Graduating in Geophysical Engineering from Istanbul University and taking her Master’s degree both in Contemporary Management Techniques from Marmara University and European Integration from the Middle East Technical University (METU), Hicran Özbük started her working life in 1995 and has been working in management positions in different sectors, such as textile-fashion, pharmaceutical, logistics and tourism. She has also worked abroad in cities such as New York and Tashkent.

Q: Does your city have any strategic subvention plan for conferences?

Clearly, subvention requests from international associations have been on the increase recently. As one of the leading congress destination, we are working strategically on the future subvention packages for attracting more congresses and conferences, especially those connected to international associations. The important point is to make the local bodies involved in the subvention planning process as the competition from new and emerging meeting destinations, as well as from existing key competitors, is increasing enormously. Our support strategy is not financial, although we offer other forms of incentives to international associations. We believe that being proactive and creative, and also expressing a great interest to win more international conferences and meetings, are the most significant points.

Q: What kinds of subvention does your city offer and for what kind of events?

Destinations should have resources to provide some subvention support for pre-qualified meetings, conventions, incentives and trade exhibitions, like welcome receptions at the city hall, outdoor advertisement in the city, fast tracks and welcome desks at the airports and public transport for delegates (free or discounted).

As Istanbul CVB and our partners, we offer the following support for qualified meetings and conferences:

  • Discounts on venue costs
  • City receptions
  • Contribution to marketing and PR
  • Providing both digital and printed brochures and materials for the conferences
  • And finally, airfare tickets either discounted or complimentary by Turkish Airlines.

We have identified some criteria to qualify the conference for support:

  • Event with a minimum of 100 overseas delegates staying at least 2 consecutive nights in local hotels and having at least 3 event days
  • Convention of a minimum of 300 delegates with a duration of a 3 full day meeting
  • Meetings, conventions, incentives and trade exhibitions should be rotational (regional or international) in nature applicable to international business events.

Q: What is the most important part in applying for subventions?

The most significant point during the application process for subventions is that the destination should clearly outline the level of support, to whom the support services should be provided and the profile of the meeting planners. The destination should evaluate the qualification of associations through analysis of the economic benefits gained by the congress. This can be calculated by adding the room nights, total spend value, and other things such as PR, marketing or profile gained as a result of the specific meeting. Besides, the value and the impact of the conference should be measured via the conference content to the specific strengths and contribution to the local economies, especially the knowledge economy and to the conference representatives.

Q: Are subventions the latest big thing in the meeting industry or should they be considered as the very last option for a destination to win an association meeting?

All over the world, there are various subvention programmes that destinations provide to attract international meetings to the city. Obviously, city representatives are aware of the fact that subventions provided to conferences have a strong influence in winning a number of recent bids.

Different case studies belonging to some of the leading congress destinations show great examples of proactive support for their bids to win significant and convenient conventions and other events. It is a unique instrument in the international world of conventions to further strengthen the country’s business meetings brand and to position the destination as one of the world’s leading international meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions destinations.

Although the subventions are the latest attractive point for the meeting decision makers, they are not sufficient or sole criteria to win a business bid. The destination itself should also have natural and cultural appeal to the planners and, most significantly, it should have attractive and appropriate meeting and accommodation facilities, as well as easy connection.

Q: Tell us something about your latest success story and about subventions from your city?

Recently, we hosted the European Design Awards in the city with the collaboration of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism. We supported the event with a gala dinner in a very unique and authentic mansion and intense marketing and PR activities both internationally and nationally. Besides, we have been carrying out bidding processes for various scientific and rotational meetings, and during the process we offer different kinds of subvention packages including a welcome cocktail, airport transfers, museum passes, free/discounted flight tickets and promotional and marketing activities. Providing these kinds of support makes us a very strong destination in this highly competitive environment.

What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
There are plenty of things that come to my mind when I think of the bravest thing I have ever done. However, I would definitely say parachuting would be one of the bravest things that I have experienced in my life so far.