“Unconventional” is the new mantra for MICE travel, according to Meet in Reykjavik. And it’s that trend that looks to have helped the Iceland capital earn the title of “Best European Destination” in the recent ninth annual Eventex Awards.
The awards, which “celebrate creativity, innovation, and effectiveness in the industry,” drew more than 1,600 entries over categories including destinations, venues, and technology. Honours were announced in March in an online ceremony.
Reykjavik earns points for its “untouched” natural surroundings — a rarity for a city — as well as its safety and convenience, as most of its hotels and venues sit within or around the city centre, according to the Reykjavik Convention Bureau. The CVB added that it’s the demand for unorthodox and high-tech meeting space that is drawing events to the capital, since the city can offer two major advantages: creative activities and memorable experiences.
“We believe that the new message of MICE travel being unconventional is quite fitting for the city of Reykjavik, as it is anything but conventional,” the CVB said on its website.
Meetings and events are expected to grow by 5 percent to 10 percent worldwide this year, according to a Meetings & Events Future Trends report, but Iceland alone is expecting growth of at least 15 percent, particularly in conferences of 100 to 500 attendees. The city’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre — ranked among the top 10 best-designed buildings in the world, according to Architectural Digest — said many of its partners find that current attendees and buyers are mostly millennials, which form the largest segment of the workforce in the U.S. and EU and are a generation especially seeking memorable event experiences.
Location is one of Reykjavik’s draws, since the city is only five hours from the East Coast of the U.S. and under three from much of Europe, with nearly 25 airlines connecting Iceland to 80 destinations in the summer.
Last year, the European Academy of Management drew 1,200 attendees to Reykjavik to discuss the state of research management in Europe and across the world, and next year the city will welcome 3,500 people for the World Geothermal Congress 2020 at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre.