EVALUATING AND DEFINING ‘THE BEST’ IN THE BUSINESS
The Editorial Board of Kongres Magazine has completed the evaluation process of meeting destinations, which has been carried out continuously since 2010.
With travelogues we literally cross the boundaries of space and time and absorb specific knowledge about meeting destinations. Each travelogue is an experiment of an objective interpretation of the current situation through the eyes of our reporters.
Awards will be granted to the Top Destinations at Conventa networking dinner and award ceremony held at CD Congress Centre.
TOP 10 REGIONAL MEETING DESTINATIONS
Dubrovnik is the flagship of regional tourism and is the first association of meetings organizers we meet daily. It has still not reached its full potential. It is the closest in the region to renowned Mediterranean convention destinations Cannes and Monte Carlo. It has the biggest potential in the area of corporate and other incentives; after the completion of the convention centre also in the area of international associations conventions.
It is difficult to compare Salzburg with it much larger brother Vienna, yet it offers all the characteristics of a congress destination and a cosmopolitan mix of visitors. For current logistics and transport restrictions of the city medium sized congresses with up to 2,500 participants are best suited. In this area they will offer you a superior product wrapped in superior packaging. Unlike the congress sister Ljubljana, which shares a lot in common, Salzburg has no problems with branding and visibility.
Klagenfurt is a likable and pleasant alpine congress destination that is reminiscent of Gorenjska region in Slovenia in many respects. Not surprisingly, cooperation between regions has been developing lately, however we also note some competitiveness in the field of meetings industry. It is interesting that closeness to the border represents an advantage and an opportunity for majority of meetings industry suppli ers. Key advantage of Klagenfurt is definitely fairy tale like well maintained and pleasant environment and quality offer and professionalism of suppliers.
Villach is the second largest city of Carinthia and its tourist sights attract an enormous amount of visitors. Villach has also become established as a small Silicon Valley in the Alps, with an international character reflected in the town’s infrastructure.
The main reason for a meetings industry in this part of Austria are the numerous incentive programmes, all of which you can engage with in a very clean enviroment. The most charming aspects are the Carnithian way of life, cultural diversity and a general sense of casualness.
Piran is probably the most inspiring Slovenian meeting destination. In the past, the people living in the city were inspired to discover things and to make more out of them, and therefore today Piran is full of artwork, marvellous facades and creative MICE stories. At each step exceptional encounters are waiting to be discovered and what they need is only a bit of a boost and some extra energy.
Maribor is one of the most promising meetings destinations in Slovenia. The city is historically, ethnically and culturally extremely interesting. It gives an impression of familiarity and warmth. Unfortunately the city lacks an attractive story that would also attract foreign event organisers. I have a feeling that the lack of knowledge in the field of meetings industry stems from the influence of the past and industrial thinking. Maribor has everything that is necessary for development. On the other hand people are not fully aware of the potential the meetings industry could have.
Conference organisers are always looking for new and different destinations. Zadar is the logical choice, as it has enormous potential of natural and cultural conditions. Moreover, it is a cool destination with a specific urban rhythm. Currently, the main drawback are congress facilities that only allow smaller events as well as congress infrastructure which is not yet built and in function. Once everything is in place, Zadar will certainly be an important congress player.
The extended region of Kvarner has the huge potential to become a leading meetings destination. Individual congress cities together with the islands of Opatija, Lošinj and Cres are the heart of a very rich product. It is a complex offer, appropriate for associations as well as corporate events. Comparing Rijeka to Split it’s possible to see just how fast the tourist-congress transformation can happen. With its Mediterranean – industrial character Rijeka has no competitor in the Adriatic; the urban scene is so very alive and contains a rich cultural offer. Plenty of congress stories are just waiting for discovery.
Šibenik very rarely raises any association with the meeting industry. In the process of transition from an industrial city into a tourist destination it has not yet asserted its image among competing cities. Despite this, it is a fact that it has excellent conditions and is somehow considered to be a hidden jewel of the Croatian congress offer. For ease of accessibility it may be a suitable location for small association conferences as well as a variety of incentive programmes.
It is a unique world in which the Latin elements from the period of Roman Empire are mixed with those of Lombard, Venetian, Austrian and Slavic. History touches you at every step, which is the perfect backdrop for a variety of innovative incentive programs. Udine has a rich quality of life, being one of the most economically developed Italian region. The city is perfectly accessible via highways, rail and air. There are plenty of hotel facilities in the city and the surrounding areas, which are a true shopping paradise with superb cuisine and some of the best Italian restaurants with Michelin stars. In the middle of one of the most important Italian wine regions you can organize you event in wineries, renovated industrial buildings or palaces. The whole offer is quality linked by the Friuli Venezia Giulia Tourist Board.
KEY CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION
Destination evaluations are based on thorough analyses of different criteria. They have developed from interviews and surveys with over 1,200 event organisers from across Europe, work that showed us that congress destinations are comparable and helped us to form a unique model of evaluation. A mixture of factors that we have been evaluating since 2010 can affect the entire meeting experience for both congress organisers and participants.
During our years of assessment, three basic categories were formed, which are related to the size of a destination. Each category has its own standards, with important professional and other comparable criteria also playing a major role.
Main groups of criteria have been divided into subgroups as listed below.
- Min. 15 years of international experience in the meetings industry
- Knowledge of international standards and specific knowledge of control standards (DIN (Deutsche Industry Norm), and others;
- Knowledge of trends in the meetings industry in both the domestic and international markets;
- Identifying the specific needs and preferences of meeting planners
- Knowledge of all the necessary elements for guest satisfaction (technical specifications, catering services, additional services, security etc,).
In addition, our examiners have a checked reference in the field of quality assurance of their own work in the meetings industry, which provides an unbiased view on behalf of the client and the maximum reliability of the method. Our hidden meeting planners are objective, fair, accurate and reliable, as well as being well-organised and paying attention to detail.
MEETINGS EXPERIENCE INDEX
With different destinations we evaluate over 70 criteria that are described in detail below. They form the final destination grade or the ‘MEETINGS EXPERIENCE INDEX’, as we like to call it. The best destinations are annually recognised on the main stage of the Conventa Trade Show.
A. Natural and cultural factors
Factors that are vital for the development of the meetings industry, because events are usually focussed on the more appealing destinations. We grade everything from regional diversity, climate conditions and social attractiveness to architecture, historical sites and the attitude towards continual development of the market. The whole picture gives us an image of the diversity of a destination and is an important criteria for its attractiveness.
B. General and transport infrastructure
This includes analytic assessment of infrastructure and public realm tidiness, which reflects the quality of living for residents and consequently also for congress guests. In this section we test everything from destination safety to road, air and rail connections. Other important criteria include public infrastructure, the network of financial institutions, internet access and a healthy and respectful attitude towards the environment.
C. Tourist infrastructure
Without appropriate tourist infrastructure, the development of congress tourism is nearly impossible. The assessment shows if there is an appropriate quality and accessibility of hotel capacity, restaurants, cafes and nightlife. We also grade the recreational/sport offer as a basis for incentive programmes. On top of that, the cultural offer, tourist information and destination management are also given full assessment.
D. Meetings infrastructure
For many the most important part is grading the congress capacity. In this section we evaluate the standard palette of congress providers, congress hotels, congress centres, exhibition centres and focus on their quality. We want to know the number of appropriate 4 and 5 star hotel room providers and, above all, that the incentive offer, business attitude and professionalism of congress providers is supportive of congress services and the activities of their local convention bureau.
E. Subjective grade
Within the remit of subjective grading are a number of combined criteria that include political stability, destination safety and the attitude taken to congress tourism. We also assess the ratio between quality and price, the competitiveness of the destinaton, local hospitality and the destination’s overall image. A lot of this boils down to the personal experience of the assessors.
F. Marketing buzz
Despite impressively fulfilling the other criteria, proactive marketing can be the element that sorts the good from the great. This is why we assess the development of the entire marketing infrastructure in the field of direct, digital, social and traditional marketing.
An added value of our project it that we can then offer recommendations and suggestions on the further positive development of the destinations reviewed.
After evaluation, the destinations are then assigned one of five categories as follows:
- 5 excellent meetings destination
- 4 quality meetings destination
- 3 recommendable meetings destination
- 2 average meetings destination
- 1 so-so
MTLG 2016 – CONSTANTLY UPDATING METHODOLOGIES
Every year the editorial board of Kongres magazine aims to further refine the Meetologue methodology in order to assure the most authentic score reflecting the genuine situation of congress destinations.
In 2015, we added the NUMBEO index of quality of life to the existing criteria, but as in recent years the quality of congress destinations has become heavily dependent on security, this year we went a step further and have included the most relevant assessment, the Global Peace Index, in the comparison. This index has classified countries according to 24 factors, including the prevalence of violence, organised crime and military expenditure. Norway, a country known for promoting peace in the world, is at the top of the list and closely followed by New Zealand and Denmark, with countries like Iraq, Sudan, Israel and Russia at the bottom. The research carried out for the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is associated with The Economist weekly, was supported by among others the Tibetan Dalai Lama, the former US President Jimmy Carter and the US economist Joseph Stiglitz, all three Nobel Prize winners for peace.
Also new is a more realistic application of the ICCA methodology. When classifying destinations we took into account the ten-year average number of events and participants, which was compared with the actual results for the year 2015. In doing this we have produced a scale that we believe reflects the actual situation. More information about this part of the analysis can be found in Kongres magazine.