Q: What is purpose behind the campaign “A tale of two cities”?
It is natural for meeting planners to have the idea that İstanbul is only a heritage destination and that they may not have used as the base for a meeting or event before. Istanbul is known as a popular culture and leisure destination though not so well known as a flourishing and successful MICE destination – and this is where we aim to break down misconceptions with our a dynamic marketing campaign ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.
The concept behind the campaign is to create awareness of Istanbul as a flourishing and successful MICE destination Istanbul highlighting both its charm and capacity – by breaking down misconceptions with the ‘two cities’ slogan to demonstrate the breadth and variety of Istanbul as a destination, – old and new – highlighting the city’s high-tech modern infrastructure juxtaposed against its monumental history to metaphorically reflect a city of contrasts.
We have created this campaign to strengthen city’s position in our already existing markets and to reach out new regions around the world, to project a clearer message about our city and to highlight and personify Istanbul’s contrasting styles in a huge variety of venues. It offers a glimpse into the huge variety of venues and accommodation on offer for any size of meeting and incentive, from the historical and stately to the cosmopolitan and cutting edge including 7 convention centres, 3 exhibition centres, 49 universities and many unusual venues to name just a few.
With the beginning of our new global campaign, we have also extended our visual brand identity across various social media platforms through up-to-date content, presence and interaction, with presence now on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.
Q: Are you happy with the state of meetings industry in Istanbul?
As the being in the World’s Top 10 Congress destination, simply the answer is yes but to clarify: As Istanbul CVB, we have produced our first compherensive research and statistics of both national and international state of congress and meeting industry in İstanbul. We have concluded a detailed report including not only international congresses but also national tradeshows, fairs meetings and congresses in general. This first 360 degrees report we estimated the income of the congress industry to İstanbul and the report shows the significant impact of MICE Industry in our city. We can easily say that meeting industry has vital role in İstanbul’s economy. Thus the city’s international meeting industry representing a top 10 location for conferences in the world, is a vital player both for the Istanbul and the Turkish economy which makes the current state of meeting industry a success story for our city. On the other hand, besides international congresses İstanbul is hosting approximately 150 national congresses per year and over 200 tradeshows which also have a huge impact on the city’s economy.
In addition, we are striving to make Istanbul the first go-to destination in international meeting industry and continue to work towards the city increasing its market share of the international MICE scene.
Q: Where is Istanbul’s meetings industry going?
The number of meetings both nationally and internationally has been increasing rapidly. For instance, the number of international congresses has been increased by 280 % in the last 10 years and we believe that the increase will continue in the future. İstanbul holds the high percentage of the international congresses within the country which also makes İstanbul the only city in the country that has been ranked in the World’s Top 10 Congress Destination since 2010 by ICCA.
To look at the big picture, Opportunity Report of PwC explains İstanbul’s current condition as one of the most dynamic cities. As one of the most dynamic and diverse economies in Europe, a fast-growing, increasingly important gateway between Turkey and all prominent, booming economies its cosmopolitan character makes it an ideal nexus for global business services. Nevertheless, we witness the same increase and dynamism in the meeting industry. Istanbul has a full calendar of up-and-coming meetings and congresses for the next few years, not to mention the many sporting events and festivals that it hosts. We do not anticipate any change in outlook in the coming future – Istanbul’s profile and participation in international meetings continues to grow and be positioned ever more positively. Therefore, our outlook also remains very positive and we expect Istanbul to rise in its rankings for our industry.
Q: How are meeting planners habits changing?
In a growing and evolving world, I can easily say that there is a constant change in all industries as well as in the meeting industry. Therefore, with the need of adaptation the meeting planners habits or in other words needs are changing constantly from technology oriented solutions to venue selections, from RFPs to level of experience expectations. Its not only choosing a destination like before, morelike selecting an experience or looking for a value. A couple of weeks ago, I was impressed (but not suprised!) to see a report that indicated that a small percentage of meeting planners uses social media to decide on a destination. Social media has a vital role in the meetings industry, it gives us a great opportunity for promotion, networking and even for on-site communication and has the power of ‘World of Mouth’. Besides the technology, not to mention the importance of enviromental issues also became one of the most important aspects of choosing a destination for meeting planners.
The meeting industry trends shows that the destinations are preffered for smaller conferences compare to previous years. Luckily, Istanbul is an ideal destination for both larrger and smaller conferences. However, as the changing trends in result, the meeting planners requirements has been switched to alternative/unusual venues where they can experience ‘out of the box’ meetings and uniqueless. To give an example on this, I can easily say that most of the times we receive the following question from meeting planners much more than usual: ‘What is unique about your destination?’ and this shows that the requirements of RFP’s became more value added for meeting planners.
Q: How is the industry changing in order to accommodate this?
The industry is changing continously the reason as we and all industry partners needs to respond the constantly changing habits or needs. If we look at the ‘sustainbility’, the industry has been improved and still improving regarding on the needs and expectations. As the industry we are trying to increase not only the quantity but also investment for environment. For instance, Bureau Veritas and the Turkish Hotels and Investors Association (TUROB) came together to give a green light to The Hotel Greening Project in order to move the environmental agenda forward with İstanbul’s hotels by encouraging them to implement environmentally friendly strategies. The important point here that I would like to highlight is that the pilot project came to life during the 5th World Water Forum’s ‘Green Forum Initiative’ to raise awareness on hotel greening techniques and also to encourage participating hotels to take the first step toward greener accommodation. İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) is also one of the major authority giving great importance to a sustainable environment. As consciousness for the environment grows day by day, environmentally managed hotels are receiving more and more interest. Tourism is one of the most consuming service sectors. So, with the motto “Conservation & Use”, the hospitality sector should be the leader of sustainability in tourism and environment.
Q: What’s the importance of meetings industry trade shows like IMEX?
Indeed, important! To develop strong social relationships, in spite of all developments in technology and usage of it, social relationship will always remain crucial and we believe in the power of face to face meetings. A big gathering not only with our potential decision makers/hosted buyers but also with the industry to learn and share so for both business and educational perspective is important.Furthermore, tradeshows are significant in order to attract association congresses from different regions and to showcase our destination with more wide aspects direct to associations and meeting planners. As İstanbul CVB, we are aware of the importance of the trade shows at both national and regional levels to be able to enhance İstanbul’s competitive level in the international market.
Q: What future do you wants to see for Istanbul meetings industry?
Congress and meeting sector become powerfull since 1990s in Turkey and Istanbul. Now having Istanbul in the 8th place in the world is an important success but we still needs to take Istanbul to up level. Keeping up with the new trends will revive our business. I personally think that networking and business partnerships are very important. Istanbul CVB and other promotion corporations work is not enough on their own. That’s why all of the players on this sector must come into the front at the international arena. Companies must participate to the education programs more and even organize these programs themselves. We are targeting to be a Top 3 Congress destination in the world.
As the Convention Bureau, surely we aim to increase number of international congresses in Istanbul and we are also trying to have more ambassadors. In general, Istanbul’s strategies for the meeting industry should be incorporated in the city’s economic strategies and we should create a joint effort with intellectual capital of the city, especially universities. I also strongly believe that meting industry is more than the economic contribution; the meetings are bringing people together to discuss and to produce and fostering the dialogue between people which has a great value in today’s world.
Q: What time do you like to be at your desk?
At 9 o’clock promptly
Q: What’s your management style?
I would call my management style as “democratic”, I happily allow my team members to participate in decision making. I prefer just to give guidance but it also depends on the situation and my team member. Some are asking more supervision whereas some others are taking more responsibility, so my style may change accordingly ☺. I will be more than happy if I can delegate more.
Q: What does your support team look like?
All female…. dedicated, crazy about details, hardworking and passionate about Istanbul
Q: What would your key management advice be?
Encourage your team to work on the problem, be supportive and provide clear feedback