Harnessing the power of a City Convention Bureau

Harnessing the power of a City Convention Bureau

Ahead of their session at IBTM Wired, three of our panellists for the “How to harness the power of a City Convention Bureau” – Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, Catherine Kalamidas and Barbara Jamison –  sat down with IBTM to share a bit more about their bureaus, the value for eventprofs, and their own experiences of working in the industry.

  1. What is a City Convention Bureau?

A City CVB is an organisation acting as one point of contact for international organisations to connect with the destination in which they plan to have their congress or event.

It  aims to:

  • Act as the entry channel to the destination – part of an ecosystem
  • enhance the delegate’s experience
  • assist with the concept of a business event; provide valuable support to drive delegate numbers, work alongside PCO’s and DMC’s to support strategic objectives, enhance ROI and extend the life of the business event through legacy projects.
  • connect brands with industry and sector networks and thought leaders
  • Be the interpreter in terms of compliance rules and regulations
  • Unlock the city
  • Be an extension of the client’s team
  1. Tell us a bit about each of your CVBs

Wonderful Copenhagen CVB has existed for almost 30 years and has nearly 30 members of staff. We work with both meetings, incentives, congresses, sports events and house the national MICE organisation MeetDenmark and the private member association Meetingplace.

Every year we help more than 100 associations, corporates and commercial industries with their events both functionally and systematically and strategically securing a more long term positive impact.

Rotterdam Partners and its Convention Bureau & Tourism Board is a non-profit foundation primarily funded by the municipality of Rotterdam. The team is made up of event professionals from the most relevant links in the chain, from venue to PCO, to association, and more, giving us a unique understanding of the needs of incoming clients.

Our mandate is to help stimulate the local economy by identifying international association conferences and corporate events which align with the city’s ambition to create a resilient future for all. With a focus on the top sectors present in the city/region, we work with the stakeholders of a congress or event by activating the triple helix of government, industry and academia, creating a beneficial ecosystem for each congress or event, while leaving a lasting legacy in the city.

As London’s Official Convention Bureau, we help event professionals, meeting organisers and incentive planners unlock the city and create events to remember with a lasting legacy and ROI. We’re part of London & Partners, the non-for-profit business growth and destination agency for London supported by the Mayor of London, our business sector networks, hotel, venue and event partners.

Our business tourism remit is fully aligned with that of our foreign direct investment, bilateral trade and education teams. Our goal is to create sustainable growth and job opportunities for Londoners, our clients and partner networks.

  1. How can a CVB work with planners to support the planning of international business events?

Bettina: By first and foremost to truly understanding the needs of the planners and the event they organise.

On the foundation hereof, CVBs can, as experts of their destination, help to unlock the city’s many stakeholders and make sure to provide the best possible service, facilitation and counselling to meet the objectives of the event, save the planners time and money.

Furthermore, CVBs can also serve as interpreters of local rules and regulations, be influencers to ensure a successful experience and help drive long term positive effects through strategic legacy planning.

Catherine: We might even flip this question around: Why should a planner make the CVB its first stop when entering a city?

Most important of all is that a CVB provides free neutral advice and is a knowledgeable sparring partner both for event logistics, but also for the specific topic of the event. The CVB has a passion for events and the value they hold for the city and the community the event planner serves, and is therefore your best partner in a city.

Typical services include support in the RFP process, matching venues and partners to the needs of the event, creating connections within the local public and private organizations, advice and support in accessing available regional and national funding, organizing site visits and helping create a positive footprint of your event in the city via legacy or sustainability projects.

Barbara: I would also add that we are an “enabler” and an “innovator”.

We want to ensure that London provides the backdrop for our clients to be ahead of the curve, relevant, forward-thinking motivational and creative.

We understand that a business meeting, conference, brand activation or incentive is part of a wider business campaign so whilst our unbiased practical help is a given, our ability to connect clients with future investors and clients will enable their brand to grow, develop and stand out from the competition.

  1. What is the event you’ve most enjoyed working on?

Bettina: there are so many great events and they are all quite different. Of current ones we are very involved in are the World Water Congress IWA2022 and the World Architect Congress UIA 2023 – both of which have very strong sustainability agendas and work to contributing to the UN SDGs.

Catherine: Where to start? I think I would settle on the World Library Information Congress (which has shifted from 2021 to 2023 due to COVID) because it allowed us to showcase the knowledge cluster in the Netherlands, and in Rotterdam as a tool to achieve many SDGs and an example of transformation into the digital age.

But also, the Ecocity Builders Summit, taking place in September 2021, which aligns with the city’s sustainability & circularity ambitions and the World Energy Congress 2025 which is both an incentive and a showcase of the energy transition Rotterdam & the Netherlands are leading in.

Barbara:  I would have to say our own home-grown event London Technology Week which we co-founded in 2012 to establish London as Europe’s Tech Capital. The City-wide event enables anyone involved in Technology to create their own event under a festival style umbrella.

Past speakers have ranged from our Prime Minister, Global Tech Giants to young start-ups, Nial Rogers and Will.I.Am!  It was such a pleasure to grow the attendance to over 60K and match creative venues with inspirational events! This year’s event will focus on resilience and building a more inclusive digital world.

  1. How is recovery looking for CVBs in the meetings & events industry?

Bettina: I think that very much depends on the city and country you are in. And not least how you are funded. I believe that the value of meetings and events are better understood as a result of Covid-19 and hope, that not only their roles as a lever to the general recovery will be acknowledged, but also the role of the CVBs as central to fully unlocking this potential.

Catherine: The shape of your recovery really does depend on the character of your city, and the value which is placed on meetings and events.

For example, in Rotterdam, where we tend to focus on innovation, we collaborated with our partners to look at local innovations which might benefit the event industry as a whole: from sensors for social distancing to the application of VR technology to the full-on gamification of events, we tested each one and shared it with all of you.

And in the midst of the crisis, we initiated our IAB MICE from which the findings will be shared as well. We believe in the open-source approach because recovery for just one part of the industry will not work, we need to help each other along the road to a better future.

Barbara: Recent City Hall analysis of forecasts by VisitBritain showed that consumer spending in central London by overseas tourists of which ¼ are business event visitors was £7.4 billion lower throughout 2020.

The capital is the engine of the UK’s economy and we had to act quickly to enable our CVB partners and hospitality sector benefits from free and inclusive campaigns to drive domestic business.  Eat out to help out and Let’s Do London were easily adapted to a CVB audience and allow us to pivot quickly as safety and travel restrictions are lifted.

Collaboration with our Mayor, government, partners and other European cities have made us build back better with improved, creative and innovative product to encourage international business events. We are working with other Cities to create Hybrid Event Hubs with a strong focus on sustainable access.


Hear more from Bettina, Catherine and Barbara when they appears online on Day 4 of IBTM Wired for their panel discussion: “How to harness the power of a City Convention Bureau”.

Register to attend here.

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