The Russian International Economic Forum (RIEF), held under the auspices of the Russian president in St Petersburg this week, included the meetings industry as a key stream of discussion for first time.
Mash Media managing editor Paul Colston chaired a distinguished panel of international meetings industry leaders, who discussed the question of how the industry can be a driver of economic development.
ICCA’s European regional director David Bodor gave an update on the association’s new rankings lists for cities and countries and also outlined many of the strategies successful destinations use to ensure that the meetings business contribute to growing local economies. “It’s important to understand that international business events play a very significant role in building stronger, more productive, more diverse economy,” said Bodor, who added that Russia had the potential to become a world-class business event destination.
“The potential of the Russian regions and infrastructural capabilities allow to hold much more events than we do. And for now we hold roughly 13,000–14,000 events per year,” said head of project at the national Russian Convention Bureau Alexei Kalachev.
The RIEF was attended by a record 14,000 visitors over three days at the ExpoForum venue in St Petersburg. Among the speakers at the plenary session were president Vladimir Putin. Numerous trade deals were signed during the Forum, which was held under tight security with many leading politicians and business leaders from around the world attending the conference sessions.
Sergey Alexeev, president of the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs, and outgoing UFI president told the audience during the meetings industry session: “Exhibitions as a face-to-face industry rank second in the product promotion system after the internet. We cannot get by without the face-to-face industry and we will develop it”.
Christian Mutschlechner, director of the Vienna Convention Bureau and president of the Austrian Convention Bureau, gave some good advice to the fledgling Russian Convention Bureau which is currently being formed, underlining the importance of focussing on the client and organiser’s needs: “My philosophy always was that we are here to serve our clients and we are not here to serve our suppliers. That’s a key message”.
For a full transcript and video of the session in St Petersburg, 3 June, click here.
Photo courtesy of Tass from the St Petersburg Russian International Economic Forum