At the European Cities Marketing International Conference in Dubrovnik, May 31-June 3, 2017, a record number of 200 delegates from European cities met industry thought leaders and tourism academics from around the globe to debate and strategise the new normal in urban travel and tourism.

Only now are the DMOs beginning to understand urban travel and tourism as one global marketplace under constant disturbance. DMOs navigate in a network of connected cities with an ever growing exchange of visitors seeking to become temporary locals, with seamless sharing of great moments and ideas of the good life, with many celebrations and urban events manifesting the popular identity of the city, with surging exports of entrepreneurial creations and commercial concepts. The new normal in urban tourism is a wonderland of opportunities, but it can also be a no man’s land for the DMOs that can’t or won’t engage.

During ECM International Conference, attendees started with a shared belief that the new normal is both creative and destructive. Constant change is the only constant.

Matthias Schultze, Managing Director of the GCB German Convention Bureau presented a session on the future of meetings with the presentation of their innovation network called “Future Meeting Space“. It looks into trends, innovations, and societal developments and their possible influence on the Meetings Industry. Matthias believes that «The unique selling point of a destination is expertise – if there is no expertise, there will be no events».

About Hybrid meetings and events, Richard Torriani, COO of MCI Group insisted on the importance of creating hybrid meetings that merge virtual and face to face meetings. But regarding the technology part of these hybrid meetings, «it’s not about who attends, it’s about who engages».

With the example of the Roskilde Festival, Per Østergaard Jacobsen, Director & External Lecturer of Copenhagen Business School (CBS) stressed the importance of Big data on events. During the Festival they collected data from the visitors to analyse everything allowing better sales, more safety and cleaner toilets!

Fabrice Valentin, Head of Market Research & Forecasts at Airbus then presented Airbus’ 20-year Global Market Forecast showing that the global middle classes are taking to the skies in massive numbers especially in emerging countries but also revealing that air traffic doubles every 15 years.

The booming market of Halal tourism was analysed by Fazaal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating, showing impressive figures highlighting the volume it represents. There is a huge shift in the Muslim travel behaviour from families to millennials (Muslim millennials being the biggest segment of millennial travellers). By 2030, Muslims will occupy 25% of the world population and 50% of them will be under 30 years old. It’s important to note that other destinations will benefit from Halal travel in wake of Trump travel ban, but your destination must be ready for it!

Three member cities (Graz, Ljubljana and Reykjavik) highlighted their innovative approaches in City Showcases and Inspiration Lounges. From the implementation of a collaborative strategy by working with influencers to the sustainability of growing tourism, attendees were offered chances of learning from their peers.


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