Turkey’s group attractions

Birgül Özden

Birgül Özden talks to ITCM at IMEX

Meeting Birgül Özden is always a pleasure and very informative. President of Destination Business Solutions, based in Istanbul, she is very much a hands-on member of that highly successful family-run DMC. From what she told me on her stand at IMEX 2015, the family will continue to play a big part on the MICE scene into the future. Her daughter, Eda, has become a member of ADME (the Association of DMC Executives) and has been elected to the Board of the World of DMCs.

For around 23 years, their representative in the UK has been Harry Fine Associates. Now Harry’s son, Richard Fine has stepped out of a senior MICE sales position at Melia Hotels International to set up his own organisation, Worldy Sales, to work for a wide range of clients on a project basis and will be applying his experience and contacts to further Harry’s and Birgül’s business prospects.

‘Turkey continues to be a very desirable MICE destination’, says Birgül, ‘and more and more facilities are being established to provide superb services. Istanbul’s hotel stock is expanding greatly. New hotels include a St Regis, a Shangri-La, a Morgans and Soho House.’

St Regis, Istanbul
Contributing to the attractions of Turkey are the new routes that Turkish Airlines is launching. ‘It is an airline growing in popularity’, Birgül explains, ‘and creating direct links between Turkey and emerging markets. It is always an advantage when groups are able to fly direct to their destination’.

The airline has almost 80 years of experience and now serves 45 domestic airports and 221 foreign cities in 109 countries, making Turkey a very accessible location for any event.

Birgül points out that Turkey is not just Istanbul. ‘Bodrum is still growing on the MICE scene. It can boast a Mandarin Oriental Hotel, soon to be joined by Swissôtel and a JW Marriott. British Airways is now flying there twice a day’.

Bodrum can offer many types of incentive experiences. It has beautiful beaches and a fabulous 15thC castle that is now the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. This features artefacts from many shipwrecks over the ages.