Monday, February 02, 2009

Business tourism one of best drivers of destination brand building, says international expert

Teamwork at a destination is often what makes or breaks an international conference. While a destination might have a state-of-the-art conference venue or an enormously modern airport to receive delegates from across the world, it is the spirit in which a destination’s tourism industry works together to ensure that a conference runs smoothly that the event is often evaluated on.

This was one of the key messages at the recent Back2Business event, celebrating the beginning of Business Tourism Year in Cape Town and the Western Cape. More than 300 professional conference organisers, venue and hotel operators, destination management companies, government representatives and others in tourism gathered at NH The Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West last week for this special occasion.

Giving a global picture of the business tourism industry and its challenges, guest speaker Steen Jakobsen, Director of the Copenhagen Convention Bureau and Member of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) Board of Directors, said that “besides creating jobs and generating tourism income, meetings and conferences are one of the best drivers of brand building - provided that it is supported by a combined effort.”

A destination’s convention bureau plays a critical role in facilitating the hosting of a conference - from selling the destination at international shows, arranging site visits and familiarisation trips for interested parties, to liaising between conference planners, and local government and industry role-players; compiling bids; and helping ensure that the maximum number of delegates attend a secured conference. “A convention bureau needs to be a destination expert; a one-stop-shop for conference planners; and provide a networking platform for local industry role-players, similar to Back2Business,” said Jakobsen.

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