The International Conference "Marketing Destinations and their Venues" took place with great success from 9th to 11th February 2006 at the Arts Centre of the American Community School in Athens with a total of 429 participants from both Greece and abroad.
Renia Tsitsimpikou and George Amyras from ERT's programme "Menoume Ellada" opened the conference by welcoming everyone and making a special presentation of all 39 Greek destinations that were represented at the conference.
The conference began with short speeches and greetings from Mr Harry Coccosis General Secretary of the Greek Tourism Organisation, Mr George Tsakiris President of the Attica Hotel Association, and Yiannis Evangelou President of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies and of the Athens Convention Bureau. Greetings were also given by Mrs Elena Mylona on behalf of Mr Vasilis Brovas, President of the Thessaloniki Convention and Visitors Bureau, and by Mrs Polly Chrysanthokopoulou, Managing Director of the Arts Centre of ACS. Written greetings were also sent by Mr Stavros Andreadis, President of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (SETE) and Mr Tasos Koumanis, President of the Association of Greek Exhibition and Conference Organisers.
During the first conference session, Mr Tony Rogers, Chief Executive of the British Association of Conference Destinations (BACD) and Executive Director of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO), discussed destination branding whilst Mr Dirk Glaesser, Chief of Publications of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) presented the very significant topic of Crisis Management.
During the second session Mr Michael Weissman, President of Fresh Perspectives from the USA, emphasised the importance of expectations and how careful a destination should be not to set expectations higher than can be reached. Mr Andreas Papatheodorou from the University of the Aegean, evaluated the importance of tourism on an economic and social level and underlined the fact that in order for a destination to develop, a special investment strategy must be applied and the most suitable network of colleagues must be chosen by the company. The former president of the Greek Tourism Organisation and tourism researcher, Mr Yiannis Patellis, presented a series of slogans and logos of tourism destinations reaching the conclusion that incentive and fresh ideas towards destination marketing are both very limited on an international level.
During the third session Mr Nikolaus Breisach presented participants with an especially innovative promotion and communication strategy implemented by the Convention Centre of Graz in Austria, which he has been running for a number of years. During his speech, Mr Sotiris Avgoustis of the Indiana Purdue University in the USA described the history of Indianapolis as a conference and exhibition destination. Mr George Barboutis from the Rodos Palace Hotel and member of the scientific tourism team at the research centre of Rhodes, underlined the fact that travellers are now looking for special experiences and that Rhodes can offer just this through the use of myth and history as, for example, the reconstruction of the Colossus of Rhodes.
During the fourth session, Mrs Eleftheria Grimpa from the University of the Aegean presented the elements that make up professional tourism, whilst Mr Athanasios Kefalas from S&B Industrial Minerals made a presentation of "Milos Conferences" and outlined their goals and prospects.
Before the evening's reception, the group "Lyravlos" performed musical pieces using instruments that were exact copies of musical instruments from Ancient Greece.
During the fifth session, which started off the second day of the conference, Mrs Gina Roupaka from the company Focus, presented the results of a quality research that was carried out by the company with regards to defining the identity of events destinations. Mr Alex Deffner from the University of Thessaly, analyzed the issues concerning the marketing strategy of a small town and in the case of Nea Ionia in Magnisia. Mrs Irini Varda Capsis of Capsis Hotelsapsis Hotels and Mr Panagiotis Podimatas of Podimatas Audiovisuals, paid special attention to the ICCA and the organization of this conference in Rhodes in October 2006. Following this, Mr Vasilis Theocharakis, professor of ALBA Graduate School, emphasized the fact that successful businesses are those that welcome adaptation and renewal. He explained the meaning of "morphing" within organizations, which involves the constant renewal of competitive advantages, significant product changes as well as flexibility and strategic planning.
During the sixth session the Argentinean Mr Jorge E. Castex from the International Conference Services (ICS) described the strategy and tactics of bidding for a conference on the market of international unions, whilst Mr Nikos Avlonas of the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence and professor at Deree College dealt with the subject of a company's communication responsibility in terms of the companies that are active in the area of tourism. Mr George Drakopoulos, General Manager of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises and Mr John Fotis, tourism consultant of Market Plan, analyzed the 10 steps towards bringing a product into the human mind and discussed the urgent subject of the need for reinvestment in Greek tourism.
In the seventh session, Mr George Michailidis of Luis Cruise Lines emphasized the advantages of organizing conferences and other events on cruise ships whilst Mr Stavros Daliakas of Aegean Airlines presented his company's mission, history, goals, destinations and a profile of the customers it serves. Mrs Dimitra Daskalaki, head of Corporate Communications at Imaco Media, presented the possibilities and opportunities for the complete change of any area into an ideal destination for a magical event. Following this Mr George Vougioukalakis, researcher at the Institute of Geological and Mineral Research, presented Geotourism as an alternative type of tourism that could prove favorable in our country thanks to beautiful rock formations and unique volcanic areas. Mrs Ourania Vrondou, professor at the Alpine Center, spoke about how various destinations can take advantage of sports tourism.
In the eighth session, Mrs Lila Konstantinidou, chief wedding planner of Heliotopos, discussed destination weddings as a new type of tourism that has developed significantly over the past few years in Greece. Mr George Kotseridis of the Agricultural University of Athens explained the importance of wine tourism and its development over the last few years. In his speech Mr Aris Ikkos of JBR Hellas analyzed "accessible" tourism underlining the fact that people with special needs are also potential tourists and closed the second day of the conference.
The third day of the conference opened with the ninth session during which Mrs Amanda Cecil of Indiana Purdue University discussed the need for constant training in the industry of conference tourism. Mrs Adamantini Mazi from Mazi Great Events mentioned the role played by conferences and similar events as an element of destination branding. Mr Dimitris Koutoulas from the Greek Open University discussed the various elements that constitute destination marketing and the need for the involvement of specialists in order to achieve its development. Mr Dimitis Michailidis of the European Culinary Heritage Network mentioned the case of Kozani and the activities that have been developed by private initiatives in order to create a local level of quality.
During the round table that followed, Mr George Hatziyiannakis from the restaurant Selini on Santorini, Mr Kostas Vakirtzis from the restaurant Plous Podilatou, Mrs Menia Zafeiropoulou from the Hatzimichalis Estate and Mr Kostas Konstantinidis from Heliotopos Conferences discussed gastronomy as a marketing tool for a destination.
In the tenth session Mr Zacharias Agioutantis from the Technical University of Crete discussed the advantages and disadvantages of websites that are created according to specific criteria. Mrs Rania Deimezi of Travel Media Applications emphasized the importance of achieving a high standard of search engines with the aim of promoting destinations to the full on the Internet, which is proving to be an increasingly significant marketing tool. Mrs Margarita Manousou, chief editor of M┼┼ďINGREECE, analysed the correct and most productive was of presenting a destination at tourism exhibitions. Mr Athanasios Raptis of Helexpo then spoke about the importance of exhibitions whilst Mr Nikos Koumanis of Xenia Exhibitions-Conferences, covered the subject of exhibition marketing and mentioned the advantages enjoyed by destinations that organize exhibitions.
The conference closed with the Marketing Destinations Workshop that was coordinated by Mr Dimitris Koutoulas of the Greek Open University during which the case of Crete and Paros were analysed.
IMIC was under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism Development and of the Greek Tourism Organization, the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE), the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA), the Attica Hotel Association, the Association of Greek Exhibition and Conference Organizers, the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), and the Thessaloniki Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB).
The conference was organized in collaboration with the Alba Graduate School and the research company Focus. The official air carrier of the conference was the company Aegean Airlines.
The Major Sponsor of the conference was the Ministry of Tourism Development and the Greek Tourism Organization. IMIC was also supported by the Attica Hotel Association, the Arts Centre at ACS in Halandri, the company Vision, Intercatering, the hotel Divani Caravel, the company Conference Interpreters and the Centre of Greek Musical Tradition Lyravlos.
The radio station Skai 100,3 was the Media partner of the conference. The newspaper Kathimerini, the magazine Oinoxoos, the programme "Menoume Ellada" of ERT, Marketing week and the prints and electronic channels of the tourism press: Greek travel pages, Exhibit, Hellenic Sun Editions, Hellenic Travelling, Touristiki Agora, Sinedrio, Money and Tourism, Travel Daily News, MEETINGREECE, Tourism Report, and Xenia News were all communication sponsors of the conference.
An exhibition took place parallel to the conference in which the following companies and institutions took part: Aegean Airlines, ALBA Graduate School, Czech Tourism, Europartners, Exhibit, Exporama, Global Relations Coordinators, Heliotopos Conferences, Hellenic Sun Editions, Hellenic Travelling, Intercatering, Marketing Week, Meetingreece, Tourism Report, Travel Daily News, Xenia News, Development Company of the Cyclades, Greek Tourism Organization, Committee of Cycladic Tourism, Lazaridis Estate, Menoume Ellada ERT, Milos Conference Centre - George Iliopoulos, Sinedrio, Touristiki Agora, Money and Tourism.
The next conference in the IMIC series (International Meetings Industry Conferences) will focus on the subject "Marketing Destinations focusing on Incentive Trips, Team Building Events and Corporate Entertainment" and will take place in Athens on 7th and 8th February 2007.