Matthias Schultze, MD of the GCB, talks to Sydney PauldenThe German Convention Bureau (GCB) has made a large investment in time and money to create a new platform from which to launch its marketing into the MICE sector.
I was able to enjoy a very informative visit to the GCB stand at EIBTM 2013 in Barcelona to hear all about it, direct from Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the Bureau. First he established the credentials of the GCB. ‘Germany is Number One in Europe for meetings and conferences – and Number Two in the world, after the USA. In 2012 we were able to show a 23% increase in MICE business compared with 2011. We can now claim to host 3m meetings, attended by a total of over 300m delegates.’
Of course, the majority of delegates are Germans at locally organised events, but it still left no doubt that the GCB’s views on marketing a destination are worth listening to.
It is becoming popular, nowadays, to match a destination’s own industry and knowhow with the topics to be featured at conferences. GCB has transformed that approach into a fine art. ‘We identified’, Matthias explains, ‘six extremely important sectors of industry in which Germany excels. These are: Transport & Logistics, Medicine & Healthcare, Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals, Technology & Innovation, Financial Services and Energy & the Environment.’
This appeared to be a step ahead of most destinations, but for GCB it was just the beginning. ‘We next’, Matthias went on, ‘examined the major market sources. We were able to identify concentrations of these same sectors of industry in the UK, USA, Russia and China.’
GCB now had matches and could thus enrich their approaches for conferences with tailor-made bids that could show event organisers exactly what extra benefits they could gain from choosing not only German venues, but venues in areas of very special interest to their potential delegates.
‘By locating their conferences in the most suitable regions’, Matthias expanded, ‘they could attract participants, have access to speakers of note and also to site inspections that would enrich the whole event experience.’
This approach is encapsulated in a brochure entitled ‘Germany. Expertise’. Its subtitle is ‘Key industry sectors – the ideal environment for meetings in Germany’s states and regions’.
In addition to textual explanation of the successful approach, the brochure contains fascinating and detailed maps. The first shows exactly where in Germany are the main clusters of industry in the six sectors. Further maps and chapters then probe more deeply into each of the six separate sectors in turn.
‘Of course’, Matthias adds, ‘this is an effective means of reaching into key markets, but it is absolutely essential for it to be supported by the right facilities in the destinations. The MICE buyers are assured that Germany offers value for money and that we have the infrastructure to support all their needs.
‘GCB was founded 40 years ago by the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railways) and Lufthansa. We now have 400 members, including the Convention Bureaux of 30 German cities. This support is of major importance when ensuring that we lack nothing when compiling statistics and when marketing Germany as a MICE destination. We can point, for example, to over 7,000 different facilities for meetings.’
Pictured: Matthias Schultze, Managing Director, German Convention Bureau