37th CityDNA Summer School in Gdańsk: a recap

From 26 to 30 August, Gdańsk hosted the participants of the 37th edition of the CityDNA Summer School. This important event, organised by the City Destinations Alliance, had been acquired for Poland by the Gdańsk Convention Bureau. The four-day training session, aimed mainly at people starting their careers in the MICE industry, not only had a packed agenda but also created an excellent opportunity to establish numerous contacts with representatives of the meetings industry.


Specialist knowledge and networking

In 2023, around 30 participants representing 15 different European countries came to the Dwór Uphagena ARCHE Gdańsk to attend the CityDNA Summer School. Among them were delegates from Belgium, Germany, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as representatives from Poland.

It is very important for us to attract guests from various countries because, thanks to this, they can exchange opinions on what the business looks like, the challenges and the condition of the meetings industry in the destinations they come from. Participants effectively share their experiences and build their own private international networks, which is significant when it comes to their future careers. These are often lifelong connections, too, said Flavie de Bueil-Baudot, COO at City Destinations Alliance.

Summer School City Destinations Alliance

Her words were confirmed by Magda Mazgaj, a senior specialist from the Poland Convention Bureau - the Polish Tourism Organisation Meeting and Events Office, who was this year’s only Polish representative at the CityDNA Summer School.

This event is a great opportunity to practice with European meeting industry specialists. It allows people to establish new contacts and get first-hand knowledge from the group of professionals running individual panels. During those few days, I was able to compare opinions on important issues related to our industry presented by people from different parts of Europe. I see it as an extremely valuable experience. It is a pity that more Poles did not decide to come to Gdańsk and take advantage of it,” said Magda Mazgaj.

educational program CityDNa Summer School

young professionals eventprofs

Proactive approach

Supervised by Dennis Speet, director of the Amsterdam Convention Bureau (Amsterdam & Partners), this year’s edition of the CityDNA Summer School featured a number of classes conducted by several experts. The agenda covered a variety of topics, including the tender processes related to association events (RFP, bid), the ability to serve international customers, aspects of sustainability, legacy and equality (DEI), and many others.

Dennis Speet city destinations alliance

– We focused on the international association market, mainly from the suppliers’ side. Our event was mostly attended by students and people who were new to the industry and just embarking on their careers. Every day they learned from us how exactly the meetings industry works, what its structure is, and finally, how to attract more international conferences and congresses to their destinations or facilities. I am glad that all participants were willing to learn and were also regularly active. Not only did they listen, but they also exchanged experiences and best practices, worked with us, and made contacts. This was supported by CityDNA Summer School’s formula: focused on group work and discussions, in a word, proactive, explained Dennis Speet.

registration CityDNA Summer School

The Summer School, organised by City Destinations Alliance, is a must for people starting their adventure with the MICE industry,” said Łukasz Wysocki, CEO of the Gdańsk Tourism Organisation. We are all more pleased that many future experts will now associate their beginnings with Gdańsk. The Summer School is a unique opportunity to establish industry contacts, exchange experiences and gain knowledge under the guidance of the best! As the Gdańsk Tourism Organisation, we knew that the opportunities offered by Gdańsk would meet the expectations of both the organisers and the participants. We are pleased that the words of our guests from abroad proved us right.

Gdansk Convention Bureau Lukasz Wysocki

CityDNA Summer School for the second time in Poland

The CityDNA Summer School is an event geared toward professionals from the areas of place branding offices, convention bureaux, congress organisers, hotels, airlines and incentive travel organisers. So far, there have been 36 editions of this event, during which nearly 2,000 participants have been trained. This was the second edition of the CityDNA Summer School to take place in Poland (the first one was held in 2011 in Kraków). This year’s event was organised in the Dwór Uphagena ARCHE Gdańsk, with additional activities such as a cruise on the Motława River and a gala dinner.

The Polish Tourism Organisation hosted a cruise on the Motława River and a gala dinner for a large group of practitioners who conducted individual sessions as part of the educational program.

-  We are glad that we could support the organization of this unique training for the second time. The school's educational content is adapted to the latest developments and presented by a large and recognized group of international experts. The place of training is remembered, business and often mentoring friendships are made. It is nice when, after many years, we remember individual mentors and trainees who have gained experience over the years and are now very successful in their countries. We keep in touch, support each other, exchange knowledge, and whenever possible, we meet at trade fairs or industry conferences. I personally participated in the 23rd edition of the ECM Summer School in Bolzano, two years later (2011) on behalf of the Poland Convention Bureau POT (in cooperation with the Kraków Convention Bureau) I organized the closing gala of the course in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, and in 2020 I asked successfully to one of the mentors from Bolzano and Krakow for a letter of support for the 61st ICCA Congress in Krakow - said Aneta Książek, Head of the Poland Convention Bureau.

Aneta Ksiazek

Aneta Książek believes that CityDNA Summer School is a good base for further development in the meetings industry. The only thing that has changed over the years is the number of participants, 10-15 years ago there were three times as many participants, and over 100 people came to Krakow. The quality and reputation of the event are unchanging, it is rather a generational issue. Generation Z, growing up in a fully digitized society, deals with direct interaction with the environment in a different way, in addition to the pandemic and staff shortages. No wonder that this difficult topic was also discussed in Gdańsk and during the mentoring dinner.

Gdansk events

Our goal is to bring about a rotation of our events between different countries and cities, both in major metropolises and in lesser-known destinations, the so-called second-tier destinations. We want to operate in the south, north, east, and west of Europe. Each of these places has a unique character, which allows you to obtain a variety of perspectives. This is our modus operandi. Poland attracted our attention some time ago – initially, we were planning to organise the CityDNA Summer School in Poznań in 2020. Unfortunately, for obvious reasons that had to do with the pandemic, that plan fell through. Nevertheless, throughout all this time, we had warm feelings toward Poland. Finally, we settled on Gdańsk, a city with which we had been cooperating for a long time. We are very pleased with this decision, said Flavie de Bueil-Baudot.

Partners of the 37th CityDNA Summer School w Gdańsku: Gdańsk Convention Bureau, Headquarters Magazine, IAPCO, IMEX, ICCA and The Iceberg. Find out more about the event on the website City Destinations Alliance.

CityDNA Summer School partners destinations

soiurce: MK; photos: MK, City Destination Alliance, Piotr Żagiell

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