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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

118 MEETOLOGUES (108 AWARDED GRADES, 10 CITIES COMING IN 2021)

25 DESTINATION VISITS EACH YEAR

4 DESTINATION CATEGORIES (XL, L, M, S)

75 EVALUATION CRITERIA TO DETERMINE THE MEETING EXPERIENCE INDEX

36 XL MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host more than 2,000 congress attendees

26 L MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 2,000 congress attendees

26 M MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 1,200 congress attendees

30 S MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 500 congress attendees

WHAT IS NEW EUROPE?
THE BEST OF THE BEST BETWEEN VENICE AND BAKU AND MOSCOW AND ISTANBUL

The answer to this question is something of an unsolved conundrum. A clear definition of New Europe doesn’t exist, the most general definition being that these are the countries of Eastern Europe that were once behind the Iron Curtain. Technically, this means 24 countries of Eastern Europe, adding Greece and Turkey to them. In our Editorial, we include the fresh, energetic and lesser-known European destinations in New Europe.

MEETING EXPERIENCE INDEX:
Is the final score given to a destination after going through 75 strict evaluation criteria. It places the destination among 118 other meeting destinations from Europe and the world.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

WHAT IS THE MEETING EXPERIENCE INDEX OR MTLG?

A decade ago, at Toleranca Marketing agency, we developed a system of evaluating congress destinations with the help of an original matrix dubbed the “MEETING EXPERIENCE INDEX” or simply MTLG – MEETOLOGUE. Since the inception of evaluating destinations, we have been diligently using the reference system to present a realistic offer of congress destinations through time. Up to now, 118 destinations have been evaluated, including every important congress destination of the South East and New Europe region.

The system is a systematic, structured and analytical process, encompassing numerous factors labelled as important by event organisers. We dare say that our evaluation is the most comprehensive and complex destination grading system. The evaluation is not based solely on the number of congress events taking place at a destination but also delves into analysis holistically.

In our opinion, the analyses of destinations conducted so far had the following drawbacks:

– The comparisons were focused on one product; predominantly these were events of international expert associations. A typical example is the ICCA Country and City Ranking.
– The comparisons did not take into account the maximum capacities of destinations. Apples and oranges were often compared, even though there are buyers for various destinations with varying capacities and more importantly, buyers searching for different products. The corona crisis has furthered this gap.
– The comparisons did not take into consideration the possibility of a crisis happening, and consequently, analyses could not be conducted during the time of crisis.

Therefore, our methodology is complex and addresses all segments of the meetings industry and all key MICE products. Furthermore, the methodology is resilient to crises.

Congress travelogues or meetologues that have been evaluated by the Meeting Experience Index, have thus throughout a decade become a cornerstone for event organisers when deciding and choosing a destination. They have become the bedrock for choosing destinations because of the methodology’s logic and the benefits the system brings to all stakeholders. We are also convinced that our evaluations enable destinations to improve in areas where their competitors have the advantage.

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WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF COMPARING DESTINATIONS?

Our grade is primarily a tool to improve the competitiveness of individual destinations. It offers destinations an external view of their offer with the desire to drive constant growth and help destinations achieve excellence. As the process is systematic and continuative, through time, the improvement of an individual evaluation criterion can be observed. Destinations use our methodology predominantly because they wish to become or stay competitive worldwide.

The purpose of the research is also to ensure suitable qualitative and quantitative data that can be used in the field of strategic development or preparing a marketing action plan.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Each destination is evaluated based on fieldwork combined with extensive research of individual criteria. This approach enables us to get a realistic picture of the situation. Furthermore, we are obliged to actuality, reality, transparency and objectivity. Each year, the marks and congress meetologues are revised and corrected with up-to-date information sent to us directly from the destinations themselves.

A total of 118 destinations from the wider region of New Europe and beyond are included in the categorisation and evaluation. The various categories give event organisers a spectrum of choices to decide on a destination that suits their needs. A category is thus a guideline for what type of event a particular destination can host from the aspect of logistics and event capacity. Our categorisation includes an array of criteria, whereas the grading system of indices represents the foundation to classify the destinations into four destination tiers.

XL CONGRESS DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host more than 2,000 congress attendees
The premier category features destinations that are the biggest European congress destinations, offering superb congress infrastructure and outstanding air travel accessibility. The aforementioned destinations are predominantly major international crossroads for air travel.

L CONGRESS DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 2,000 congress attendees
The congress infrastructure and air accessibility of these destinations enable the organisation of congresses for up to 2,000 attendees.

M CONGRESS DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 1,200 congress attendees
Perhaps the most heterogeneous category, the M category boasts regional capitals and larger tourist cities.

S CONGRESS DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 500 congress attendees
The last category is full of smaller tourist destinations where congress activity is a secondary activity during the low tourist season.

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NOVELTIES FOR 2021

The corona crisis has largely digitalised the meetings industry sector. Consequently, the habits of event organisers have changed radically. Thus, for 2021, we have prepared an array of novelties that will enable our benchmark to reflect the situation on the market.

1. Nomad List Overall Score
You are probably wondering what digital nomads have in common with the meetings industry. After careful analysis, we have concluded that the criteria assessed by the Nomad List are akin to that of digital events organisers. In our opinion, event organisers will move their events to digital nomad-friendly destinations.

The overall score contains various criteria ranging from internet connection speed, air quality, safety, English speaking and quality of life. The latter is measured through various indicators, as well as living expenses and visa policies. For these reasons, we will add the Nomad List Overall Score into our final mark for 2021.

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2. A new addition to the maximum capacities of destinations
The maximum capacities of destinations will be complemented with the following information:
– Number of studios for digital and hybrid events
– Average internet speed when organising an event in Mbps

Both of these segments have become pivotal during the corona crisis and are often topics of inquiry by event organisers.

3. ICCA Index
ICCA could not prepare their annual report for 2020, as live events did not take place. Hence, for the 2021 index, we will take into account their ten-year average scores between 2009–2019.

4. ACI
Similarly, the ACI index is unrealistic due to limitations on air travel. Therefore, for 2021 we will use the average scores from previous years for individual airports.

MEETINGS STAR CERTIFICATE
The best destinations are traditionally announced at Conventa, where winners are awarded special accolades, while the remaining destinations receive an official certificate that they can use for their own marketing purposes. Conventa will take place at the end of August this year.

“Ten years ago, when we started preparing the congress travelogues, we couldn’t possibly have foreseen that our methodology for evaluating destinations would have become such an important reference point for meeting planners. As of today, we have published 118 travelogues of meeting destinations, all based on hard graft and solid fieldwork. Our unflagging enthusiasm for this has demonstrated that we have been setting quality standards that are also being recognised by the wider international industry public through the Meetings Star Awards. The Meeting Experience Index has established itself as a reference standard. Moreover, I am proud that our project reflects the actual state of destinations, which is appreciated by countless professional event organisers.”

Gorazd Čad, Editor in Chief

FAQ 2021

We have collected the answers to some of the most common questions you ask us about the Meetologues and Meeting Experience Index. If you do not find an answer to your question, ask us a new question. We will be happy to answer it.

FAQ: Why should congress destinations be evaluated in the first place?
The answer to this question is multi-layered. Our purpose is to discover and promote the best destinations. At the same time, we want those destinations that strive to become the best to see themselves realistically. Our in-depth analysis enables destinations to tackle challenges and start improving swiftly and effectively. Numerous destinations have already done so, and we look forward to seeing their improvement. Our mark is not a critique but rather an encouragement for destinations to become better.

FAQ: How are individual destinations directly involved in the process?
Our process is completely open and commences with the annual complementation of a destination’s maximum capacities. The information is provided and overseen by representatives of destinations to portray a realistic situation. What is more, destinations are informed about their results, which are coordinated before publication if needed. Since the inception of the evaluation ten years ago, we have thus not received a single complaint regarding the final mark.

FAQ: What are the steps of evaluation in the current year?
In 2021, the evaluation will take place according to the following steps:
– 31.05.2021: Updating all the information about individual destinations
– 30.06.2021: Updating the scores from A to F (From Natural Factors to Marketing Buzz)
– 15.07.2021: Updating the Additional Destination Indicators for 2021 (ICCA Index, ACI, etc.)
– 15.08.2021: Declaring the results for 2021

FAQ: How do you really evaluate individual destinations?
The destinations are evaluated based on fieldwork done by one of our assessors and thorough research of individual criteria to get as close as possible to the real situation. In addition, we are committed to reality, verifiability and objectivity. Every year we review and re-evaluate the destinations according to the new information that the destination representatives provide.

Ljubljana Meetings Star Award 2020
Photo credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

FAQ: How did you get the idea of preparing the Meeting Experience Index?
We dare to claim that we were the first to develop the new genre of Meetologues, in which we discover new meeting destinations based on extensive field research. In doing so, we try to write without “unnecessary baggage”. We want to get closer to objective situations, so our assessors use a special matrix, which we named the Meeting Experience Index. This is a reference system that we have been using from the beginning and allows a real comparison of the destinations over time.

FAQ: Why do we need such an assessment of destinations?
Meetologues have become a strong reference point over the past decade for decision-makers as well as for the meeting planners when choosing destinations for their events, in particular, because of the Meetologues’ logic and the benefits they bring to all of the stakeholders. However, we are convinced that our evaluations are objective and helpful to planners while at the same time being a helpful tool for enabling destinations to improve in areas where the current situation falls short of the competition.

FAQ: Why is the evaluation important for the destinations?
Our evaluation is primarily a tool for improving the competitiveness of individual destinations. It offers an outward look at their destination to continually improve and achieve excellence. As this is a systematic and contingent process, the progress of the individual evaluated criteria can be monitored over time. Destinations use our methodology primarily because they want to become or remain globally competitive.

FAQ: What differentiates MTLG from the other benchmark studies?
It is a systematic, structured and analytical process that covers several factors defined as important by event organisers. We dare to claim that this is the most complex assessment of destinations, which is not based solely on the number of events and conferences in the destination but is analytically much deeper. We are proud that our methodology triggers positive changes in destinations and has become the standard.

FAQ: Why do you use different destination categories (XL, L, M and S destinations)?
A total of 118 destinations from the wider region of New Europe are covered in the categorisation and evaluation. With the help of different categories, we enable event organisers to choose a destination that suits their needs. Therefore, the category is more guided by what kind of event the individual destination can host from a logistical point of view and the general capacity that it offers. Our categorisation includes a combination of criteria, the sum of evaluation points of indexes is the basis for classifying destinations into four categories.

FAQ: What does the term New Europe mean?
The MTLGs were the first to introduce to the international markets the countries of South-Eastern, Central and Eastern Europe through convention programmes, which we often rank in NEW EUROPE. Before, all the countries of Eastern Europe or the former Eastern bloc were described with the term New Europe. Despite numerous stereotypes, the region boasts exceptional conditions for congress tourism: stunning history, rich cultural and historical heritage, excellent accessibility, and affordable acceptance. Many new congress centres and hotels and creative solutions make NEW EUROPE a fresh and desirable meeting destination.

FAQ: What does the ACI index refer to?
Using the SEO NetScan connectivity model, the report provides indexes for direct, indirect and hub connectivity based on both quantitative and qualitative metrics. The Airport Connectivity Index is made up of both direct and indirect weekly frequencies, weighted by their quality. This means that this is not simply a measure of how many city pairs there are, or how many direct services there are. For this report, connectivity is a composite measure of the number of destinations, the frequency of services and the quality of the connections (in the case of hubbing or indirect services).
You can check for further details at the following link:
https://www.aci-europe.org/policy/connectivity.html

FAQ: Why do you use the Numbeo index for several evaluations?
Because Numbeo is the largest online database that does not depend on the media or the lobbies and is co-created by portal visitors. Above all, we use it because we checked the Numbeo data in the field and we found out that the data reflected the actual situation as well. Furthermore, because the value of the methodology has been recognised by the world’s largest media. We are also proud that the idea originated in the Balkans. The author of the methodology is the genius former Google engineer Mladen Adamović from Serbia.

FAQ: Are you checking the Numbeo indexes in the field?
To ensure that all data for individual destinations is actually checked in the field, and in case of major deviations, we also adapt accordingly.

FAQ: How do you evaluate the “Perception on sustainability” criteria?
This grade is connected to the Numbeo Purity and Cleanliness index but equipped with actual measures that destinations need to take in this field.

FAQ: How do you evaluate “Public transport” criteria?
We also evaluate this criterion based on Numbeo indexes (https://www.numbeo.com/traffic). If we take Prague and Vienna, for example, the index for Prague for example in this segment is 110.37, whereas Vienna has an index of 75.17 – the lower the index, the higher the destination positions. A similar difference is seen when comparing C02 emissions, which is 2206 in Prague and 1412 in Vienna.

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FAQ: Why is the ICCA ranking part of the evaluation?
It is the only such annual statistical report in the association segment that has more than 50 years of history of data collection. We are aware of the shortcomings of the ICCA survey since it does not cover all the events taking place at destinations and does not cover corporate or economic-business and intergovernmental meetings and motivational trips, which represent an important part of the global meeting industry. For this reason, the ICCA index is only one of the criteria, but it does give plenty of indications of the maturity of individual congress destinations.

FAQ: How is the ICCA index calculated?
The final results for the current year are ranked according to the grade from 1 to 5. Specifically, the first and the second-ranked destinations on the ICCA ranking score 5, destinations that are ranked below 320 places get a score of 1.02.

FAQ: How can we independently check the quality of each rating?
We already upgraded the entire methodology last year with the benchmarking system, which we perform for individual destinations, and we named it MTLG BENCHMARK. With our methodology, we save you a lot of valuable time, which you would otherwise have spent on comparing it with your main competitors.

FAQ: How do you rate the Tourist Information Centres?
This grade is based on actual visits to your information centres.

FAQ: How do you assess the professionalism of the meetings industry?
This segment grades the responsiveness and professionalism of individual providers and is checked through actual RFPs and offers. I could probably write an entire book about it, so if you have any questions, I will gladly give you some more information. I believe this segment carries the biggest room for improvement.

FAQ: What is the carrying capacity of individual categories of MTLGs?
The new categorisation highlighted that, depending on the supporting capacity, destinations can be divided into four categories that are framed based on the maximum number of participants that can be accommodated without encountering any major logistical turmoil or complications.

XL MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host more than 2,000 congress attendees

L MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 2,000 congress attendees

M MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 1,200 congress attendees

S MEETING DESTINATIONS
Destinations that can host up to 500 congress attendees

FAQ: How is the Numbeo Quality of Life Index calculated?
The Numbeo Quality of Life index comprises the following indices:

– Purchasing Power Index (Higher is better)
– Safety Index (Higher is better)
– Health Care Index (Higher is better)
– Climate Index (Higher is better)
– Cost of Living Index (Lower is better)
– Property Price to Income Ratio (Lower is better)
– Traffic Commute Time Index

The data has been calculated using the following formula:
ƒ =Current formula (written in Java programming language):
index.main = Math.max(0, 100 + purchasingPowerInclRentIndex / 2.5 – (housePriceToIncomeRatio * 1.0) – costOfLivingIndex / 10 + safetyIndex / 2.0 + healthIndex / 2.5 – trafficTimeIndex / 2.0 – pollutionIndex * 2.0 / 3.0 + climateIndex / 3.0);

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FAQ: What can we do if we disagree with the mark?
It is best if you invite our assessor to your destination. Considering the corona crisis, organising an online workshop to oversee the results is also a possibility.

FAQ: In what ways does your index differ from the ICCA’s Country and City Ranking?
The indexes are completely incomparable. The ICCA’s statistics are based on the number of events by the international association in a destination. Our methodology, on the other hand, revolves around the comparison of various aspects from the viewpoint of an event organiser’s needs. Not only does our methodology enable a fair comparison between destinations, but it also helps destinations make concrete improvements.

FAQ: Who can be a destination assessor?
Assessors are experienced and carefully selected individuals with a minimum of 15 years of work experience in organising events. All assessors go through an onerous training process. Additionally, we always make sure the assessor is not in a conflict of interest with the evaluated destination.

FAQ: Can the evaluation be sponsored?
Unfortunately, it cannot be sponsored, as that would make us lose our credibility. Since the very start, we have not allowed sponsorship as we strictly followed our methodology. We provide the funds to support the project ourselves. The only permitted type of support is covering the accommodation, travel and daily expenses for the assessor. However, this type of support is strictly regulated beforehand and does not have an influence on the final mark.

FAQ: Have you ever received a complaint regarding the final mark?
In our many years of experience, we have not received any direct complaints regarding the final mark except for one destination. Even in that case, it was a simple misunderstanding that we quickly resolved.

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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

EVALUATION PROCESS

The entire methodology of our work has already been upgraded with a system of benchmarking that is carried out for each meeting destination, under the name MTLG BENCHMARK.

With our complete methodology, we have saved you a lot of valuable time that you would otherwise have spent comparing yourself with your main competitors.


Our process is conducted at two different levels:

1. DESTINATION EVALUATION
(following the MTLG methodology)
At this stage, destinations are evaluated on all the criteria that are covered in our methodology, including 75 competitive criteria. Based on the destination evaluation, a comparative matrix is prepared, which is the basis for the workshop performance of the second stage.

2. BENCHMARK WORKSHOP (with key stakeholders at the destination)
The workshop is designed to evaluate the competitive strengths and weaknesses of a destination and provide the exchange of good case studies in regard to its further development.

We are confident that our objective evaluation will help event organisers and, at the same time, allow destinations to implement the further improvements required to overcome their comparative disadvantages.

For further information regarding the MTLG benchmark, we’d love to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to call us on 00386 (0)1 430 51 04, or send an e-mail to gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu.

Evaluation results for 2021 will be published in the summer issue of KONGRES MAGAZINE, which will be available in the last week of August.