Coopetition or Co-opetition (sometimes spelled “coopertition” or “co-opertition”) is a neologism coined to describe cooperative competition. Coopetition is a portmanteau of cooperation and competition, emphasizing the “petition”-like nature of the joint work.

CHRISTOPH TESSMAR, Barcelona Convention Bureau

Q: What is the primary role of your co-opetition with Vienna?
Both Convention Bureaus have the same role: we have decided to approach several associations together in order to present a joint bid for both cities. We are coordinating the bidding process with the partners in our cities in order to collect all the offers for the needs required in the RFPs.

Q: How did the partnership start?
Back in 2007 both cities showcased in China’s CIBTM trade fair, with a joint promotion campaign for both destinations with the aim to save costs and time for customers by promoting the two cities sharing the same stand. As the experience was very positive we decided to extend the Barcelona-Vienna brand to the United States. Several commercial visits were carried out showcasing the attributes of both destinations and this was very well received by the US customers. The idea of joint promotion strategies addressed to associations started in 2012.

Q: What are the common values that bring two destinations together?
The highly attractive synergy of this Austrian-Mediterranean positioning has been very well received. It is a synthesis between two urban destinations which offers a good sales promotion in terms of Marketing. Barcelona and Vienna are two leading destinations, one with the Central Europe tradition and the other with the charm of the Mediterranean. Both can offer to the customers the guarantee of a successful and profitable event.

Q: What challenges are you facing at the moment?
A novel trend, with several major medical associations in Europe reducing the number of locations where they hold congresses, which is a good opportunity for our joint promotion. The main challenge is to be selected as hosts for all these congresses and we have achieved it with several important ones.

Q: Lessons from co-opetition with Barcelona so far?
In the demanding field of the Meetings Industry in times of globalization everybody wants to differentiate himself. Good sales arguments and new ways of promotion are very welcome in this highly competitive market, in which many destinations are competing to attract business. The return of this new way of promotion and this collaborative effort aimed at resource optimization is evident with the achieved results.


  • Your definition of co-opetition?
    We are not competitors; we are partners with some exceptions. One can help the other and strength is in unity.
  • Short info about destination: Why do you think that Barcelona is a good place to do MICE business?
    First of all the great infrastructure of the city. The offer of new and different venues is growing year by year. Connectivity is improving day by day. For example, the metro from the airport to the city centre will start in February 2016. Barcelona has the capacity to host any kind of event. Barcelona is continuously working on innovation, especially on technology. All relevant partners of the MICE sector, such as the Barcelona Convention Bureau, Hotels, Venues and service providers, are like a big family and working very well together. That makes life for customers much easier. But the most important thing is that all attendees will feel great in our wonderful city and have a lot of fun.
Christian Mutschlechner, Director of the Vienna Convention Bureau


Q: What is the value of strategic co-opetition?
We wanted to generate value for our customers and marketing-wise, especially in overseas markets, work together to show clients that there are two top destinations in Europe.

Q: What makes your project with Barcelona significant?
This cooperation/coopetition started many, many years ago when both cities chose the same representation company in New York. It was logical that sooner or later our sales people would go together on sales trips and then our people learned about the infrastructure etc. and were able to also sell the other destination to clients. Later on we also expanded this marketing cooperation into Asia with a common booth at CIBTM in Beijing, or we went together on sales trips to China and India. And finally we managed three or four years ago to propose our destinations together to clients and clients picked up this new idea and booked both cities in a row for their meetings, either exclusively or in a three/four year rotation, where Barcelona and Vienna were clear and the remaining open years are tendered to other destinations.

Q: Who are the players in your network and how can you collaborate to maximize value?
The key is the right chemistry between the Directors of the Convention Bureau – it helps a lot. It is based on confidence and respect, keeping in mind that we are competitors but that very often we can achieve more together. And this cooperation is not only executed in a positive way by our staff, but also the key suppliers in our cities, especially the conference centres.

Q: What will you do to sustain competitive advantage over time?
It is an ongoing fine-tuning and talking to make sure that the service level remains high and wherever possible becomes even better.

Q: Lessons from co-opetition with Barcelona so far?
It was and is a great idea, especially if you achieve concrete business results.


  • Your definition of co-opetition?
    Coopetition maximizes the benefits of a partnership based on respect that there will always be competition.
  • Short info about destination: Why do you think that Vienna is a good place to do MICE business?
    Excellent meeting infrastructure, excellent accessibility, enough hotel rooms in the city and hotels understanding the meeting business, politics supporting where needed and a good, client-focused convention bureau.