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by Georges Panayotis

Destinations and especially major cities are the focus of events communications. Such coverage generously offers free media coverage, but also a major need to master and encourage it intelligently.

Yesterday London, tomorrow Rio, and then Tokyo... all are riding the Olympic wave. Paris, Moscow and Doha are all snapping up the attention of soccer fans; Dubai is busy preparing Expo 2020 while Paris, Rotterdam and Osaka are all vying for Expo 2025. They are all formidable work sites and challenges to mobilize new investments, to present an image of success, to federate diffused energies. But sometimes one wonders if the heart is truly in it, if it is truly a group effort, while contradictory messages sometimes clash.

The example of Paris is indicative, but it is not unique. The city is preparing to host the UEFA Euro 2016 together with other French cities that have been selected, but communications are timid and overshadowed by discussions at the highest level regarding security and the need to pursue the state of emergency. Since last November, the atmosphere has changed in the capital, but does that mean a Calimero complex should be cultivated through an identification with the unlucky, dissatisfied black chick? It is not about evading difficulties at hand or denying the legitimate wariness of visitors who want to be sure to have a good time. Security has become commonplace and integral to daily life without needing to add a layer to the psychosis of future dramas. It would be like shooting yourself in the foot before a race.

Competition persists between rival cities that want to look their best on Planet Tourism. This is clear in communications: the City in the broader sense is the right size for sparking desire. Destination marketing is vital to successfully differentiate and establish an image. Whence the need to unite operational, political, and economic, public and private strengths, and share the roles. Elected officials are expected to generate momentum, to resolutely involve municipalities in designing the project, organizing requirements, in national and international promotions. Companies are expected to play a collective, broader role rather than be free riders, and to partner in realizing the project with their available means and investments.

For Greater Paris, tourism is so obvious that elected officials have too easily rested on their laurels. Today we see delays in equipment, accommodations capacities, and travel connections. It is time to take action to make up for shortfalls more quickly. But this is not the only area that needs to promote its strong identity. In France alone there are a hundred or so regional brands that do specific thematic marketing: Biarritz, Bordeaux, Chamonix, Lyon, St-Tropez,…  the Alps, Auvergne, vineyard regions, Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, Val-de-Loire and Normandy, all have a specific identity, be it for golf, wine tasting,  mountains, gastronomy or festivals.

While dimensions may vary, methodology remains the same, uniting all the dynamic forces around a theme to be carried over into differentiated products with added value. Tourism is becoming a team sport with a goal on the horizon; it has a captain, trainers, sponsors and especially, and above all, a desire to win together, although each player hopes for a fair return on their commitment.

2024, 2025, will be here tomorrow. Preparing for them today means making a break with what previously divided and isolated us yesterday.

About Georges Panayotis

Georges Panayotis is President of MKG Consulting. Born in a family of hoteliers for three generations, Georges Panayotis, 51, left Greece at the age of 18 to pursue his studies in Political Sciences and to obtain his Master in Management at the French University of Paris Dauphine. He then joined the Novotel chain, which will become the Accor Group, to manage the International Marketing Division. After developing specific marketing tools for the hotel industry, he left the group in 1986 to start his own company, MKG Conseil, now MKG Group. In twenty years, the group has become the European leader in studies and consulting for the Hospitality industry. The company employs over 70 people in four departments: marketing studies, database, quality control and trade press, with two publications HTR Magazine and Hotel Restaurant Weekly. The company helped the development of over 2,000 hotels in France and in Europe, with offices in Paris, Cyprus and London. Georges Panyotis is the founder of the Worldwide Hospitality Awards and the Hotel Makers Forum, and the author of several publications on Marketing and Operations in the hotel business, He is a regular consultant for several television channels, among which Bloomberg Television, and radio networks.

Contact: Georges Panayotis

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