Turizam, kao područje brzoga transformiranja u sferama ponude i potražnje, doživljava konstantne i inovativne promjene, kako na međunarodnom tako i na domaćem tržištu. Ubrzani razvoj i promjene u motivima turističkih kretanja dovode do pojave posebnih, odnosno, specifičnih oblika turizma. Kao jedan od oblika javlja se i kongresni turizam čineći značajan segment turizma sa zapaženim kvalitativnim i kvantitativnim efektima stoga sve više dobiva na svom značenju direktno utječući na produženje turističke sezona. Kroz razvoj kongresnoga turizma postižu se višestruke koristi kako za organizatore kongresa tako i za destinaciju kroz izgradnju infrastrukture, inoviranje ponude i slično. Poslovna okupljanja doživjela su značajan rast u posljednjih nekoliko desetljeća i postala su istinski globalni fenomen. Veliki skupovi, posebno oni međunarodni, pridonose ekonomskoj koristi, ali i imiđu destinacije. Poslovna okupljanja promotor su destinacije. Zadovoljni sudionici nerijetko se vraćaju u destinaciju u privatnom aranžmanu. Stvaranje profita često je glavna svrha održavanja kongresa. U svakodnevnom poslovanju, a posebno u vrijeme globalne financijske krize, povećava se pritisak na organizatore kongresa kako bi se osigurali pozitivni financijski učinci poslovnih okupljanja. Brojnost sudionika poslovnoga okupljanja, za organizatore kongresa najbolji je prediktor u predviđanju financijskoga rezultata. Privlačenje većega broja sudionika postaje glavni zadatak organizatora kongresa za što je u stranoj literaturi uvriježeni termin delegate boosting. Porastom brojnosti kongresa, razumijevanje procjene kongresnih iskustava od strane učesnika postaje važnije nego ikada. U isto vrijeme, mnoga poduzeća traže način kako smanjiti troškove poslovanja pri čemu su poslovna putovanja jedno od najčešćih elemenata na kojima se rade uštede, a rezultat takvih mjera očituje se u padajućoj posjećenosti nacionalnih i internacionalnih sudionika na kongresima. Uzimajući u obzir trenutnu ponudu i potražnju za kongresnim okupljanjima, cilj ove disertacije je razviti konceptualni okvir za razumijevanje procjene zanimljivosti, stručnosti i atraktivnosti posjećenoga kongresa od strane kongresnih sudionika u svrhu boljeg razumijevanja njihove namjere ponašanja u vidu iskazivanja interesa za ponovnim sudjelovanjem na istom kongresu u budućnosti, širenja pozitivnih utisaka, preporuka i poticanja svojih kolega na sudjelovanje na posjećenom kongresu. Naime, procjena kongresa ispitana je kroz četiri konstrukta: ocjena kongresne destinacije, ocjena kongresa, multidimenzionalna percipirana vrijednost kongresa (emocionalna, društvena i funkcionalna) i
namjere ponašanja sudionika kongresa. Sve jača konkurencija među organizatorima kongresnih okupljanja i destinacijama, domaćine upućuje na potrebu za razumijevanjem načina ocjenjivanja kongresa od strane kongresnih sudionika kao i namjere povratka sudionika na kongres u budućnosti što u konačnici ima velik utjecaj na financijske benefite, kako organizatora kongresnoga okupljanja, tako i same kongresne destinacije. Na temelju opsežnoga pregleda dostupne literature o poslovnom i kongresnom turizmu, ugostiteljstvu te literature marketinških istraživanja utvrđeni su konstrukti i postavljene su osnovne i pomoćne hipoteze. Temeljem provedenoga anketnog istraživanja na uzorku kojeg čine djelatnici sveučilišta na području Republike Hrvatske koji su česti sudionici kongresnih okupljanja, doneseni su zaključci o ponašanju sudionika kongresnoga turizma uzimajući u obzir njihovu pripadnost određenoj generacijskoj skupini. Istraživački nalazi pružaju značajne informacije za organizatore kongresnih događanja, destinacije domaćine i planere kongresnih okupljanja. Oni im omogućuju prepoznavanje ključnih čimbenika koji utječu na ocjenu kongresa i namjeru ponovljenoga sudjelovanja na istom kongresu u budućnosti. Zaključci ove disertacije pomoći će organizatorima kongresa u kreiranju kongresnoga programa kao i načina marketinškoga oglašavanja kongresa diferencirano, ovisno o generacijskim skupinama koje žele privući na kongresno okupljanje. U ozračju aktualnih trendova i donesenih zaključka, u disertaciji predložena je najučinkovitija strategija za privlačenje što većeg broja sudionika.
Tourism, as a rapidly transforming area in the sphere of supply and demand, is experiencing constant and rapid change, both at the international and the domestic markets. Such rapid development leads to the emergence of specific forms of tourism. One such form is convention tourism, an important segment of tourism with notable qualitative, quantitative and financial effects on the economy of each particular country which, as such, is becoming increasingly significant by affecting the extension of the tourist season. The development of convention tourism brings multiple benefits for both organizers and the destination, through the development of infrastructure, innovating supply and the like. In recent decades, the meetings industry has experienced significant growth and has become a truly global phenomenon. Large business gatherings, especially those international, contribute to economic benefits, but also to the image of the hosting destination. Business gathering are the promoters of the destinations. Satisfied participants often return to the destination in a private arrangement. Creating profits is often the main economic objective of holding a congress. Just like for most organizers, the main economic objective of conferencing is profit making. In everyday business, especially in times of global financial crisis, there is an increasing pressure on the congress and conference organizers to ensure positive financial effects of business meetings. Since attendance, or the number of participants, is the best predictor of financial results, attracting more participants becomes their main task, commonly described in foreign literature by the term "delegate boosting". With the increase in the number of congresses and conferences, the understanding of participants' congressional experience assessment is becoming more important than ever. At the same time, many companies are looking for ways or reducing operating expenses. Business trips are among the most common elements on which budget cuts are applied, resulting in a declining congress and conference attendance of national and international participants.
Only four decades ago, the hospitality industry looked at servicing the conventions and meetings market as a “necessary evil” and meetings and convention business was regarded as a fairly insignificant market segment. The few meetings held were typically conventions or small business meetings. Convention delegates were usually white males attending primarily
for the food and fun. Activities for spouses, who were usually wives, were scarce, and since people didn’t travel much, the convention was looked upon as a mini-vacation of sorts.
Few hotels had convention departments to assist in meeting planning or to solicit convention business, and the position of convention service manager was a rarity. Most meetings business was handled by the property’s sales department, which handled sporadic requests from non-professional meeting planners, such as secretaries or clerical support staff.
The conventions and meetings industry is vastly different today. Meetings and convention business may account for as much as 70 percent of the sales volume in major hotels, while smaller properties generally realize 15 to 20 percent of their business from the group segment.
While leisure travelers may represent larger numbers for the hospitality industry, meeting attendees who frequently travel on an expense account, bring in the lion’s share of revenue in addition to benefiting properties by filling “soft spots” and generating word of mouth business. Therefore, the lucrative convention and meetings market is becoming an increasingly important and competitive target market.
To take advantage of the profitable meetings and conventions market, it is important to become aware of the trends that have affected it over the past few years. One of the most important factors impacting the convention industry has been the increase of female business travelers. As a result of the growth of this market segment, which is generally more discriminating and security conscious than the typical male business traveler, many properties have offered additional amenities. Areas such as open atrium lobbies and business floors with conference space have been added to provide female business travelers an alternative to meeting with male clients or associates in their rooms or a hotel bar. Hotel bars, too, have changed. Many have adopted an open format in lobby areas, making them more inviting for casual patronage and providing a more secure and relaxed setting for business contacts. No longer are conventions attended primarily by males, so today’s accompanying spouses are often husbands instead of wives. Meeting and convention attendees are also just as likely to be single as married, and are typically younger (25 to 40 years of age) and more affluent than convention delegates of two decades ago. But despite increased spending power, meetings are
no longer attended primarily for fun; in most cases, meeting attendance must be considered worthwhile enough to justify the expense and time away from the office.
The economy has also played an important part in changing the meetings and convention market. For example, deduction for business meals and entertainment has been reduced, forcing meeting planners and convention delegates to look for the best deals. This trend, in addition to deregulated airlines and increased competition for meetings and convention business in the hospitality industry, has resulted in increased negotiation for group transportation, discounted room rates, low or no-cost meeting space and inclusive packages.
Many hotel contracts are negotiated by meeting planners who, unlike the meeting planning clients of the past (who typically had little knowledge of the requirements fora successful meeting), are highly trained professionals. Twenty years ago, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) administered its first certification exam to just a handful of meeting planners who had taken its educational courses. Today, over 10,000 meeting professionals hold the CIC’s Certified Meeting Professional designation, and additional courses and certifications are offered by a number of other organizations as well.
Despite rising costs for transportation and hospitality services, more and more meetings are being held. They are held for a variety of purposes: to keep abreast of today’s ever-changing technology; to keep sales goals on track; to meet for group motivation and rewards; and many more. No longer are meetings limited to a few annual conventions that simply require a large ballroom for a general session and a few food functions or small business meetings where attendees are informed by a speaker armed only with a flip chart and a few marking pens. Today’s attendees and planners expect a lot more. Hotel business centers that are complete with computers, fax machines and sophisticated communications equipment have become commonplace; state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment is expected; and many conventions have taken on the appearance of lavish productions complete with exotic foods and décor-to attract attendees. Picture an event on the scale of a Broadway production with an anticipated run of just a week or even a few days, with a professional cast and production people, and the budget committed to accomplish a presentation on this level, and you then have an idea of the scope of many of today’s meetings.
This boom is a far cry from the meetings picture following September 11, 2001. During the early 2000s, the meetings market suffered a dramatic slump, as people were hesitant to travel great distances, especially by air. During that time, properties were willing to make a number of concessions to attract meetings business. In today’s booming meetings market, however, the supply cannot keep pace with the demand.
The main purpose of this study was to develop a conceptual framework to understand convention attendees' evaluation of convention expenence, in order to better understand their return intention. Specifically, the evaluation of convention expenence was investigated through four constructs, namely attractiveness of convention destination, convention with possibility for social networking and professional education, perceived multidimensional value through emotional, functional and social value and behavioral intentions as the last construct. The increasingly fierce competition among convention organisers and host locations suggests the need to understand the return intention of convention attendee, which incurs great impact on the financial benefits of both convention organisers and host destinations. Based on the extensive literature review of convention and business tourism, hospitality, and general marketing research, constructs of interest were identified and the hypothetical relationships were established for testing. The research findings also provide meaningful information for associations, host locations, and meeting planners allowing them to identify factors influencing conventions attendees' satisfaction and return intention. Obviously, this information will help there groups create better conference programs and those more appropriate marketing strategies.