CityDNA Summer School: 37 years of Empowering Future Leaders in the Meetings Industry

The CityDNA Summer School, the flagship event in the Meetings Industry celebrated its 37th edition in Gdansk, marking another milestone in empowering the leaders of tomorrow. With a legacy dating back to 1987 and the participation of over 2000 students over the years, the Summer School has solidified its status as a cornerstone for those aspiring to embark on a fulfilling career in events management.

The CityDNA Summer School, a 4-day event specifically designed for newcomers in the Meetings Industry, whether they work in a DMO, a CVB, a hotel, an airline, a DMC or a PCO, aims at providing them all the necessary bases for a successful start in their career, while also helping them navigate the current trends and challenges the industry is facing.

This year, the programme has been revised to accommodate the ever-changing times, while keeping in touch with the reality of the day-to-day life. This resulted in the perfect mix of theoretical sessions, hands-on workshops, interactive sessions, group project and networking opportunities.

Petra Stušek, City Destinations Alliance’s President and alumna of the CityDNA Summer School stated “The comprehensive and revised curriculum, enriched with cutting-edge European best practices, equipped students with an all-inclusive framework to excel in the meetings industry. This year’s edition of the CityDNA Summer School offered a profound understanding of fundamental aspects while delving into hot topics like sustainability, equity, diversity and inclusion, and legacy, ensuring a holistic learning experience.”

Dennis Speet, Director of Amsterdam Convention Bureau and new Course Director of the CityDNA Summer School, expressed his enthusiasm for the event, stating, “I am extremely proud to have been appointed as Course Leader for this prestigious event. Together with the CityDNA team and the faculty members of the Summer School, we have developed a fresh and inspiring programme filled with innovative industry insights and surprises. I believe that the students have left the Summer School inspired, with enhanced industry knowledge, and a strong network of connections across Europe. I look forward to the next edition in Brno (Czech Republic) in 2024.”

The faculty of experts, led by Course Director Dennis Speet, guided students through various aspects, including mastering bidding processes, using ambassadors’ programmes, the importance of site inspection in event conversion, client management, mindfulness and wellbeing, the importance of communicating your sustainable initiatives, how to stay relevant in your storytelling, legacy in meetings, and equity, diversity & inclusion (EDI) and how destinations should measure the impact of inclusive destinations and experience by tracking attendee diversity, engagement and feedback.

These experts generously volunteered their time, contributing to a rich and dynamic learning environment. They are all members/partners of City Destinations Alliance and give their time on a voluntary basis – a way of giving back to the meetings industry. This year’s faculty was composed of Gabrielle Austen-Browne (Founder & Director of the Diversity Alliance), Zach Butler (Events Director of TNW), Irina Graf (Founder / Publisher of The MICE Blog), Barbara Jamison-Woods (Head of Europe, Tourism and Convention Bureau at London & Partners), Łukasz Kłos (Velo-City Director at City of Gdansk), Leena Lassila (Director, Visitor Attraction at Helsinki Partners), James Latham (Editor-in-Chief of The Iceberg), Pier Paolo Mariotti (Meeting Manager at EURAC Research Bolzano), Tadeja Pivc Coudyser (CEO of Antwerp & Partners Convention Bureau), Katarzyna Polita (Online Marketing Specialist at Visit Gdansk), Stéphane Talboom (VP Sales and Marketing at K.I.T. Group and Ambassador at IAPCO), Marco van Itterzon (Senior Manager Research & Market Analytics at ICCA), Daniel Waigl (Executive Director of CIRSE), Łukasz Wysocki (CEO of Gdansk Tourism Organization), and Bruna Zuin (Founder of Yoga for All).

This year’s CityDNA Summer School brought together a diverse group of students from 14 European countries. Through a combination of theory and hands-on experience, participants gained valuable insights and a nuanced understanding of the Meetings Industry, fostering the development of the next generation of events professionals.

Anne Lux, Tourism & Leisure Clerk at Schleswig-Holstein Tourism Board & CB, and student during this 37th CityDNA Summer School in Gdansk expressed her gratitude for the immersive experience, stating,I went to Gdansk full of expectations and concerns that I might not know enough about the industry yet to participate well. After four exciting days I left the city as a young professional, full of ideas, inspiration and knowledge for my destination and with many new friends and valuable contacts. A once in a lifetime opportunity!”

With another successful edition under its belt, the CityDNA Summer School continues to shape the landscape of the Meetings Industry, encouraging innovation, collaboration, and growth within the sector. As the event concludes, participants leave armed with expertise, networks, and the tools to excel in this rewarding field.

The 38th CityDNA Summer School is scheduled to be held in Brno, Czech Republic on August 24-28, 2024. More information will be available soon on



About City Destinations Alliance
We are a knowledge sharing network for cities and urban regions working to unfold the potential of the visitor economy. Our vision is for all cities in Europe to flourish as great places to live, work, meet and explore. As a community of professionals, our promise to each other is to always be curious and forward thinking, share our inspiration and never stop learning.

For more information and pictures, please contact:
Bénédicte Lack,, +33 380 56 02 03