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

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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.

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