Creating Lasting “Place” Value … Destinations as Legacy Builders

By Carina Bauer, President and CEO of the IMEX Group

Legacy is a word that flows freely when talking about successful people or organizations. How will they be remembered? What is their fingerprint on the world? What kind of legacy are they creating?

When it comes to the meeting, event & incentive travel industry, however, IMEX believes not only our people and organizations … but also our places and destinations can make indelible, positive contributions that raise the bar on attendee experiences and play a complimentary role in local economic, academic and innovation development. 

In fact, exploring how cities (as well as people and organizations) can leave glowing marks of their own is IMEX’s 2018 talking point –Legacy -- which will be woven into education sessions and conversations at IMEX in Frankfurt and IMEX America this year.

Looking around our industry we can find many energizing examples of destinations that are already working today to showcase their unique and lasting value. One of the ways they are doing this is by becoming increasingly known as hot spots for key industry knowledge sharing and one of a kind experiences that last long after attendees return home (in fact, you can see a recently- released report on this very topic from IMEX and Skift called the “Rise of Midsized Cities” here.).

Here are just a few exciting examples of mid-sized cities that we can draw ideas and inspiration from:

  • Portland Oregon’s convention bureau is weaving their unique, legacy story by embracing their local artisans -- or “makers” as they call them – folding them into their value proposition.  For example, the city’s convention sales team travels with a collection of local artisans, musicians, chefs, manufacturers, and craftspeople to help showcase the city’s unique vibe and give planners ideas on how to build local culture and color into their programs.

  • Victoria Canada, or “Tectoria” as its being nicknamed, is seeing rising demand for local women speakers at conferences and events as they comprise about 50 percent of the management teams and senior executives working at local start ups which are setting up shop in British Columbia’s capital city at a high rate. Planners also have new ways to plug into the local community across the priority sectors of tech and academia by working with Tourism Victoria to tap into local incubators like VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council.)

  • The German Convention Bureau and select members have been working for several years to help planners leverage local industry expertise. The Stuttgart Convention Bureau, for example, works with the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation, the Messe Stuttgart and others on major conferences and meetings like the EVS30 Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition. This event had delegates not only exchanging local and global knowledge but also having hands-on experiences like taking a spin in/on an e-vehicle, and doing exclusive visits to brainy spots like the lab at the Institute of Electrical Energy Conversion at The University of Stuttgart, the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg and the IBM Lab Böblingen working on the Connected Car and more. The Messe Stuttgart convention center is also launching a new conference of its own called “elect!”.

  • Or how about Bristol, England which is also showcasing its local industry smarts by building their own conferences. The 3-day VR World Congress 2017, for example, attracted 1,200 delegates from 37 countries, tripling attendance from the year prior. As such, the city is attracting talent in digital media from across the UK, thereby strengthening the local cluster, which in turn, elevates Bristol’s value proposition as a host destination for more tech industry events.

  • Finally, Albuquerque New Mexico’s Innovation Central District – embodied in the new Innovate ABQ complex – is designed to connect visiting companies and delegates with local tech, medical and academic sectors clustered around the city’s center. Albuquerque also has the Air Force Research Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories “in residence” that can share learnings around aerospace/aviation, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity, plus.

These are just a few examples of how destinations are becoming legacy creators by providing rich experiences, and fostering local knowledge sharing and innovation exchange. As an industry we are just beginning to scratch this exciting surface with much more to come! 

About Carina Bauer:

Having graduated from Oxford University, UK, in Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1998, Carina began her career in retail and catering – setting up and running GoodBean Coffee – a family owned chain of coffee shops located throughout the South of England. As Managing Director, Carina was in charge of the expansion of the business which grew to 13 stores in 3 years and was sold to a publicly listed company in December 2001.

An avid skier, Carina enjoyed a short break working in a ski resort in Italy, before entering the meetings industry in 2002 as the Marketing and Operations Director for IMEX in Frankfurt as part of the original launch team for the exhibition. Following the expansion of the IMEX brand into America in 2009, Carina was appointed CEO of the IMEX Group. In this role, Carina is responsible for all aspects of the business.

Throughout her career, Carina has been an active member of the meetings industry. She was Chair of the Marketing Committee for MPI’s European Meetings & Events Conference, London (2008), has served on the Board of the MPI UK Chapter, the MPI International Multicultural Committee and on PCMA’s Global and Advocacy Taskforces. She is currently President Elect for the SITE International Foundation and a Director of the Meetings Industry Fund.

Carina lives on the south coast of the UK, near to the IMEX Group office in Brighton, called "London-by-the-Sea" for its cosmopolitan nature and youth culture. She enjoys spending time with her family (she's a mother to two boys), and is a keen climber and skier, hitting the slopes with friends and family when she can.