European Cities Marketing is promoting and linking the interests of more than 125 members from more than 100 major cities in 32 countries. The association provides a platform on a pan-European basis for cities to perform better in their convention and tourism activities through the exchange of knowledge and best practice within a city marketing framework. European Cities Marketing is the organizational association of ECM Summer School.
ECM Summer School is an unmissable learning opportunity for all professionals working in the meetings industry. Established in 1986, it has become THE essential seminar event for people working in all sectors of the European conference marketplace.
The 25th ECM Summer School will take place in Cracow, Poland, from 27th to 31st August 2011.

Editorial of Kongres magazine decided to interview the past course director of ECM Summer School Ms. Elisabeth Hansa and future course director Mr. Pier Paolo Mariotti.

Can you please briefly introduce the Summer School?

Elisabeth Hansa: The Summer School is now in its 24 anniversary. We started 24 years ago in Austria with our first Summer School that had 20 students. Now we are very proud that in general we have about 50 to even sometimes 75 students. And that number is our limit.

What is the purpose of the school?

Elisabeth Hansa: Is to give beginners or people who started in the meeting industry basic introduction to this industry – how do I work in it, who do I work with, who are my clients, how do I start up my own  business, … We try to spread the content as much as possible. At the beginning it was just for convention bureaus but through the time it turned out to be open for the other sectors in the meeting industry

Pier Paolo Mariotti: The content is basic but also very solid. All the speakers are really experts in their field. The students are able to get a very good grasp of the overall situation – a bird view of the meeting industry.

Elisabeth Hansa: One of the big advantages of the Summer School always was a big faculty. The students really have the possibility to interact and ask questions, talk to the faculty. The faculty members are from different cities, countries so that students get really brought spectre of experience.

Was the Summer School always moving around different cities?

Elisabeth Hansa: Yes it was always moving around. I cannot remember all the cities but it was always moving around within Europe.

Is there any policy about moving around Europe? Looking for new markets?

Pier Paolo Mariotti: Yes, it is a policy, but at the same time students go everywhere. New destinations are preferred, booming destinations. If the city is hosting it is an opportunity for the entire county to participate. This year we are hosting lot of people from Nordic countries. So it is very important that school is moving around.

Why Tampere?

Elisabeth Hansa: First, we do not want to go to the capital cities. We try to go to the secondary cities, cities that are really willing to host the Summer School. Tampere tried to host it for many years. I think that it was a really good choice. To come back to the Nordic counties was very important. Last two years the Summer School was held in the Southern region (Bolzano, Opatia).

What is the difference if we compare this year with last year?

Elisabeth Hansa: We changed a little bit of the content for the Summer School. Not completely but a little bit. As I said before more and more people are coming from hotels, PCOs … and not only from convention bureaus. Therefore we try to change, adopt our content to this fact and try to implement the point of corporate meetings, incentives, and so on – subjects which are more important for hotels or convention centres.

Which are the reasons for visiting your school? Is it just about learning or also networking?

Elisabeth Hansa: I believe the networking part is equally important as the learning part, since people tend to stay in this industry a long time. You can meet these people again and again at work shops, trade shows,…
You can always exchange ideas and information.  You have a source of information that you can use, that is why I believe that networking is equally important.

What do you think of SE Europe as a congress destination?

Elisabeth Hansa: The Summer School was held at least twice in that region. I believe the region is wonderful and we would like to come back one day.

What about future plans for the Summer School?

Pier Paolo Mariotti: Our industry is moving very fast and therefore the school has to adopt. Our most important idea is that education is a good tool for cooperation. The meeting industry is evolving very fast so the school has to adopt all the time. Finding new topics, new activities is our main goal, since the structure and format of the Summer School are very good already. I sent all my staff to the Summer School in the previous year. The idea is that education is definitely fundamental. In our industry you need to constantly update information.

How do you see the future – will there still be need to meet or everything will be on line?

Pier Paolo Mariotti: Formats are changing. Sometimes it is possible to have interaction between virtual meetings and face to face meetings. But face to face meetings are always so relevant and important so I believe they will always be there. Using new technology just improves face to face meetings. Technology is helping us out because we are so busy.

What about next destination for the Summer School?

Pier Paolo Mariotti: It is a very nice destination, very important destination. It has been declared a Unesco sight so it is a part of the world heritage. It is very important for political aspect in Poland too. Krakow is THE city. It is an amazing young city. About 10 000 students are study there at two universities.

If I would be one of the potential students for the Summer School next year – which would be 5 most important reason to participate?

Pier Paolo Mariotti: 
•    I can meet my colleagues from all over Europe;
•    I can learn from the best teachers you can find on the market;
•    I can learn from the practice;
•    All the information that I get is really updated;
•    The program is very interactive.

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