hen 65 young Europeans recently came together in London for a conference, their focus was above all on one issue: Europe. At the 33rd Summer School staged by European Cities Marketing (ECM) from August 24 thru 28 of this year, the delegates talked above all about the benefits of Europe, they discussed the challenges, grumbled about Brexit, determined things in common and detected differences. On Sunday, the international meeting industry's junior staff, after having become better acquainted with each other on Saturday, spent ten hours with intensive learning – nine lectures, a roundtable discussion and two workshops –, sat down for dinner and set up first contacts into the international meeting industry.
The groups were quite diverse with the European association welcoming delegates from across the world: there were faculty member Nalan Emre (IMEX Group), Kelly Verbouw (NH Hotel Group in Gent), Vyron Myrgiotis (Athens Convention Bureau), Anna Marzec (Convention Bureau Gdansk) and Lonwabo Mavuso (South African National Convention Bureau) sitting together and working their way through a bundle of interesting new contents.
65 students visited ECM‘s Summer School in London.
The day started early at 08:00hrs with Christian Mutschlechner giving his presentation on 'The Meetings Industry – definitions, players, tools'. The former director of the Vienna Convention Bureau has been active in this particular business for the past 40 years and he is most qualified and competent to give his audience an insight into the industry, its players, tools and its basic conception. Barbara Jamison with London & Partners demonstrated how to organize city marketing, and Sam Johnston from the Convention Bureaux of Ireland gave tips and hints on acquiring customers. In the afternoon, Heike Mahmoud representing the Congress Center Hamburg introduced listeners to the domain of RfPs (Request for Proposal), followed by excursions into the world of storytelling, social media, exhibitions and associations. The expertise gained in the afternoons was then later polished in intensive workshops.
These workshops were perfect platforms for the young talents to interact with lecturers and other participants. Klara Rogina has been working for the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre for one year and wanted to better understand this industry. "Here's where we learn the basics, we can extend our network and can also pick up how our senior colleagues work," she said. "At the end of the day, I in my function as project manager must make sure my customers are satisfied; I'm curious about new and different strategies." Anna Amvall on the other side has been active for Malmö Tourism since 2001, but only since recently has she been cooperating closely with the local Convention Bureau. She wanted to "better understand meetings, conferences and their visitors" to be able to provide quality services to business travelers in her role as Project Manager Hospitality. Rebecca Hogg is in the employ of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) and considers this Summer School an opportunity to interact with fellow members and to absorb new trends and developments.
The expertise gained in the afternoons was later polished in workshops.
During dinner on Sunday evening, discussions in the international groups were first centered on RfPs ("Some customers don't really expect an answer"), how to accommodate groups from Asia ("Do you know how to handle these?") or job specifics ("Do you travel a lot?") before the particular esprit of the meeting community began to spread: there were stories told about a family vendetta, one member narrated Turkish origins, Germany as country of birth and Brighton as residence, one member often helped in the family’s restaurant, and another dinner guest volunteered that he speaks eleven languages, some of these featuring click sounds.
And that's precisely the moment the ECM Summer School without further ado met the expectations raised in advance: "The ECM Summer School will provide you with great insights into the structure and functioning of the Meetings Industry. You will learn a lot during three days and the more you exchange with others, the more curious you are, the better you will get from the event." ECM achieved that purpose already on the second evening. When the 65 junior talents came together again at 08:30 the next morning – some of these with a tired look around the eyes – they knew well that they had learned a little more about the meeting industry and its particular esprit.