Last fall, 17 European convention bureaus across the continent joined together to pool resources and share knowledge to protect market share in the global meetings and convention market. This month, five more countries joined the European National Convention Bureaux Alliance, including Italy, Ireland, France, Portugal and Latvia.
The motivation behind the launch of the new European meetings destination marketing organization (DMO) is two-fold. One is to maintain top-of-mind positioning for Europe as a primary meetings location. With so many emerging destinations from Brazil to New Zealand rising on planners’ radars, it’s paramount for European countries to proactively ensure they remain competitive.
The second is to promote a wider breadth of the continent’s meetings infrastructure to include more second-tier meeting destinations, and lesser known venues in first-tier markets.
“We’re delighted to welcome the five new members to our informal group,” says Matthias Schultze, managing director of the German Convention Bureau. “The benefits of such an alliance are numerous, including knowledge sharing and cooperating to further strengthen the position of each individual member, as well as boosting Europe’s standing as the leading destination for business events in the world.”
Eric Bakermans, marketing manager for Holland Meetings & Conventions, adds, “As a united voice of 22 members across the continent, we’re aiming for productive collaboration that creates a strong proposition for our target markets.”
Above all else, underpinning the new European DMO alliance is a willingness among European convention bureaus to collaborate and share proprietary information. That is much more rare in other regions.
“There’s absolutely a shift today among all of the European DMOs when it comes to seeing the value of sharing information,” says Laura d’Elsa, regional director, USA/Canada, at the German Convention Bureau. “Even direct competitors are working together…. Because at the end of the day, my competition strictly speaking is not so much a France or an England or Switzerland. It’s really more like meeting planners are asking, “Are we going to go to Europe or somewhere else?”
Miha Kovačič, director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, is one of the most vocal advocates for the new European DMO alliance. Kovačič aggressively promotes what he calls “co-opetition” among smaller bureaus to help get their message heard among the maelstrom of U.S.-directed marketing.
For Kovačič, knowledge is the currency of the future. He wants to amass as much industry insight and connections as possible by collaborating with neighboring national DMOs and stakeholders within his own country to drive the value of meeting in Slovenia higher. That then becomes Slovenia’s positioning statement and differentiator.
“True added value of an event organized in a different country is not to experience other countries’ culture, gastronomy, people, weather, etc.,” says Kovačič. “It is the specific knowledge that the country has and is willing to share with an international audience.”
The full list of members are: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.
The group will next meet in Budapest in September to discuss collaborative marketing initiatives and brand communications.