These days I was happy to hear Ljubljana is in the running to host the conference of the World Anti-doping Agency – WADA 2013. Ljubljana is competing with cities as Dallas, Johannesburg, Kuwait City and Sochi. Till the completion of stadium and arena Stožice, we couldn’t even imagine hosting such an event, due to the lack of capacities.
Unfortunately our candidacy will probably be unsuccessful, since such events can only be organized by public-private consortia, which are able to gain, finance, organize and carry out events of this size. If a consortium like this cannot be founded we will have to withdraw our candidacy.
If Ljubljana were to endure this tough battle, we would be visited by 3,000 conference participants and well as numerous high political representatives. The conference would have a multiapplicational influence on the national economy, since the guests with higher budgets use services of a higher quality and spend more than most classic tourists. They often prolong their stay and become ambassadors of Slovenia for free.
Stožice stadium opens many new chapters for the meetings industry. Even though there are still many contradicting opinions on the meetings industry, there can be no doubt the industry creates many-sided effects. It is no surprise the trend of organizing meetings at sports stadia first appeared in the United Kingdom – probably due to extreme media interest in this kind of venues and their business-mindedness.
So, the key issue of mega-conventions is the existence of a public-private consortium. In order to make such a consortium function, a consensus on the significance of the meetings industry and its multiapplicational influence needs to be made. If Ljubljana secures the organization of the WADA conference, the media exposure will be similar to that of the EU presidency. Tourism in Ljubljana faces a challenge in stimulating the marketing of events of this magnitude. Different practises are used abroad. The possibilities generated by the industry are numerous – from tax reliefs to increased tourist tax for guest. The most radical ideas in the USA aim at granting concessions to private partners, who are then responsible for the mega-convention.
The solution lies in the marketing model where everyone in the supply chain of the meetings industry is involved. This chain will also encourage competitiveness in quality of services, since large scale projects like this require a top-notch project team.
Hotel capacities and air-accessibility of Ljubljana are still an issue. The participants in the meetings industry will have to develop a more active policy and share a part of the responsibility in developing new airline connections to ensure better accessibility.
The investment into Stožice stadium, for some still a controversial investment, holds within a hidden convention dimension, which should be used. How many conventions we are able to bring to Stožice, depends on all of us, who really make our living from the meetings industry.