Destinations need a new marketing approach for meetings: MCI’s Cerezales

THE existing marketing model to attract meetings is “broken” and destinations must adopt new methods, according to MCI Group COO for Asia-Pacific, Oscar Cerezales.

“Current strategies are not client-centric. Corporation and association event planners (have) a completely different approach,” he said in the new Global Report on the Meeting Industry which was presented by the UN World Tourism Organization at its headquarters in Madrid last Thursday.

Calling for destinations to “reinvent the game”, Cerezales noted that almost 90 per cent of destination management organisations/convention bureaus “cannot (make) quick decisions as they belong to regional or national tourism bodies… therefore the number of levels of bureaucracy can make decision-making extremely complicated”.

Cerezales also observed that destinations are still using traditional marketing strategies that “have not been updated for 20 years” with limited use of new technologies or “smart and social media campaigns”.

He suggested that destinations could develop a brand for meetings and to “position themselves” as how the Scandinavian members of ICCA had done by claiming to be the world’s first sustainable meetings region.

There are now too many destination management organisations/convention bureaus, he opined, leading to a “stretching of resources (that) does not provide a high level of efficiency”.

He also urged destinations to be better funded and more technologically friendly.

According to Cerezales, destinations will eventually become “the owners of events”, a change that will coincide with “an explosion in the number of events” that will be “smaller and more targeted to suit the locality, which often means they fly under the radar of destinations where the focus is big is best”.

In introducing the report, UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai said that with business events accounting for a quarter of travel, it was important that the sector be seen “not just as a product but a collection of many products” as it links with other trading sectors in a local economy.

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