Meticulous planning in pursuit of meetings

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Group’s vision is to become Europe’s most attractive meeting place – and it is already well on the way. The trend for the number of meetings has been rising in the last three years. Goaloriented efforts are behind these numbers.

Since the completion of the third Gothia Tower in 2015, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre Group can offer a comprehensive concept including 1,200 hotel rooms connected to the facility, placing it fifth among Europe’s largest hotels. In addition, Gothenburg is gaining attention internationally for its focus on sustainability.

“Absolutely, we’ve taken it up a notch when it comes to both offers and marketing initiatives. We put significant effort into research and analysis regarding which meetings we should arrange and have a stronger presence at international fairs and workshops. It’s also important to build strong relationships with booking companies and professional congress organisers (PCOs) around Europe. The biggest threshold is getting them to feel that we’re competent and experienced, because we’re still relatively unknown internationally,” says Malin Erlandsson, Director of Association Sales at the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers.

Malin Erlandsson in the lobby at Gothia Towers

Malin Erlandsson, Director Association Sales

The process of strategic work spans many years, and Malin Erlandsson compares it to “small candidates bidding for the Olympics.”A small national or Nordic meeting has around two to three years of lead time for sales. Bigger international conferences can take up to ten years from start to goal.

“It’s primarily about identifying meetings that suit Gothenburg in terms of size, time and having a connection to the city. It can take five to ten years to go from locating meeting ambassadors who want to take on the task of hosting the meeting to a final decision,” explains Malin Erlandsson.

The work is carried out together with Göteborg & Co, which includes the Gothenburg Convention Bureau, the City of Gothenburg’s marketing company. They are tasked with conducting free marketing and serving as a “go-between” for local connections and academia, recruiting meeting ambassadors, and tailoring packaging in the form of bid documents containing what the entire city has to offer.

And that requires meticulous planning – because the details are crucial. Thanks to the central location of the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers, the meetings are highly visible and become part of the city’s setting and packaging through signage, flags and comprehensive offers – all to help visitors feel welcome and enjoy their stay.

“Evaluations often show that we stand out when it comes to proximity, personalised service and hospitality. These are the areas where we can make a difference compared with the major meeting cities like London, Paris and Barcelona,” says Malin Erlandsson.

Five factors for success for The Swedish Exhibtion & Congress Centre Group:

  • Comprehensive concept
  • Partnerships
  • High ambitions
  • Information gathering
  • Employees

Text: Josefine Jacobsson

This story is also published in our magazine Moments.