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  YEAR VII       NUMBER 14       BIANNUAL       NOV 2019 » APR 2020      10,00 €   





OWNER Estação Livre, Comunicação Porto | Portugal Phone: +351 221 113 202 | info@eventpointinternational.com www.eventpointinternational.com DIRECTOR Rui Ochôa [rui@eventpointinternational.com] EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa [claudia@eventpointinternational.com] NEWSROOM Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa Maria João Leite [mj@eventpointinternational.com] Alexandra Noronha [alexandra@eventpointinternational.com] Olga Teixeira INTERNATIONAL MICE CORRESPONDENTS Ramy Salameh, Rose de Almeida TRANSLATION Diana Reis Marques [diana@eventpointinternational.com] DIRECTOR OF SALES Filipe Silva [info@eventpointinternational.com] ASSISTANT Rita Costa COOPERATING WITH THIS EDITION Francisco Morgado Véstia, Isabel Amaral, Julianne Jammers, Ramy Salameh, Vítor Hugo Filipe DESIGN Norma Design [info@normadesign.com] COVER PHOTO Hélder Couto Photo | Mary Me PHOTOS Minifoto PRINTING Norprint ‑ a casa do livro Zona Industrial Alto da Cruz ‑ Rua das Artes Gráficas, nº 209 4780‑739 Santo Tirso | Portugal

Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa 

Rui Ochôa 

“I DO” The number of international weddings taking place in Portugal is increasing and is now an important niche for the events industry. Dream venues and sets, together with the quality of providers and a friendly environment, makes this country a privileged place for foreigners to have their special day. We reached three of our main wedding planners to find out more about this business. The Lisbon region and the Algarve are two destinations that host a lot of international weddings, but they are thriving in many other events. Lisbon has reached the 6th place in ICCA’s ranking, an incredible result, and continues to attract both corporate and associations events. “Wellness is the new golf” was one of the messages that SITE shared at IT&CMA this year. That means that the Algarve has a competitive advantage. Check out some of the wellness offer in this destination. Macau is on route to become a MICE star in Asia and its new international convention centre, by Galaxy Entertainment Group, will fit into that goal. We got together with Scott Kreeger, the director, in Bangkok. Neighbour Phnom Penh is one of the feature destinations in this edition, as it has hosted the Cambodia Travel Mart. With a terrible recent history, the capital of Cambodia wants to be happy again and its tourism and meetings industry can play an important role in achieving that.

    CON T EN T S TA BL E   

LEGAL DEPOSIT NUMBER 358113/13 CIRCULATING 1.500 copies FREQUENCY Biannual It is strictly forbidden to partially or completely reproduce texts or illustrations by Event Point. Information in the ads are the sole responsability of the advertisers. Consequently, we can not be held responsible for any incorrect information shown.

06 Can a Convention Centre contribute to member value of associations?, by Julianne Jammers (AIPC) 08 Companies: Benfica Events 10 SAYING “I DO” IN PORTUGAL 14 Algarve has the right incentive for business travellers’ wellbeing 17 Destinations: Lisboa 18 Venues: Super Bock Arena - Rosa Mota Pavilion 20 Hotels: PortoBay Flores 22 How Artificial Intelligence will influence events in 2020, by Vítor Hugo Filipe 23 INTERVIEW: LUCA FAVETTA (PCMA) 25 What is crucial to know when we have Chinese participants in our events?, by Isabel Amaral 27 Event: Planetiers World Gathering 29 IAPCO: Return on time on the agenda 32 GALAXY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE AND GALAXY ARENA 36 Influencer marketing and the event industry, by Francisco Morgado Véstia 38 Destinations: Košice 40 Destinations: Phnom Penh 42 Companies index



CAN A CONVENTION CENTRE CONTRIBUTE TO MEMBER VALUE OF ASSOCIATIONS? At the heart of the Associations value proposition is networking and professional development and the benefits of these two features are the often the strength of the membership. Meetings have long been the delivery method for these interactions. To some extent, the internet has disrupted the meeting business providing an alternative method to accessing these features through webinars, open online courses and networking platforms. Arguably, it has also provided a solution for the environment concerns, cost and hassle of travel. But no matter how good technology is or gets, physical meetings still matter.

So while conferences remain a pillar of the Association business, the reality is that they need new and innovative ways to deliver bottom-line value in their meetings —and they have to be more creative than ever before in how they do that.

At the SwissTech Convention Centre, we offer that creative approach in acting as a partner to their program development – not just a venue. We collaborate closely with Associations to provide an educational environment, develop new contacts and deliver an overall unique member experience. Unique Value for Associations Many would argue that the role of a convention centre is to provide excellence in facility and conference management and ensure that their destination is top of mind for the “after hour” activities. At the university-based SwissTech Convention Centre, on the banks of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, we have developed our USP beyond just these arguably critical elements. We play an active role in providing access to knowledge and talent to Associations in relevant fields. With over 350 laboratories and research groups on campus, the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne) is one of world’s most innovative and productive scientific institutions. Dozens of startups and multinationals on the campus and in the area compliment the university environment and the convention centre is an exceptional place to meet and exchange ideas. On the one hand, we actively identify relevant Associations that can benefit from a close cooperation with the experts, some of the world’s most respected scientists, located on our campus

in the development of their programs. Complementing this, our active outreach to our professors, who are members of numerous Associations, allows us to help make likely matches with the aim of creating meetings that have unique and lasting value. Integrating students of all levels from bachelor to doctoral programs into the meetings, both as a resource for delivery but also as participants provide Associations access to their future Members. We have helped to create special networking sessions – a kind of “speed-dating” - to encourage and create those serendipitous moments where relationships can form. Alliances that support convention centres strengths can make a difference for Associations in their quest to identify appropriate venues that can offer additional value. The SwissTech recently became a member of the Energy Cities Alliance – a select group of destinations with significant energy economies, with the intent to attract energy related Association meetings. While our destination is not considered an energy city, as a knowledge and research partner thanks to our location on the EPFL campus, we can offer Associations access to the expertise in both traditional energy solutions and sustainable energy that is a strong offering on the EPFL campus.

Value for Association Sponsors and Exhibitors Not only Associations have direct access to knowledge and student talent, but this access can be a compelling incentive for Association meeting partners and supporters from industry. What better place to hunt for talent than during an event of like-minded folks under a single roof. Industry spends significant time and money in recruiting and Associations have an excellent opportunity to position their meeting as a credible platform for complimenting this effort. Convention Centres can play an important role in bringing more value to Associations by looking at what they and their community can offer beyond majestic locations, a healthy supply of hotel rooms and a well-equipped and flexible venue. Conventions closely relate to industries and tend to look for venues where those industries are located. The same case can be made for Associations. By targeting those Associations that match up with local, regional or national economic strengths and creating opportunities to access the knowledge in the economy, Convention Centres can create a win-win for all of their stakeholders. AIPC Column by Julianne Jammers Managing Director – SwissTech Convention Centre, Lausanne, Switzerland



A NEW STAGE OF EMOTION FOR YOUR EVENT Much more than organising corporate events, Benfica Events creates distinctive experiences in a singular environment.

Our clients play at home. There is a complete flexibility to transform the events of the brands which visit us into something unique, perfectly adapted to the needs, concepts and expectations of each one. New stages of feeling different experiences. The concept of indoor events is extended to a stadium dimension, to the stands, to the pitch. And being in a sporting environment can bring some emotions which are not felt in other facilities. Nobody can stay indifferent to sports phenomena, to the passion generated, to the lasting memories. All of this may be transported into the events, valuing it. We transport your company’s identity into our stadium, making it your own! You may have a video of your company on the mega screens, your logo in the center of the pitch, an impressive play of lights and the vibrant sound of our Stadium. We can also add the voice of our speaker to enhance this emotion. We offer various formations for any kind of event: from a simple meeting to a training initiative, team building activity,

product launch, Christmas or Gala dinners, congresses, and seminars. Everything with great professionalism and dedication, sowing experiences and making dreams come true.

We want your company to be the Man of the Match at our stadium.

BENFICA EVENTS Lisboa | Portugal | +351 217 219 500 | benficaeventos@slbenfica.pt www.slbenfica.pt/events




   © Hélder Couto Photo | Mary Me   

SAYING “I DO” IN PORTUGAL Portugal is increasingly a destination chosen by foreign couples to celebrate their marriage. Its climate, food and drink trilogy forms the basis of national tourism and has, with some special variables, the ability to please not only wedding planners, but also brides and grooms.

Not living in Portugal, they know the country because they have heard about it or because it was their holiday destination before and they were seduced by the beauty of the landscape and the mild climate. After all, what attracts tourists also attracts more and more couples who, when decide to say “I do”, choose Portugal for one of the most important days in their lives. From Douro to the Algarve, through Lisbon or the Azores, the number of weddings is increasing, meaning this is also an increasingly interesting business not only for wedding planners, but also for suppliers including hotels, venues, catering or photography. The latest Ministry of Justice data for 2018 confirm this trend. These figures, which only concern civil registration - do not include, therefore, the couples who celebrated marriage in their homeland and who only made the reception in our country - have been rising. If at the beginning of the decade the number of marriages of foreign citizens performed in Portugal was about 500, in just eight years this number has risen to 1,235 celebrations. A trend that also keeps pace with the increasing number of tourists in Portugal, but with very interesting features, such as the length of stay, the number of guests accompanying the couple and the budget spent on these events. While this is a growing business, there are also some challenges, such as dealing with multiculturalism, ensuring service exclusivity and personalisation, or making couples and guests feel at an intimate ceremony, even though they are thousands of miles from home. Event Point International spoke to three companies that have been in the market for several years now and are optimistic about the future of this industry, but also aware of the need to preserve high-standard services. How do you explain Portugal’s success as a destination for foreign marriages? Paula Grade, from White Impact, and Maria Luís Vaz Teixeira, from Mary Me, talk about hospitality and the quality of food and wine, both factors that attract thousands of tourists to Portugal every year. Optimum Weddings’ Dyana Dessar Simmons adds“the beauty of the landscapes and the huge venue variety, with different prices and features”. Being a foreigner herself, she also admits that the friendliness of the people she

   © Algarve Weddings   



works with in organising an event is also a decisive factor. If expectations are more or less shared, the origin of couples who choose Portugal to marry is quite varied. White Impact clientes mainly come from the US, UK and Ireland, while Mary Me works mainly with couples from the US and Brazil:“Our type client is foreign, is in his thirties and looking for a quality wedding destination that allows guests to have an experience over a weekend,” the manager mentions. “Most of the weddings I organise are for Indian and Jewish couples, so they last for several days, including religious or traditional events. So they are looking to have everything they need to make their dream wedding happen,”says Dyana Dessar Simmons, stressing that it is often necessary to resort to specialised catering for these events to be successful. Paula Grade reveals that couples looking for her company prefer the Algarve and among the most frequent requests are outdoor parties, which can be extended into the night. “They want to live an experience, the experience of a wedding on vacation mode,” she explains. Maria Luís Vaz Teixeira says that couples “want to show the guests, during their stay, the reason that made them get married in Portugal”. And this is another wish that wedding planners are happy to satisfy: “We organise activities for the days before and after the wedding, such as visits to Port Wine Cellars, a boat trip, a night of fado, a day in a vineyard.” The good relationship between the quality of products and services and the price is, for the head of Mary Me, one of the differentiating aspects of Portugal as a wedding destination: “We guarantee good prices, but excellent quality. In addition, most professionals speak English, which is rare in other European countries.” Dyana Dessar Simmons brings to Portugal couples from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada who, in addition to personalised and specialised assistance, seek “good weather, flexibility in the ceremony’s venue, excellence in service and luxury hotels”.“We work across Europe and for our customers what sets Portugal apart is the friendliness of the service and the tradition. And for many couples, there is Indian influence due to the connection with former colonies.” Organising a wedding is something that always brings some challenges that, in the case of ceremonies involving foreigners can be even more challenging. Paula Grade ensures that the experience gained allows her to have a structured team “in order to overcome difficulties”, emphasising that her main care is“a constant contact with the customer”. Communicating with all the guests, ensuring they have everything they need while in Portugal is, for Maria Luís Vaz Teixeira, a challenge, but also a point of honour. As far as special care is concerned, she mentions a deep knowledge of traditions, especially in the case of Indian or Jewish couples.

   © Optimum Weddings   

The Algarve (mainly Vilamoura and Carvoeiro), Cascais, Sintra and, more recently, Porto region, are places where Optimum Weddings has organised ceremonies. For Dyana Dessar Simmons, the biggest challenge she faces in this type of event “is to provide enough accommodation for everyone at the same location or at least as close to the venue as possible.” She says hotels do not always make it easier for wedding planners to work, adding that“We should all work as a team, so that weddings and other events are as smooth as possible for the couple and families.” Legal requirements, catering and the weather in some months of the year are, in her opinion, other sensitive topics that always require a lot of care. The food quality is, for Paula Grade, what most surprises the foreign couples who marry in Portugal. Dyana Dessar Simmons says that her customers especially appreciate the friendly attitude and care of locals and suppliers. And of course, they are enchanted by the beauty of the Portuguese coast and the way the traditional and the modern blend together. “Our clients are always fascinated by the rest they can have during their stay, especially on their wedding day, as we make sure that everything goes as customers want. They are surprised by the event itself, in which everything flows and I know that we have a leading role in accomplishing that”, Maria Luís Vaz Teixeira highlights.

Boosting tourism The evolution in the foreign wedding planning sector has been matched by a growth in the quality and quantity of companies that work closely with organisers. Paula Grade emphasises that, since she started working in the area,“the number of good suppliers has evolved a lot”. She confessed to have good expectations for the coming years and considers this sector can boost tourism in many aspects. Maria Luís Vaz Teixeira highlights the way people came to understand the wedding planner activity:“When I started my company nobody knew the concept. Today we can say that everyone already knows the concept and sees the need for this service.”Although she thinks that in Portugal there is still a lot of work to do.“Some venues and other Portuguese suppliers are not used to working with us yet and end up not valuing our work and how much we are making their work easier”, she regrets. Dyana Dessar Simmons, used to organising weddings in various countries, highlights the growth of Portugal as the chosen destination for this type of event, as well as the growth in the number of specialised suppliers.“All of this makes Portugal the perfect destination and an easy place to suggest. The variety in the type of venues available allows us to create a different experience for each wedding we plan. The Optimum Weddings manager says she has had no difficulty working in Portugal.“So far it has met our expectations and those of our customers. Since we started promoting this destination that it has gone well and every year we meet more suppliers and great venues and discovered new surprises to offer our customers.” This satisfaction with what Portugal has been offering is, for Dyana Dessar Simmons, reason to be optimistic about the future of this sector in Portugal, stating that this whole process is still at the beginning. However, she stresses that it is important to maintain a strong connection between tour operators and wedding planners.“We should be invited to know and experience venues and services, as this is how we work together and people like me can promote Portugal as a destination that is like home.” The factors that differentiate Portugal from other destinations are, for Maria Luís Vaz Teixeira, one of the secrets that needs to be explored: “We are competing with Italy and Greece, which still lead destination weddings, but we have advantages that are being discovered, such as prices and easy access from any airport. ” The head of Mary Me also reinforces the economic weight of this sector

in order to warn of its importance and the relevance of offering good value for money, thus avoiding alienating potential customers.“Every wedding we organise is not just a wedding. There are at least three days of events, with dinners in restaurants or event venues and recreational activities. Not to mention transport and travel”. In her opinion, “tourism will reflect this sector’s growth, because we are talking about customers with high purchasing power, who come early, visit other cities and are check-in at luxury hotels.” Turismo de Portugal has been keeping a close eye to this growing interest of foreigners in getting married in Portugal, and is also working to promote Portugal as a wedding destination. Olga Teixeira

COMPANIES WHITE IMPACT/ALGARVE WEDDING PLANNERS Paula Grade and Karina Sousa have been planning foreign weddings for 12 years, and if initially this was a small part-time business, today it has grown into a company made up of a team of international experts specialising in luxury weddings. OPTIMUM WEDDINGS Portugal is one of the destinations where Optimum Weddings, with offices in the Costa del Sol and London, has been organising luxury weddings. From the Maldives to Greece, Seychelles or Disneyland, the company takes multiculturalism as a flag, organising many weddings for Judaism and Hinduism followers. MARY ME Founded in 2013 and based in Porto, Mary Me started planning ceremonies in Northern Portugal, but has already expanded its activity throughout the country, working with local partners. With a large experience in celebrations in the Douro Valley region, the company has 90% of foreign customers, mainly Brazilian and North American.



#PARTNERSHIP Hotels and resorts in the Algarve are prepared for this rising trend

    © Algarve Tourism Bureau   

ALGARVE HAS THE RIGHT INCENTIVE FOR BUSINESS TRAVELLERS’ WELLBEING Algarve’s incentive industry relies on a great location, with all the resources needed for a retreat from everyday pressures, including high quality and healthy food and a warm sunny weather all year-round. Even for those who wish to avoid the beaches, the region has mountain and nature sites for all tastes, yoga classes, walking trails and other wellbeing activities.

VALE DO LOBO Successful companies want their employees to be happy and the wellness sector is reaping the profits from the corporative shift from material to spiritual. Hotels and resorts in the Algarve are prepared for this rising trend and are actively offering high-end wellness facilities, healthy eating and wellbeing activities to congress and meetings attendees. Let’s get to know three of them, their insights about this niche and what they are doing to boost their business in the “feel good” industry.

    © Algarve Tourism Bureau   

Wellbeing has long become a strong sales pitch for Vale do Lobo, a concept linked with the “new luxury” trend, where customers look for more meaningful experiences instead of focusing on traditional exclusive services and products. For the MICE sector, something called “bleisure”, a combination of business and leisure, is on the rise, with organisers adding wellness features to their programmes. When looking for a wellbeing solution, Vale do Lobo has all the advantages of its Algarve location. “Not many destinations fully understand the needs of a wellbeing incentive organiser. It is not only about SPA, it is a holistic concept encompassing several different areas including healthy eating, connection to nature, common purpose or active living”, according to Magdalena Osmola, marketing director at the resort. For those at Vale do Lobo, the Algarve region is an ideal location for wellbeing incentives, thanks to its “stunning natural location”, “active living environment”, “fresh, organic and sustainably sourced food” and a true focus on spiritual activities, like “workshops and classes from pranayama meditation, to reiki healing, guided meditative walks” or even “breathwork sessions”, says Magdalena Osmola. Vale do Lobo is a staple in Algarve’s luxury tourism and wellbeing seekers can check it out here: www.valedolobo.com/en/vale-do-lobo




    © Algarve Tourism Bureau   



The Discovery Hotel Management (DHM) team is highlighting the wellness sector, after dedicating the high season month of August to it at its Monchique Resort & SPA. “We work with specialised operators, that have tailor made programmes”, according to the team, including Cristina Piçarra, senior sales manager at DHM, general manager Duarte Cunha, the scheduling manager for the resort, Jorge Santos, and wellness consultant Janet Shook. The group has internal know-how for this type of activity and also reaches out to external professionals to give business tourists what they want. “From private yoga lessons, to meditational walks, bootcamps” and trekking adjusted to the clients’ abilities, the resort has something to cater for all needs. The team believes that companies are trying to “value their workers through experiences”, including wellness, over more material incentives. Algarve’s weather is always a plus for the wellbeing industry, and the team members remember that Monchique is less busy than the rest of the region and makes for a great getaway for those that focus on their mental and physical health. “What we have are mountain experiences”, points out the DHM’s staff, highlighting that these experiences are, by definition, “sustainable” and wellbeing oriented, which is something that makes DHM’s Monchique resort “stand out”. The group owns several hotels in Portugal, including the Monchique Resort & SPA (www.monchiqueresort.com).

The people at Longevity believe that a hotel’s “software” is key to win in the wellbeing for incentives segment. “The hardware is also important, and every hotel can create excellent facilities. However, the secret of wellness lies in the software. It’s not about installation space, equipment or the number of SPA treatment rooms. It’s about the concept, the team, the integrated approach, the solutions, the programmes or the products. In other words, at Longevity, wellness is in our DNA”, says the group’s wellness team. There are also many points of connection between business tourism and wellbeing. “Activities like team building can be combined with wellness as an incentive – group lessons, healthy cooking workshops, retreats, coaching”, the Longevity Wellness Team points out. The group believes there are many advantages in operating in the Algarve. “Location and fantastic weather, closeness to health facilities, that complement the offer, the typically Portuguese welcoming spirit. The region has the best features to be a wellbeing reference destination”, according to the team. Longevity is currently dealing with requests that mix incentives and wellness, like “an electric and ecological car launch”. The Longevity group (www.longevitywellnessworldwide.com) operates three hotels in the Algarve, including the brand-new Longevity Health & Wellness Hotel. For more information, check www.algarveconvention.pt.



LISBOA´S PROFILE KEEPS RISING, INTERNATIONALLY AND ON THE HOME FRONT Visitors can count with easy access to get to Lisboa - 1 to 3 hours away from most European cities and 5 to 8 hours from North America. As a curiosity it is the closest European capital to North America.

Upon arrival at the city´s airport travellers can enjoy staying at the versatile accommodation available at the city, by choosing a traditional, boutique or design property within the Lisboa Region. Thanks to its close proximity to Cascais, the World Heritage Site of Sintra and the Arrábida amazing nature, Lisboa is a ‘resort city’. In Lisboa, visitors will also discover a major cultural centre blessed with a mild, sunny climate, a fascinating melting pot where historic influences such as its rich maritime past are interlaced with modern trends and lifestyles. Lisboa is 6th in ICCA’s world ranking, after hosting 152 international association events in 2018, an extraordinary achievement for which the city is very honoured and proud. Important events, like Web Summit, have found their home in Lisboa. The city is hosting this annual tech event since 2016 with an average of 70,000 attendees per edition. Lisboa has high-quality facilities to host events - from the Lisboa Congress Centre at the riverfront, to the Belém Conference Centre at CCB, Culturgest, Pavilhão Carlos Lopes, Sud Hall or FIL and Altice Arena at the Parque das Nações (Nations Park), just to name a few, event organisers have an array of choices. Modern or historical venues like Palácio de Queluz, Palácio da Vila, Campo Pequeno Arena, Museu dos Azulejos (Tiles), Beato Convent, Xabregas Palace, Estufa Fria, Pátio da Galé, Museu dos Coches (the carriages museum), Ajuda Palace are some examples of choices for an unforgettable social event.

    © Turismo de Lisboa   

From championship golf courses to the excellent shopping and world class gastronomy there’s a staggering choice of incentive activities in the city and the surrounding ocean, beaches, mountains and rivers for any clients. And for those who travel to Lisboa on business, there is much to do in your spare time, like a tram ride to visit the monuments and museums of the city. Go for lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants that are scattered around the city’s sometimes narrow streets. Gather with the locals, to eat one of the world-famous pastries, Pastéis de Belém.

Lisboa is waiting.


VENUES    18


SUPER BOCK ARENA – ROSA MOTA PAVILION IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS Porto’s new venue opened its doors in October and is ready to host all kind of events. It has an acclimatised and soundproof arena that can host up to 8,000 guests.

After a huge rehabilitation work, Super Bock Arena – Rosa Mota Pavilion is taking Porto and the North of Portugal to the next level in terms of capacity to host large events. Though maintaining its original trait, the venue is modern, comfortable and with state-of-the-art technologies to host music concerts, sporting events, congresses and corporate events. The Floor - 1 is the biggest news, as it didn’t exist before, and features a congress centre for events up to 500 people, four rooms for 100 people and a 600sqm foyer. The 2,200 sqm arena has three levels of benches, the first one with retractable seats. It has also 23 cabins for companies.

The venue has a Food Court working all year round, and very soon it will have guided tours to the ceiling, where the guests can enjoy a 360º view of the city of Porto. According to promoters, the Círculo de Cristal Consortium, the new venue will bring “a new centrality to the city of Porto, serving as an aggregator of other nearby infrastructure relevant to the city, such as the Palácio de Cristal Gardens, Roseiral House, the Almeida Garrett Library or the Romantic Museum”. “Its potential is also reflected, among other opportunities, in the profitability of the dynamics tourism has brought to the city, allowing Porto to host congresses and initiatives of international projection”, they added.

HOTELS    20


PORTOBAY FLORES: 19TH CENTURY CHARM WITH A 21ST CENTURY VIEW Rua das Flores, in the heart of Porto, has officially, since last September 6th, a new meeting point that is also a reflection of how centuries of History can blend perfectly with a new urban and cosmopolitan experience, in one of the most charming streets in the city.

Balcony with a postcard view

PortoBay Flores, the new 5-star hotel of PortoBay group is, according to António Trindade, President and CEO of PortoBay group, the fulfillment of “a desire for hotel product diversification, looking for buildings with highly differentiated features and with the best location possible”. The location is undoubtedly privileged. This pedestrian street, located between the legendary São Bento Station and Ribeira, was once occupied by the gardens of the Bishop of Porto (hence its name, Flower street) but has become, in recent years, a mustsee for those visiting the city. Old bourgeois or emblasoned houses coexist harmoniously with traditional and modern shops and with cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy all the vibrant joy that has taken over this part of the city. PortoBay Flores is born from one of these historic houses, whose origins date back to the 16th century. Known as Casa dos Maias (a reference to the last family that inhabited it) or Palácio dos Ferrazes - the Ferraz family lived there until it was sold to the Maias in the 19 th century - this palatial building preserves, in its new life, much of the spirit that made it a family home. The great challenge for the architect responsible for the PortoBay Flores project, Samuel Torres de Carvalho, was to make this historic building coexist naturally with another that would emerge from the demolition of a newer structure in Rua da Vitória, at the back of Rua das Flores. And so, a new nine-storey building, harmonious linked to the former through a landscaped courtyard, emerged.

PortoBay Flores has 66 rooms, 55 in the new building and 11 in the old palace - defined by comfort and an “extra” for those on the upper floors: the windows and balconies offer a typical Porto postcard landscape, overlooking the houses of this historic area, Porto Cathedral and Douro River. The interior design is by the architect Catarina Cabral, who sought to highlight the contrast between the classic architecture and the modern design of the pieces chosen. Bistrô Flores restaurant, under Chef Nuno Miguel supervision, is open to the public and aims to merge the bistro authenticity with touches of haute cuisine, favouring Portuguese flavours. Maias Bar, at the hotel lobby, has a terrace and direct access to Rua das Flores, allowing, in a few minutes, to move from the hotel’s tranquil and refined atmosphere to the vibration of one of the city’s busiest streets. At PortoBay Flores it is also possible to relax in a spa with three treatment rooms, sauna, hammam and gym. Mandalay Spa’s relaxation area is connected to a heated indoor pool with natural light. The therapies are originary from Southeast Asia and are based on Indian and Thai medicine. PortoBay Flores thus reinforces this hotel group’s presence in the city of Porto, where it already owns Teatro Hotel. “PortoBay Flores hotel follows the group’s interest in having representation in the main cities in the country, with a wide offer in the 5 and 4 star segment. This new hotel meets our goals in terms of urban reality in Portugal, reproducing our example in Lisbon with PortoBay Liberdade and PortoBay Marquês ”, António Trindade explained. This new hotel also makes it possible to appeal to the MICE segment by making a superior offer available. “With the opening of Super Bock Arena-Rosa Mota Pavilion and the emerging MICE opportunities, we will make sure to be present in this segment”, Bernardo Trindade, group administrator, noted.




HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WILL INFLUENCE EVENTS IN 2020 A lot has been written lately about Artificial Intelligence (AI), and event professionals will soon be offering it as part of their event technology solution.

AI CHATBOTS AND EXPERIENCE WITHOUT AN INTERFACE Of course, AI is still far from being able to perform intellectual tasks better than humans. Advanced skills such as reasoning, conceptual learning, common sense, creativity, self-awareness, and emotions are technologically non-reproducible skills yet. However, Artificial Intelligence can already streamline business processes to create and customise customer engagement and subsequently increase revenue. AI in 2020 will be used to enable enhanced and personalised experiences with more meaningful interactions that catch the attention of event attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. To implement AI in a way that reflects a brand, data is critical. Artificial Intelligence relies on data management to deliver on its promises. CUSTOMISATION AND RECOMMENDATIONS USING AI The biggest change AI is bringing to events is the customisation of recommendations for event attendees, exhibitors and products on an unprecedented scale. In a typical networking event, the participant can be manually combined with others according to a manual form that is filled in with their interests. The whole process is slow and expensive for event managers. An AI matchmaking engine can interpret data from social media profiles such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Attendees can schedule meetings before the event starts or indicate that they are not interested in system recommendations, which helps to improve the next set of recommendations. It is a virtuous cycle. AI learns from behaviour as it interacts with it. Thus, participants receive better recommendations the more they use them.

Chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and are easy for participants to use as they do not require an app download or website login. In addition, AI-enabled chatbots have the technological capability to learn from previous interactions and customise conversations. In the future, technology may allow events to no longer have a dedicated application, but instead have all event content delivered via a Facebook Messenger chatbot. DEEP LEARNING WITH ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Deep Learning is a form of AI based on pattern recognition. The system reads the registration data of an event and then anticipates what logistics requirements are required on site for drinks, food and people tracking as the event progresses in real time. It will make these judgments based on input from past events of similar size and requirements. DATA PROTECTION AND INTEGRITY Added to AI are concerns about data protection and integrity. As an increasingly sophisticated analysis is applied to data, it is necessary to strike a balance between data protection compliance while stimulating creativity, innovation and helping to ensure data quality. It is important to achieve this balance by generating deep insights and protecting participants’ privacy. The event industry is competitive and its ability to stand out depends on creating a set of technologies that simplify the experience. By 2020, the use of Artificial Intelligence will provide events with a competitive advantage. Vitor Hugo Filipe

AVK Technical Consultant



“EVENTS ARE CATALYSTS FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT” This assertive sentence belongs to Luca Favetta, Regional Business Director, EMEA of PCMA - Professional Convention Management Association. This is an exclusive interview with Event Point International, recorded in Barcelona, with the European Influencers Summit (EIS), which took place from 22 to 24 September, as a background.

Luca, what is the balance of your mission to make PCMA more visible in Europe? It’s amazing to think it’s been two and a half years since I accepted this challenge… but I’m very pleased, because we are finally watching the recognition of this work. Today we are at EIS, an event we started two years ago as a very small event for 40 people, and today we have almost 300 registered… We have implemented a strategy, built a product, and are developing and delivering the topics in that program. This has allowed PCMA to be established and recognised in Europe as well. Of course it’s not easy because we started almost from scratch, and it takes time. Recognition and engagement are growing, membership is increasing, but that is not even our main goal, because we know that recognition comes first, engagement with it, and only then, in a third step, can we expect to have more members. We have created a series of what we call Knowledge Exchanges, a series of small round tables, aiming at specific or different targets, and we already have six or seven planned across Europe; we have EIS, which has become our flagship event, that this year has attracted, as I said, about 300 people; and we are communicating through all the channels we have available. After two and a half years, I must say that I am very pleased with the way PCMA has developed in the region. How does the European Influencers Summit fit into this strategy? We analysed the meeting and the event design and looked for ways to create that engagement. At Innovation Hub, for which we got inspiration from Convening Leaders, we have created a large area where most activities take place, allowing the entire audience to really feel involved. In the afternoon, we will take a third of our participants to a football stadium (Camp Nou), where we will have experts from the FC Barcelona marketing team, who will explain how the club builds its community, and engages with that community. We chose a venue that has a link to content, that has a link to our audience. And that is what we are trying to achieve with eery moment of this event. How do you choose your EIS destinations? The event has already taken place twice in Spain, but this is not a strategy. We publish an RFP - every destination in Europe can answer that RFP - and the best proposal wins. Last year we were in Seville, and this year was Barcelona. Both applications had the commitment of the cities themselves in their favour, something that is important to us. It is not just a matter of welcoming and providing the necessary financial support, it is assuming this as a true partnership, and this is something that PCMA is doing with all the events we are organising. If we look at San Francisco, Pittsburgh last year, which hosted the

Convening Leaders, one of our main criteria for choosing a destination is to feel that there is a commitment, a desire to host our events, in partnership with us. Of course there must be good flight connections, accessibility, but because we are talking about events that are still small, in the case of EIS, we can fit anywhere. Again, the most important thing is sharing ideas, and building a program that is not just a PCMA decision but a choice between venue, destination and PCMA. We just saw Sheriff Karamat, PCMA president and CEO. Does this show the Association’s commitment to Europe? Yes, it was a unanimous decision of the PCMA council, and it was a bold decision: to become a global association. We have a total commitment from all of them, starting with the president himself, Sheriff Karamat. We are driven by this groundbreaking vision he brought to PCMA that events are catalysts for social and economic development, and it is this light that we pursue in all that we are doing, whether in Europe or Asia. We have an office with four people in Singapore, which shows how PCMA has invested in hiring human resources, and I am personally delighted to have been chosen for Europe. And what are the following steps? The resources we have are not unlimited, so we need to set priorities. In the first and second years it was about creating recognition, now we have to be more focused. If we look at the association universe, for example, we know that Brussels, Switzerland and London are the main markets. In terms of services, we are committed to providing advice. It’s not just delivering educational programs, it’s helping destinations improving their positioning through marketing and event consulting. Especially to emerging destinations, which may need help in training their staff, or defining marketing strategies to improve their positioning, and establish themselves as a relevant brand in this segment, in their region or country... We seek to grow organically in all the meetings industry different categories. We are paying particular attention to suppliers, who are accepting us very well. It is more difficult to gain recognition from associations and corporations on what we call business event strategists - a terminology we have created, so we try not to talk about corporate planners or association planners. We talk about business event strategists because we are fully convinced that events are 100% business-oriented, in line with what our vision of meetings industry is. I have therefore devoted a lot of time and effort to developing both sides, suppliers and event professionals in parallel, so that together we can create the platform for PCMA’s growth in Europe.



WHAT IS CRUCIAL TO KNOW WHEN WE HAVE CHINESE PARTICIPANTS IN OUR EVENTS? Anyone who has had contact with potential Chinese clients knows that it is essential to be aware and to respect their culture in order to achieve the goals of any business relationship.

Being one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with over 4 million years of history, People’s Republic of China is a major economic power that no longer depends on agriculture, but retains its collectivist spirit. The interests of the party, the group, the family or the company continue to stand above individual interests. This is reflected, for example, in the fact that the family name is considered more important than the first name and therefore the surname is always written before the first name. Chinese should always be addressed by their surname, never by their first names. Chinese culture is deeply influenced by Confucianism. This philosophy searches for harmony and consensus through strictly hierarchical relationships, safeguarding the group or organisation. The relationship between peers is very distant from their relationship with hierarchical superiors. Values such as obedience and deference to superiors remain rooted on their behaviour. Leaders, on the other hand, have an obligation to protect and defend subordinates. That is why responsibilities have to be clearly defined. Another feature of this life philosophy is the concern with “not losing face” (mianzi), a concept difficult to translate because it means exactly that: to be without a face or without a social image. In order not to “lose face”, no Chinese person will confess, for example, that he is not understanding what is being said to him. Revealing ignorance is a shame. Whoever loses face (or the positive image of himself) is really lost. But those causing a Chinese to lose face are not better either. Chinese people do not like to say “no,” in order not to lose face or not to cause their interlocutor to lose face too. When they say yes, it means maybe, when they say maybe, they may be saying “no,” a word they rarely say because it is too rude in Mandarin. They prefer an implied, subtle, and courteous style of communication that is completely different from the direct, explicit, and aggressive style of Westerners. It is necessary to respect Chinese rituals, hierarchy and protocol in order to establish relationships with them. Chinese believe that personal knowledge (Guan Xi) and trust are fundamental. You only do business with people who know each other and respect each other. For a Chinese, verbal agreements are as important as written agreements and both are subject to change. The most important thing is to create a harmonious atmosphere between the two teams. The official language is Mandarin, but there are other official dialects, such as Cantonese. Only written Chinese is understood by all. Use a qualified translator as each word may have

different meanings depending on its intonation. To save face, if they have to go change the conditions of the contract, the Chinese can always say that it was the interpreter’s fault... They avoid physical contact and prefer to keep some distance in official or business meetings. They have become accustomed to shaking hands with Westerners. But if they don’t reach their hand to you, just bow your head, respond to the greeting, and do not take the initiative.

Chinese culture looks up to older people. When you enter the meeting room, you should begin by greeting the oldest person, wait for them to show you where to sit, and be ready for a long talk of circumstance accompanied by lots of Chinese tea. The Chinese are not compulsive business card exchangers like the Japanese (remember, they do not like to be confused with them!). But if your Chinese partner gives you his business card, look at it carefully and place it on the table - never in the pocket of your pants. Then hand in your card, holding it with both hands and turned so that he can read your name. For a Chinese, it is an important document, symbolising the interest in deepening the negotiation. You should not write anything on the card. About the Chinese culture and its “love for meticulous ceremonies”, there would be a lot more to say, but I will end by recalling the importance of punctuality, which represents respect for commitment. Cancelling an appointment with short notice is a very serious offense and you will lose your face! Traffic is chaotic in large Chinese cities. Therefore, you must leave well in advance and never rely on the apparent proximity between two points on the map. Good luck! Isabel Amaral

Portuguese Protocol Studies Association President

EVENT    28


PLANETIERS WORLD GATHERING: A TURNING POINT IN SUSTAINABILITY DISCUSSION Planetiers World Gathering intends to be a turning point in how to approach sustainability.

Altice Arena will host from April 23 rd to 25th the Planetiers World Gatheting (PWG), a sustainable innovation event. It takes place in a year when Lisbon is the European Green Capital. Daymond Jonh, investor and star of the US Shark Tank program, Joel Sartore, international photographer and National Geographic Photo Ark project founder, Mohan Munashinge, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Gina McCarthy, former Administrator of the American Environmental Protection Agency, and Mike Berners-Lee, bestselling author ‘There is No Planet B’ are some of the confirmed names that will attend the event, but more surprises are expected. PWG is a worldwide gathering of citizens, entities, cities and speakers who are committed to making history and changing the course of today’s narrative. Planetiers World Gathering will feature three stages, designed for different audiences, an area dedicated

to entrepreneurs and startups and another designed to provide cities and municipalities with a voice, allowing them to show how they are contributing to their own sustainability. Planetiers Market is also on the event’s agenda, an area that intends to showcase sustainable products, services and solutions already in the market.

More than 10,000 participants are expected, according to the Altice Arena and Douro Generation organisation.


IAPCO: RETURN ON TIME ON THE AGENDA One of the IT&CMA educational sessions was hosted by IAPCO. IAPCO - International Association of Professional Congress Organizer is one of the leading associations in the meetings industry. In 2018, it closed the year with 133 members from 40 countries, representing 9105 professionals and 18662 events. Mathias Posch, president of IAPCO, refers that the number of meetings has increased over the past 55 years, according to data from International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). However, if growth in Asia and Latin America is a reality, in Europe and the United States there is a decline. The Asia Pacific market has some important players: Japan, China, South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand. The number of participants is also decreasing. There are not many mega conferences anymore,” he highlights, with the landscape now consisting mainly of more specialised meetings. The events that increase the most are those that receive between 50 and 149 participants. In terms of field, technology-related meetings are on the rise, in a ranking led by the medical sciences.

An important fact is the decreasing use of congress centres to host events. By contrast, events held in Universities have increased. This translates into savings for organisations, which requires congress centres to think outside the box in order to continue to attract membership meetings. Also significant is the decrease in event days. ”Return on time” is an important conversation right now. According to data from the 2018 study “The Science of Healthcare Congress”, 2.25-day events are ideal. Most survey participants interviewed are only available for trips up to 4.73 hours, and a maximum of 3.26 days away from the office. Something outside these numbers requires a great deal of persuasion and argumentation, mentions IAPCO president. This study also focuses on the motivations of delegates to participate in a scientific congress. Top reasons include content and the possibility to know new products, followed by meeting the opinion leaders in their fields, and thirdly networking with colleagues. Among the reasons for not attending events arise: lack of time, cost, distance, and lack of

sponsorships. 85% of respondents prefer to go to national meetings. Once in the event, the main challenges for participants are attending all the most important sessions, taking time to meet people and visiting all the stands. IAPCO president’s advice is to create a program that focuses on the delegate’s needs and the educational side, which he values most. In conclusion: Asia is growing; there is great potential in regional congresses; attention to“return on time”; events remain very important in delegates training and career. That said, what is the PCO’s role? How do delegates want to learn, what do they want from events? Jan Tonkin, former president of IAPCO and director of The Conference Company, believes the PCO has to be a project manager, strategist, computer expert, data analyst, fundraiser, risk manager, a cultural advisor, a marketeer and a financier. Meaning: a meeting designer. Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa* * Travelled on IT&CMA invitation




GALAXY ENTERTAINMENT GROUP INTRODUCES AN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE AND ARENA IN MACAU Galaxy Entertainment Group has officially introduced Galaxy International Convention Centre and Galaxy Arena. The Convention Centre will feature a 10,000sqm pillar-less Exhibition Hall, an Auditorium seating 650 guests, a Banquet Hall seating 2,400 guests, a 4,000sqm Conference Hall, a Ballroom catering for over 1,000 guests; a diverse selection of dining options and a luxury lifestyle hotel with over 700 rooms. Additionally, the 16,000-seat Galaxy Arena is set to become Macau’s ultimate integrated entertainment venue for world-tour concerts and spectacular large-scale sports events. The new venues will open in the first half of 2021. Event Point International met Scott Kreeger, resort director of Galaxy International Convention Centre, in Bangkok, at IT&CMA Asia.

Why is Macau a good destination for events and congresses? There’s a couple of key features that make it a good destination. One: you have to have good access. Two: it has to be a place where people want to come. And three: you have to have the facilities and the MICE infrastructure to pull off great events. So, when you look at Macau as a destination, we have had vast improvements on our infrastructure over the last ten years. The new bridge… Yes, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai- Macau bridge has just opened up and that allows to have three international airports that you can come in from. Hong Kong alone has 200 direct flights internationally. High-speed rail coming down from mainland China, that connects them, as well as the ferry systems that exist today. It’s less than an hour drive time from the airport to our location, which really for any big international city it’s about the time it takes anyway. So we have that to offer. Secondly, as far as being an interesting place, as you know, it was a Portuguese seafaring port for over 400 years, so there’s a mix of East meets West, the cultures of China, Canton, Portugal mix together not only in the architecture and history, which is unrivaled in China. We have over 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites and it’s one the largest combined world heritages sites in all of China, and one of the oldest. The food is amazing. When you get this mix of Portuguese, Cantonese, Chinese, and what we call Macanese food together, in a few days you can´t even begin to explore the culinary culture that is there. People want to be introduced to culture and experiences outside their working day. So, Macau offers that. And the other thing that is unique about Macau is the large amount of integrated resorts, so there’s very few places in the world that have the scale of integrated resorts that we have. So whether is dining, retail or hotel offers, any of these infrastructure are fantastic. Our property alone has 120 dining options and 200 retail outlets, large pool deck, five different hotel options in the complex, and we are going to grow the next couple of years to almost double that size. So it will be 11 international hotel brands, 400 retail units, 200 restaurants. Something like this makes Macau a unique destination. Macau is 16th at the ICCA Asia Pacific ranking. What is missing for Macau to climb up the ranking? I think that all of the pieces are coming together. If you look at Macau’s growth path in MICE, it is quite impressive, one of the leading MICE growth areas in Asia. The integrated resort operators and the Macau government work together to promote Macau as an attractive destination. I think you will see Macau move up on those ranks in the next coming years quite quickly. Macau has a five year plan to become a world centre for tourism and leisure, and Galaxy Entertainment Group has the same vision. I mention the large resort

we have now, we are building this international conference centre and arena, and I’m also in charge of a second integrated resort that sits right next to it. So there will be two large integrated resorts, and a conference centre and arena, and our goal as a company is to diversify our product offer and broaden our tourism base. Same goal as Macau. You need government and private business to be aligned. The government offers attractive incentives for MICE organisers, and with our new facility we will offer an all new other component MICE to Macau, that is really on a world class scale. Can you talk about the conference centre project? We set out a few years ago to build Asia’s most iconic and technological advanced centre. That was our mission. It is a combination of an international conference centre and a large scale arena. I’ll talk about the arena first. It’s a 16,000 seat multipurpose venue, which is one of the largest venues in Asia, and it does everything from world tour concerts, to sports events, to general purpose events of any type. And it’s built with acoustically perfect standards. And it is directly connected to the conference centre. Our international conference centre is highly flexible and is set up to handle all four segments of MICE, so we do expo, convention, conference, meeting and incentives. Our largest space is 10,000sqm of pillar-less floor for expo and other large events. Regarding technology and infrastructure we didn’t spare a dime. It’s as advanced as any conference centre in the world as far as ease of set up and access. And then above that we have a conference centre that has 31 rooms, including a ballroom, that can hold up to about 1,000 people for a formal event, and we also have a 650 seats plenary hall, that is world class, we can do everything from product launches to general sessions, to even cultural events. What makes this venue special is that on top of that we have a 700 key hotel. It’s a luxury lifestyle hotel. Logistics is quite short and convenient for the guest and all of that is wrapped up in an experience package that we think is really important. We are just taking a large step forward with this international conference centre, but we come from the hospitality side, so we have a view from MICE that maybe will be a little different from others in how we approach it. We want to make sure that our MICE experience is a little bit richer, a little deeper, in the service and product we provide, or in the decor, the storyline of the overall centre. We have an internal mantra called Asian Heart Service and it is what our company lives by. We talked about the Macau culture piece, you don’t have to leave the centre to experience that. We want to bring that through the entire experience through art, food, decor and everything else in the project. We want to expose delegates to this rich culture with an experience throughout the whole stay.



What makes this new venue different from the local offer? What’s its selling point? I think we have some combined selling points on the destination: infrastructure, culture, great facilities. We are building a worldclass facility, with the best technology, flexibility, but what differentiates us is our primary focus: technology and experience, because that’s what we do. One of the things that we’ve focused as well is how to take this experience to the next level from a planning standing point. So we have a group of people, we call it the Event Studio, who are not typical MICE planners, but experienced people, that actually go outside the box and explore the opportunities that exist and do something that is spectacular. Coming from the hospitality and entertainment side of things, we think taking that MICE experience to the next level is our competitive niche. Scott Kreeger 

What kind of events are you targeting? Associations, corporate? All of them, but we do have a particular strategy. We play at the premium end of the market, our hotels are all five stars luxury units, so when you look at what we do best and the core market that we go after, we are really best suited for corporate and incentives, because of this large integrated resorts and all the things that you can do. We have movie theatres, nightlife venues, and then mid-size association, and expo as tertiary niche. And in terms of geographical markets? What are the plans? We are part of a big population zone, so for us being so close to mainland China and connected to it, that’s really our primary goal, as it would be obvious. We are seeing continuous growth in the Greater Bay Area in terms of economic development and now with the bridge connecting it all… It doesn’t mean we are not going to be on international stages, because we have to be for expo and associations. We will ensure an international presence, we will go to Barcelona, to IMEX, but our focus is predominantly mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Taiwan, with secondary markets on southeast Asia, and then, like I said, some international presence in larger events.

How do you see Macau evolving in the next few years in terms of MICE? We are already on a very good trajectory towards becoming world centre for tourism and leisure. First, the government has a plan and that plan is backed by great incentives and promotions for organisers. Second, businesses and the integrated resorts operator in Macau continue to invest in MICE facilities. I think that’s important, we are just starting to understand that benefit and as time goes by that benefit will grow. Five years from now we will be able to do what any international destination does. I look at visitor numbers from the airports in the surrounding area, they are going through the roof, so I think our future is bright. That connection to Portugal can open doors to European events? Yes, we think so. There is an effort underway in this region to collaborate with the nine Portuguese speaking countries, so there is already a vehicle in place not only to Portugal but to a broader audience to collaborate and bring that forward. We intend to be a partner and a participant because it’s good business for all of us. Cláudia Coutinho de Sousa* Travelled to IT&CMA invited by the organisation




INFLUENCER MARKETING AND THE EVENT INDUSTRY You have certainly already come accross some people in suggestive poses taking semi-professional photos in the middle of a music festival, or have noticed that there are stages at some events that are flooding with digital personalities.

Influencer Marketing has been one of the buzzwords and trends dominating marketing speech and discussion in recent years. No longer a matter of relevance, it is now its utility and penetration into different areas of brand activation that defines the new perimeters of this discussion. Corporate events, sponsorship and brand activation are not strangers to this reality. It is, in fact, one of the areas where influential marketing is most noticeable, and also possibly where it is most disruptive. By 2019 it is no longer a question of how digital audience is a measurable, expected reality of event planning. Whether it’s a corporate action, a trade show or a big summer festival, it must have in its genesis an aesthetic and functional concern for how it can and should be digitally amplified. Not only with a clear strategy of own creation for partner channels, but even making the event something that provokes and invites the digital sharing of participants to their social media. Just have a look at how the digital popularity of festivals such as Coachella, TomorrowLand or Burning Man went far beyond their geographic boundaries to be recognised brands for the general public. And even brand activations within these events rival their digital popularity. The #REVOLVEFestival example for Revolve Beauty is paradigmatic. Part of this popularity is due to influencer marketing strategies. So oddly crucial as a success factor, that it even has in the tragedy of the “famous” FYRE Festival its most

recognised case of success and efficiency in ticket sales. Even if it ended in a tragedy in terms of organisation. But the presence of digital influencers and content creators at events is not only useful for the purpose of selling tickets. Actually, their presence rises nowadays to the very stages of events, as we can already see in Portugal when Rock In Rio dedicates whole stages to digital stars like Youtubers or Gaming Streamers. Brands are clearly taking huge advantage from event influencers: the presence of content creators with wide audiences can raise brand awareness at an event far beyond those attending, creating a curiosity effect and FOMO with those who follow the content through social media. It is up to teams that specialise in creating brand experiences and events to understand that optimising work conditions for digital influencers work is a win-win situation for the organisation, sponsors and those actively participating in the event. The next step will be to integrate digital content strategy inputs and influencer marketing at the very moment of event planning and creation. With this level of anticipation you can make the most of this type of strategy: Brand Awareness, Brand Engagement, Lead Generation, Attention Retention, etc… These are all goals that, once defined, can be largely fueled by the use of Influencer Marketing thought for that particular purpose. Francisco Morgado Véstia

Countr y Manager of SamyRoad Portugal



KOŠICE REGION - A GATEWAY TO A HEALTHY MIND, BODY AND MICE SECTOR Košice is flourishing as an event city for Eastern Slovakia. It recently and successfully hosted the ‘IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships’ in May 2019; this major sporting spectacle complimented other flagship annual events.

Košice’s status as European Capital of Culture in 2013 (ECC2013) acted as a catalyst in the development of ‘soft power’ and the creative economy. The European Capital of Sport 2016 followed, as did designation as UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts 2017. Košice, Slovakia’s second largest metropolis, has successfully redefined itself and is now helping to revitalise the Eastern Slovakian regions. In 2019, the High-Tatras Mountains were voted #1 European destination to visit on Lonely Planets ‘Best in Travel’ list. Whilst the Košice regional tourism organisation has created bespoke rail and bus trips that open the door to 18 UNESCO world heritage sites that sit within a radius of 100 minutes from Košice. Add in an emphasis on nature and well-being products and these key factors are real differentiators for the MICE sector.

‘Hub-and-spoke’ products from Košice With an International Airport close to the city centre, plus major rail and bus stations, Košice is a gateway to the entire region, forming a ‘hub and spoke’ system domestically and internationally with some 500 airports around the globe just one change of plane away. This is why the Košice regional tourism organisation’s innovative thinking helped launch a flagship product “UNESCO by Retro Train” appealing in the first instance to their domestic audiences, but also international leisure, business and incentive markets from around the world. The “UNESCO by Retro Train” proved so popular in 2017, that the following year another six one-day trips were organised

plus an additional five bus tours. 2019 has seen the rollout of five more retro train trips and an introductory ‘start of season’ special trip by steam locomotive, with a further 11 bus trips to various locations across the region. The formation of a strong partnership with Slovak National rail carrier ‘Zeleznicna Spolocnost Slovensko’ (ZSSK), has allowed dedicated train trips to non-scheduled destinations.

Nature, heritage and culture in unity With health at its heart, Eastern Slovakia’s natural resources and a young, vibrant population, is getting international recognition. From Košice’s main rail and bus station, travellers fan out to sites of historical, natural and cultural significance, supported by a strong portfolio of MICE venues. Less than 1-hour from Košice is Tokaj wine region; the ancient vineyards and terroir has for centuries produced fine quality wine admired by Voltaire to Cromwell and Napoleon to King Louis XIV of France. Chateau Grand Bari, is a new producer, who is shaping the future of viniculture in this part of Slovakia, with the meeting and incentive market very much in mind. The white-washed walls of this architecturally refined building follow the contours of the landscape, linking outside with inside, exemplified by a sizeable terrace ideal for hosting receptions, with vistas across the valley and Mount Sator. The Chateau opened its doors in spring 2019 and is already attracting a new wave of ‘terroir’ tourists and event planners. Internally, modern meeting spaces peer down upon the steel barrels, an engine room

driving the Chateaux’s wine production. From the sweeping staircase, the subterranean cellar network offers wine tasting incentives. Another example of nature and heritage combining with modern meeting and incentive options, ‘Thermal Hotel Sirava’, sitting next to the ‘Zemplinska Sirava’ volcanic lake in north-eastern reaches of Slovakia, incorporating a dedicated Thermal Park complex, situated moments from the hotel’s ultra-modern congress facilities. Close by in the village of Ruska Bystra is the easternmost representative of all Slovak wooden churches, the 18 th century, ‘Church of St. Nicholas’, a marvel of folk architecture and another of the regions’ UNESCO World Heritages, built without the use of a single nail.

One day, three Slovak National Parks and countless adventures Ease of access to all parts of the Košice region, feeds into a diverse mosaic of national parks which provide limitless incentive activities. In one day, it is possible to visit ‘The Karst’, ‘The Slovak Paradise’ and ‘High-Tatras’ national parks. Defined by more than 1000 caves, canyons and chasms, ‘The Karst National Park’ is among the largest karst regions in Central Europe and home to the deepest canyon in Slovakia at 400m deep and 3km in length. Thanks to an inquisitive young miner by the name of Eugen Ruffiny in June 1870, the ‘Dobsinska Ice Cave’ was discovered in ‘The Slovak Paradise National Park’. It’s one of the World’s largest Ice caves and an UNESCO World Natural Heritage since 2000. The Ice cave spreads across an area of 110,000sqm; visitors follow a man-made pathway of 515m that allows them to admire the statuesque sculptures of ice, morphed into extraordinary shapes.

AquaCity & High Tatras Mountains Basking in the spotlight that has been focused on the High-Tatras mountain region by Lonely Planet’s affirmation is certain to help diversify and expand visitor numbers. The city of Poprad is the gateway to the mountainous playground of well-being, adventure sport and nature related incentives, team-building and meeting possibilities. The High Tatras national park zone is bursting with “Incentive” ideas and activities, especially when you break down the region in numbers: 1150km of biking trails; 1800km of hiking trails; 50 peaks over 2000m with the highest Mt. Gerlach at 2655m and the highest peak in the low Tatras at 2024 Mt. Chopok, give Event and Meeting planners plenty of scope to arrange incentives and team building activities. With the snowy mountain peaks as the backdrop, ‘AquaCity Poprad’, is within 10 minutes of the International Airport and rail station. The resort has all the ingredients to tempt sports teams, incentive groups and conferences (245sqm main hall hold up to 350 people) who are interested in combining meetings with wellness. AquaCity has long been hosting premier league teams, making use of thermal out and indoor pools, an ultra-modern two-storey wellness area and ‘Cryotherapy Centre’, along with several accommodation options. To be inspired go to: www.visitkosice.com www.kosiceregion.com www.regiontatry.sk/en www.aquacity.sk

Ramy Salameh




PHNOM PENH: CAMBODIA’S VIBRANT CAPITAL IS NOT JUST A STOPOVER Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is sometimes mentioned on travel itineraries as a stopover or a crossing point to the country’s main destination: Siem Reap. But surprisingly, Phnom Penh is worth as a destination in itself. The sweltering heat invites tuk-tuk strolls to see the landmarks of the colourful capital of this Asian nation, whose landscape swings between grandiose monuments and memories of one of the most disturbing episodes in twentieth-century history.

Still undone from the wounds of such a grotesque regime as Pol Pot’s and the civil war that defeated it, Cambodia is looking for happier days and tourism has contributed to it. According to a report by the local tourism ministry, in 2018 6.2 million tourists entered the country, approximately 600,000 more than the previous year. Of these, four million entered the country through the international airports of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and two million by land from neighbouring countries, namely Vietnam. The report estimates that by 2018 international visitor revenues exceeded $4 billion. If Siem Reap is the best-known destination in the country, as it is the doorway to the extraordinary Angkor temples, Phnom Penh bears the marks of the country’s most recent and saddest history, and is well worth the visit.

Tuol Sleng Prison and the killing fields The Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. This regime, led by sinister Pol Pot, believed in a social engineering policy, and aimed to make the country a self-sufficient nation. The reforms implemented have led to the genocide of about 20% of this Asian nation population. More than 17,000 people, men, women, children, considered dangerous by the regime, were sent to the prison of Tuol Sleng - S21, a former high school turned into a prison and interrogation place by the Khmer Rouge. The visit is a must to understand this moment in history, although it is very harsh and depressing. Already outside the city, but easily accessible, are the “killing



A Capital ready for the Meetings Industry

fields”. This was where the S-21 prisoners came to die in the most brutal ways imaginable. The memorial, which marks this space, contains eight thousand skulls, divided by gender, and labeled with a colour, corresponding to a different weapon. The camp is followed by mass graves already identified, as this work is still being done today. So it is not surprising that, for example, after a rainy season, bones and clothing surface. Silence reigns in this place of horror, but also of remembrance and tribute.

Phnom Penh Royal Palace Located opposite where the Mekong River and Tonlep Lake meet, the royal palace is a balm of beauty and tranquility in a city as hectic and chaotic as the Cambodian capital. The building complex, in which the throne room stands out, is impressive, though many are not accessible as they are for exclusive full use of the king and his family. The complex dates from 1866, when the capital went from Oudong to Phnom Penh. Adjacent to the palace is the Silver Pagoda, whose main riches are the Emerald Buddha, made of emeralds and crystal, and the Maitrey Buddha, adorned with over two thousand diamonds. Another highlight are the murals based on the Indian epic Ramayana. A large square takes us to the river, where locals converge, especially at the end of the day. Here you can feel the vibrant life of the capital, its inhabitants meeting in the gardens, strolling along the river, snacking on the street food stalls, laughing and playing. It is highly recommended to take a “cruise” and watch the sun set gently on the Mekong, even though there is always the possibility of a thunderstorm, or we would not be in Southeast Asia.

Aiming to welcome over seven million tourists next year, Cambodia has been investing in improving its infrastructure, some dedicated to the meetings industry, thus appealing to business tourism. Phnom Penh has the Diamond Island Convention & Exhibition Centre, but also a number of hotels with meeting and event venues. Some of these hotel units were featured at Cambodia Travel Mart 2019, which took place at the Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel, a five-star unit located on the Chroy Changvar peninsula, with over 500 rooms and 12 meeting and event venues. Another five-star associated with this event is Nagaworld, which hosted part of the CTM 2019 entourage. This hotel, consisting of two interconnected buildings, has 1,658 rooms and suites, a casino, a shopping centre as well as an auditorium, five meeting rooms, a hall and exhibition area. Rosewood Phnom Penh has three flexible rooms and a pavilion; Palace Gate Hotel & Resort has three meeting and event venues in different formats; Dyvith Hotel has a conference room for up to 300 participants; and the Sun Moon Urban Hotel features ten meeting and event vanues of various sizes. The Dara Hotels group has two hotel units in the capital, the Olympia City Hotel and Dara Airport, with two and eight spaces, respectively. Examples of hotels with facilities and areas dedicated to the MICE sector contribute to Phnom Penh attracting more meetings and events. Regarding accessibility, more flights and an increase in frequencies are expected for next winter by Cambodia’s national airline. Cambodia Angkor Air’s domestic flights run between the three main cities, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, and international flights connect these cities to Ho Chi Minh and Da Nang in Vietnam, and Beijing and Guang Zhou in China. The airline’s volume of operations has increased in recent years on both domestic and international flights. In the first nine months of this year, 8,842 flights were carried out and 660,000 people were transported. After Brunei in 2020, the ATF - ASEAN Tourism Forum will meet in Phnom Penh. The capital of Cambodia will host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations event in 2021. Claudia Coutinho de Sousa, Alexandra Noronha and Maria João Leite * * Travelled to Phnom Penh at CTM 2019 invitation



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Profile for Event Point International

Event Point International 14  

Magazine dedicated to the meetings industry

Event Point International 14  

Magazine dedicated to the meetings industry