The other day I had the great honour to be invited to participate in a focus group with Wonderful Copenhagen and some big guys from the international meeting industry - doing some consultancy work with WOCO - to check out how CPH are doing as a city for placing international business meetings, congresses and so forth. Compared to - or with a focus to be more competitive than - other great meeting cities. Like Barcelona, Vienna, Cannes etc..
As usual discussions focused on PRICING. E.g. hotel pricing and hotel standards. Yes that is true - it´s an issue. But are we competing on price. Are we competing on hotel standards. Yes of course we are. BUT is it not so basic and obvious an issue. I mean there is some key basic product features with any products - that simply needs to be in place. That´s no need for a discussion. High quality products - competitive pricing. I believe it will fix itself - long term. But I think discussing this - is just placing the discussions in a safe field for anybody. But is it the problem? Will it help. Well maybe a little. But - I mean it is obvious that a car needs quite new wheels to not run of the road - just as any city needs decent good quality hotels to not miss visiting guest opportunities. Okay I do know that hotel standards are generally speaking not at as high a level as in other cities - and of course that needs focus - it is indeed important. But when that works - what can we then focus on? When the car is running - the basic features are in good competitive quality and pricing? The car takes you cost efficiently and safely from a to b. Is that the car (city) we want to sell. Do we believe we have any chance winning with only that?
Any product today - and that goes for a city as well - needs to compete on experiences. Be it the "buying" experience, the visiting experience or what ever experience is sorrounded by using the "product". Consider Dell. They are competing aggressively on the price (and the buying experience). I believe we don´t want to be a Dell city. Do we. We want maybe to be a Dell city - basicly (hotel standards, price/quality wice, ease of contact etc.). But will we win over the other cities only by this. No we will not. When all the others cities has that same thing in place. What do we have then - that really differentiate us from the other?
We need to take a look on how to differentiate - how to make it a fantastic experience "using and staying" in our city for business meeting and conferences. So - we need cooperation, creativity, ongoing innovation and open mindedness.
From my perspective the industry seriously needs to coorporate on a much more agressive level. That is what is lacking. And until the industry starts to do that. Each individual part not trying to do everything by themselves - but together and open minded with new perspective and new different thinking players, also from outside the industry. Then maybe we can make it as a competitive city. The creative capital in Copenhagen is certainly at a worldwide level. It´s just not taken into use in the meeting industry. No succesful business in our modern world works that way any longer. Modern business is made of partnering up, "winning" things together - each narrowing in on what they are best at. Copenhagen meeting industry - wake up. Or you will just end up in the ever, never ending nightmare of only competing on price and capacity. Focusing only on that game is in this industry and for a city like Copenhagen - in my perspective a loosers game.