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Study on Europe as a destination for meetings and conferences identifies growth potential in complex market

Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe releases results of research into challenges and opportunities for European meetings business.

“Europe as a Destination for Meetings and Conferences” is in the focus of a recent study supported by nine members of the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe. The study looks at challenges and opportunities in a changing environment as a basis for developing hands-on recommendations for action. Alongside the GCB German Convention Bureau as lead research partner, the Austrian Convention Bureau, Convention Bureau Italia, Croatian National Tourist Board, MeetDenmark, Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, Poland Convention Bureau, Swedish Network of Convention Bureaus and Visit Norway collaborated on the project that was supported by industry partners Simpleview and PCMA.

 

In an age of complexity creativity and flexibility are key

With the aim of analysing Europe’s medium-term to long-term market potential as a meetings and conference destination, the research identified different economic and socio-political factors, tech trends as well as general industry trends that affect the European meetings community. Detailed results including recommendations for action can be found in this White Paper. Highlighting the key results, Eric Bakermans, Director Marketing Meetings, Conventions & Events, Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions, and GCB managing director Matthias Schultze point out: “While we can see that the worldwide economic and political situation creates a general sense of complexity in the meetings and conference sector, the opportunities to be seized by European market players still provide considerable scope for growth and development and Europe’s current standing as a hub for international meetings can be further enhanced. What is now needed is a creative and flexible approach that not only harnesses technology to add value to events and to improve sellers’ own marketing and communication capabilities but that also homes in on the requirements of specific target groups to provide customised experiences.” Apart from the overall global economy, state of the EU or general security concerns, Brexit is one of the factors adding uncertainty that was addressed during the research in interviews with international meetings buyers and sellers from different industries as the UK is a key source market for many major venues in Europe.

 

Technological and industry trends providing opportunities for growth

Among the technological development influencing the industry, the increase in budgets for virtual and hybrid events that was established in the research means that sellers investing in state-of-the art tech equipment will be best equipped to benefit from the growing spending power in this area. Alongside the increase in internet speed, the roll out of 5G networks and IoT applications, in particular AI emerged as a key tech trend with many planners interviewed already using AI matchmaking tools and/or chatbots. Apart from the need to make events more experiential and personalised to counter the effects of a crowded market, sustainability and an increased focus on ROI are two major industry trends established in the Europe study.

 

Relevant industry research

The PCMA and Simpleview as industry partners supporting the project both stress the importance of the research as an important guide in the context of Europe’s position as a key market for business events: “Europe is a critical economic engine to the world. Understanding the importance of business events and the importance of business events to economic and social issues can only help us and benefit us,” says Sherrif Karamat, CAE, President and CEO of PCMA. Rich Reasons, President of Simpleview, adds: “Europe is one of the largest markets and a growing market. Strength, weaknesses and opportunities are critical for us to understand.”

 

For further details on the study’s findings, please see our White Paper.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------About the Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe

The Strategic Alliance of the National Convention Bureaux of Europe was launched in 2014 as an initiative of 17 convention bureaux with the aim of strengthening the position of Europe among global meeting and event planners. The Alliance now has 28 members.