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February 5, 2019
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Portugal: Dolce Campo Real Lisboa Aims at the Demanding German Market in 2019


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Since reopening in 2013 under the Dolce brand, conferences have been assuming a growing importance in Campo Real Lisboa's turnover.

At this moment it reaches 65%, General Director Paula Duarte tells Event Point. The remaining billing is divided between guests and golf, with the national and international markets balanced, very close to 50/50, only differing in group's size, which are larger in international ones.

Like all hotels in the Dolce chain, Campo Real is also out of a big city. Near [about half an hour from Lisbon], but still away. And why? Paula Duarte says they are only meeting promoters' needs. "Anyone organising an event wants people to be truly present. Having a conference in the heart of Lisbon often means that on the second day there are only 70% of people and on the third day there are only 40%. In the meantime, they got lost in Lisbon's movida, with all the excitement the city offers. Not here. Here, the client knows that delegates are focused on that conference every day. During the day they work, at night we have an offer we can provide. Generally our guests stay with us for two to three nights, and on one of those nights they go out and have an event here in the area. We work a lot with wineries, for example. Foreigners love our wine dinners, and we are a very good wine region, which is not so well known yet."

And is this periphery difficult to sell? Paula Duarte makes the distinction, "For the international market to say that we are half an hour from Lisbon means nothing, because they are accustomed to take two and three hours to move in their countries. But saying that we are half an hour from Lisbon in the national market is a huge challenge. The most important thing is to bring customers here. When they pass the concierge and begin to descend the street towards the Hotel, they change their perspective. They are super close to Lisbon, and in the middle of a fantastic landscape, between two mountains, with these beautiful views of our vineyards. And that makes all the difference".

Given the origin of foreign customers, Paula Duarte explains that the first market is traditionally the United Kingdom, "although it is now decreasing, perhaps because of Brexit. I think the same thing happens in Portugal: when there is a crisis, people focus on their own country, and they do not go out. That's why our biggest market at this moment is the American, which makes us very happy, because it is not easy to bring them to Europe, secondly the United Kingdom, and then, thirdly, Portugal, where we have the majority of our guests. Germany is growing, a very difficult market, which does not accept answers like "I can not" or "we do not have", and we are aiming at them in 2019”, the hotel's General Director concludes.

Europe Knowledge Festival

In October last year, Dolce Campo Real Lisboa hosted the Europe Knowledge Festival of the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC). Campo Real is the only Portuguese member of this association, which accounts for 1% of the global small and medium-sized venues market. Paula Duarte recalls that F&B director Miguel Inácio had gone to a conference in London, "he came back full of ideas, and was able to talk to Mark [Cooper, IACC's CEO] about this possibility of hosting their event here. For us it is important to host a meeting in which discusses the future of conferences in our conference hotel. These people are in the market, and can help us think differently, with new ideas." And she continues, "We have everything that others have, rooms, food, but we also have an exceptional team, that wants to do different things. Our team has a very genuine imprint, is very committed, very local, which is cool."

How important is it then to be a part of IACC? Paula Duarte says that they are members because the Dolce international brand is also part of this Association, which "is highly internationally recognised. There are venue finders who specifically seek out IACC members, and this gives us great credibility. It is the international market that makes us grow, which gives us profit. We need all the tools that can give us visibility and credibility. And IACC is one more of these tools that help us win customers. It's a challenge to convince people to come to Portugal, to Turcifal, to hold their event, their conference."


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