The five Destination Marketing trends that will impact the Meetings Industry in 2018

10th Nov, 2017

Business events as experiential City Marketing platforms

Destination marketing has been, is and will continue changing in coming years. Where the Meetings Industry is concerned, new attendees are a constant, urging Industry members to adapt their events in terms of attractiveness and choice. Thus, many Destinations Marketing Organisations (DMOs) have changed the way in which they operate to acclimate to a changing environment. Marketing itself is not enough anymore, now it is all about business, management, development and attracting citizens and students.

Purposeful meetings are on the rise. Organizations gravitate towards perfecting content with greater innovation and insight. Understanding a meetings purpose is key as it allows to join in elements that help accomplish said purpose.

Pier Paolo Mariotti said it best when he explained: “Destinations are focusing their attention on the knowledge economy and the Industry is looking to enhance talent pools in the city and present congresses that they are able to bring in. These events acquired by the talents working and operating in the destination are the best platforms for showcasing the excellences in the branch of knowledge, but also what each destination can offer in terms of location, venue and the destination tout-court.”

These events, whether they are conferences or congresses, bring knowledge of a specific field along with the promise of networks into the city, not only improving the standing of that particular field, but also raising awareness among the public & other stakeholders. Beyond the urge of showing the economic impact that equates to a certain destination, it is also important to look at the bigger picture so as to view the extent of what has been created within the destination and its reach as it spreads out throughout Europe (or the World).

Visitors create an economic value that translates into new job opportunities, a better quality of life and a greater awareness of the location’s residents. The latter is becoming increasingly important seeing as how visitors are progressively interested in exploring the city in which their event is taking place and having a more authentic travel experience by frequenting local restaurants and attractions. The new trend is for a full destination experience. It’s almost as if the city itself is becoming the venue.

This means that many organizations would have to adapt event schedules to leave room for sightseeing, city touring and more, creating a fulfilling experience for attendees, that is based not only on a solid content, but also on the destination in which it will take place. The latter is what will create return visitation and generate engagement. Cities receive all of the benefits of a positive economic impact while bypassing any of the negative effects of tourism.

However, a greater want for knowledge means an increase in content density, conversely reducing organized downtime. European Cities Marketing President Dieter Hardt-Stremayr stated earlier this year that: “Gone are the days when classic sightseeing tours could be offered to show the participants where their meeting is taking place. It´s more and more important to show them how the respective destinations benefit from the findings of the conference that is taking place, what the event means for the reputation of the local universities and research institutions. That means exploring the cities in a total different way, many times totally off the touristic track. Nevertheless there still will be the desire for a return visitation in a more touristic way with friends and family.”

ECM Summer School as a means to highlight and share this knowledge

The ECM Summer School allows for the best of both content and destination. It is the perfect opportunity to learn about new trends that are and will be developing. The aim is to equip professionals with the latest marketing tools and to help them to develop the knowledge and skills required for a successful career in conference, meetings and event management.

The school takes place over the course of 4 days, and is held in a different location every year. It gathers both young professionals just entering the Meetings Industry and some of the biggest names in our business, allowing for a physical manifestation of students creating their network. They are brought together in a workshop style where they have to determine what it takes to bring an international meeting to a city. The program includes presentations from faculty members, concentration, engagement and teamwork to produce the best outcome. ECM Summer School has travelled across Europe to unite eager students with knowledge-filled faculty.

The major asset of the ECM’s Summer School in all these years has been the Faculty. It is not made up of academics but of seasoned practitioners who have had years of hands-on experiences in their career. They are experienced meeting professionals working for relevant institutions and related professionals that give added value to the course. The Faculty members occupy senior management or relevant positions within the company and volunteer to act as teaching staff during the course of the Summer School.

What they say about ECM’s Summer School…

«It was an unforgettable experience with very interesting topics about the Meetings Industry! Everything was well organised and structured. The ECM Summer School is one of the best oportunities to meet people with the same aims, challenges and difficulties in the Meetings Industry.»
Nadine Roth, Assistant Manager Conventions, visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office

«The summer school is an incredible opportunity to network with peers within the meetings trade. It is an opportunity to learn, grow and share experience with the experts who shape the industry – it is an invaluable network to be part of and a chance to discuss challenges and produce creative solutions.»
Graeme Mackay, Ambassador Programme Executive, visitAberdeenshire

«For me the ECM Summer School was a brilliant start into this industry. Next to brilliant classes I also made new contacts from all different kind of countries and learnt lots about their way of working. A real great experience, which I could recommend to everybody.»
Martina Fuhrer, Business Development Manager, Montreux-Vevey Tourism CVB

Next ECM Summer School

Next year will be held the 32nd ECM Summer School, which will be organized in Thessaloniki, Greece, from August 25-29, 2018.

The city of Thessaloniki is a vibrant modern metropolis. Built on the waters of the North Aegen sea, the city and its 1 million inhabitants are renowned for their hospitality and easy going lifestyle. Thessaloniki is a business centre of enormous European and international interest.


The city is buzzing with energy and fresh business ventures and hosts a great number of conferences, seminars and important business events all year round. Thessaloniki is a well-known host of international conventions due to its strategic location and its great range of conference spaces, accommodating small or large meetings perfectly.


Are you a CVB, a CTO, a City Marketing organisation? Join us now!

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