility, but also on innovation and dynamic events.
Iceland is giving event organisers the opportunity to challenge the status quo with fresh event concepts, meaning, innovation, insights and a clear connection to the world at large. The small Scandinavian island of approximately 330,000 people is among the cleanest, greenest, safest and most organised nations in the world. All arguments in favour of Reykjavik, an emerging international meeting destination just a short distance from the Arctic Circle. With a high-skilled manpower and a competitive economic background, forward-looking industry and modern infrastructure, Reykjavík also enjoys a magical geographical position − not only for the easy accessibility between America and Europe, but for the unrivalled landscape and environmental beauty.
Just as the country continues to change its shape due to its geological activity, so too has its MICE industry not stood still - even when the global dynamics indicates otherwise. "Many conferences and events have been postponed and RFPs have not converted into bookings. However, it was not all bad. We managed to host some significant events like the Arctic Circle Assembly, the World Geothermal Congress and Women Leaders - Global Forum 2021," says Sigurður Sigurðsson, marketing director of Meet in Reykjavík. In addition, they have hosted three of the world’s biggest e-sports tournaments, proving to be a global stage in this fast-growing sector. In January 2021, Meet in Reykjavík merged with Business Iceland − a public- private partnership established to lead the promotion of the country in foreign markets and economic growth through increased exports. “Last year Meet in Reykjavík published a new communication strategy in line with Business Iceland’s long-term strategy. We placed more emphasis than ever on sustainable practices in the nation’s business travel industry, underlining our values in nature and climate preservation, gender equality, and human rights. We are now updating our website and all our promotional material to better reflect our goals and vision for the destination.”
Furthermore, Iceland was commended for its response to the coronavirus with over 90% vaccination rate, which ensured adequate measures to minimise the impact of the pandemic on the sector. “Last May, we hosted back-to-back the League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational and Valorant Masters 2. Approximately 500 players and production teams from around the world worked for over five weeks alongside local partners, staying in hotels in Reykjavík, enjoying our restaurants and activities, and not a single case of COVID-19 was reported. This success led to the decision to host League of Legends World 2021 in Iceland, five months later,” Sigurðsson reports.
However, 2022 will be a new beginning for Meet in Reykjavík. Following the new strategic planning with Business Iceland, the bureau plans to change several measurable aspects of its operations such as its membership structure. “We will not charge our partners for membership, instead the CVB is open to all stakeholders from Iceland who have operational insurance and a relevant government-issued licence and can also apply for ‘Trusted Partners’.” The programme recognises organisations that have established commitments to service excellence and share a common ambition towards environmental and social responsibility.
The marketing director reinforces that the great strengths of the Icelandic people are their local mentality, power of adaptability and resourceful lifestyle. “Throughout most of recorded history, Icelanders have lived mostly isolated from the world with frequent volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. An unconventional way of life that gave us the flexibility and resourcefulness to face a challenge like the COVID-19 pandemic.” Like many hotels and venues, Harpa, the main conference centre, had to close its doors temporarily. The Government of Iceland responded very quickly to put many initiatives and programmes in place to mitigate the economic, social, and environmental effects of COVID-19. “That included revenue loss subsidies to help companies maintain a minimum level of activity while the impact of the pandemic persists. Fortunately, most of our partners have offered full-service levels for MICE planners throughout most of the pandemic,” adds Sigurðsson. Meet in Reykjavík tried to ensure that meetings and events would not be forgotten in any recovery plans, making the most current information available for clients and partners.
Iceland is one of the most advanced information societies in the world with high-speed mobile and fixed networks everywhere, and almost the entire population online. Likewise, Reykjavík already has state-of-the-art software and technologically advanced conference rooms, convention centres and meeting venues within its infrastructure. Sigurðsson leaves no room for doubt: “We are not followers when it comes to modernisation and innovation within the MICE industry; we are paving the way. Our partners understand that planners are expected to design more complex and innovative experiences than ever before. Creative and cutting- edge tech solutions aren’t just ‘nice to have’ in today’s environment, they are a must-have.”
Finally, the country is recognised globally for its environmental awareness being ranked 5th in the GDS-Index 2021, and is a world leader in the development of sustainable energy. The capital gets 100% of its electricity and heat from domestically produced renewable energy sources, making it one of the greenest cities in the world. Sustainable food options are also easy to find. “Meet in Reykjavik has a long- term strategy for green meetings and events and a comprehensive corporate social responsibility strategy. The MICE industry in Iceland already plays an important role in the city’s plans to make it carbon neutral by 2040,” concludes Sigurðsson.
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