. 12 Tips on Becoming a Top Meeting City | Meetings & Conventions Asia

12 Tips on Becoming a Top Meeting City

"The model is broken and the approach is unsustainable," declares Oscar Cerezales, COO MCI Group Asia Pacific.

He doesn't mince his words. This straight shooter has very definite ideas about what makes the meetings industry tick or fail. He turns typical notions on their heads and demands a paradigm shift in approach - starting with the fact that "destination marketing is not about tourism; it's about economic development".

The traditional model may work for the short-term, but in the long-term, CVBs and DMOs will face problems caused by a rapidly changing landscape shaped by "hyper competition, economic cycles, culture, technology and new generations". 

In this context, Oscar elaborates that the meetings model is broken because: 
• Current strategies don't work in hyper fragmented markets (which is the key outcome of all forces affecting this industry).
• CVBs and DMOs face inadequate human, technical and economic resources 
• Strategies and tactical plans in the industry have not been updated in the past 20 years
• Corporate and association meetings are not targeted with a multichannel marketing approach 
• The endogamy game perpetuates "sameness" in the industry
• The roles of the value chain are not clear
• Economic cycles affect destinations 

With these factors in mind, Oscar believes the meetings industry is being pushed to adapt and adopt a new model; one that is more brand-conscious and visionary rather than short-term and transactional. 

Here are 12 tips for destinations to reinvent themselves:

  • More branding conversations less cost-based discussions. You need to be a brand, not a commodity where the low-cost producer wins
  • Stop selling the hard facts and figures. It's important but is not a USP
  • Define precisely the role of each component of the value chain. When the roles of stakeholders such as CVBs, DMOs, agencies, convention centres overlap, clients do not receive a unified message
  • Relook DMO/CVB number and resources. Ironically, there has been an increase in DMOs and CVBs but the accompanying human, technical and economic resources are insufficient
  •  Be Destination 3.0 friendly. The Power of 10 report by IMEX calls for a new type of meetings: Events 3.0. These events will highlight more interaction, new session formats, co-creation, new layouts, better engagement, be content driven and increased networking
  •  Create the right legal/tax environment. The right rules will allow associations to be classified as non-profits and thus remove barriers to non-profit organisations
  • Delegate acquisition. The task of attracting enough delegates to congresses could be outsourced or better facilitated
  • Embrace social media. Go beyond the basics to track key performance indicators such as community interaction, scalability and amplification
  • Deploy teams by industry sectors rather than by regions or by categories such as association and corporate events
  • Become either storytellers or storydoers. Think of marketing and communication strategies that also include narrative told through action
  • Buy events. Keep competition away by becoming the owner of the event
  • Promote disruptive innovation strategies.  Events will increase but on a smaller scale and will become niche driven and hybrid driven - strategies must adapt to capture economic spend

    * Extracted from interview with Oscar Cerezales, COO MCI Group Asia Pacific