The Turkish Lesson, Again.

I had the privilege of being one of the only four hosted buyers from Romania invited at the Ace of M.I.C.E. exhibition which took place în Istanbul between 27 February and 2 March 2014 at the Istanbul Convention and Conference Centerand I came back from there experiencing an uncertain state of mind: both being glad for the successful event of our friends on the Bosphorus and being sad that nobody in the world really knows there actually exists a Romanian M.I.C.E. industry.

Since years, our colleagues în Turkey have been teaching us practical lessons in leisure tourism, but this time theAce of M.I.C.E. exhibition was not so much a demonstration – we all know the degree of development of the events industry in Turkey – as much as it was a showcase of the M.I.C.E. opportunities in Turkey.

I found the organizing and management of the event above my highest expectations,  taking into consideration that this is was the first edition of the event. There were some timing gaps indeed form what some of the buyers told me, but taking into consideration their number and the variety of the countries they came from (starting with Germany, Italy or the U.K., up to Russia or Azerbaidjan), this doesn’t take away any of the merits of the team.

With or without gaps, around 150 hosted buyers from around the world came to Istanbul, got a good look at the airport, experience the transfer services, the hotels, some venues, met potențial suppliers, got a relaxing networking party in a night club, visited the ciyt and did business. These are 150 potențial buyers who got to Turkey due to a private venture, supported by private business. It’s what Vali Constantin has been struggling to do for the last couple of years in Romania with his MICEPRO project. Unfortunately, we’re only a few people listening to him.

I really have to underline the clear target of this year’s edition: China. The Chinese presence was by far the most visible and valuable, including the importance of the corporations represented there by their procurement officers former or presently working for names like Microsoft or H.P. , among others. During the Chinese panel one of the guests, representing an important M.I.C.E. agency, made me understand that it is impossible for Romania to host even a mid-sized incentive from China, which would go around 1000 guests, which must be hosted în one or two hotels of the same category and quality and follow together the same schedule. Just imagine what nightmare it would mean to take them from the Henri Coanda Internațional Airport to Poiana Brașov! That besides the painful visa clearance process…

On the side of the exhibitors, the pleasant surprise was not only their number, as it was the variety of the activities they represented. There war more than hotels, resorts, venues, agencies or transportation companies there. At the Ace of M.I.C.E. exhibition the offer was completed by H.R. companies for temporary work, event animators, night clubs, stage equipment suppliers,  stand or advertising  and promotional materials production companies, P.R. companies, video production companies and security companies. You had it all in one place!

The conclusion I draw from such an exemplary presence of suppliers is that the antrepreneurs in Turkey understand the importance of the events industry and that it is a source of revenue, as well as an important economic niche and a branding resource.

Moreover, the high quality presence of strong private companies, whith important investments locked in the building of their stands, only demonstrates that the M.I.C.E. industry in Turkey is already profitable and this encourages a competition in quality. This is what real market economy is all about.

Yes, as I have already told the Turkish team behind the event, Turyzm Media Grubu, the first step was the right one at the Ace of M.I.C.E. exhibition in Istanbul, and the first objective of the project, that of facilitating encounters between peers, was achieved.

When will we have a natural event, internationally competitional, here in Romania? When will we really have a Romanian Convention Bureau which really exists by doing something?

Written for and published in: Travel Advisor, no.27/ March 2014.

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