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July 2013

David Williams Shares the Secret to International Meeting Planning

By Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief
national tourism organization, the convention board, the ministry of travel. You have to find that source, because they’re a wealth of information on the destination that you’re going to.

I think it’s kind of neat, too, because when you tap into those people in new or young markets — I’m doing a lot more for them than actually they are for me in the sense of helping develop their market. I’m doing that with Antalya, Turkey. Their convention market is very small. However, their tourism market is very big. That kind of creates a nifty little, you know - you help me, I’ll help you, and let’s help develop your market, because you’re sitting very rich in the ability to sell the meetings market to people if you just know a little bit more about how to do it.

If there was just one takeaway you could distill from all of your travels, what might it be?

The older I get, the more I realize things take time. And that it’s actually the patience that is the reward at the end of the day. You know, when you do business with most people from Asia, they’re very accustomed to not talking business for the first two meetings. They’re serious about this. They get together for a meal and you’re talking family and they want to get to know you before talking about working together. That’s not our mindset in the U.S. Our mindset is, we have a business lunch; here’s my agenda, and maybe I’ll get to eat while I’m doing it. I think that I have brought that [international] mentality more into my domestic business.

I was in Antalya two weeks ago with the director of the convention bureau. He wanted to take us on a little sort of city tour and we ended up back at his house, where his wife and his son were in the room. We had Turkish tea. We had coffee cake that his son of eight had made. His son played the piano for a half-hour — beautiful. This was part of the process. It’s “We want to get to know you, not just do business with you. We want a friendship. We want a relationship.”

Of course, our industry is all about that, but this is on a different level. I mean, this is the kind of guy that the next time I go to Antalya, I’ll be bring ing LEGOs for his son.

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