Three significant dedicated events organised by European Cities Marketing (ECM) took place this fall in European cities in the fields of City Cards, City Marketing and Tourist Information Centres.

ECM provides an exchange platform for Leisure, Meetings Industry and City Marketing professionals. An essential part of the ECM activity – and one of the main success factors of the association – are its Knowledge Groups. These teams of experts focus on specific areas such as City Cards, City Marketing, Digital Destinations, Research & Statistics, Tourist Information Centres or the Meetings Industry.

The 8th ECM City Cards Expert Meeting in Valencia

49 product managers representing 33 leading European cities met in Valencia to exchange knowledge and best practices in an important area of city marketing: city cards!

The event focused on the Digital City Cards & City Cards for Locals with different & inspiring case studies to illustrate these trending topics.

The ECM City Cards Expert Meeting was also the occasion for attendees to share some highlights from their annual City Cards Benchmarking Survey: about 3 million city cards have been sold in 2018, 30% of cities in the ECM City Cards Project are currently running a digital city card and 89% of cities without a digital city card are planning to launch one in the near future.

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Gianluca Camaggio

Gianluca Camaggio, Chairperson of the ECM City Cards Knowledge Group and Sales Manager, Turisme de Barcelona said “Digitalisation is currently a crucial topic for a good part of the city cards industry experts. The City Cards Expert Meeting represents an amazing opportunity for European city cards professional to exchange & learn on the different elements & steps about launching a digital city card. Thus, this particular topic has been developed through different forms during the meeting (parallel session, case-studies) to better meet the participants’ expectations.”

According to Silvia Martinez, from Expedia Group and Expedia Media Solutions, 2/3 of travelers don’t have a destination in mind when they decide to take a trip. This represents a huge opportunity for tourist professionals to influence these undecided travelers. Plus, she showed the importance of Gen Alphas (the youngest generation) that is hugely influencing family travel. These insights on the future traveller profile & behaviour, according to their travel planning process, was really eye opening.

The 6th ECM TIC Expert Meeting in Ghent announcing the winner of the ECM TIC Hostmanship Award 2019

76 TIC professionals representing 50 leading European cities met in Ghent to exchange knowledge and best practices on the Tourist Information Centres.

During the meeting, Christina Bonnevier from Gothenburg’s TIC won the 4th ECM TIC Hostmanship Award recognising the quality of her work and professionalism. She won free participation to the TIC Expert Meeting as well as 2 days working at the hosting city TIC.

“Working at Ghent TIC was a great experience in so many ways! I think that one of the best ways to gain perspective on your work is to see how your colleagues in the same industry work. Standing next to them, listening and observing, creates new ideas and recognition that strengthen you in your own work. The staff at Ghent TIC was very generous in explaining how they work, and it was great to see their professionalism and warmth towards their visitors. Participating at the conference has added a lot of value to my work. It made me see a bigger picture of working at a TIC. The prize of the ECM TIC Hostmanship Award couldn’t be better; meeting and sharing experiences with colleagues in Europe, who all cherish the same thing – the visitors in focus!” said Christina Bonnevier.

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The first part of the Expert Meeting was dedicated to case studies, as sharing knowledge & experiences is at the core of the Expert Meetings. Some presentations were from cities that had previously shared their TIC’s new features/development strategy in the previous event’s editions and were asked to come back to provide some update about their respective developments (Aarhus, Amsterdam & Dublin). Tel Aviv also shared their experience on hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2019, in terms of developing new amenities & information points throughout the city to welcome a large number of visitors that this event gathers each year.

After an inspiring presentation from Uppsala on how technology has a special place in their TIC to welcome & serve their visitors, attendees were asked to think of some challenges disabled people may be facing when coming to their Tourism Information Centres, and of some technology innovations that could match & help to meet those challenges. This brainstorm combined two hot topics of the tourism & hospitality industry.

4 Belgium based associations took the lead on an exclusive Accessibility Workshop for the TIC Expert Meeting’s participants. Each attendee took part in 4 different workshops, on Autism, Auditive disabilities, Visual disabilities and Physical and mental disabilities – How to improve TIC’s accessibility and publications with easy-reading texts & contents.

The 1st ECM City Marketing Advanced Masterclass in Antwerp

Participants from 12 different cities took part in the 1st Advanced ECM City Marketing Masterclass moderated by Martin Boisen (For the Love of Place), technical advisor of the City Marketing Knowledge Group. This Masterclass was targeted to City Marketing professionals and other ECM Members working in the field of Research & Monitoring KPIs.

The 19 participants gave deep thoughts on “The future of Metrics, monitoring and KPIs”. Establishing a ‘wish-list’ of metrics and KPI’s to be developed on 3 topics (discussion with participants & experts): Spatial behaviour, Online, Social Media, Sentiment and Image & Perception. A publication on this ‘wish-list’ will be released soon by Martin Boisen.

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Stefan Nöthen, Head of Strategy & Brand Management, Hamburg Marketing and participant in the City Marketing B-Level Masterclass in Antwerp concluded: “The ECM City Marketing Masterclass gives me the opportunity to exchange points of views with my colleagues from other European cities and I think that benchmarking is very valuable for the work that we do”.