The Seoul Convention Bureau (SCB) of the Seoul Tourism Organization (STO) offers event organizers the Bidding Support Clinic program to help attract international MICE events. As one of the key factors in recently winning the bid to host the International Biometric Conference (IBC) 2020, one of the most authoritative international conventions in biometrics, the Bidding Support Clinic Program continues to maintain an excellent success rate with its convention attraction strategies. Professor Lee Tae-rim, the chair of the 2020 Seoul Bid Committee for IBC shares his success story with us.
First of all, we would like to congratulate you on behalf of the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the STO on winning the bid in July to host the IBC 2020. Please give us a brief introduction about the IBC.
The International Biometric Society (IBS) is the world’s most renown and authoritative society in biometrics. It was founded in 1947, initially centering around the USA, India, Australia, and the Netherlands but now with a global presence. The IBS Korean Region joined the society in 1998 and currently has 98 members.
The IBC is the “Olympics” of applied statistics and mathematics in the fields of biology, health, medicine, environment, and agriculture. Korea initially submitted its bid to host the IBC 2020 against India and China. China and Korea passed the preliminary screening and went through the second IBC screening in Canada this year where Seoul eventually won the bid to host the event. Seoul will host the 30th IBC from July 5 to July 20, 2020 at Coex. The IBC has been held 12 times in Europe, 8 times in North America, 3 times in Oceania, twice in Latin America, and once in Africa. In Asia, it was held twice in Japan, and Korea will be the third time the event is hosted in the Asia region.
Why did you decide to bid for the 2020 IBC with Seoul?
Seoul is not only the capital of Korea but also a popular international city. We wanted to introduce Seoul as an attractive tourist city beloved by millions of international visitors. Also, the variety of public transportation makes it easy for visitors to reach Seoul from Incheon International Airport. More importantly, we chose Seoul because of its excellence as a tourist city where traditional and modern elements coexist and the varying natural elements, such as mountains and rivers, are found within the city.
Another reason we chose Seoul was because of the city’s well-organized support program for international meetings including the One-Stop MICE Bidding Support Program. Other factors include strong guidance and promotional materials from the city government, Seoul’s strong infrastructures to assist MICE visitors, and solid assistance from related industries and organizations.
Tell us about your bidding activities performed in July in Canada.
One of the key success factors was the passion among our six local organizing committee (LOC) members. Two days prior to the bidding, through STO’s Bidding Support Clinic, we started practicing our presentations before actual researchers on biometrics and medical statistics in hospitals and professors from universities based in the United States. We took every practice session seriously and the critiques and comments really helped us to edit the presentations, refine our presentation methods, and improve our presentation attitude.
On the day of the bidding, we applied all that we gained through the Bidding Support Clinic. We invited the judges to be a part of our presentation and created a friendly environment. When we showed them Seoul’s actual subway transportation cards and proposed our idea of providing them for the event’s participants we received a round of applause. We are glad that we could turn the atmosphere from what could have been tense and dull to a fun and playful one.
How did the Korean Statistical Society (KSS) prepare for the bidding apart from the bidding proposal and presentations?
We started drafting our bidding proposal in November last year. However, we made sure to listen to any critiques that our bid received. We amended our proposal twice- once to better reflect the expected number of participants and the second time to establish that a LOC with the IBS Korean Region would be created to organize the IBC 2020. After listening to comments, we also strengthened our bid by adding an introduction to facilities that were friendly for the disabled and guides on trails and walking paths in Seoul.
What support did you receive from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the STO and how did they help your bidding activities?
The Bidding Support Clinic, which is a part of the MICE Bidding & Promotional Support Program provided by the STO definitely instilled in us the spirit that we could do this. To be honest, initially we were not familiar with nor confident in conducting bidding presentations to host international events. However the comprehensive support- from initial support letter to administrative support provided by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the STO- helped guide the 2020 Seoul Bid Committee which was unfamiliar with a bidding process.
The subsidy from the government helped us have meetings to continually discuss and develop our ideas. The upcoming IBS’s visit to Seoul, which will be sponsored by the Seoul government will also be of great help.
Is there any improvements you’d like to suggest in the MICE Bidding & Promotional Support Programs?
The Bidding Support Clinic provides five sessions of coaching but our team, consisting of three presenters, would have certainly benefited with even a few more sessions! I hope in the future the number of support sessions will be expanded.
To this suggestion, an official of the STO commented, “Seoul has maintained a high 85 percent average success rate in winning bids to host international events. With the aim to grow Seoul as one of the world’s best MICE cities, it is open to suggestions for improvement and plans such as increasing the number of coaching sessions of the Bidding Support Clinic.”