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Future Convention Cities Initiative: A World’s Leading Convention Bureau Alliance

Future Convention Cities Initiative(FCCI): A World’s Leading Convention Bureau Alliance


1. Background and Objectives

The Seoul Tourism Organization was established in February 2008, making us a somewhat late entrant into the industry for a city of our size and development.  Our mission is basically twofold: to increase both the number of inbound leisure tourists and those traveling to the city for “MICE” events, collectively business related to meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. Though there are some basic similarities, these are two different endeavors that require unique strategies and approaches; a task charged to a team of 18 STO staffers that make up the Seoul Convention Bureau.

Upon our founding, we set one major goal: to be ranked a global top 5 convention city by the year 2015. It was an ambitious goal and there were naysayers that thought it was overly ambitious, if not impossible. STO knew that to achieve this goal, we would have to demonstrate that we had clear long term vision and the ability to deliver innovative and competitive offerings. Keeping in mind that MICE events often book up to a decade in advance; we have to give organizers confidence that they are coming to a city that is thinking about both the present and the future.

Seoul set out to do just this and joined forces with London and Sydney to look for a strategy to build a convention city alliance with an eye trained on the future, and thus FCCI was established. Our goals were straightforward: the three founding cities all saw the value of sharing experience and doing collective long term research. In short order FCCI quickly expanded to include the likeminded cities of San Francisco, Toronto, Abu Dhabi and Durban. And while open to additional members, we are not actively soliciting other cities at this time.

At the outset, FCCI looked at issues such as which emerging industries to target in future and how to maximize the long term economic contribution of the MICE industry for our destinations. Of particular interest to Seoul is how to ensure at MICE events will support the key knowledge based sectors in order to drive the Korean economy forward.

The members are already sharing valuable expertise which will help each others’ development and have had worked together on two major industry presentations, first at the Seoul Action Forum held in Seoul in March 2011 and at the IMEX Politicians Forum in Frankfurt, Germany this past May. These conference platforms demonstrate FCCI members’ thought leadership and provide additional credibility to our cities as destinations of distinction in the convention industry. Our next meeting is scheduled for October during IMEX America

Now made up of seven member cities, it is important to point out that FCCI is not a marketing initiative. FCCI realizes that today’s MICE customers are looking for solid substance about strategy and future plans when they look at cities to host their events. With growing competition across the world for the biggest conventions, cities have to make sure they are aware of and ahead of the practice of their main competitors. Therefore, FCCI aims to develop content that will drive the development of the conventions industry in each member city. We believe this is vital in attracting key events in the future.

And in closing, I am pleased to share with you the news that Seoul captured fifth place on the UIA (Union of International Associations) list of Top International meeting cities for 2010.  Our ambitious goal achieved five years ahead of schedule.  At STO, it is our firm desire that our goals with FCCI will be equally as successful for the city and the citizens of Seoul!


Maureen O’Crowley







Maureen O’Crowley
Vice President
Seoul Tourism Organizaton



2. Industry Development Strategies of the Member States


1) London and Partners


Strategy behind joining the alliance

The Future Convention Cities Initiative (FCCI) was formally launched in early 2010. This international cooperative seeks innovation and further development in the convention industry through research and best practice models. FCCI’s founding goal is to bring together leading future-focused cities that want to secure or establish their position as leading destinations for key knowledge economy meetings and events. Members are committed to developing and delivering on strategies to help grow the local knowledge economy and to maximize the long-term benefits of tourism through:


  • Using business tourism, and meetings in particular, as a tool to help drive economic development and transformation
  • Facilitating inward investment
  • Creating knowledge economy jobs
  • Helping to establish or enhance a clearly differentiated brand and sense of ‘place’ for their destination


Current FCCI members are Seoul, London, Sydney, San Francisco, Abu Dhabi, Toronto, and Durban. The FCCI is initiated by Fast Future Research – authors of the Convention 2020 study on the future of the meeting industry.

As a founding member of the FCCI, London always saw the potential for working with other cities to share and exchange knowledge. For us the FCCI is a key way to share learning’s from past bids and previous events but also a great way of sharing new concepts and working together to initiate valuable research which will help us in the future.

For London as an experienced and well-known destination for business and major events we obviously have many years of being a successful business hub – but we also have more to learn and new avenues to explore. Many of the cities within the FCCI are innovative cities which are just emerging in to the business tourism sector and therefore have a fresh perspective and different point of view – something which when combined with our experience makes a great forum and output for new ideas.



Industry Development Strategies

Business tourism is incredibly important for the UK and in particular for London. At London & Partners (the official promotional agency for the city previously known as Visit London) our role as the convention bureau is to ensure that we do as much as possible to support the MICE sector coming in to London.

London & Partners offers business visitors free and impartial advice on planning any type of event in the capital from 10 people up to 10,000. The team at London & partners offers a whole business tourism offer which can mean anything from advice and venue searching to liaising with suppliers and offering a full event solution – so making it easy to bring a business event to London.

With the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games legacy spurring on more regeneration and development in the capital, London now has the opportunity to make its mark as the world’s leading centre for business tourism. The city is investing huge amounts of money into business tourism to improve our overall global offering and that’s why being involved in the FCCI is so important.

In 2010 we saw a key milestone for London, with our first ICC (International Convention Centre) at ExCeL London and this adds to the thousands of established conference and business facilities London already has. Therefore it’s a crucial time to invest in research and also share our findings with other cities!

We recently invested in some research where we found that there was £11 billion worth of investment taking place across the city in the lead up to 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. The investment being driven into the capital includes new business venues, new hotels, improved and new travel and transport and numerous regeneration programmes. The amount of investment really does reflect a long-term confidence in a city that can be experienced by business visitors and events organisers in the run up to, during and after the Olympic Games.


(*Source: London and Partners)


London’s competitive edge as a business events destination

London’s strength with the MICE sector is its world-class variety, when business travellers choose London they are choosing a world-class city which delivers on experience and on value for money, offering an array of unique and unusual venues and activities. The choice and diversity in London is unsurpassed, nowhere else offers such a mix of leading venues, hospitality, culture, high-quality service and events knowledge.

More than 50 major international communities have made London their home and the fact that more than 300 different languages are spoken in the capital just highlights why so many businesses choose London to bring their meeting or event to.

London is consistently voted as the leading business destination. It’s a city which has business in its DNA; it has long provided inspiration to some of history’s most eminent scientists, mathematicians, engineers, artist and athletes. More than half of the UK’s top 100 listed companies (the FTSE 100) and over 100 of Europe’s 500 largest companies are headquartered in central London – so it’s also a globally recognised hub of business.

London is also one of the most accessible cities on the planet. Five international airports handle a steady stream of flights and have fast, direct train services linking them to the city centre.


London’s MICE Infrastructure

London is a city which is able to offer a vast array of accommodation which will suit any size of group. From the uber cool and luxurious to the decedent and historical hotels which have been welcoming celebrities and Royalty for many years; Stylish and quirky hotels with an English boutique-air about them, to State-of-the-art, London’s hotels are able to combine luxurious accommodation with contemporary meeting and conference spaces.

By 2012, there will also be 13,300 new hotel rooms available, giving the UK capital a total of 123,000 bedrooms. London & Partners also launched the first ever London Accommodation Charter for large conventions. The charter has been signed by over 12 major hotel groups. The hotel groups represent over 39,598 bedrooms hotel rooms in London, which is approx. 39% of the overall bedrooms available in the capital (there is approx.100, 000 hotel bedrooms in London at the moment). The charter has been created to simplify the process of sourcing London hotel rooms for events that require 1,000 beds or more.


London’s Tourism Resources

For most business visitor’s part of the attraction of London is the almost endless list of fantastic downtime activities, from sight-seeing to shopping to eating out.

Around every corner of London visitors will find new and exciting options – it’s a city of choice, with music, theatre and museums. One evening business visitors could be listening to the latest opera at the Royal Opera House and the next they could be sitting in the legendary Dover Street Jazz café, listening to the hushed sounds of a mellow saxophone player.

In terms of theatre, guests can become a ‘groundling’ and watch one of Shakespeare’s plays just as in olden days at the famous Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Or they can be dazzled by the glitz and glamour of one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show-stopping musicals.

Visitors are also spoilt for choice when it comes to art, exhibitions and museums; there is a range of exhibits to view, from the contemporary at places like Tate Modern, to the stunning and historical with world-renowned exhibitions at the beautifully curated V&A Museum.

The city boasts more than 40,000 shops including Europe’s largest retail complex Westfield London and the soon to be open Westfield Stratford, 48 Michelin-starred restaurants, more than 6,000 restaurants offering menus from 70 major country cuisines, 300 museums and galleries (17 of which offer free entry), 150 theatres, 147 parks, more than 10,000 bars and clubs and four World Heritage sites (Tower of London, Kew Gardens, Maritime Greenwich and the Houses of Parliament).


(*Source: London and Partners)


Future Plans

We’re extremely excited – the FCCI the Future Convention Cities Initiative – is a great opportunity for London to learn, share and improve! There is no doubt that the Olympic Games have created a sense of excitement and ambition not seen in London for generations. Even for a majestic city like London that rarely stands still, the number of new openings, refurbishments and regeneration projects are truly astounding – there really has never been a better time to consider bringing conference and business events into the UK’s capital.

Tracy Halliwell


Tracy Halliwell
Director of Business Tourism & Major Events
London and Partners


2) Business Events Sydney


Industry Development Strategies: Collaboration and Stakeholder Management

Sydney is an aspiring destination with stunning natural attractions that are complimented by a vibrant lifestyle, diverse communities and dynamic business environment. But Business Events Sydney knows that attracting and staging successful business events requires more. In Australia we have to work hard – we are a long way from source markets. This means that strategy and smarts are key to how we pursue and secure international events. Our strategy as Sydney’s convention bureau is to ensure that our business development efforts are aligned to government’s target growth sectors. In this way, we play an important link between government, institutions and the private sector, working in a collaborative effort to identify and secure event opportunities linked to growth sectors.

Such a targeted effort cultivates a dynamic environment supported by key stakeholders. And the strategy has definitely paid off. Sydney is a world leader. It is ranked the #10 global business events destination, and holds the #2 position in the Asia Pacific region in the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) 2010 city rankings. Sydney is also classified as the #10 global city in the AT Kearney global cities index 2010. Sydney’s top global rankings are a remarkable achievement. Despite competing cities investing heavily in infrastructure and supporting bids, the underlying talent existing in Sydney shines through.

Government and institutions identify priority sectors and research areas. We, as Sydney’s convention bureau, have identified way to correlate our work to these priorities. We researched and identified potential international events that will be of strategic interest and relevance to government and institutions and that will help to deliver their business and professional objectives. These international events are the primary catalysts for attracting world leaders of these priority sectors and provide ideal platforms for knowledge sharing and exchange.

This strategy has worked. It has cultivated a new committed, collaborative effort from key stakeholders required to support and pursue international bids. This mutually beneficial professional environment breeds esteem for the work of the business events sector, and from this a group of powerful advocates has evolved to strengthen the industry’s calls for more support and investment to boost Sydney and Australia’s international competitiveness. This strategy of collaboration and linkage continues even after an event is secured.

Over the years, BESydney has experimented and developed approaches to maximize the flow on value of each event hosted in Sydney. The aim is to optimize the events and identify all possible avenues where ROI can be harnessed for parties involved. This strategic stakeholder management maintains constant communication and involvement to ensure that the bureau’s work is being recognized and supported throughout. With such a targeted and focused strategy in place, coupled with solid global recognition, BESydney is well placed to drive future growth.


(*Source: Business Events Sydney)


Significance of Sydney’s Business Events Industry 

Sydney’s destination appeal is certainly multifaceted: beauty, brains, soul, culture, diversity, creativity, ground-breaking science and research, and a global reputation for excellence. Yet, despite this strong appeal, and the fact that business events are recognized by destinations and governments as being high-yield and constituting an important part of a nation’s larger tourism pie, Australia’s tourism attention, an indeed this is a global trend, still tends to focus on leisure visitation due to its sheer volume in comparison to business events. This inevitably affects investment to support the ongoing growth and vitality of the business events industry. This has been a persistent problem for many nations.

Business events’ visitor numbers and the associated spend on goods and services are widely recognized. This is the immediate benefit which the tourism industry reaps. The longer term flow on contributions of hosting business events – the legacy impacts – are not usually associated with the efforts invested to secure the business. These legacy impacts provide immense value to the wider communities and economy, in most cases outside the boundaries of the tourism industry.

Today, there is growing recognition within government and the wider community that business events make a much broader contribution to the host destination, but these legacies are largely unmeasured. For Sydney, and Australia, the value of these legacy impacts is very important, given the country’s geographic distance and relatively remoteness from primary markets. “There is a critical need for us to measure the legacies in some way and to communicate the important connection to business events.

In 2010, Business Events Sydney (BESydney) commissioned the University of Technology Sydney to research five world congresses that had taken place in Sydney in the last three to four years.  The research adopted a qualitative case-study approach across four key industry sectors – medical, environment, law and sport/gender. The study demonstrated that benefits derived from business events extend well beyond the tourism contribution. BESydney has since commissioned phase two of the Benefits Beyond Tourism study to both verify and extend the findings of the earlier research. This scoping study provided baseline evidence of the broader contributions of business events including knowledge expansion; access to networking opportunities, relationship building and collaboration; promotion attractiveness of educational outcomes; fundraising opportunities for future research capacity; raising awareness and profiling of sector specific issues; and showcasing local talent and destination global reputation.

The results are crucial to prove the true economic worth of the meetings and event market to the host country and potentially the region. The survey results are conclusive and convincing and provided a strong case for us to present to government and institutions, particularly universities of the real value of business events and how it can benefit their own work and policies. The decisions made by government directly impact the investment opportunities for the business events sector. Ongoing investment back to the industry is essential to encourage renewed interest from meeting organizers.


(*Source: Business Events Sydney)


Future Plans

Sydney’s world standing will be a strong base for growth in the future. There are exciting plans on the drawing board, and underway, including the refresh and redevelopment of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and Darling Harbor precinct, the much discussed Barangaroo project, the refurbishment of Star City and other great new projects.

These developments are essential for Sydney to maintain its place as a leading international host city for corporate, professional and association conferences and exhibitions. The timing is right. And there is an immense opportunity for Sydney to make the most of a significant shift taking place in the world congress and meetings environment. Not only is Asia growing at an astounding rate, but business events are also growing rapidly both in volume and size. And the implications for Australia and Sydney are significant. Sydney’s landscape is changing. New Sydney, combined with existing icons – the world’s largest natural harbor, the World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House, Bondi Beach, the Harbor Bridge and more  – is going to be pretty hard to beat in terms of destination appeal.

However, we know that we are not going to be successful by relying on looks alone! Australians have won 11 Nobel Prizes – most of them in medicine and science – making it one of the leading Nobel Prize-winning countries in per capita terms, and that Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of patent applications for innovations in renewable energy and biotechnology. Australia is leading in the world in many areas. Business events help to raise awareness of our intellectual capital, and to profile sector specific issues, and in turn often secure investment.


Lyn Lewis-Smith


Lyn Lewis-Smith
Business Events Sydney

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