Destinations need a new marketing approach for meetings: MCI’s Cerezales

THE existing marketing model to attract meetings is ā€œbrokenā€ and destinations must adopt new methods, according to MCI Group COO for Asia-Pacific, Oscar Cerezales.

ā€œCurrent strategies are not client-centric. Corporation and association event planners (have) a completely different approach,ā€ he said in the new Global Report on the Meeting Industry which was presented by the UN World Tourism Organization at its headquarters in Madrid last Thursday.

Calling for destinations to ā€œreinvent the gameā€, Cerezales noted that almost 90 per cent of destination management organisations/convention bureaus ā€œcannot (make) quick decisions as they belong to regional or national tourism bodies… therefore the number of levels of bureaucracy can make decision-making extremely complicatedā€.

Cerezales also observed that destinations are still using traditional marketing strategies that ā€œhave not been updated for 20 yearsā€ with limited use of new technologies or ā€œsmart and social media campaignsā€.

He suggested that destinations could develop a brand for meetings and to ā€œposition themselvesā€ as how the Scandinavian members of ICCA had done by claiming to be the worldā€™s first sustainable meetings region.

There are now too many destination management organisations/convention bureaus, he opined, leading to a ā€œstretching of resources (that) does not provide a high level of efficiencyā€.

He also urged destinations to be better funded and more technologically friendly.

According to Cerezales, destinations will eventually become ā€œthe owners of eventsā€, a change that will coincide with ā€œan explosion in the number of eventsā€ that will be ā€œsmaller and more targeted to suit the locality, which often means they fly under the radar of destinations where the focus is big is bestā€.

In introducing the report, UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai said that with business events accounting for a quarter of travel, it was important that the sector be seen ā€œnot just as a product but a collection of many productsā€ as it links with other trading sectors in a local economy.

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