In fDi world, we spend a lot of time on benchmarking locations. We publish rankings throughout the year identifying the most attractive destinations for future inward investment, our data division fDi Intelligence has a proprietary benchmarking tool, and we are asked regularly to present at conferences about the comparative advantages of locations around the world.
Benchmarking can be thorough and complex: our rankings are based on hundreds of data points and take months to compile. Or it can be drilled down to a simple matrix and a few critical criteria.
Against this backdrop and after nearly a decade in this role, I suppose it was inevitable that when the time came to choose a destination for my own wedding – an international merger – I drew up an fDi-style location analysis. A bridal benchmark, as it were. It had fewer criteria than a multinational company would use to find a new destination but the basic analysis was much the same. I had a few must-have factors that I used to draw up a shortlist and then I broke down the pros and cons of each. It was a mix of hard and soft factors.
Among my critical factors were picturesque scenery, the likelihood of good weather, the ease of procedures, connectivity and cost. Venues (site selection) came heavily into play once a shortlist was drawn up. The exercise threw up some interesting results. The numbers placed Las Vegas top of the list, while subjectively I was leaning towards Greece. Cyprus came out strong, as it had many of the soft factors of Greece but with less bureaucracy. The Caribbean was attractive on many points but suffered in the connectivity score. In the end, we decided at the last minute to hedge our location investment and go for two small projects in two different locations: the UK (the home market) for ease of procedures and proximity, and Florida for all the rest. After starting out considering most of the world, it came down to the country where I live and the country from which I hail.
My view is that for all the science that can exist behind benchmarking and all the complexity of location-scouting that companies do, decisions can still be, in the end, subjective, impulsive, and heavily weighted towards the places we know best. And those types of decisions are just as likely to lead to happily ever after as the strictly analytical ones. But it never hurts to start with a good matrix.
Courtney Fingar is editor-in-chief of fDi Magazine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org