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2019 trend forecast for convention destinations


The global economic growth forecast for 2019 appears to be adjusting downward. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reduced its global economic growth forecast for 2019 from 3.7 percent in the first half of the year to 3.5 percent in the second half of the year, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered the economic growth rate forecast for the United States from 2.7 percent to 2.5 percent, and the forecast for China from 6.4 percent to 6.2 percent. South Korea's economic growth rate for 2018 was at 2.8 percent in the first half of the year, 2.3 percent for the second half, and is expected to hover around 2.6 percent based on the yearly standard. It is forecasted that South Korea's economic growth rate will be around 2.5 percent this year, which is a decrease from last year's rate. This downward trend implies that the trade disputes between the United States and China have led to the deterioration of the world economic environment.

In this uncertain and somewhat dark global economic situation, there are two particularly significant convention destination-related trends I would like to introduce. The first trend involves implementing strategies to increase economic efficiency when it comes to attracting conventions - that is, strategies to increase the probability of bidding success by cooperating with competing destinations instead of turning to additional spending or investment. The second trend is related to strategies to create long-term, sustainable results by holding conventions where the intellectual capital of a destination is maximized.

The first trend I would like to bring attention to is the strengthening of collaborative efforts between convention destinations. There has recently been an increase in the number of instances where convention destinations work together to bid for events. An example of this is the successful joint bid that took place for the annual congress of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANM) - a five-day event attended by over 5,000 participants every year - by the Barcelona Convention Bureau and Vienna Convention Bureau. The two organizations succeeded in the bid by submitting a two-city proposal in which the event would be held by Barcelona and Vienna in alternating years. This approach began with the event being held in Barcelona in 2016, in Vienna in 2017, and in the city of Dusseldorf in 2018. The event will return to Barcelona in 2019 and Vienna in 2020.

Different cities have also been working together on joint marketing efforts to attract large scale businesses from the massive convention markets of India and China. European City Marketing (ECM) - a destination marketing association in Europe - held a road show in India that was attended by a large number of European cities in order to give EU cities a chance to target India's MICE market, and they also provided an education and training program for the cities in attendance. Such instances suggest that, in times of global economic uncertainty, convention destinations seek strategies to increase their bid success rate by sharing resources and working together with other cities. It is forecasted that the trend of collaborations between convention destinations will continue to increase this year due to the uncertainties surrounding the world economic environment.

The increase in the use of local intellectual capital is the second trend I would like to examine. With infrastructure such as convention centers and accommodation facilities already being a prerequisite for attracting conventions, it is now becoming increasingly important for cities to have plenty of local intellectual capital that are related to an event's theme. There is also a growing interest in featuring local intellectual capital in event programs so that a sustainable legacy, such as the networks between locals and event participants, as well as economic growth potential, can be left behind by events once the participants have all left. As cities have to commit funding and other considerable resources in order to attract a convention, and as the impacts that are felt in the short term come solely from the impacts of tourism such as the increased expenditure on accommodations and food and beverages, the issue of what long-term legacy can be left behind for the local community once an event is over has come to the fore. To this end, host cities are strengthening the networks between locals and the event's outside speakers and attendees by expanding the participation of local specialists and industry professionals. Host cities are also using local museums, art galleries, and historical sites as event venues, utilizing the services of local street artists and musicians, and featuring local experts as speakers in order to maximize the diverse talents and resources of the host city. In doing so, host cities can increase the utilization of their local intellectual capital and enhance an event's performance in terms of its long-term and sustainable impact. It is forecasted that such trends will continue to rise this year.

With the global economic forecasts for 2019 being predominantly pessimistic, convention destinations are taking a proactive approach to cope with the economic environment. Instead of simply engaging in aggressive bid tactics and business activities in order to attract more conventions, destination cities are developing approaches that are more strategic and economical. They are also maximizing the use of their local intellectual capital in order to help events leave a more lasting and sustainable legacy on the local community. It is anticipated that convention destinations will increasingly turn to such economical and strategic approaches in 2019.

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