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.

Video Interview: Mrs. Stefania Agostini, Director of the Convention Bureau della Riviera di Rimini

What is the mission of the Convention Bureau della Riviera di Rimini and its way of operating?

The Convention Bureau was born in 1994 with the purpose of promoting and coordinating the offer of our territory in terms of conventions and conferences. This way, we are trying to extend the tourist season and to give a possible solution to the problem of seasonal adjustment which dates back to the 70s, when the seaside sector showed its first weak points. The presence of both conference facilities and a wide range of hotel accommodations in the area made it possible for Rimini to host major events. It has been a long and happy period of pioneering growth.

What are the main points of excellence and competitiveness of the Convention Bureau and of the whole conference sector in our region?

The excellence of the Convention Bureau lies in coordinating all the companies participating in a conference or exhibition in the best possible way, in order to ensure the overall quality of the offer. We cater to a very demanding market, therefore we have to ensure high quality at every step of the process. If we have services and facilities, but we keep such resources isolated without connecting and coordinating them, we will not be able to reach any result. To explain it with an example, a good conductor is not enough in an orchestra if the musicians play out of tune, and vice versa. The Convention Bureau acts as an arbiter and guarantor manager of a network of companies, and we have been doing our job for many years with a great sense of perspective: suffice it to say that in 2001 we were the first in Italy to create a service charter for conferences.


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

Innovations come from our value system. We are constantly taking steps towards the future, but at the same time we stay true to our tradition. Our well-known ability to receive and accommodate our guests has to become an art, with even higher quality standards. In order to achieve our goals, we use the most advanced information technology systems, taking advantage of all the opportunities related to the digital world. Rimini has to become more and more a “smart” city, and learn to use its modern and up-to-date conference center Palazzo dei Congressi at its best. We can propose our offer in different ways, with the humility of knowing that we cannot do it alone and that the support of institutions is crucial.

How is the Convention Bureau working, what are your proposals to attract international customers and to compete successfully in foreign markets?

This is a key point, we know that our prospects will inevitably coincide with the development of the international segment. We cannot predict the future, but our categorical imperative is to be prepared for it. In this sense, the new Palazzo dei Congressi is a unique gateway to the future, at a national level, in many ways; its building materials give an idea of solidity and transparency, which are precisely the inspiring values ​​of our organizational structure. Being solid, well prepared, transparent and flexible: these are the prerequisites to meet the international demand and to be competitive abroad. But it is also fundamental that the Rimini of the third millennium maintains its desire to change, without being afraid of creativity and beauty: the Palazzo dei Congressi, beautiful and functional, introduces this new course. Our hope is that, when they go back to their countries, our guests remember efficiency, but also beauty. It is clear that we cannot win all these challenges without the help of the Emilia-Romagna region, and we will ask for its important support at the national level, too, in order to create the “Italian brand” and to favor the penetration of international markets.

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

The commitment and support of the region’s administration in the development of relationships and contacts is critical to attract events, conferences and congresses. It has to be a constant and everyday work in the world of public relations. One of the main tasks of institutions is precisely to be at the service of their territories and operators. Within this close collaboration, the Convention Bureau will play its part by encouraging our region to promote even more effectively the major brands which identify it: Pavarotti, Fellini, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ferrari, are only some examples among the ambassadors of the special value of this territory that could enter international markets. Another example of fruitful cooperation is Axis: a unique reality in the regional conference segment that includes the territories of Parma, Salsomaggiore, Ferrara, Bologna, Modena and Rimini, which in the past ten years have developed their ability to work together with the regional institutions. The three-year project MICE is our most important success that results from the ability and willingness to work as a team, an example of competitive collaboration. Presently I am the President of Axis, and I had the possibility to present our region to the national coordination committee for conference tourism.

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

The three most important requirements for the success of an event are: accessibility, accommodation and conference facilities, and a business system to support the whole process. Then rank the tourism offer and the cultural heritage, together with food and wine. This is why Germany is the first European country to be chosen both by the corporate and the associative sector, although it certainly cannot compare to Italy for beauty. The reason is that conference tourism is a very particular segment related to the world of communication, information, economy, knowledge and learning; people do not travel for fun but to be updated and grow professionally in the shortest possible time, and everything has to be on hand. Those who promote events, as we do, have to meet these requirements.

Could you mention a couple of successful case histories?

There is a lot of cases in the past and in the present: in the early 90s professor Cambi, teacher at the University of Parma and treasurer of one of the most important associations for kidney transplant, informed us that the International Congress organized in Belgrade was at risk because of the impending danger of war in the former Yugoslavia. The international board decided to check the timing and feasibility to hold the Congress elsewhere. Reorganizing an event that had been prepared for three years, with resources already invested, was an almost impossible challenge. Nevertheless, we decided to accept it and we realized an event that now every participant remembers as an example of efficiency and good treatment. In fact, in 1998 we were chosen again, despite the competitors were the major European capitals. That experience has opened many other doors, increasing our credibility and developing high quality relationships that still remain.
Coming to the present day, I would like to remember the Calzedonia event: a worldwide presentation of the summer collection, an extraordinary production bought by important players in the world of communication such as Mediaset.

How do you imagine the Convention Bureau in the future?

I think the Bureau will further develop the role of promoter and event producer without waiting for users to contact us. For this purpose, we recently organized the conference “Rimini in forma. Medicina moderna e integrazione alimentare”, in response to the need of the dietary supplements market. This event about medicine and food was a point of reference for all those who deal with health and wellness.

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.

BTC in Florence: figures of a successful edition. Optimistic perspectives for conference tourism and the leading position of Emilia-Romagna in Italy and abroad

First and foremost, success is measured in numbers, and the events and conference tourism exhibition (BTC) held in Florence in November was the most successful of all editions so far: the attendance figure doubled compared with last year, going from 3,300 to 6,724 visitors. The number of exhibitors saw a 22% increase, equivalent to 313 companies, while the number international buyers grew by 40%, with 300 event organizers from 22 countries. 7,152 appointments were held between international sellers and buyers, registering a +32% with respect to last edition. More than 100 new exhibitors chose BTC this year, and among them there were three of the most important international tourism boards: Israel, Mexico and Poland.

BTC-APTBTC confirms that conference tourism is a lively sector, and it is able to look at the future with optimism, thanks to its great potential (in Italy alone, 300,000 people work in this field). In such a strongly competitive context, Emilia-Romagna could not miss this opportunity: the region participated in the exhibition with 13 operators, all of them hosted in the 84-square-meter booth realized by the local tourism board, APT Servizi. Thanks to its centers of excellence in Bologna, Parma and Rimini (which has the largest convention facility in Italy), conference tourism is becoming more and more important within the region’s global offer, putting Emilia-Romagna in a leading position both on the Italian and the international market.

BTC-APTOur presence at the BTC held in Florence was part of the regional promotion plan created by APT Servizi in support of MICE tourism (Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Events). Over the last months, several initiatives were taken at the national and international level: from the participation in specialized fairs in Moscow, Frankfurt, Beijing and Las Vegas, to the organization of workshops and educational tours, such as the recent event in Parma with 12 buyers from Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland, and 11 operators from Emilia-Romagna.

Emilia-Romagna with three operators at Imex America in Las Vegas to become known to the world

Emilia-Romagna is using every occasion as an opportunity to become known all over the world. In fact, the Italian region is attending the third edition of Imex America, the most important convention tourism fair of the United States, held October 15th-17th in Las Vegas.

The presence of the whole Italian offer is organized by ENIT, the Italian National Tourism Board, which gives each operator the possibility to have a customized desk. Emilia-Romagna is attending with three operators: Bologna Congressi, Convention Bureau Riviera di Rimini and Food Valley Travel (Parma).

Emilia Romagna participation in CIBTM - Incentive Business Travel & Meetings Expo China

Our participation in CIBTM – Incentive Business Travel & Meetings Expo China – confirmed our belief that the Chinese market represents an essential opportunity for MICE and Incentive facilities, an opportunity to remain competitive. The region of Emilia-Romagna has all the necessary requirements to keep growing, and in this process APT plays a fundamental role for promotional purposes.

 During several meetings, a special interest was shown in new destinations, both Business and Leisure, in order to meet a demand that is more and more oriented towards new experiences. In most cases, the main Tour Operators already offer a wide range of products with the most famous Italian cities. Nevertheless, there still is work to be done, and new proposals can be prepared with attractive destinations for travellers who have been in Italy at least once. A good mix of social relationships and effective exchange of information with the opinion leaders of tourism industry will be decisive. At the same time, an effort will be made to create highly differentiated products to adapt to Chinese market, thus identifying local operators in Emilia-Romagna that could meet the needs of Chinese tour operators.

Emilia Romagna maps of turistic offers

In this perspective, strategy is the key word, and it will be translated into different activities.

 APT Servizi primary objective will be the opening of trade channels in order to favor the business reality of the region. The relationship between the Asian Project Responsible and ENIT is especially important to open up communication channels with all Tour Operators interested in new destinations. The role of authorities like Embassies and Consulates is also significant for their co-marketing promotion of Emilia-Romagna in China.

Ideas, initiatives and proposals should be effectively communicated, and for this reason the promotion and updating of a Chinese portal will be crucial to attract any visitor showing an interest in products and services. The project Blogville ER could offer Emilia-Romagna a new point of view and more visibility. The experiences of various Chinese bloggers could be collected in other online communication channels (wexin and weibo, the Chinese Twitter and Facebook respectively) thus promoting our territory and spreading information about our regional destinations.

We will enhance our collaboration with those Emilia-Romagna brands that are already well-known in China, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati and wine and food producers; with their help, we will be able to present our region as a luxury destination. At the same time, we will create package tours for tourists and/or businessmen for the above mentioned brands, which they could use to captivate their customers, in exchange for promoting our destinations during their events in China. We could carry out a similar activity in the Media sector, for the newspapers and publications most suitable to the product (Lifestyle, Travel, Fashion, etc.), as an award during their yearly gala dinners for VIP readers/customers.

The global framework highlights the big potential of Emilia-Romagna, a region with all what it takes to meet the new requirements of this market effectively.

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Italian translated version

La partecipazione alla CIBTM – Incentive Business Travel & Meetings Expo China, ha  consolidato la consapevolezza che il mercato cinese rappresenta un’opportunità fondamentale per le strutture MICE e Incentive, un’opportunità per restare competitivi. La Regione Emilia Romagna ha tutti i requisiti necessari per crescere ulteriormente e in tal senso APT assume un ruolo fondamentale a fini promozionali.

Dai vari incontri è emerso l’interesse per nuove destinazioni, sia Business che Leisure, per rispondere a una domanda sempre più volta a nuove esperienze. Nella prevalenza dei casi i principali Tour Operator offrono già prodotti con i capoluoghi italiani più noti. Tuttavia c’è ancora molto lavoro da fare, predisponendo nuove proposte con destinazioni attraenti, suggestive per i viaggiatori che hanno  visitato l’Italia almeno in una circostanza. Un buon mix tra rapporti interpersonali e puntuale scambio di informazioni con gli opinion leader del settore turistico sarà decisivo. Così come sarà necessario uno sforzo per strutturare prodotti altamente differenziati e adatti al mercato cinese, individuando operatori locali in Emilia Romagna per soddisfare i tour operator cinesi.

In questa prospettiva la parola d’ordine è la strategia, che si dovrà articolare in diverse attività.

L’obiettivo prioritario di APT sarà l’avviamento di canali commerciali a beneficio della realtà imprenditoriale regionale. Di particolare importanza assume il rapporto tra la Responsabile del Progetto Asiatico ed ENIT, nell’avvio di rapporti con i Tour Operator interessati a nuove destinazioni. Da non sottovalutare il ruolo di Enti quali Ambasciata e Consolati, ai fini di promozioni in co-marketing del territorio Emiliano Romagnolo in Cina.

Idee, iniziative e proposte andranno correttamente comunicate, per questo è necessaria la promozione e l’aggiornamento di un portale, in lingua cinese, per attirare visitatori interessati ai prodotti e servizi. Il progetto Blogville ER potrebbe offrire un nuovo punto di vista e visibilità dell’Emilia Romagna. Le esperienze vissute dai vari blogger cinesi potrebbero essere riportate su altri canali online (wexin, weibo rispettivamente Twitter e Facebook cinesi) così da promuovere il territorio e cominciare un’azione formativa delle destinazioni regionali.

Va consolidata la collaborazione con i Brand emiliano romagnoli già affermati in Cina come Ferrari, Lamborghini, Ducati e Prodotti dell’Enogastronomia, attraverso i quali poter presentare il territorio e posizionare l’Emilia-Romagna come destinazione di lusso. Contestualmente vanno predisposti pacchetti studiati per un turista e/o businessman che potrebbero essere scambiati con i Brand menzionati, ed utilizzati per coinvolgere clienti, in cambio di promozione delle destinazioni durante gli eventi in Cina. La stessa azione potrebbe essere pensata su Media come premio durante cene di Gala annuali organizzate per i lettori/clienti VIP delle Testate Giornalistiche più adatte al prodotto (Lifestyle, Viaggi, Moda…).

Il quadro complessivo mette in luce le potenzialità di questi territori capaci di rispondere efficacemente alle nuove richieste di questo mercato.

 

Unusual and exclusive venue for corporate events in Parma

The “Caseificio della Musica” – a new exclusive venue in Parma for corporate events and business meetings. “Bertinelli” is a dairy which every day handcraft 20 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. The “Caseificio della Musica”, the Bertinelli agriturismo set right next door to the dairy, is a perfect venue for business meetings and corporate events with its 250-seat restaurant – offering all the best of the local traditional cooking – a convention hall equipped with a large screen of 90 sqm which can accommodate up to 400 people and last but not least an outdoor swimming pool, ideal for summer parties and amusement.
Further information: www.parmaincoming.it

Successful fam trips in Emilia-Romagna to conquer the BRIC markets

Dedicated fam trips, organized by APT Servizi, leads the very best of Emilia-Romagna meeting industry offer to enter the emerging MICE market of China, India and Brazil.

Three fam trips specifically tailored to communicate and show the very best of the corporate events and incentive trips offer in Emilia-Romagna Region have been scheduled this year in the “Meet in Emilia-Romagna” marketing plan. The first one took place from 11th to 14th June and involved a group of 10 Chinese Tour Operators with MICE department specialised in outbound travels to Europe. The program included Bologna (urban trekking in the city centre, “aperitivo on the clouds” on the top of Prendiparte Tower, opera rehearsal at Teatro Comunale, shopping tour of the best of Made in Italy), Ferrara (with a special reception by the “Palio di Ferrara”), Modena (the brand new Enzo Ferrari Museum, the City Theatre and Pavorotti’s restaurant) and a workshop with the specialists of Meet in Emilia Romagna offer.
The second one hosted a selection of tour operators from India (5 companies) who visited from 27th June to 1st July Rimini (the brand new Palazzo dei Congressi, a sailing cruise along the Adriatic Coast and an excursion to Montegridolfo Castle), Bologna (the craftsmen workshops, the medieval towers and stately homes in the city centre), Modena (a production of Traditional Balsamic Vinegar and the Ferrari world: MEF & Galleria Ferrari) and some factory outlets for shopping the best of Made in Italy.
The last but not least tour is reserved to 6 buyers from Brazil. The program – focused on the Region highlights “Motor Valley and Food Valley” – runs from 18th to 24th September and will take the attendees in the Parma and Bologna M.I.C.E districts, including visits to cutting the edge convention facilities, castles and stately homes, food and wine productions (from Parma ham to Parmigian-Reggiano dairy, from wine estates to traditional Balsamico vinegar seasoning houses), to car and motorbike factories and museums (Ferrari, Lamborghini and Ducati), as well as to Verdi’s Land and a test drive on circuit.