Interview: Maureen O'Crowley, President, FCCI

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1. How FCCI was established? Any background stories?
Upon the establishment of the Seoul Tourism Organization in 2008, one of our goals was to advance our industry rankings (ICCA and/or UIA) - setting an ambitious target of reaching 5th by 2015. As a newcomer, Seoul had much work to do to establish ourselves and raise awareness of our existence. We promptly set out to bring ourselves up to speed professionally and became actively involved in industry associations and tradeshows.

As such, in 2009, Seoul became a platinum sponsor of a major project commissioned by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and IMEX. "Convention 2020" was a strategic international foresight study designed to assist members of the meetings industry prepare for the decade ahead and remain competitive. Additional aims were to stimulate new thinking about the future of industry and identify key topics that warranted further research.

While attending IMEX Frankfurt in 2010, Seoul began a conversation with Sydney and fellow platinum sponsor London about how best to apply the outcomes of the study in our look to the future of the industry - and agreed on the basic foundation of our newly formed alliance, FCCI (Future Convention Cities Initiative). In short order, we were joined by four other like-minded cities, Abu Dhabi, Durban, San Francisco and Toronto.

***(For the record, Seoul achieved its goal 5 years early, reaching UIA #5 in 2010 and has remained in the top 5 for the past five consecutive years.)

2. As immediate past chair of FCCI, how do you see current destination marketing of most of Asian bureaus?
It is very important to differentiate that a Convention Bureaus responsibility is to promote the city as a destination for BUSINESS EVENTS (a term I much prefer vs MICE). We must always keep in mind what the "mission" of our clients are. In this regard, access is a major factor - as the destination must be highly accessible to ensure maximum participation as are accommodations - location, quality and budget ranges - are also key to the bid. Certainly, the culture and charm of the destination has its place too and can sometimes be the tipping point in making decisions. The important thing is to keep priorities in the right order.

3. In Imex America, Destination DC, Visit Brussels, DAC and SECB presented an alliance to be for association. How do you see these movement?
As a founding member of FCCI, I am a strong believer in the power of cooperation - even among competitors, or so called, "coopetition". These four cities have found a common link and goal just as we at FCCI did five years ago.

Pooling resources and working together with the common goal of sharing knowledge and research results helps us all improve professionally and allows us to be ever more competitive.

FCCI has completed two major projects; the first, released in May 2014 was the research paper, "Beyond Tourism Benefits: Building an International Profile" and the second, a publication titled, "Business Events: The Power to Transform", a compilation of seven case studies on events that deliver benefits, influence and an impressive legacy. FCCI made both available to the industry; they can be found and downloaded from our website,

4, To secure BTB (Beyond Tourism Benefit), it is necessary to tell "business mass" what they can get in the destination
I believe that as convention bureaus, it is important for us to be strong advocates of our industry. We want to be taken seriously; we want recognition for the powerful work we do and the resulting benefits. That is why it is so important for us to speak up - loud and clear about just exactly what we do. It is crucial that our governments, at all levels, fully understand that yes, these events do indeed have an economic impact on the destination - but the long lasting legacy they bring - can be far more valuable

in the future. This is a problem all of us face. That is why we must differentiate ourselves from leisure tourism. That is why I prefer calling ourselves "BUSINESS EVENTS" - why heavy emphasis on "busi

ness". This is why the development of strong, credible case studies is vital for us. It's easy to say we produce benefits; but a case study is proof positive that we can and do deliver exactly what we say we do.

5, How do you think of these destination marketing which is challenging for bureaus?
There is much room for improvement in this area. We must dig deep and ask ourselves that all important question of "Why". Why would an international association, corporate meeting or incentive want to come to our destination?

We must determine their wants and needs. We have to truly understand their motives, missions and desired outcome and make the case accordingly. We cannot simply tell them our destination is nice and pretty. We are after all, the professionals. We must act so and tell our customers what we can do for them to make their event a successful one. Finally, remember, one size does not fit all. Each customer is special and unique. Always keep that in mind..