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July 8, 2016

Portugal: Algarve Successfully Hosts First Luxury Edition of the Iberian MICE Forums

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The first Luxury Edition of the Iberian MICE Forums was held between 26th and 28th June in the Algarve, Portugal, in the renovated Pine Cliffs Resort. Still without the results of a detailed questionnaire sent to all participants, Andrés Merino, in the organisation team, told Event Point he is convinced that this was the best of all the Forums held until today. "We complied with the program to its full extent without any problem, and the quality of buyers and suppliers was excellent." Although he recalled that the great triumph will only happen when the buyers confirm events with the suppliers met on this trip.

Merino explains that this Iberian focus is to maintain. "I believe it gives us an advantage, compared to similar organisations. A German or Nordic buyer, although they refer to two different countries, share similar characteristics, from safety to climate, from good food to hotel offer quality."

Besides scheduled meetings, the Iberian MICE Forums always include a fam trip, pre- or post-event, for part of the buyers really interested in discovering the destination. "We can then provide them with more detailed information, something that would be impossible to do in a fair, for example," says Andrés Merino.

This first Luxury Edition was also a test for the organisers, who, in face of the results, have confirmed that next spring there will be a second edition, this time in Spain, in Costa del Sol.

“Very Positive Balance”

Alexandra Ramos, from the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA), rates this Forum as "not only for the good quality of buyers, but also because, as an Iberian MICE Forum, they all know that suppliers are Portuguese or Spanish. And because they come looking for these two destinations, it is easier that the meetings have content."

The Algarve is still very related to a leisure or leisure and golf destination, and many buyers think there is nothing there beyond that. "When we succeed in bringing them here, everything plays in our favour, because the experience is so far above the expectations that they feel genuinely surprised," assures Alexandra Ramos. "Even because they keep strong memories, they are able to suggest more often the destination in the future", and she gives the example, "One of the buyers, who represents global luxury brands, told me two years ago that the Algarve had no hotel offer for her customers, and now she came to tell me that some of the hotels are spectacular, and she will suggest them because they meet her clients' expectations."

About this Forum format, Alexandra Ramos says that "not being perfect, it is pretty good, because it allows you to work and also to show some of the destination. And, of course, we always like people to enjoy the Algarve as much as possible."

Experiences Needed

Who also has a "very positive" perspective of this meeting is Sofia Marques, from Hotel Vila Vita Parc. "Timing did not fail and there were buyers with great interest in our property. I now have two or three specific requests for groups, but also individual prospects, because there were people working these two segments. Many of the buyers did not know the Algarve, and this was a good opportunity also because of that. "

Ursula Daum, from German agency add on, highlights the quality of suppliers she met, "very professional and well prepared." "In terms of events, the Algarve has good spaces, good hotels, but I think you need to travel some time to find the most genuine and authentic Portugal of small villages. So I'm not so sure about the incentives. Still, I met very creative DMCs here, and I take some good ideas with me."

To refresh his knowledge of the Algarve was Juan Antonio Casas, from the Spanish agency Dynamic & Partners, which also sells Portuguese destinations such as Lisbon and Porto. "The most difficult goal in these Forums is to bring buyers with decision power, and that the organisers were able to do," he emphasises.

"I usually say no to such invitations," admits Roger Frosh, from the English agency Frosh. "I came because I was able to contact several luxury properties in a single space, without having to travel between Portugal and Spain." The destination has very nice hotels, he guarantees. "If we think of all the Mediterranean area, nowhere else can you find landscapes like these. When we are at the Pine Cliffs top and see those trees, it's amazing! " Roger Frosh appeals to better air connections but also to show what can be done at the destination. "People want to get home and tell about the magnificent experiences they had, things that no one else experienced. There has to be some marketing effort in this direction. In the Algarve there are no big cities like Lisbon and Porto, so the challenge to its suppliers is to show the fantastic activities that can be made here and that the Algarve is an experience, not just a destination. Anyone can make a reservation for a destination, but you can not book an experience. "

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