SMU International Roundtable: Tourist Boards Tout Their Value

In March, Successful Meetings conducted a roundtable of meeting owners and tourism boards at Successful Meetings University International in New York. The group met to discuss risk management issues surrounding international meetings and incentives. As part of that discussion we asked the tourist board representatives to tell us what their destinations value proposition was for meetings. Here’s what they said.

Colombia
Claudia Davila, corporate tourism director, Colombia Proexport:  We have a lot of assets for the American market.  We're in the same time zone more or less and we have no visa requirements. We have no seasons. That’s one part of our value proposition that most meeting owners do not know. In Colombia the weather does not change — but even though we have no seasons we offer all types of weather year-round. 

The Andes start in Colombia and go all the way down to Argentina so, that means that if you're up on the mountain it's cold, if you're on the ocean, it's hot.  So, we have different kinds of destinations.  We are a world-class destination.  We have hotels for every need, meeting spaces for every need, and we are very well connected to the United States with more than 29 direct flights every day.

Japan
Gil Cardon, convention manager, Japan National Tourism Organization: Much like New Zealand, Japan is a long haul destination. But we do, of course, have many direct flights. There will be a new service beginning next month, direct from Boston to Tokyo, so that's a nice addition.

The Japanese hospitality community is well known for its organizational skill and efficiency in managing meetings. They're able to incorporate unique venues and cultural activities with meetings and conferences, to create a well-rounded experience for groups.. The result is very memorable events that attendees take back home with them and let their friends and family know about.

London
Chris Lynn, sales & marketing director, North America & emerging markets, London and Partners: London's a very established destination but at the same not without its challenges —the perception of high-cost is probably the biggest. But we have a huge focus on value with regards to what is available in the destination. 

So, really our value proposition for groups rests on three fundamental pillars: 
  • The destination has unrivaled access from around the globe as far as airlift goes. 
  • We’ve got great variety with regard to venues and hotels with over 650 hotels and over 100 venues. 
  • It is a city of business and a world leader in international business
  • Going a little bit deeper into the value proposition, events in London provide the ability deliver more effectively on ROI because London does often generate more attendance when events are held in the city.  

Mexico
Eduardo Chaillo, executive director, meetings industry, Mexico Tourism Board: Our value proposition is that we are very close to the United States and we’re accessible. We used to have only direct flights to Cancun and to Mexico City.  Now, we have flights from the U.S. to almost every little town and beach resort area in Mexico. 

We have great diversity in our tourism product, from beach resorts equipped for conventions to great world-class cities and also to small colonial cities. We are also affordable. We offer tax-free options for international meetings as well as IRS deductibility for U.S. companies. Many U.S. brands are located Mexico so a great deal of trust exists between our destination and the business community. 

New Zealand
Steven Dixon, business events manager, North America, Tourism New Zealand: New Zealand is predominately perceived as a long haul destination for the meetings and the incentives market. So the challenge for us is convincing people that it is remote but it is also accessible. What many people don’t realize is that New Zealand is a direct 12-hour flight from the west coast. From L.A., it's also 12 hours direct.

But for us, ultimately the value proposition has always been the fact that New Zealand offers beautiful landscapes that you can’t find anywhere else. For us, our core value proposition is creating opportunities for groups to interact with our people in meaningful ways while enjoying great food and wine being immersed in the spectacular landscapes.