Second- and third-tier cities making a bid for association meetings must play up their key industries and benefits these economic pillars can bring to related trade associations, said destination representatives.
At a presentation session titled Second Wave Cities during IT&CM China’s Association Day last Thursday, panellists Allen Hu, chief representative, Shanghai office of the Suzhou Culture and Expo Centre Co and Izumi Shimada, director, marketing, sales and business development with Fukuoka Convention & Visitors Bureau spoke of their destinations’ readiness for business and associations events while also admitting that more had to be done to raise their profile among international meeting planners.
Shimada said: “Fukuoka is the third top performing international meetings city in Japan, but global awareness of it is not high. International meeting planners usually think of popular cities like Tokyo and Osaka first.”
To win over association meetings, Shimada said the CVB brings attention to Fukuoka's thriving technology, energy and medical sectors, and connects local commercial and academic organisations with foreign trade associations to facilitate knowledge exchange.
For Suzhou Culture and Expo Centre, Hu said the venue takes the initiative to “understand the key industries in Suzhou and China, and the activities and objectives of important local academic institutions”.
“By doing so we can approach the right international trade associations and show them the benefits of hosting their next global meeting in Suzhou,” he said.
With international access into Suzhou dependent on two airports in Shanghai, a 90-minute journey away by car or 22-minute by high-speed rail, Hu added that his venue also works with trade associations to study attendance potential as a result of the event location.
“We understand that international air accessibility has a bearing on attendance numbers,” he explained.
When asked if offering attractive subventions – financial support from the host city government or CVB – could nudge associations over to the destination, Shimada said: “Fukuoka does not have endless funding so we prefer to play up the strengths of our local industries and use our ability to facilitate exchange of knowledge, culture and business for visiting association delegates.”
Agreeing that dangling monetary help is no longer the way to win association meetings today, Kitty Wong, president of the World PCO Alliance, said: “Subventions used to be among the top three considerations of association meeting planners. But for some associations today, host city choice is based on the proactiveness of the local chapter in taking the lead in event planning and promotion, global accessibility and infrastructure, and the legacy of knowledge the meeting can leave behind."
“A city wanting success will need to work hard to help the association achieve that legacy,” she added.