Greece’s first conference on the meetings industry, organized last month by Kostas Konstantinidis of Heliotopos Conferences, welcomed some 140 delegates. Few of these, however, were hoteliers or regional authority leaders who could have gained valuable knowledge on a sector of the tourism industry that could serve them well. This golden opportunity was lost to the very people who could gain the most from an increase in conference and meeting tourism.
The 3-day conference covered almost every aspect of the conference and meeting industry. Speakers from home and abroad covered details that showed how important this sector of tourism is to our country’s travel and tourism economy. One area that was deeply analyzed was convention and visitors’ bureaus and their vital importance in each and every domestic destination that could handle meetings.
In general, it was found that the meetings industry is a highly tailored sector of business travel, involving corporate and association conferences, meetings and incentives. Operating year-round, the meetings industry makes a major contribution to society and business through research, education and cultural understanding. It is high yielding and sustainable and it helps to regenerate urban and resort areas and stimulates inward investment and export earnings. The growth of the global meetings industry is predicted to be faster than any other sector to the year 2010. The conference provided an international forum for destination and venue executives, professional conference and event organizers, meeting planners, destination management companies, meeting industry services and equipment suppliers, national and local organizations involved in the development of conference and incentive tourism. The event served to demonstrate to a wide audience the key role that the sector will occupy in the tourism industry in the coming years and provided a wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas.
The conference provided a greater understanding of key issues for the meeting industry and provided solutions through top quality speakers and presentations from industry leaders and researchers. Delegates identified some gaps in knowledge and received direction on how to fill those gaps.