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The Importance of Using Intellectual Capital in Destination Marketing


As the competition between cities to attract conventions becomes more intense, the methods used for destination marketing are also undergoing significant change. The traditional tactics used to market a city as a convention destination involved putting an emphasis on physical infrastructure - things like huge convention centers and an abundance of all different kinds of hotel rooms – since facilities played an important factor in determining convention destinations. However, now since a majority of cities already have the basic infrastructure required to hold a convention due to the continuous rise of investment in such facilities, an emphasis on these physical structures alone makes it difficult for cities to differentiate themselves and gain the upper hand.

Cities are now pointing to the intellectual capital they have built as their distinctive strength when they market themselves to try and attract conventions. Unlike the past when cities simply introduced their convention centers and other facilities, the focus now is on introducing the intellectual capital of a specific industry that the city has that can't be found in another city. Cities attempt to persuade organizers that an event absolutely has to be held in their respective city by placing an emphasis on the expertise that is specific to their city.

London - a hub for worldwide business, finance, and culture - took its competitive edge into consideration and put forth a project that makes use of their intellectual capital. The project is titled, 'The Capital of Cutting Edge'. This project divided the city of London into four sectors - technology sector, financial center, creative sector, and life sciences - and now London is holding events that correspond to the characteristics of each sector. Located in the city's technology sector, Tech City in east London has more than 40,000 digital tech businesses, which employ almost 200,000 people. Using these distinctive strengths of Tech City, London has been holding London Technology Week every year since 2014. In 2016, more than 300 tech events were held in approximately 200 of London's facilities during London Technology Week with more than 40,000 delegates in attendance.

Vancouver, Canada introduces itself as a 'knowledge-based convention destination where you can network with the whole world'. In order to emphasize its city branding message, Vancouver promotes itself as a knowledge-based city by introducing its main industries, which include life sciences, digital media and technology, natural resources, and fishery.

Vienna, Europe's representative city for international meetings which is also known for its history and traditions, recently announced its new 'Now. Forever' slogan to reinforce its originality. Vienna has also implemented the new 'Smart City Wien Framework Strategy' to actively respond to changes in the future environment. The core themes within the strategy include education and research, health and social services, city development plans, transportation and city planning, environmental and climate protection, politics and administration, and information and community technology. By combining its existing traditional values with such changes and innovation in its city marketing strategy, Vienna has taken the leap into turning into a smart city and is helping to further the development of the convention industry.

The German Convention Bureau has implemented a strategy that strengthens the country’s competitive edge for attracting conventions by using their economic expertise that comes from being the 2nd largest exporter in the world and their cutting-edge scientific technology. The bureau has divided Germany's main strategic industries into transportation and logistics, medical care and sanitation, chemical and pharmaceutical business, energy and environmental industries, technology and innovation, and financial services. Germany has increased its competitiveness in the convention industry by cultivating and attracting international meetings that correspond with each of the strategic industries and focusing them in convention cities in Germany that have specific industrial advantages.

Conventions are forums where the key stakeholders of a specific industry gather to share ideas and information and to form networks. Therefore, if a city has a high level of development and expertise in an industry that is related to a convention's category and has a group of experts that represents the given category, it is more likely to hold the event successfully. In other words, building intellectual capital that is related to a convention's category will become one of the factors that lead to a successful event.

For this reason, recent marketing strategies to attract conventions have been centered on a few cities and their intellectual capital. This is a very effective strategy for differentiating one city from another. If cities that already have a level of infrastructure that wouldn't disqualify them from holding an event are competing with each other, it is now time for these candidates to build a competitive advantage by centering on their intellectual capital


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