Despite widespread talk of ʻausterity measuresʼ and ʻrecession budgetsʼ, conferences and events are still big business and cities around the world are working hard to make sure that they are the city of choice for your next big event.
Even in touch economic times, large organizations need to get people together, to share and communicate messages, to plan their business, engage with their employees, and connect with their customers.
Well organized cities will always have someone (or a team of people) charged with liaising with event organizers and local hotels and venues, to promote the cityʼs facilities and assets, and to encourage you to bring your delegates to their destination. The economic benefits of in-bound events and conferences are material and widely recognised.
Choosing a destination for your event is however not always an easy, straightforward, or logical process. For a number of years I ran a big sales conference for the UK operations of an Australian bank. My client was the CEO of the UK business and she was adamant that the sales conference had to be in the UK – offshore options were out of the question. From a purely financial perspective this didnʼt really make any sense – I did all of the costings to demonstrate that the entire thing could be delivered much cheaper if we took it out of the UK. Her concern was about PR and perceptions – during difficult financial
periods it simply ʻlooks badʼ if bankers are heading off overseas on what could easily be perceived by customers, employees, and the media as simply a ʻjollyʼ or ʻjunketʼ. As a result that event was always held in Birmingham. No one can accuse you of having a ʻjollyʼ in Birmingham.
The fact remains that with a bit of planning and some imagination, there are a wealth of destinations to choose from around the world – many of them inexpensive, many of them easy to get to, and often delivering a freshness and wow-factor that gives your delegates a memorable experience.
My top pick at the moment would be Copenhagen – the capital of Denmark. Copenhagen has always been a pretty cool city, but thereʼs a real buzz at the moment. With Denmarkʼs victory at the Eurovision Song Contest, a continuing passion for the Nordic cuisine, and a Royal Family that can do no wrong, Copenhagenʼs international brand is definitely in the ascendency. Theyʼve got all the venues that you need plus you can build in a range of activities for your delegates – cruises in the harbor, cycling tours, or food experiences. The transport links are also excellent, so logistically itʼs a nice straight-forward destination.
Perhaps not an obvious choice, but Iʼm also loving Luxembourg. Luxembourg has a bit of a reputation as being a bit dull and all about banking and tax evasion. It is actually a beautiful old fortress city with fascinating history but also a very modern sensibility that works well from an event perspective. Great venues and hotels and the Tourist Board are a small team but very friendly and innovative when it comes to assisting with events and conferences. Good flight connections and easy to access via train.
A slightly tougher sell but totally worth it is Reykjavik – the capital of Iceland. There are actually pretty good flights from everywhere into Iceland and this weird little island will give your delegates an experience that they will never forget. With the right Destination Management Company (DMC) partner, thereʼs so much to choose from – whales and puffins, incredible food, the iconic Blue Lagoon, and even horse riding on the unique scrubby little Icelandic horses. Perhaps best suited to an incentive trip, but definitely worth considering for any type of event.
So many options. Just need to find a way to get the clients to say ʻYes!ʼ
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