volkan ataman ace of mice
Photo credit: Tourism Media Group

Kongres Magazine talked to several organizers of boutique trade shows on the nature of their business, as well as on the recent Corona virus and its effect on the business, the prospects, and solutions.

VOLKAN ATAMAN, President of Tourism Media Group

Volkan Ataman has been the chairman of Tourism Media Group for 12 years, company which organizes ACE of M.I.C.E. Exhibition by Turkish Airlines, ACE of M.I.C.E. Awards and owns the leading publication of MICE industry in Turkey, MICE Magazine. ACE of M.I.C.E. Exhibition is the leading MICE industry trade show of Turkey and the surrounding region gathering the industry under the same platform for 7 years now. Volkan Ataman has several consultant roles within the industry as he has been working as the Main Consultant to the Presidency of Association of Turkish Travel Agencies for MICE.

Q: What does differ your trade shows from the competition?

Our exhibition which has been held since 2014 is to be held in Istanbul, which connects the two continents and is one of the most important hubs in the world. We have a professional team working on all the needs of our incoming exhibitors and buyers, as well as a great supporter providing transportation to the most points in the world such as Turkish Airlines. It would not be right to call ACE of MICE Exhibition by Turkish Airlines just an exhibition. In addition to offering commercial collaborations, b2b meetings, we offer trends and innovations in the MICE sector with world-renowned speakers for 3 days with rich conference programs. We present our business connections in an enjoyable and experiential way to our exhibitors and buyers with the AMEzing Party, Bosphorus tour, gala dinner and speed network events we held during the exhibition.

Q: How do you market and promote the host destination?

Destination marketing is a long journey that every country takes to increase its development and economy. We work hard throughout the year to promote our own destination to the professional buyers from all over the world, especially in the provinces of Antalya and İstanbul. We welcome professional buyers from more than 50 countries abroad without any charge for introducing themselves to the event companies and bringing business to our country. We carry out promotional activities throughout the year with our partners in Istanbul and Antalya CVBs, as well as our media partners that we value very much. In the same way, we have partnerships with many industry associations.

Although there may be a partial transition to digital, in MICE I do not think that there will be a sharp transition by nature of the activities.

Q: What are the conversion statistics for your shows (conversion rate)?

It is not possible to say a certain figure about conversion statistics. You can meet the customer during the fair and then you can have a cooperation 3 years later. The event sector is a very comprehensive sector.

Q: Many fraudulent activities online are trying to trick trade show guests into getting money and ID from them by promising them data or other fake services. How do you tackle the problem of safety that arises with this kind of criminal activities online?

We use systems that are encrypted and accessible only to us for all our transactions online. It is very important to employ a professional team and the quality of the systems you use. As you mentioned, unfortunately we have started to  hear about many fraudulent activities of that type especially in recent years.

ace of mice
Photo credit: Tourism Media Group

Q: To which event in the meetings industry do you look up to and why?

All of the meetings, congresses and events are actually within our working area. We also have small-scale events to keep the network alive throughout the year. Our major focus is of course always on the international exhibition which is one of the biggest and most comprehensive in the world. We welcome guests from  more than 50 countries. Providing security, participant satisfaction, destination marketing and many other topics require work for the exhibition, where we host 15,000+ people all year.

When all these negativities are over, our fair will open its doors for the 8th time in 1-3 April 2021

Q: Without a doubt, the current situation with Corona outbreak is one of the biggest challenges this industry has ever encountered  … how are you planning to save your trade show during and after the Corona crisis?

 

Our tourism income in 2019 was 34 billion 520 million dollars. If we think that 30% of the world’s tourism revenue is obtained from the MICE sector, we can say that in Turkey MICE is a sector which provide return of more than $ 10 billion in total. Due to the Covid 19 virus, we see that almost all of the events in March, April and May have been cancelled, and this is the very period when the MICE industry is normally supposed to be most active. We can say that the 3-month loss is about 2 billion 600 million dollars. However, we should keep in mind that, with its strong and active structure, Turkey is a country which has the ability of getting out crises rapidly.

We can say that, in Turkey, the whole process has been managed quite successfully . Our Ministry of Health has taken very strict measures since the first case of virus appeared in the world and the process has been managed very successfully under the leadership of our President. Especially, we have very strong MICE destinations such as Istanbul and Antalya. Of course, it is a difficult process, but when all these negativities are over, our fair will open its doors for the 8th time in 1-3 April 2021.

Q: Are you planning to stay the same size or to expand or …?

As long as all these negativities are left behind, we believe ACE of MICE Exhibition by Turkish Airlines will continue being a self-developing fair that develops every year. But still, It is early yet to talk about the growth targets for the fair, which we will hold on April 1-3 for 2021.

ace of mice
Photo credit: Tourism Media Group

Q: By your opinion, how will the industry’s character change or develop after the crisis?

It is not difficult to predict that there will be serious decreases in the number of participants of the events in the Post-Corona period. Even if the epidemic ends, it will take time for people to get out of its psychological effects. However, although there may be a partial transition to digital, in MICE I do not think that there will be a sharp transition by nature of the activities.

Q: What steps should be taken (on local, regional, state, political, economy level, etc.) in order to preserve the industry and its employment?

I believe that long term steps should be taken, not period-based. It is important to strengthen destination marketing activities, and also to implement a crisis and communication management plan in order to prepare for extraordinary situations and finally to create the perception that the country is safe.