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  • Conference ambassador boosting the business tourism sector in Ireland

    Conference ambassador boosting the business tourism sector in Ireland

    The most recent CSO stats indicate that business tourism generated €576 million in terms of overall value to Ireland in 2013, a growth of nine percent since the previous year. In 2013 business tourists numbered over one million with the sector supporting over 19,000 jobs.
     
    The high yield nature of the sector had led to the creation of Fáilte Ireland’s dedicated business tourism unit, which supports and mentors Irish based conference hosts to ensure the success of meetings hosted in Ireland.
     
    Business tourists or international delegates are valued at €1,400 per visit, which is two to three times the value of a leisure tourist. On average, each delegate extends their stay to nearly three days on top of their business commitment, affording them the opportunity to mix business and pleasure.
     
    Fáilte Ireland’s Business Tourism Monitor for 2013 indicated that over 90 percent of overseas delegates were very satisfied with their experience of Ireland as a destination for international conferences. Several factors support this result not least the collaborative professionalism and experience of the Irish along with government initiatives such as the reduced Vat rate and removal of the travel tax.

    Conference organisers are also attracted to the ‘Irish conference bounce’, a trend where 10 percent more delegates opt to attend a conference in Ireland versus the association’s previous destinations. In addition, conference organisers regularly commend Ireland's ’one destination’ approach where all business tourism destination suppliers work together to offer integrated solutions.
     
    Since launching its conference ambassador programme in 2009, Fáilte Ireland’s business tourism unit has researched and developed over 670 conference ambassadors or local hosts, generating conference business worth around €600 million over the past seven years. 
     
    The business tourism unit helps individuals from a wide variety of professions, backgrounds and corporations in their quest to bring their next international conference to Ireland. Practical and financial support is available for anyone considering hosting an international conference in Ireland, from the initial invitation or bid right up to the conference itself.
     
    The Meet in Ireland team acts as a guide and the first port of call when considering Ireland. Practical support comes in the form of assistance with bids, advice on accommodation and venue options and introductions to Irish venues, hotels and universities. The team can also assist with conference promotion at other overseas events and provide ongoing support with destination material for delegates.
     
    Meet in Ireland is the official MICE (meetings, incentives, conference and events) brand and website for the island of Ireland. It involves Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board working in partnership to promote Ireland as a leading conference and meeting destination.
     
    Meet in Ireland, through its conference support programme has financial funding to assist with the preparation and the travel involved in bidding for an international conference. A site inspection may also be a crucial element in the decision making process and so site visits are coordinated and funded for key international decision makers, covering meeting facilities, hotels, social options and attractions.

    Once a conference is confirmed for Ireland there is also marketing support to ensure a strong delegate turnout. The conference ambassador programme is continually being refined and adapted to meet the needs of people bidding for an international conference.

    “Fáilte Ireland recognises that conference management may not be your area of expertise but it is ours. We offer unbiased advice and make introductions to the right trade partners to help take the fear out of hosting these kinds of events,” said Miriam Kennedy, Head of Business Tourism & Events at Fáilte Ireland.

    “If you decide to bid for an international conference, we as a tourism authority are with you every step of the way, from bid stage right through to marketing the conference to international delegates.”

    Kennedy finds that helping people to host international conferences is a varied and challenging job, but one that keeps the team on its toes.

    “Every conference is different and every host is unique in what they want to achieve from the meeting. In an average week we could be supporting corporate events departments, farmers, lecturers, fire fighters, sports societies, scientists or medics so the job never gets old,” she said.

    “Our goal is to ensure that our conference ambassadors have a positive and rewarding experience in showcasing their destination and work to their international peers. And we support them every step of the way. 

    “This market segment is driven by people and Meet in Ireland recognises that Ireland’s strength in this industry is down to the local hosts, regular people who pitch and bid for these events to come to Ireland.”

    According to Kennedy, conference ambassadors are passionate about their discipline, are driven and know how to use their influence.

    “Once they have decided to bid for an international conference, conference ambassadors mean business. This drive coupled with the range of financial and practical supports for ambassadors provides a winning combination. As a destination, we are seen as formidable competitors on the global stage,” she said.

    See Meet in Ireland or email info@meetinireland.com for more information.

    Follow us on Twitter @Fáilte_Ireland

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