Classroom by the sea

// Veit Schröder

In Thessaloniki, 62 students from 18 nations came together at the ECM Summer School to talk about destination marketing with seasoned pros from the meetings industry.

Gastautor Veit Schröder vom Schleswig-Hostein Convention Bureau (Mitte) berichtet von der ECM Summer School in Thessaloniki. Photo: ECM/Stefano Tsakiris

#ECMSS18. The 32nd European Cities Marketing Summer School (ECMSS) took place in Greece from 25 to 29 August 2018. After Dresden in 2017, the event was hosted for the first time in the harbour city of Thessaloniki. Being new to the industry, I didn’t know what to expect. But I liked the agenda: lectures on destination marketing with Heike Mahmoud, on the use of social media with Miguel Neves, rounded off by case studies from companies and associations. School started on 25 August at 3 pm: Organisers Katy Wrobel-Schmitt and Flavie Baudot welcomed the students very warmly at Porto Palace Thessaloniki. After a welcome address by Pier Paolo Mariotti, ECM Vice President and Course Director, there was a casual round of introductions. It soon became clear to me that ECMSS is not just a European event; guests from Georgia and Missouri, Cape Town and Tel Aviv mingled with the Europeans.

With a daily twelve-hour agenda of lectures and workshops, the three seminar days were very intense. The morning lectures explored a topic, which was then deepened in the afternoon workshops. Everyone could decide for themselves which of the morning topics to study in more detail in the workshops. What I found particularly exciting was that leaders such as Christian Mutschlechner, Heike Mahmoud and Sam Johnston guided the students for four days, sharing their knowledge and experience, also in the breaks and evening events.

I found the insights into the ICCA database and handling of the information contained there particularly valuable. As a manager, it helps my team and me focus Schleswig-Holstein Convention Bureau, part of Schleswig-Holstein Tourism Agency (TASH), on attracting new events.

Wake-up call: Once a day trainer Cain Leathem from the UK got students up and moving and offered advice on healthy eating and exercise. On the final day we were able to demonstrate what we had learnt: In four hours we had to prepare a bid presentation for a fictitious congress. There was an official ceremony for the winners in the evening.

ECMSS was very inspiring for my industry colleagues and me. I firmly believe that ECMSS is an important and effective springboard for any newcomer to the meetings industry. It provides you with fundamental knowledge about and for the industry in a compact and enlightening manner. At ECMSS I was able to map out the future path and positioning of Schleswig-Holstein Convention Bureau. And I take an international network home with me to Germany’s True North. Some of them have already become friends.