When the Convention Bureau Italia announced ‘Italy at Hand’ from the promise of creating the most interactive MICE event to ever be held in Italy, the Headquarters Magazine was instantly interested in becoming a part of the first edition as International Media Partner. I can tell now that ‘Italy at Hand – The Event’ was all this and more thanks to the dynamic collaboration of the bureau’s many partners.
Marcel A.M. Vissers reports
From 1 to 3 November, 45 international buyers from 18 countries and 48 qualified Italian suppliers gathered in Bologna to see first-hand everything Italy has to offer to the meetings industry, the event generated 888 business appointments. For many of the participants, this was their first visit to the city. What an experience, what a breath of fresh air this city is!
Being able to attend an event in an Italian palazzo is already a great experience in itself. But, being able to attend Italy at Hand in the historical Palazzo Re Enzo, the chosen venue for the business event, set the atmosphere to reach the great success of this new MICE format.
For me, Convention Bureau Italia (CBItalia) scores well in the meetings industry on an international level for two main reasons. Firstly, this convention bureau is unique in Europe, because the government is not involved in it. It consists of a variety of partners, who undertake joint promotion activities and offered their services to devise a passionate marketing programme. This is almost unheard of in Italy. Secondly, Convention Bureau Italia created a brilliant branding with the clever (and so true to Italians) concept of 'hands'. This event is the logical outcome of the marketing campaign ‘Italy at Hand’ which was launched at IMEX Frankfurt 2017 by CBItalia and Top Agency TerraEvents Italy.
Lorenzo Pignatti, President of TerraEvents Italy, explained from A to Z how they managed to do this. Their story, which is told with hands, the same Italian hands they use for almost everything, is of capital importance in this framework.
How to capture the essence of Italy so the rest of the world can understand the message? Which logo or image is best suited to present the new Meetaly?
The partners were not interested in throwing the classics overboard, they really wanted to promote themselves in a different way, with hands that connect everything. After several months of discussions, the bureau’s partners decided that Hands are a very important part of Italy, because as most people are aware, they are used in a unique language of gestures, which is internationally famous: a real symbol of Italianness in the public imagination. As Lorenzo Pignatti explained it so succinctly:
“We started to play with our hands, developing a new format to put Italy solidly on the map at international meetings. To this end, we invited conference organisers to present this new language.”
In my opinion, the happiest face during this event was that of Carlotta Ferrari, the dynamic President of CBItalia. During the pre-event activities at Palazzo Re Enzo, she managed to show the participants very clearly how Italy has changed tack as a meeting destination:
"For us at CBItalia, this event represented a dream we have had ever since we began this activity, spurred by our enthusiasm for our work and for our love for our country. Italy at Hand is a new original and interactive MICE format. The Bologna Convention Bureau was our host destination for 2018 and I hope to be able to present our host destination for 2019 as soon as possible to you."
The many participants thought the event was a great success and will remain a success for many years to come.
"What a lovely experience to be able to rediscover Italy like this"
More generally, all the participants and exhibitors appreciated the efforts of Gemma Biagiotti (Communication and Marketing Manager of CBItalia, the General Event Coordinator for Italy at Hand) and the organising team under the supervision of Tobia Salvadori, bureau manager of CBItalia. The spirit of the event was also apparent in the many social events, including the welcome dinner in Palazzo Popoli (Museum of History of Bologna), Palazzo Isolani and the Gala Dinner at Palazzo Gnudi.
I can assure our readers that at the end of the meeting, many people shook hands with each other, which was the original intention of the conference (and the ultimate objective of the meetings industry): to extend hands.
Next year’s Italy at Hand will take place in Rome, on 7-9th November 2019.
A Unique National Convention Bureau
I know of very few national convention bureaus that run on private funds and are self-financing. Convention Bureau Italia is a very unique partnership of 121 Members of the Community and more than 2,000 Italian Suppliers represented. This business partners have joined forces to promote Italy around the world.
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