SEING IS BELIEVING OR EVEN BETTER, EXPERIENCING IS TRULY BELIEVING
The flip side of the emerging destination coin, however, is the disadvantages. The meetings industry is a buyers’ market and an emerging country is not an easy one to sell, as often neither a meeting planner nor a client has a ready image of the country. Therefore seeing is believing, or even better, experiencing is truly believing. However, there are several steps to be made before we can even come close to that stage.
To begin with, we might have several decision makers in this process, depending on the type of the event we are talking about. To make it easier to understand let’s pretend we are talking about a corporate event and the meeting planner working for the event agency is preparing the proposal for the corporate client, who we call the end client.
Meeting planners are by and large overwhelmed by country, destination, hotel, venue, DMC and incentive presentations. When preparing an offer for the end client they usually prepare a selection of destinations as per client wishes or instructions. As part of this there is usually a place for one or maybe two emerging destinations, but no more than that.
The big question then is which destinations will make it on to this shortlist. I am not talking about a destination or a venue that simply fulfils the technical criteria – I am thinking here about a destination that is completely new for the client. The emerging destination first of all needs to get on to the priority list of the meeting planner, otherwise it will not stand any chance of being part of the proposal. The same story comes into play with the end client – there must be some physical or at least mental connection with the new destination, otherwise there is absolutely no chance of it being on the list of potential hosts for the next event.
Emerging countries do now have national, regional and local convention bureaus behind them, and their governments and the national industry understand their crucial role in the development of the product and their international promotion. There are also the venues and agencies who are properly proactive in bringing business to the country. If all these stakeholders are working strategically and hand in hand then there is the framework for a long-term success for all of them.
Fundamentally, though, the meetings industry is a people business; people listen to and believe other people who they know or who they have some close connection to. For emerging destinations that are not so well established in the international environment it is even more important that they have many supporters and champions who can help them build their networks.
For all of this and for the development of the image of a new destination content marketing is an essential tool. When meeting planners and end clients are constantly receiving high quality information about opportunities in a new country supported by positive feedback of events organised by reliable international clients, then success becomes more and more inevitable.
The messenger, the one who delivers the message to the client, also plays a key role in this process. The message has a much higher value if it comes from a reliable resource, and often it can even be the decisive factor. Trust can really be the King or the Queen in our business.
I can attest to all of the above experience by working with international partners such as TMF from Germany and Soolnua from Ireland. Further concrete proof of it is the Conventa experience that the Slovenian Convention Bureau organises annually in Ljubljana.