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 TOURIST TOWN MEETING DESTINATIONS
170 years of tourism tradition is based on the positive energy of the riviera and the exceptional natural conditions. This is a great sign for the revival of Opatija congress tourism, which has recently relaxed slightly in comparison with the hyperactive Croatian Adriatic competitors. The city already boasts the entire infrastructure, but it is beaten mostly by an unfavourable image and somewhat slow adjustment to the new congress market conditions.
Over the last decade tourism in Styria has undergone a swift development. Schladming is a big skiing centre, the scene of the best slalom races of the season as well as other internationally renowned sports competitions. Besides that it is now also an excellent congress venue and a place that will stay fondly in the memory of every guest. We can say without a doubt that the tourist development of Schladming is a success story and we are certain that that will also be the case in the future.
As a recognisable brand Bled stands out among other congress destinations in the region. It most closely resembles Dubrovnik, which caught up with the pre-war congress tempo by taking the right steps. Currently the biggest disadvantage is the lack of a clear focus towards quality rather than mass tourism. This is most clearly seen in the restaurant, night life and shopping offer. As a result the current perception of quality is lower than with largest competitors. In Bled the saying ‘Less is more’ is very true. The potential for the meetings industry is immense, it just needs to be harnessed in the right way.
The historic laurels of the leading Adriatic congress destination are slowly starting to gather dust. Portorož is still in hard competition with Dubrovnik, Opatija and new Adriatic congress destinations that are developing all the time. A rich congress history, tradition and the existing infrastructure are a competitive advantage. The meetings industry is by no means a tree to sleep under and simply harvest its fruit of wealthy congress participants.
If at the destination you have owners who have clear goals and who look at congress tourism strategically, then in a short time you can do a lot. It is possible to revitalize the old factory premises and build a superior conference hotel. Maistra in Rovinj has undoubtedly left its mark. Taking into consideration the geographical location of Rovinj as one of the closest Mediterranean congress destinations for Central and Western Europe, the future of this industry is guaranteed.
6. KRANJSKA GORA
The most important winter sports centre in Slovenia has among the Slovenian ski resorts the strongest brand, which is known worldwide mainly due to the Cup Vitranc. It has stayed n the company of places like Kitzbuhel, Cortina, Garmisch and Wengen for many years. In recent years, Kranjska Gora successfully defied the green winters and economic hardship of key hoteliers. Slowly and steadily it has also developed a summer tourist offer, which enables the development of congress tourism.
7. VYSOKÉ TATRY
The High Tatras are an extraordinary surprise and one of the undiscovered European incentive jewels. In the shadow of the much more notorious Zakopane range in neighbouring Poland, they offer at least as broad an incentive offer, which is nicely complemented by a very favourable financial package. As the main tourist resorts are close to mountain resorts, ski resorts and scenic walking trails, it is a totally perfect destination for more sports-inspired incentive groups. We recommend organising events in the spring and autumn months, when places aren’t flooded with the annual mass winter tourist flows.
8. SAVINJA VALLEY
Upper Savinja Valley is one of Slovenia’s natural jewels of. Its tourism offer is undoubtedly getting more diverse with every passing year, but still many of its foreign guests are not getting a comprehensive source of information about the full range of events and activities offer. The valley can be compared with the Soča Valley, which in many respects has a similar congress offer and the advantage of a functioning destination organisation (LTO Sotočje). Both valleys are two uncut diamonds of the Slovenian meetings offer that we believe will sooner or later be discovered by European event organisers.
9. SOČA VALLEY
In the narrow micro-region the Soča Valley is currently not facing increased competition. On the Italian side in Friuli Venezia Giulia, incentive tourism is underdeveloped and the development of the product in Brda and Nova Gorica is also at the beginning stages. A more serious competition is in Istria and neighbouring Carinthia, as well as within the wider Slovenian Julian Alps.
None of the more than 1,000 Croatian islands has such karma and recognition as Hvar. It is definitely a “must” Croatian destination, right behind Dubrovnik. It is the perfect getaway destination, as the distance from the mainland gives it a touch of boutique smallness.
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.