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Be a facilitator for urban innovation

European Cities Marketing (ECM) had headlined its 10th annual conference "DistURBANce in Travel". Its members as Destination Marketing Organizations have a leading part in the domain of city marketing and are striving to overcome the conventional distinction between tourism and conventions.

 en years after merger between the trade associations European Federation of Conference Towns (EFCT) and European Cities Tourism (ECT), the successor European Cities Marketing (ECM) was in sound shape for the annual conference 2017. Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, managing director of Graz tourism and city marketing, had returned as president, the number of members had gone up by eleven percent to now 103, and the 200-seat Elafiti Conference Hall at the Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik was packed. "As we all say: content is king. We are glad to see concrete results after investing time, resources and energy in our conferences," is how Flavie Baudot explained the record attendance from May 31 through June 2 of this year. The ECM's Acting Head emphasized: "Conferences are the core of our activity and the place where people can learn best practices - but also what not to do." She wants to establish the ECM annual conference as "international City Marketing Conference" and seeks to win cities also outside Europe as new members.

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Dubrovnik opens for ECM its Revelin Fortress for the galadinner.

Baudot finds it kind of difficult to distinguish membership between tourism and convention, as most of the convention bureaus are in some way affiliated to tourism boards. "That’s why the merge made sense 10 years ago", said Baudot. "Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) are now taking on a leading role in city marketing." The ECM General Assembly reacted in its Strategy 2017-2020 by appointing Eduard Pieter Oud from Amsterdam to third vice-president for City Marketing to support the two vicepresidents Petra Stusek of Ljubljana for Leisure & Tourism and Dr. Bettina Bunge of Dresden for Meetings Industry. The new partnership with Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) strengthens this strategy, which delighted Washington-based DMAI-President Don Welsh. In his welcome address, Welsh referred to turbulent times and remarked "never in my career I have more seen the importance of what we do: bringing people together."

ECM has adjusted itself to "The new normal" and opened its convention with the publication of its 
"ECM Manifest: The Future of DMO"
. In eight principles such as „Partnerships are the answer to all your problems, prepare to work with all partners as Universities – think beyond tourism!“, the paper seeks to improve the competitiveness of cities and urgently urges these: "Be a facilitator for urban innovation".

Joanna Bunker with Airbnb presented her thoughts "DistURBANce in Travel", but her keynote address didn't really present any new insights, apart from the impressive stats on 160 million visitors in 65,000 cities in 191 countries. TripAdvisor's Justin Reid had everybody's interest aroused with "The bots are here", but he actually spent only three minutes on the issue, in particular his company's "tripadvisorbot".


Dieter Hardt- Stremayr, President of European Cities Marketing and Managing Director Graz Tourimus, about Destination Development Marketing & Management Organisations.
tw: After a break of four years you ran again for the presidency. Why?
Dieter Hardt-Stremayr:
I hardly remember the time when I was not involved in the Board of ECM. As Vice-President I was not really gone. But the role of a President is not to compare with any other position. Quite some people tried to convince me, to do it again.

Considering the turbulent times and the transformations that cities are facing. In a few sentences: How does your strategy look like?
More and more cities do need a holistic approach. We need to address not only our visitors who come to our cities, we need to address also our residents to make sure the quality of life gets even better with more visitors and we also do need to address the businesses because as many fields as possible should benefit from our work. We make our members and their staff better ‘city-marketeers’ in the widest sense of the work. And finally we will position ourselves as a stronghold in free world. The more people travel, the more they learn, the more they respect others, the better the world.

Ten years after the merger of EFCT and ECT: What is your conclusion?
We did the right thing. We chose the name European Cities Marketing, because we knew that the wider term will be the right choice because of the massive changes on the markets and in the communication. Marketing for and management of a city cannot be limited to a niche. Tourism does not only mean benefits for the tourism industry. Meetings do not only mean benefits for the meetings industry but for the local universities, for the business location and much more. Our DMOs turn into Destination Development Marketing & Management Organisations. That has to be reflected in our association as well.

But how do you meet the requirements of both ECM stakeholders, tourism offices and convention bureaus?
It is getting even more challenging, because we have to think about services and know-how in the field of city marketing like ‘Placebranding’ or how you can organize yourself financially stable and efficient to fulfill all needs of city marketing. We do understand more and more that many fields seem to belong only to one field; for instance only to leisure and tourism or meetings. It is no coincidence that IMEX and IBTM are strong strategic partners! We do have our experts in specific fields who go very deep into daily operations in order to learn from each other.

More information was given in the presentation "Flying future" by Fabrice Valentin, Head of Airbus Marketing Research & Marketing. His Airbus Global Market Forecast anticipates flight traffic volume will double over the next 15 years. He let data dance to illustrate his ideas on "Future of your visitors": passenger figures for Chinese (red balls) are on the rise along the time line, while those for North Americans (blue balls) are declining. Fazal Bahardeen with CrescentRating Muslim drew listeners' attention to 1.6 billion Muslims as another growing travel population in his session titled "Hello Halal". In 2016, 121 million travelers originated from Muslim countries, that figure is estimated to rise to 158 million in 2020.

Three of the 14 plenary lectures focused on conferences and events, and only one of the 15 parallel sessions. In his presentation on "Get ready for the future of international meetings", German Convention Bureau‘s managing director Matthias Schultze enthused his audience with his research project on Future Meeting Space. He explained his visions of smart cities and intelligent infrastructural concepts. Per Ostergaard Jacobsen's session "Big data rocks" had a close look at the smart revolution of events. He examined his case example, the Roskilde Festival, not only as rock festival, but also as a City Live Lab. In cooperation with IBM, his Copenhagen Business School developed a Festival App, which monitors all visitor movements in order to improve security, the course of events – and cleanliness of toilet facilities.


The 31st ECM Summer School will be held in Dresden, Germany, from 26 to 30 August 2017. The ECM Summer School is a learning opportunity for all professionals working in Convention & Visitors Bureaux, Tourist Offices, Convention Centres, Airlines, Hotels, DMCs, PCOs and meeting planners. 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

Heike Mahmoud is convinced that "Disturbance in Travel" is a hot issue throughout the entire congress industry. The director of the Berlin Convention Office considered a number of the presentations to be very interesting, such as "Flying Future" or "Hello Halal", but they had also been kept in very general terms. "I think it would be interesting to know which influence these topics have on the meetings industry and what we in Europe can do to cope with them". She is well aware that CVBs must show more commitment to put their issues on the agenda. In hindsight, she approves of the merger between EFCT and ECT. "By acting jointly, we've achieved quite a lot, and our strong voice as ECM is now being heard on the markets."

"I certainly wish for a stronger focus on MICE issues", said Michael Otremba, Hamburg Convention Bureau's managing director. There had in fact been lots of talk about innovation and interaction, but he missed participative formats actually making contents more tangible. He had liked the open atmosphere, the intensive talks and productive networking. "It felt as if we were all part of a big family", Philipp Geusendam confirmed. The Convention Sales Manager with Mainzplus Citymarketing similar to other visitors characterized the program sequence as rather conventional. He believes the thematic priority on leisure and/or tourism had been strongly influenced by the list of participants, in which only one of ten attendees had the word "conference" in his or her company title. Geusendam: "If we were a single-purpose Convention Bureau without any tourism interface, we would reconsider our membership." To advocate his interests, he joined the ECM Meetings Industry Steering Group, which thrilled chairperson Dr. Bettina Bunge. The ECM Vice-President Meetings Industry has set herself ambitious goals and hopes for support by new congress-minded board members such as Barbara Jamison from London and Bettina Reventlow- Mourier from Copenhagen. Bunge is all for the merger: "Over the past years, ECM has matured into a European association, which in equal measure discusses strategic topics of the meetings industry, tourism business and urban marketing and finds problem- solving approaches to current challenges, all this headlined "Meet, Share, Grow".  KERSTIN WÜNSCH

Meetings Industry@ECM

Dr. Bettina Bunge aus DresdenPHOTO: SVEN DÖRING
Dr. Bettina Bunge aus Dresden
Dr. Bettina Bunge, Geschäftsführerin der Dresden Marketing GmbH und ECM Vice President Meetings Industry, plant folgende Maßnahmen zur Stärkung der Meetingsindustrie innerhalb von ECM:
● Neuaufstellung des ECM-Boards am 31. Mai 2017 mit Vertretern der Meetings Industry: Barbara Jamison (London), Bettina Reventlow-Mourier (Kopenhagen), Goran Pavlovic (Opatia), Pier Paolo Mariotti (Bozen), Bettina Bunge (Dresden)
● Intensivierung der Kooperation mit IMEX und IBTM
● Beteiligung an der Kampagne „The Iceberg“ des Joint Meeting Industry Council (JMIC), um die Öffentlichkeit über den „Value of Meetings“ zu informieren
● Steigerung der Mitarbeit von Convention Bureaus an der ECM Meetings Industry Steering Group
● Pressearbeit für die ECM Convention Bureaus
● Integration von MICE-Rednern in ECM-Konferenzen, wie Richard Torriani der MCI Group zu Hybrid Meetings
● Bewerbung der ECM Summer School für die Tagungsbranche vom 26. bis 30. August 2017 in Dresden, auch für Nicht-Mitglieder
● Entwicklung neuer Konferenzformate für die ECM-Jahrestagung 2018 seitens des Boards und des ECM Seminar Steering Committee