The discussion on events as a driver of the city economy, which took place on 17 July in the Osman hall, was attended by Deputy Mayor of Moscow and the Government of Moscow Natalia Sergunina, Partner and Managing Director of BCG Nicolas Boutin, Mayor of the Portuguese city of Porto Rui Moreira, General Director of the Alliance Hotel Management company Vadim Prasov, and Commercial Director of Socarrat Studio Miguel Sanfeliu. The restaurateur Arkady Novikov performed the role of expert.
The experts discussed how urban events affect the increase in tourist flows in cities, what is necessary in order to make a place attractive, and why the most valuable tourists are those that return.
Moscow is among the top three cities in terms of the number of Instagram photos
Deputy Mayor of Moscow and the Government of Moscow Natalia Sergunina noted that city festivals bring in a turnover of approximately 60 billion rubles. Last year more than 62 million people visited events in the Russian capita. Around these festivals small start-ups appear, which eventually grow into fully-fledged shops, cafes or restaurants.
In addition, businessmen from the Russian regions amounting to approximately 10 thousand people also participate in them. In total more than 26 thousand entrepreneurs participate in festivals. For the football World Cup around 1.5 thousand hotels were opened in Moscow; in 2009 there were around 200.
Natalia Sergunina noted that as a result of its events Moscow has become fashionable and attractive to tourists and showed itself perfectly during the World Cup. According to her, Moscow is among the top three cities in terms of the number of Instagram photos, and in recent years the city has become a serious competitor for other leading capital cities in relation to investment, people and tourists.
City festivals and developed infrastructure are necessary in order for people to come back again
Mayor of Porto Rui Moreira noted that they managed to transform the city and make it a tourist center within five years. Previously it was only known only as the home of port. Finding itself in a budget crisis, the city decided to develop city festivals, and they are liked by both tourists and residents. He noted that at first residents were worried that these festivals would only make the situation worse, but they eventually became convinced that this was not the case.
Rui Moreira said that when people come to a city they want to have a positive experience: cultural, gastronomic and in relation to infrastructure. And even if a person comes to a city or country because of a particular event, developed infrastructure and the right attitude motivate the person to come back again. And returning tourists are the best, as they are already genuinely interested in the city, they are exploring it. But in order for people to return, events, city and music festivals are needed. At the same time, residents should not feel that they are just third-party observers, but that they can influence the celebration and participate in it.
In order to be attractive a city must have developed infrastructure
Partner and Managing Director of BCG Nicolas Boutin noted that today there is heated competition between the world’s largest cities, because people can choose where to go, it has become easy. A city should not just have a unique feature − historical, scientific or related to entertainment − but it must be modern. Without adequate infrastructure tourists will not come and residents will hurry to leave it in favor of a more developed competitor.
Word of mouth as the most important part of the marketing strategy
During the World Cup experts conducted a study and learned that about 50 percent of respondents wanted to return, and this is a very large figure. At the same time, a huge percentage stated they will recommend their friends and acquaintances to come to Moscow. Word of mouth, believes Nicolas Boutin, is the most important part of marketing. You can continuously advertise a city, but without real success stories this will not work. He also noted that a city will be successful if it continues to develop transport infrastructure, including airports, and continues to hold large international events. General Director of the Alliance Hotel Management company Vadim Prasov stated that the World Cup was a milestone that allowed Muscovites to believe that Moscow is a tourist city.