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A well thought out and clearly articulated strategy is an essential component of any business planning activity.
Leading global convention & meetings cities have a clearly articulated strategy. A clear strategy acknowledging the transformative economic opportunities of the destination also provides an essential business case for the appropriate investment in destination marketing.
We have consulted on development of destination strategy for around 50 destinations across Australasia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.
The GainingEdge team brings considerable experience, world’s best practice and strategic acumen in this specialised segment of the tourism industry.
Exclusively focused on the conventions & meetings industry we work with our clients to define appropriate goals and the strategies to achieve them, while also providing full seamless support through planning and execution. We believe we provide the most comprehensive vertically integrated services in this space.
- Destination Strategy – overall market strategy or segment strategy
- Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) organisational strategy
- Convention centre development advisory
- Business case for government and private sector funding
Bid Strategy Development and Support
GainingEdge has a proven track record in assisting clients in finding, evaluating and securing new international convention opportunities. Our experienced global team will work with you to identify opportunities, define bid strategies and undertake crucial market intelligence and research activities.
Growing Leads. For companies, destinations or venues looking to develop international markets we provide expertise and knowledge, starting with lead collection, qualification and prioritisation. Our approach is collaborative and ensuring that the knowledge, skills and abilities of your team grow is a key priority for us.
- Global team working across all regions with deep industry expertise and contacts
- Exclusive global database access which offers cost and time effective market intelligence specifically for the MICE industry
- Sales process establishment including associated technology selection and implementation
Winning business. Behind every successful bid is a well thought through strategy, supported by solid research, a structured bid management process and the right levels of stakeholder engagement. We work with you to develop bid strategies, which take into account all the critical success factors, and fully demonstrate, as well as build upon, an in-depth understanding of your client’s unique needs.
- Development of comprehensive strategies, including competitive multi-city competitive bid analysis and recommendations
- Bid process management support, including Staff training and development to build knowledge and expertise on bid strategy and the bid management process.
- Creation of bid documentation, from templates through to bid response and quality assurance
Ambassador & Local Host Development ProgrammeAn Ambassador Programme engages local industry leaders and leverages their contacts & influence. They are designed as incubators for potential local hosts for international conventions. This method is used by cities to help anticipate future business prospects and to also enhance bid strategies and maximize success. Previous local hosts usually have the knowledge and experience for bidding and hosting international conventions. GainingEdge can help you to develop a well structured programme, where we carefully match your needs to suitable patrons and then facilitate a programme between both parties to achieve your desired outcomes. In addition to their in-depth knowledge, proven experience and considerable international connections, an ambassador will be an influential advocate of your proposition.
- Ambassador Programme establishment. Including: selection criteria, recruitment and retention strategy, programme benefits and management process
- Programme design, planning and facilitation; ambassador on- boarding, workshop and other core activity facilitation
- Advice on future Ambassador Program seminar content & presentations.
Business Events Branding AdviceMost destinations already have key elements of a sub-brand for Business Events (meetings, conventions, incentives and exhibitions.) We work with destinations to undertake a business events sub-branding process, in consultation with your key stakeholders to ensure that the brand extension is broadly supported and thus more effective. Through this process we work with you to ensure a clearly defined sub-branding including elements often overlooked by destinations such as destination product positioning, differentiation, creative brand treatments, consistency in imaging and messaging. Our approach will result in the following:
- Stakeholder engagement – broad support for the new approach
- Support and market insights on your brand through our global experience and reach
- Clear instructions to your creative agency or in-house creative team for brand development and treatments and applications for advertising, media and collateral materials
- Support to your creative agency and/or in-house marketing team
Development of City Business Events StrategyA well thought through and clearly articulated strategy is an essential component of any business planning activity. We work with our clients to ensure that the transformative economic opportunities Business Events brings are fully explored, qualified and quantified. Leading global Business Events cities and countries have clear long-term strategies guiding their strategic direction and focus. GainingEdge works with cities and countries, in all geographies, to develop and continually refine their strategic business plans. Strategic business plans outline long-term goals and objectives based on a broad understanding of the economic impact, competitive landscape, stakeholder requirements, required investment, and the associated realities of strategy execution. Working in partnership, the facilitation and development of strategic business plans will typically cover the following areas:
- Government & industry stakeholder input
- Competitive analyses
- Priority industries and markets
- Long term goals, KPI and strategic roadmaps
- Previous CVB assessments
Subvention Programme (Financial & Non-Financial Subsidy)
- Appropriate and effective model
- Clear outcomes / ROI for subsidies
- Business case for meaningful funds
- Appropriate level of consistency
- Leverage global best practice
Industry Partnership Programme
- Comprehensive city-wide product review
- Introductory workshop with the city’s leading suppliers.
- Client Forum of select high potential international buyers to gain customer feedback on product and presentation.
- Clients would participate in post-tours during which suppliers could showcase their products.
- Product Development Workshops with the CVB and suppliers to refine the product offerings and presentations, and development of an innovative new product.
In-Market Sales RepresentationSuccess in securing international conventions and meetings is highly influenced by relationships established in market. It's often not viable for most destinations to establish dedicated offices in market. GainingEdge can help deliver a destination or CVB presence in its key target markets on a scalable basis, from part time to dedicated full time sales and business development resources. GainingEdge operates globally - with sales people in all major markets representing clients from all parts of the world. These representatives would be sales focussed with clearly defined targets, and key roles can cover the following: Lead generation; Bid research and presentations; Trade show attendance; Sales missions; PR and Media; and Client relationship management. With a global network of business development people based in UK, Australia, Singapore, China, Sweden, India and USA, GainingEdge currently provides in-market sales representation to Best Cities Global Alliance, South Africa, Malaysia, Tokyo and Guadalajara.
Project Brief: Jordan Meetings and Conferences Ambassadors
The Jordan Tourism Board – JTB has launched its Business Events blue print for the years 2015 – 2019, and one key activity within this plan is to establish a “Jordan Meetings and Conferences Ambassador “ Programme.
GainingEdge developed a Plan for the implementation of this Ambassador Programme which included devising a communications plan to engage its prospective ambassadors, curating appropriate communication materials and collaterals, and designing a training programme for JTB staff and the potential ambassadors.
Starting with a stakeholders workshop, onsite meetings and interviews, GainingEdge acquired first-hand understanding of the gaps and opportunities that exist within Jordan’s conventions industry. With these insights, GainingEdge was able to propose a model size and structure for Jordan’s Ambassador programme. In cooperation with JTB, the proposed roles and achievement targets of these ambassadors were discussed and agreed. Finally, GainingEdge proposed a selection of activities and communication messages that would be managed by the JTB.
On June 30th 2015, the Jordan Meetings and Conferences Ambassador Programme was announced. Over 50 potential meeting ambassadors attended JTB’s training seminar “Capitalizing on Exceptional Jordanians to Achieve Enhanced Tourism and Economic Growth Through the Meetings Industry”.
Project Brief: Building Seoul’s Bid Pipeline
Seoul is doing very well as an international meetings destination and holding its position in the world’s Top 5 cities in the International Meetings Statistics report by the Union of International Associations (UIA). In 2015, its ranking was improved to become 3rd in the world.
In order to ensure that Seoul can maintain their rankings as one of the world’s most popular destinations for meetings and events, the bureau will need to have a steady supply of bids to work on. With this in mind, the Seoul Convention Bureau approached GainingEdge to develop international association convention leads for its sales team.
GainingEdge researched and provided a list of Top 100 Association Congresses for Seoul to nurture with the aim to convert into bid opportunities. These leads will support Seoul Convention Bureau’s pipeline for development and conversion and ultimately define the bureau’s role as the ‘bid factory’ for the city. Intelligence gathered on these leads include the anticipated open year; critical deadlines; hosting criteria; hotel and venue requirements; decision making process and key considerations for selection. These leads have open years of between 2017 and 2023.
Note: GainingEdge has provided similar lead development services for Serbia, Daegu, Yokohama and Macao. For each destination, the targets are discussed and customised in-line with the destination’s strengths, preferred groups size and profile, and bureau’s priorities.
Project Brief: Tweaking Tokyo’s incentive products for the international market
Business Events Tokyo, the convention arm of the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau, approached GainingEdge to assist in the city’s development of innovative incentive products and experiences for its international incentive clients. One of Japan’s greatest assets is its tremendous pool of artisans and its cultural authenticity. The bureau wanted to ensure that ‘authentic’ rather than ‘touristic’ experiences will be on offer to international incentive buyers.
At the end of this 5-month project, the transformation was evident. The city’s incentive suppliers have developed stronger incentive products, have gained more incentive market knowledge, have improved their product presentation skills and have gained invaluable experience in hosting client sites.
There was clear refinement in the products and activities. The highly rated activities incorporated a successful combination of uniqueness, education, authenticity and client engagement. In short, the participating destination management companies (DMCs) were effectively depicting Japanese culture and delivering an experience above the client’s expectation (the surprise element). The programme also opened the door on new product potential that will broaden Tokyo’s incentive offerings.
Project Brief: Development Strategy Proposal for Hangzhou
In 2011, GainingEdge was engaged by UNWTO and Hangzhou Tourism Commission to conduct a study on global trends in the business events industry, and to provide advice on their approach to the development of the industry. GainingEdge conducted meetings and discussions with Hangzhou’s stakeholders who are market facing and who acted as focus groups to provide on-ground information on market demands, supplies, competition and source markets as well as the destination SWOT. Through engagement with these focus groups, the consulting team also learnt about the capabilities and capacities of Hangzhou’s supplier community. The team carried out site inspections and briefings on infrastructure capacities and first-hand experience on Hangzhou’s tourism products with incentive elements. Working with two local experts in the business events industry, primary research included market hotel surveys and market leads research. Secondary research included data from Chinese tourism offices, Hangzhou Tourism Promotion Center, Hangzhou Tourism Commission and West Lake Expo Office. The student team from Zhejiang Economic and Trade Polytechnic were coached on how to mine for additional data through their various research and survey activities.
In addition to the market report, GainingEdge outlined the requirements for the further development of Hangzhou’s business events industry and provided recommendations on how to make Hangzhou a preferred destination in China. The report also provided advice on the role of the local government and its agencies in supporting the growth of Hangzhou’s business events industry.
Hangzhou has consistently maintained its rankings within the Top 3 leaderboard, after Beijing and Shanghai, in ICCA’s annual rankings for the number of international association meetings hosted. As a result of hosting the 2016 G20 Summit, the city’s meetings infrastructure was vastly enhanced.
Project Brief: National business events strategy for South Africa and establishment of South Africa National Convention Bureau
GainingEdge was retained as the consulting firm to help define the national business events strategy for South Africa, as well as to elaborate the activation process and business plan.
Using an approach that involved high levels of stakeholder engagement, GainingEdge facilitated a planning process that developed strong consensus among members of the South African business events industry. This resulted in a strong buy-in from the institutional and local stakeholder community concerning the newly formed convention bureau’s vision, mission and strategic goals for the next five years.
Stakeholder engagement was so strong that key actors of the business events industry decided to create “Team South Africa”. Through this partnership organisation, SANCB has been able to implement a variety of initiatives that met the needs of regional and local DMOs, as well as those of the suppliers from the business events sector across the country.
Working closely with the newly formed team, GainingEdge has contributed to helping SANCB position itself as motor for product and capacity development across the nation. SANCB has positioned and branded the country’s business events sector, and is developing a number of sales and marketing tools that will be made available to local DMOs.
Additionally, GainingEdge provided pro-bono support which led to the establishment of the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE). A strong AfSAE will mean a stronger association community in Africa, and more successful bids for the respective destinations on the continent.
Project Brief: Feasibility study and setting up of Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau
GainingEdge was engaged by the Ministry of Tourism to first complete a feasibility study for the establishment of a national convention bureau in 2007 and were then engaged to set up and assist with strategy implementation for the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) in 2009 which incorporated the Business Events (meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition) unit in 2010 and the Malaysia Major Events unit (sports, arts, cultural and entertainment events) unit in 2011.
Since its inception, Malaysia is on course to achieve the nation’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) targets for the business events industry by year 2020. This is illustrated by MyCEB’s current track records as well as aggressive efforts to bid for and stage world-class business events. Over the years, since its establishment and up to 2015, MyCEB has won 654 future events comprising international conferences, corporate incentive groups and trade exhibition events which will substantially add some RM4.1 billion to Malaysia’s coffers. In the same period, MyCEB provided support to 1,350 events with the aim of increasing delegate awareness and attendance, their length of stay and spending in Malaysia. These events which are already booked for Malaysia will contribute RM7.2 billion to the country’s economy.
The project to set up MyCEB and activate it covered staff recruitment, induction and training; and establishing the management systems including standard operating procedures. GainingEdge also set up Malaysia’s business development plan and implementation, including bid management strategy and support. GainingEdge further assisted in the development and implementation of industry training programmes including MyCEB’s Industry Partner Programme.
Gary Grimmer - Executive Chairman
Gary has over 30 years’ experience in the convention industry. In 2004 he founded GainingEdge, a global consulting company that offers advisory services in relation to destinations, convention bureaus and convention and exhibition centres. It also provides convention and incentive sales representation services in all of the world’s key markets. The company’s services are end-to-end, with specialist expertise and global networks that cover both the supply and demand sides of the market. GainingEdge also manages the BestCities Global Alliance which is comprised of 12 of the world’s leading destinations. Gary has consulted at the local and national level on over 100 projects in all parts of the world.
Previously Gary was the CEO of Convention and Visitor Bureaus in Melbourne (Australia), Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) and Portland (Oregon, USA.) He also served as Vice President for the Boston (Massachusetts, USA) bureau. His convention centre consulting experience includes market feasibility, demand analysis, facility scoping, design review, site review and operational consultation for convention centre developments. He also served on the London International Convention Centre Commission.
Gary was one of the lead consultants on Destination Next, a global study for Destinations International (DI) which defined the future of destination marketing. He is a former Chairman of the Board of DI and was one of the first six inductees into the inaugural Dl Hall of Fame in 2014. He also received the Asia Pacific IMEX Academy Award in 2007.Email Gary Grimmer
Mike Williams - Senior Partner & Consultant
Mike is a destination and convention and visitor bureau specialist with 30 years’ experience in the tourism and business events industry. Since joining Gaining Edge in 2007 he has been a lead consultant on destination and convention bureau development for clients in Australia, Africa, China, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Qatar, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom & USA. Mike was the lead consultant for establishment and capability strengthening for the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau. This project included the collaboration with a university and research company to undertake an economic impact study and exhibition industry opportunity study. Mike was also deeply involved in bureau development programmes in Japan, Macao and Thailand. He has also been providing consultancy support for convention centre developments around the globe, including a number within the Asia Pacific region. In addition, Mike oversees GainingEdge's in-market sales representation.
Mike served as General Manager Sales & Marketing for the Melbourne Convention & Visitors Bureau. During his tenure, he was involved in the National Business Events economic impact study and Melbourne Delegate Expenditure survey in collaboration with a university and research company. He also worked in senior marketing roles with Tourism Australia helping establish their presence in the Asia market and overseeing travel trade development in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Mike was instrumental in the development of AIME, the largest MICE tradeshow in the Asia Pacific and the world’s first BestCities Global Alliance which includes Singapore as a partner. Mike is also a past Victorian State Chair and National President of Meetings and Events of Australia (MEA).Email Mike Williams
Senior Partner & Consultant
Jane Vong Holmes - Senior Manager – Asia
Jane joined GainingEdge in June 2009, at that time as Associate, and later as Senior Manager Asia, focused on GainingEdge’s business and relationships in Asia. She helped establish GainingEdge’s signature events GainingLeads and GainingEdge Knowledge Exchange which takes place annually at IMEX and ICCA Congress.
Prior to this role, Jane served for 8 years as Regional Director Asia Pacific for the International Congress & Convention Association – ICCA. During her tenure, the ICCA Asia Pacific Regional Office established a research unit dedicated to studying association meetings and supplementing the market intelligence efforts of ICCA’s Head Office in Amsterdam. She had also worked in Malaysia’s National Tourist Office, Tourism Malaysia and served as the Deputy Director (Overseas) for Tourism Malaysia’s Sydney Office for four years.
Jane was honoured with the IMEX Academy Award – Asia Pacific in 2013. She has served two terms (2014-2017) as Deputy Chair of ICCA Asia Pacific Chapter. She co-authored two UNWTO publications on the Asia Meetings Industry (2012, 2017), and will release a report on Accessibility in the Meetings Industry, a joint project with BestCities and Rehabilitation International, in Nov 2018.Email Jane Vong Holmes
Jane Vong Holmes
Senior Manager – Asia
Paul Vallee - Executive Consultant - Americas
Paul is Executive Consultant – Americas, with GainingEdge. He has provided consulting advice in Canada, the United States, Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Panama, Denmark and Thailand, and has been an invited speaker in Europe, North America and South America.
Paul is also Managing Director of the BestCities Global Alliance, the world’s leading partnership of convention bureaus. He provides strategic leadership and is responsible for the performance of the Alliance on behalf of the 12 partners on six continents. Prior to his current role, Paul spent more than 25 years in destination sales, marketing and services management. He has extensive experience managing complex organizations, strategic planning with diverse stakeholders, and destination master planning.
Paul has served on the boards of Destination Marketing Association International, the 2010 Winter Olympic Bid Marketing Committee, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, and the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Task Force. He is a past faculty member in international destination marketing at Capilano University.Email Paul Vallee
Executive Consultant - Americas
Bruce Redor - Partner - Europe
Based in Paris, Bruce Redor is an Anglo-American who has seen his international career develop over a 25-year period in a variety of sectors within the hospitality and services industries.
Bruce has Master's degree from U.C. Berkeley and came to France as Director of Marketing at the American Hospital of Paris. He then joined the CEGOS Consulting Group in Paris, leading projects in strategic planning and marketing for multi-national corporations. Bruce was a member of the management team that built and operated Disneyland Paris where he set up and ran the successful business unit for meetings and incentives: Disneyland Paris Business Solutions. He was also the CEO of the Lyon Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he was instrumental in turning the city into one of Europe's leading business-travel and leisure destinations. Bruce was also a senior consultant with Alexander Hughes International, one of Europe’s leading executive search firms.
Since he had been with GainingEdge, Bruce has been involved in consulting engagements in France, Spain, Flanders, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Canada, Rwanda, Tanzania, Qatar and Japan.Email Bruce Redor
Partner - Europe
Milos Milovanovic - Consultant
Based in Belgrade, Milos Milovanovic has expertise in the activation and development of convention bureaus and destination marketing in emerging regions. He has over 10 years' experience in the meetings industry and has consulted on projects in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Rwanda. Prior to joining GainingEdge, Milos was the CEO of Serbia Convention Bureau where he was instrumental in its establishment and development. Under his leadership, the bureau has made constant progress in ICCA rankings (International Congress and Convention Association) making the top 50 globally.
Milos has a diploma in Economics from the University of Belgrade and Master’s degree from Ecole Centrale Paris. In his previous career as marketing and project management specialist he has worked with universities, business associations, international donors and AID agencies creating a number of educational and training programmes in the hospitality and meetings industry.Email Milos Milovanovic