Starting with four questions
Are the strategies that destinations have been deploying in order to attract meetings during the last 20 years still valid?
No, the model is broken and the approach is unsustainable.
Why do destinations need a simple, powerful and focused strategy?
Because destination marketing isn’t about tourism, it’s about economic development. Meetings today are not only a key revenue channel but a very efficient one (ROI). Recent studies have further shone a light on the impact of business travel; in the UK, meetings & conference delegates make up around 30% of total visitors to the Britain; in Mexico 780,000 jobs are classified in the meeting industry sector and 32 billion Canadian dollars are directly spent in Canada according to different reports.
What has been happening?
When considering the statistics shared it is easy to understand what smart destinations have been doing during the last 25 years. We have seen the rise of DMOs/CVBs (Destination Marketing Organizations / Convention Bureaus) and destination marketing strategies. The objective was clear: to attract the maximum number of meetings and delegates. Therefore an explosion of investment in core infrastructure (airports, roads, trains), meeting infrastructure (convention centers), meeting marketplaces (IMEX, EIBTM etc.) and sector associations growth (PCMA, ICCA, MPI, SITE etc.)
What’s the problem?
The current destination marketing model for meetings is broken. The traditional approach may be efficient for the short term but ultimately the model is broken and smart destinations need to re-invent the game. After generic and worldwide growth, destinations today face a brutal reshape of the sector due to different reasons. We can recap those into five drivers: (1) hyper competition, (2) economic cycles, (3) culture, (4) technology and (5) new generations.