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Incentive destinations and growth economy attract groups to Turkey

Eda Özden of DBS

Eda Özden of MEP Destination Business Solutions talks to Sydney Paulden

’Turkey is now offering more destinations for incentive groups and is the chosen venue for more corporate meetings.’
This is the message that Eda Özden was able to give in a discussion with Sydney Paulden of ITCM.
Eda was speaking on behalf of MEP Destination Business Solutions (MEP DBS), part of the MEP Group, which has been in the forefront of the MICE sector in Turkey for nearly 40 years. Founded and managed by Eda’s parents, Birgül and Tomruk Özden, the company is based in Istanbul and operates destination management services throughout Turkey

Eda, therefore, has grown up in the event management business. ‘I joined the family business full-time’, she goes on, ‘five years ago after going to college in the USA and then getting my masters degree in London.’

The UK is the biggest source of group business for MEP Destination Business Solutions and has been represented there for decades by Harry Fine Associates. However, Eda reports, the emerging markets are becoming more and more important to Turkey’s MICE business.

‘China, obviously’, says Eda, ‘is showing a growing interest, but also countries such as Brazil and Singapore. I now travel further afield to offer clients our services in setting up and managing group events in Turkey.’

In today’s world, political and military troubled spots can have a sudden adverse effect on event planning. The problems can be aggravated by imprecise reporting or by misunderstanding what is happening and exactly where.

‘Problems in the Middle East region’, comments Eda, ‘can be a vague influence on event planners who are looking at the news headlines from afar. We find that the best way to show how safe and rewarding Turkey can be as a destination is to invite organisers to come and see for themselves.

‘We have just hosted a group of senior event agents on a familiarisation trip. We worked in co-operation with the Jumeirah Pera Palace Hotel. This is an iconic property in Istanbul that is closely linked with our history. It is also known as the hotel where the author Agatha Christie once went into hiding. Whilst there she wrote the famous book Murder on the Orient Express.’

Turkey, in particular, merits an inspection visit by MICE agencies, because its facilities are developing at such a rate that perceptions can become rapidly outdated.

‘Istanbul’, Eda goes on, ‘is working hard to ease travel within the city. There is an extra bridge across the Bosphorus, linking the two sides of the city and also the two continents of Europe and Asia. There are new roads through tunnels. And anyone visiting Istanbul after a gap of just a few years will discover that many new international hotel properties have sprung up’.

For incentives, destinations beyond Istanbul are becoming more popular. ‘Cappadocia, in the centre of the country, is a stunning place to visit. People are amazed at its moon-like landscapes. It is often coupled with Istanbul on a twin-destination itinerary to show two very different facets of Turkey. Cappadocia is also now benefiting from the arrival of higher quality hotels and restaurants.’

Another destination identified by Eda as popular for incentives is Bodrum. ‘New flight services have been introduced direct to Bodrum by British Airways and by Lufthansa, whilst new Mandarin Oriental and Swissôtel properties have helped to make Bodrum a stand-alone destination.’

There is also good news for Turkey in terms of business conferences. ‘We have a population of 80m’, explains Eda, ‘and our economy is expanding. We have a growing middle class that is keen to enjoy a higher quality lifestyle. Turkey is therefore a particularly attractive market. MEP Destination Business Solutions is organising more and more events for corporate clients, such as product launches and sales and marketing conferences around the country.’

Concluding, Eda re-emphasises that event organisers should definitely be sure to take heed of the safety and stability offered by today’s Turkey and its new opportunities for memorable incentives and cost-effective business conferences.

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