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Interview with Bilbao Convention Bureau

This section called MAXinterviews aims to inform through experts of the sector. With only 4 questions and answers, we are trying to discover what is happening in the tourism industry emphasizing in the MICE segment and Spain.

If you want to know more about Bilbao as a destination for Incentives and conventions, you should take a look at our interview with Kepa Olabarrieta, who is the director of the Bilbao Convention Bureau. We hope you to enjoy this interview!

Kepa Olabarrieta, Director of the Bilbao Bilbao Convention Bureau since 2007, has played his role as responsible for the promotion of the city as a destination for the attraction of congresses and meetings. In addition, since 2015 he has been responsible for the large-format city events area of Bilbao, having been linked to projects such as the 2014 FIBA World Championship, the 2016 Junior Badminton World Championship, Bilbao BBK Live, the Bilbao EPCR Rugby Finals 2018, and the MTV EMAwards 2018, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards and the UEFA Euro 2020.

Kepa Olabarrieta Bilbao

What is the main objective of the Bilbao Convention Bureau and when was it created?

We can say that the Bilbao Convention Bureau began to be established with a very simple structure in the mid-nineties, when the tourist business fabric in the city began to grow, giving way to a segmentation that allowed recognizing MICE tourism. As for our main objective, it is the attraction of meetings, both associative and corporate, and that these generate economy in the city, as well as a legacy of knowledge or cultural impact.

What are the strengths of Bilbao as a MICE destination?

We identify three main strengths: first, the good facilities that the city has: our venues, hotels, restaurants. Secondly, the fabric of supplier companies that we have and their level of specialization and finally, the attractiveness itself as a city, very comfortable and compact, and its surroundings and nearby territory, which has a complementary offer to meetings very broad in leisure and culture.

What are the plans of the Bilbao Convention Bureau for the near future?

In the first place, the promotion of the destination through the promoters of events that we have: doctors, scientists, researchers or artists, who through their networks can attract congresses. As a second point, we want to intensify the exterior promotion of the city, even beyond our traditional markets. Third, we are working on greater efficiency in internal management through new procedures and the use of technological means. Finally, we aim to improve communication with all our stakeholders.

How important is the Scandinavian market in Bilbao tourism?

We know that those who attend an event in Bilbao for professional reasons, such as meetings in the Scandinavian market, are very satisfied because our destination fits very well with their expectations of leisure, culture, gastronomy, innovation and tradition. In addition, we are working to have good flight connections with the Scandinavian countries; we hope to have good news soon.