“Start your network now!” Image 1


“Start your network now!”

The Summer School held by European Cities Marketing (ECM) is older than the ECM itself. Established in 1987 by the European Federation of Conference Towns (EFCT), this program was and still is a career kick start in the meetings industry.

ow often do you get the chance to ask all your questions? Experts sharing their insights on marketing and promotion!", is what one student twittered. And that over a period of several days, from August 26 to 30, 2017. 57 students from 19 countries traveled to Dresden for the
31st Summer School 2017 staged by European Cities Marketing (ECM).
These professionals work for convention bureaus, conference venues and hotels as well as PCOs. The majority came from Europe, often accompanied by delegations from Asia and Africa or, as in this year, from the US. "At ECM, we don't think in borders", said host Dr. Bettina Bunge in her welcoming address at the Westin Bellevue Dresden. The CEO of Dresden Marketing GmbH and ECM Vice President Meetings Industry emphasized: "We are open to everyone."
“Start your network now!” Image 2
Group photo: "Canaletto perspective" from The Westin Bellevue Dresden on the historic city center.

ECM Summer School's time-table
 was packed and started on Day 1 with "Learn from the best". The introduction "The meetings industry – definitions, players, tools" was given on Sunday morning at 08:00 by Christian Mutschlechner, head of the Vienna Convention Bureaus and president. Heike Mahmoud, director of the Berlin Convention Office, shared her story of success "How to set up a meeting destination". The students sat at round tables and afterwards asked the panel their many questions. Table 6 wanted to know: How do destinations deal with disturbances such as terror? Heike Mahmoud narrated how Berlin had reacted to the terrorist attack on the Christmas market 2016. Other than in school, the faculty had an open ear also in the evenings, for example at the gala dinner at the Dresden Transport Museum.

On Day 2, the motto was "Meet the clients". While Luca Favetta, formerly Global Events Director for SAP and Hewlett-Packard International and now Regional Business Director EMEA at Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), lectured on the RFP (Request for proposal) and decision-making process for corporate clients, Daniel Waigl, executive director of the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) described this process for associations. Q&A sessions and workshops gave participants an opportunity to go into more detail. Next was Day 3 with "Working on a bid in groups". The students were appointed to altogether six teams to prepare and compile an application for the World Congress of the International Society for Posture & Gait Research (ISPGR) 2019. At the end, each group had ten minutes for its presentation to the jury panel.

“Start your network now!” Image 3
Pier Paolo Mariotti, course leader ECM Summer School: “Start your network now!”


Lone Alletorp Callard (Wonderful Copenhagen), Nalan Emre (IMEX Group), Luca Favetta (Professional Convention Management Association), Paul Flackett (IMEX Group), Cain Leathem (GB Fitness), Heike Mahmoud (Visit Berlin, Berlin Convention Office), Nicola McGrane (IAPCO), Christian Mutschlechner (Vienna Convention Bureau), Miguel Neves (IMEX Group), Colleen Phalen (DMAI), Dr. Julia Schellong (University Hospital Dresden), Dennis Speet (ICCA), Anja Stas (FMCCA), Daniel Waigl (CIRSE), Anne Wallin Rødven (InspirAR) and Kerstin Wünsch (tw tagungswirtschaft)

"Start your network now" is the guiding principle fixed by course instructor Pier Paolo Mariotti right from the very beginning. "ECM Summer School has always been the bridge to a successful career in the meetings industry", said the Eurac Research meeting manager based in Bolzano. "Since 1987 close to 2,000 students have graduated. Many of have become industry leaders". A fine example here is Anja Stas, chief commercial officer of the new Flanders Meeting and Convention Center (FMCCA) in Antwerp. At Summer School 2014 in Genoa, she sat in class, in Dresden she's a member of the faculty. Mariotti took over responsibility for the course in 2010, and he has been making sure that the faculty represents just the right mixture of experience and vision, diverse professions and origins. Despite tackling up-to-date issues like new technology or hybrid meetings, the winning formula has for Mariotti remained the same: "A unique opportunity for young professionals just entering the meetings industry to spend four days with some of the biggest names in our business." This winning formula is absolutely based on his and the faculty members' honorary commitment.

"Sharing and passing on knowledge and experience is in my opinion a key to further develop of our industry", is how Christian Mutschlechner explains his commitment. For him, the ECM Summer School is "a key education for anyone starting in our industry - three intense days give you a perfect basis for the future development." Social media expert Miguel Neves agrees. "In this industry where personal relationships are so important, the ECMSS offers a memorable career kick start." The atmosphere energizes Neves. "I get to spend quality time with a collection of great professionals, the faculty, who openly share their wealth of experience and enjoy interacting with each class." He concludes: "The faculty share knowledge and inspire an international group of industry newcomers who start the course as strangers and come together as friends."

One of those returning to Brussels as friend was Jan Lichota, Manager Association Bureau at Visit- Brussels since November. For him, the ECM Summer School was the best moment to enhance the knowledge in those areas in which he has to cooperate closely with his colleagues from the CVB and to learn from other cities and faculty members. The Summer School matched his expectations. "Seeing the changes of approach of cities towards associations was very interesting, as well as the fact that cooperation for best practices is possible despite being in a very competitive environment." His bottom line: "The openness of the faculty members, the friendliness of all the new colleagues and the fantastic hosting of the ECM team and all the local team and partners in the sunny Dresden made a very cheerful and valuable experience."   KERSTIN WÜNSCH


The Westin Bellevue Dresden

"These students are the future of our industry, and that's why we are delighted to support the ECM Summer School", said Ellen Sattler, Director of Sales at the Westin Bellevue Dresden. "What I found to be most important is the exchange of knowledge between participants from different nations and sectors in the event, marketing and hotel industries and the presentation of differing approaches, e.g. from the perspective of CVBs, associations or the press." As host she presented her hotel with 340 rooms and 21 suites, 22 meeting rooms for up to 850 persons and 20,000 sqms of space in the Bellevue Gardens. Refurbishment of the grand Bellevue rooms with contemporary interior design, technology and LED illumination and of the banquet foyer was completed just in time for the ECM Summer School.