While far from universal, a growing number of national tourism boards and even city-level convention and visitors bureaus are offering some form of subventions to attract associations that are considering bringing a large meeting to their destination. But should that really come into play? Isn’t the whole picture worth being identified before rushing to accept cash, as Aigars Smiltans’ MEET RĪGA argues?
Described by some as a necessary evil, “subvention” – subsidies given by convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) to attract large conferences – has become more generous as destinations battle it out to win new association meetings. The latest research conducted by The Right Solutions Ltd indicates that they are playing, if not a large, but a critical role when an associations makes the decision as to where to take their next event. In the 2016 BVEP Subvention Research, 50% of respondents acknowledge “significant influence in decision making” if there are offered subventions. The highest stake is cash subsidy – according 75% from all respondents – followed by discounts on venues costs. Only 17% of the respondents admit that subventions don’t impact the selection of a destination.
But instead of looking through a kind of ‘subvention’ magnifying glass, should’nt planners look at the bigger picture? Should they really just compare who gives the largest subsidies? As Aigars Smiltans puts it, « it might be wiser to base yourself on the general costs of your meeting(s). Do, for example, hotel rooms rates include breakfast or free wifi, or the rates will be for accommodation only? And if some marketing material is “offered”, will it be as good as if you had done it yourself? » Digging deeper, are associations always playing a fair game when requesting a proposal from a destination? Do they really have their delegates in mind? « Is transportation affordable? Is the destination easily accessible? What does an average meal or cab fare cost for instance? All this will have an influence on the decision for a delegate to come. » Aigars continues.