Video Interview: Mr. Patrik Romano, Managing Director of Bologna Congressi

Mr. Romano, what is the mission of Bologna Congressi?

We manage the main conference facilities of Bologna: the Palazzo dei Congressi, located in the trade fair district, and the Palazzo Re Enzo in Piazza Maggiore, the historical venue used for all extra events related to conferences. Inside the Palazzo dei Congressi there also is the largest theater in Bologna, with 1380 seats and an intense activity of 80 shows a year, and this highlights our vocation as a multipurpose organization. We are able to provide a 360-degrees service that is not limited to the conference venue. In fact, one of our departments is dedicated to the Event management, while the other, the Travel department, fulfills our customers’ needs for the whole duration of the conference, providing the same services of a travel agency but taking also care of their contacts and relationships with the city. In the last few months, we have also created Bologna Welcome, a spin-off company of Bologna Congressi, which acts as a Convention & Visitors Bureau, taking care of the promotion and reception in the Metropolitan City of Bologna.

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What is your strategy to compete on the international market?

We rely on all the traditional instruments, such as attendance at trade fairs, contacts with the leading international PCOs and scouting activities. Bologna can be a real center of gravity, not only for its central position in Italy, but also for what concerns culture and science. People have always met here to share knowledge, our porticoes were designed to give everyone the opportunity to walk, talk and exchange information. These are all elements that contribute to a positive image of Bologna abroad. What is more, Marconi Airport ensures many connections with the main European cities. Our task is to systematize all these resources and enhance our cultural exchange.

How do you develop your collaboration with the Emilia-Romagna region?

Growth is essential, and it is possible to optimize connections with the high-speed rail line.
We need to keep believing in our airport and to improve transport connections to our conference facilities.

Could you mention a couple of successful case histories?

I would like to mention the main international conferences organized with European PCOs. To use a football metaphor, I would say that it was like playing in the Champions League. An experience that put us to the test, giving us different points of view and pushing us to work better and to care more for details.

How do you imagine Bologna in the future?

Bologna is and will be a major conference destination and the city is investing in this direction. The creation of Bologna Welcome proves it; the main stakeholders of the city are joining the project because they believe in the conference segment. A global renewal of the conference facility within the fair trade district is under consideration. In addition, the airport, the high-speed rail, the University, the hospitals, together with an administration that pays attention to these issues, make Bologna a very attractive destination. Conference participants appreciate it and our job is precisely to let people know this city and its great potential.

Video Interview: Mr. Claudio Franchini, Director of Parma Incoming

What is the mission of Parma Incoming and its way
of operating?

Our mission is to promote tourism in a broad sense in the area of Parma, focusing our attention both on leisure tourism and on conference tourism. The MICE industry represents a significant portion of our budget, in consideration of the important conference centers that were built in our city in the first 2000s. For this reason, Parma has become a very attractive conference destination, with a good position on the international market, too.

What are the main points of excellence and competitiveness of Parma Incoming and of the
whole conference sector?

Parma is located at the center of northern Italy, and road infrastructures make it very easily accessible. It is a relatively small city, where movements are simple and fast. With its excellent hotels and accommodations, Parma can host different types of conferences and a number of participants ranging from 50 to 3,500 people. Furthermore, it is a very attractive city for pre- and post-conference events, thanks to its many points of interest. In fact, Parma has become very well-known over the years for its high quality of life and its excellent food and wine tradition, two elements of great appeal in Italy and abroad.

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Could you give us an overview of the innovations
that could spark a growth trend?

Growth is essential, and it is possible to optimize connections with the high-speed rail line.
We need to keep believing in our airport and to improve transport connections to our conference facilities.

How is Parma Incoming working, what are your proposals to attract international customers and to compete successfully in foreign markets?

Ten years ago, Parma was little known abroad as a conference destination, for this reason, our main strategy was to attract international operators and make them see the excellence of our area.
We participated in the most important international trade shows and exhibitions held in major Italian cities like Rome, Milan, Florence and Turin, in order to promote our offer. We also realized a series of educational tours for operators, which produced very good results. Once our city gets to be known, it is very much appreciated.

Collaboration with the Emilia-Romagna region:
an extra value.

The coordination activity operated by the Emilia-Romagna region in the conference sector was very beneficial to a company like ours. It created a close collaboration between this sector’s operators, thus leading to a unity of purpose; a participatory and inclusive approach we truly appreciated. Today, as we all know, resources are limited, and the real challenge is to keep believing in conference tourism, which has a very high value per capita in this area, and therefore a great potential.

In which way this territory and its excellence in tourism could affect the post-conference program and/or the choice of the destination?

In Parma we have two functional and beautiful conference facilities, the Auditorium Niccolò Paganini and the Palacassa, but pre- and post- conference events are fundamental, especially in such a beautiful area: castles, villas, exclusive gala dinners and food and wine tours, with excellence products like Parma ham and Parmigiano Reggiano that are very famous and sought-after in Italy and abroad. In recent years, we have been developing opera events related to conferences, relying on the prestigious and attractive name of Giuseppe Verdi.

Could you mention a couple of successful case histories?

Looking back to some particularly successful case histories, I would like to remember the 800 people who came to attend an international Summit at the Auditorium Paganini. At first, this very important event seemed destined to take place in Florence, but it was held here in Parma thanks to the close cooperation between the trade show organization Fiere di Parma and our Municipality. Everything worked really well, a great example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together. Another significant national event was organized by an important bank at the Palacassa,
in a particular month like December. Parma hosted 3,500 people, meeting very well the different needs of operators, and benefited from the positive economic impact, showing its best face.

How do you imagine Parma Incoming in the future?

There is still space for improvement, but today I am very pleased with the work of Parma Incoming
and I would like it to continue this way, with the same quality and professionalism. We are a point of reference in the conference sector, our knowledge of the territory greatly increases the value of a conference held here. The direction taken is the right one, now we have to insist and consolidate these results.

Mice excellences in Emilia Romagna - an interview with Edin Muminovich

Mice excellences in Emilia Romagna

An educational tour for 12 European buyers took place in Emilia Romagna on 27th-30th October 2013.
In Parma 11 local Mice operators and specialists met foreign buyers for a workshop: the aim was to introduce Emilia Romagna as an ideal destination for Incentive, Meetings and Conferences offer.
A German buyer, Edin Muminovich, CEO of Tourism Affair (DE), outlines two regional excellences, which can lead Emilia Romagna to become a crucial territory for the Mice industry. Germans are really eager for cars and food market and ER offers unique products in both fields. Germany is strongly interested in cars for its national historical companies: experts and operators participate to many presentations all over the world.
Emilia Romagna is excellent and well known abroad for car production and the region a favourite territory to host this kind of events.
On the other hand Germans, and foreigners in general, seek for tasting local and original food. Edin Muminovich points out Parma, the workshop’s location: the city fits perfectly the concept for its magnificent food tradition of ham and cheese.