Gothenburg crosses the Atlantic

Published by Linda Nordberg 15 October, 2019 in Meetings.

In mid-September, Gothenburg exhibited for the first time at IMEX America, the largest annual international trade fair in the US. 3,500 buyers from 68 countries attended the fair, so it was an important strategic decision to participate and use the opportunity to showcase Gothenburg as a meeting destination.

Maria Thylén from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre/Gothia Towers, and Eva Ahlm Tobisson from Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager at Gothenburg Convention Bureau, recently arrived home from a successful visit to Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas, where the fair IMEX America took place on 11–13 September. Gothenburg exhibited at the fair alongside the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre and Gothia Towers and others in the Scandinavian Pavilion.

A number of other destinations and companies exhibited in the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

Several mailouts were sent to registered visitors before the fair to generate interest in Gothenburg as a meeting destination and arrange individual meetings. The mailouts focused on the city’s food culture, natural beauty and activities, as well as more meeting-related benefits such as venues, collaboration across the city and its commitment to sustainability. These benefits typically mean that organisers and delegates are impressed with Gothenburg as a host city for meetings. Delegates booked many individual meetings through Eva as a result of the mailouts. Aside from these meetings, most customers visited the stand spontaneously, as they see Gothenburg as an attractive destination.

Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Eva Ahlm Tobisson

“We naturally had many questions about what visitors can do in Gothenburg and its surroundings, where the coast, countryside and food appeal to visitors. Some of them checked us out because they realise that sustainability is becoming a higher priority for meetings and is an area where Gothenburg stands out. Often they also work with companies that have links to Gothenburg. Last but not least, Gothia Towers and the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre are unique in Europe for their size and location. This is something that the US market identified as one of the big advantages of Gothenburg,” explains Eva.

Apart from all the individual meetings, the uniting theme at the Scandinavian Pavilion this year was “Take a liking to a Viking”, which included Viking snacks and an interactive quiz for visitors.

Viking quiz at the Scandinavian Pavilion. Photo: Chuck Janda

It has not yet been decided whether there will be a repeat visit to IMEX America next year.

“We will evaluate the results to determine if there is value in returning next year. But my immediate reaction is that it was really worthwhile and there is a lot of interest in Gothenburg. So in this case we must hope that what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas,” concludes Eva.

Every year Gothenburg Convention Bureau attends a variety of trade fairs and congresses to gather business intelligence, build relationships and market Gothenburg as a city of meetings. In May, Gothenburg Convention Bureau attended the annual international IMEX trade fair in Frankfurt along with local partners and the Swedish Network of Convention Bureaus.

As well as being an opportunity to meet new and existing customers, the annual international IMEX trade fair in Frankfurt in May was a chance to get feedback on the Association World Congress & Expo, which was held in April and was attended by many of the delegates at the fair. Gothenburg received some very positive feedback from customers, as a city of meetings.

Eva Ahlm Tobisson, from Gothenburg Convention Bureau, and Maria Thylén, from the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, gave a well-attended talk about Gothenburg at IMEX.
“It was great to see so many people interested in Gothenburg as a city of meetings. People are really opening their eyes and realising the benefits of arranging meetings here: you can walk everywhere, competitive pricing, venues, service level, and not least our collaboration with academia and industry,” says Eva Ahlm Tobisson, project manager for Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

Maria Thylén, the Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, and Eva Ahlm Tobisson, Gothenburg Convention Bureau.

The city’s ranking as a leading global destination for sustainable meetings in the ICCA Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) is being used to drive the meetings industry in a more sustainable direction, and at the same time raise Gothenburg’s profile as a city of meetings. At the fair, Göteborg & Co’s head of sustainability, Katarina Thorstensson, held a popular workshop for the international meetings industry on Gothenburg’s sustainability initiatives. Guy Bigwood, initiator behind the GDS-Index, also contributed during the workshop.

Guy Bigwood, from the GDS Index, and Katarina Thorstensson, from Göteborg & Co, talk about sustainability initiatives.

IMEX attracts more than 5,000 meeting organisers from all over the world, and because this is one of the key events for bringing meetings to the city, we attend every year.

Here you can see which other events Gothenburg Convention Bureau will be attending during the year.