Romina Mancuso,

Cultural Heritage Department, Literature Faculty,

Palermo University

Via di Paterno 72

90144 Palermo- Italy




Sociologist, researcher  in the museum communication field, Romina Mancuso is also writer and illustrator of children’s activity books and stories. 




Museums Collections, Convention Tourists, Literature Creations, Urban Venues: mix all, add emotions and communicate!  


Slide 1: Conference tourism is an emerging market, all over the world

Every year lots of people travel to participate to annual general meetings, sales meetings, staff trainings, retreats, product launches, incentive trips.

Many cities have, for that reason, arranged conventions bureau to better face all the convention industry needs and to develop a strategic communication mix, able to catch all the resources coming out from this important audience slice. For conventions tourists different factors are  determinant of destination choice: Museums could be one of those.


Slide 2: Business Tourism sector is, quite often, generating a considerable part of the total tourism amount of a country.

In Italy, for example,  the meeting and convention  industry is growing and, today, is already worth around 30% of the entire tourism market.  (font: BTC)


Slide3: Most of the meetings take place in hotel, conference centres,  historic residence and other conference rooms (cinema, theatre, museum). The analysis of the different meeting venues in Italy has revealed that the hotel location is going down and, on the contrary, the choice of historic houses and other conference rooms is going up.  (data taken from: OCI)


Slide 4: Corporate, association and agency events organizers are always looking for new destinations and services that can enrich their events. Especially in terms of offering emotions to the audience. They constantly search charming locations for creative proposals for special events within the meeting; interesting place for pre- and post conference tours; entertainment activity as after –dinner speaks.


Slide 5: Any museum’s collection can become a strong  emotions dispenser for a specific target if just this collection, or part of it, is exhibited in a specific way. An exhibition,  set by a cut familiar to conference’s  participants interest, will attract their attention.

We all know the fascination and strong emotions that a museum experience  can offer to the visitors.


Slide 6: Lot of big museums are already offering a conventions location service and cooperation service to develop specific program in close cooperation with the meeting organizers. They are becoming today not only historical buildings rich of collections but also and, above all, a polyvalent structure that pumps culture and social harmony in a town and in its territory.  As for example Palazzo Ducale in GenoaItaly, that has a specific Conference Communication Bureau and an Events and Trade Relations Office.   Or as at the  State Memorial and Natural Preserve  “Museum-Estate Leo Tolstoy” in Yasnaya Polyana – Russia, where one of its several branches is the Tourism Department that organizes various tourist programs and conferences, seminars and corporate events.

 Except for those museums, that are events and conference oriented,  there are thousands of small and medium size museums that are not giving the right attention to this slice of market.  That are not taking any advantage from the conference industry unless some sporadic regular visitor contact.


Slide 7: I will now invite you to have a look at some random ideas coming out from the mix of  four elements: Museum Communication – Literature Creations – Urban Venues – Conference Industry.  It is not going to be en exhaustive, complete overview on this never ending scenery, it just should be a starting point  - a brainstorming – for project on your own experiential communication actions to pursuit the better vision of your organization. 

Slide 8: The use of the  museum collections and sites as a tool of communication inside the communication mix of a conference event is giving benefits to the museum and to the event organization too. This cross-organization cooperation geared to promote and develop Museums as a destination in the convention tourism will give an opportunity to improve the museum visibility with a small money effort. By been hosted in a bigger event communication campaign even a museum with a small communication budget can reach high visibility by appearing in the event web-streaming, in the designed and printed material of the conference, in national and international magazine, broadcasting media, tv programs and so on.  It can be an attraction tool for a museum fundraising campaign, will be a way to find and reach sponsors supporting the long terms museum cultural, social or research activities. It may find field experts to whom be keeping in touch with. Specialists from specific field, involved in the conference organization, can help in the setting of a specific temporary exhibition that, otherwise, the museum would not have been able to organize.


Slide 9: Bologna - Italy:  Children’s book fair, Archaeological Museum and children’s books illustrator Beatrice Alemagna works. (the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 10: PR & communication team of a Museum has the responsibility to  help museum be able to play its active role in the Convention Industry market. And Exchange ideas and opinions to make business travel  more efficient.  To do it,  some basic  steps are important:

Knowledge of the market

Understanding the trends

Sharing experience and expertise


Slide 11: Edinburgh - Scotland: National Galleries of Scotland, Catherine Rayner and James Mayhew (writers and illustrators of children’s books), specific temporary exhibition and Special Trail, Art Competition.

(the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 12: Work together, since the beginning, on the event’s project.

Once that a museum has been accepted as an extra tool inside the communication mix of  a conference event,  is important to focalize both visibility needs: museum’s and conference organizer’s, to be sure that no elements will be under-utilised or potentialities wasted within the museum and the event organization.

 Communicate and share expertise is the key to meet targeted objectives. It’s important to know the capability of the players involved in this communication process: participatory behaviour may help in this way. The goal of participatory techniques is both to meet event organizers’ expectations for active engagement and to do so in a way that furthers the mission and core values of the Museum.


Slide 13: Termini Imerese (Palermo) – Italy: Blue Fish Conference and Festival, Termini City Museum, fisherman stories and fairy tales, “Azzurro Mare a specific children book written and illustrated by Romina Mancuso. (the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 14: By working together, from the beginning, on the development of the communication project, PR &Com person from museum will be able to indicate all the potentiality of the museum and can negotiate particulars to satisfy the event organizer’s needs, but also be sure that the museum mission is respected.


Slide 15: Basic activities to live and to develop together are:

Brainstorming to arise ideas for an event that can involve the museum collections and its know-how. Consider why  use the  idea and  how  to integrate it into the marketing mix.

Decide how  to plan it according to the target and objectives of the event, but also evaluating its compatibility with the mission of the museum.

Plan how to manage and promote it.

Imagine which strategies use to make it more effective (as for example set a temporary exhibition dedicated or connected to the themes of the conference).


Slide 16: Working together on the process of planning and setting up an exclusive exhibition connected with the  conference event:

Choose a theme and determine a title of the exhibition.

Select a date.

Determine the location of the exhibition. (considering that it can be used not only the museum’s rooms but any place connected with the convention and the town)

By working together lots of potentiality will jump out and make the event really useful for both the part involved: museum and event organizer.

Slide17: An emerging trend in events organization world is a so called  experiential communication. Theatre, smells, images, colours, music and any sensorial stimulations is finding place in the communication mix of the  event.


Slide 18: Literature field is by itself a mine of emotions: the stories narrated, the fantastic characters that are still making  dream the lectors all over the world, the places and objects described in their pages are extraordinary, powerful tool of experiential communication.

Starting from a novel book story, or from a novel main character, is possible to re-write a story that can attract visitors inside a museum and helps their orienteering inside the exhibition.

Theming puts people in a receptive mood and keeps them from feeling embarrassed or silly. All the elements of a movie must be made to complement each other and this criterion was adapted in designing the parks. It’s a concept of relating things in a non-competitive way (Walt Disney)


Slide19: ….Il cavallo alzò il muso sgocciolante dall’acqua, e poi, guardando l’altra riva, diede un colpo di zoccolo. Aksigna riempì l’altro secchio, si mise in ispalla l’asticella alle cui estremità pendevano i due secchi e cominciò a salire barcollando leggermente. Gregorio, a cavallo, le tenne dietro….. (M. Sholokhov, Il placido Don, Bompiani, 1941, p.27)

Mikhail Sholokhov was the Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1965

 (the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide20:  Veshenskaya (Rostov Region) – Russia: State Sholokhov Reserve Museum, Tichij Don book (by M. Sholokhov) places as an “Open air Novel”

(the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 21:  IstanbulTurkey:  Museum of Innocence” book and museum, Orhan Pamuk (2006 Nobel Prize winner).

What to say and how to tell a story are at the basis of any event by which companies present themselves to their public. “Telling stories” means to involve the public in specific themes and objectives. The role of an event director is to find the best way to tell the company’s story. Can this works also for build the image of a city?

Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish author winner of the Nobel Prize (for Literature in the 2006), wrote a book titled Museum of Innocence that is also going to be a real museum in the Cukurcuma neighbourhood - in Istanbul. The basic idea was to write a novel that cover a 30-year period in the history of modern Istanbul from the 1975 and to build a real museum in that area where to showcase 83 wooden boxes related to the book’s 83 chapters. A map of the museum location can be found in the front of the novel, while an admission ticket is printed inside and it is valuable for admission inside the museum.

(the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 22: Manhattan, New YorkU.S.A.: Tenement Museum, Antonio Molina’s book windows on Manhattan.

(the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 23: ViennaAustria: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Alte Meister the book written by Thomas Bernhard

(the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 24: AgrigentoItaly: The Archaeological and Landscape Park of the Valley of the Temples (UNESCO site),


Slide 25: ...and Luigi Pirandello (1934 Nobel Prize for Literature winner), guide book for children written by Laura Cappugi and Romina Mancuso

(the slide’s pictures will show the case)


Slide 26:  Thank you!



Extra info: Credits and references (!attention the list is incomplete still need to be updated)

R. Davidson & T. Rogers, Marketing destinations and venues for conferences, conventions and business events, Butterworth-Heinemann, Linacre House, JordanHill Oxford, UK -2006;

Osservatorio Congressuale Italiano, annual report 2009, Univerity of Bologna;

K. Weber & K.S. Chon, Convention tourism: international research and Industry perspectives, The Haworth Press, Inc – 2002;