How to Keep a Competitive Edge in a Globalized World

April 12, 2017

How to Keep a Competitive Edge in a Globalized World

 

The Stavanger region of Norway is dotted with stunning fjords and mountains forming some of the most jaw-dropping views in the world, but it’s not the natural landscape that’s drawing associations. As the fourth largest city in Norway with a population of only 126,000, the city uses other natural resources to compete with big players. Stavanger is a great example of a small city that is put on an international playing field as a member of the Energy Cities Alliance, Lane Nieset writes.

“The only way I can compete being in Norway is when there are obvious reasons for a collaboration,” explains Per Morten Haarr, convention director at Stavanger Convention Bureau and chairperson of Energy Cities Alliance. “We will never be price competitive and we are a smaller destination, so it’s more targeting and finding the niche and the associations that go hand-in-hand with the local business and research communities.”

One of the world’s leading meeting hubs for energy, the city is home to 35 oil and gas companies, as well as over 400 oilfield service and oil technology companies. The country’s largest oil company, Statoil ASA, along with international companies like BP and Shell, base their Norwegian headquarters here and look to Stavanger Convention Bureau’s network of knowledge. “For my team, it’s more important that they know the local business community than every PCO out there because then we can tailor-make what associations need once they get here,” Haarr says. “This really comes in handy when they need to get in touch with possible sponsors and relevant stakeholders because we are much more than a hub of contact.”

Big Voice for Small Destinations

By knowing the local business community personally, Stavanger is able to share this knowledge with the alliance’s partner cities like Aberdeen and Calgary, building on these connections and ties. “Between these business communities, there’s already so many connections, so many ties between our destinations, so it’s been really easy to play on that,” Haarr explains. “We’ve been able to focus on those synergies and see how this becomes a door opener to other industries that may not be related to energy per se, such as medical or healthcare.”

For a city like Stavanger, this international element is key when it comes to attracting relevant associations to the destination. While traveling on joint sales tours, associations find value in talking to the alliance’s four very diverse, yet similar destinations. “The security and feeling of being something international is an enormous benefit for us because life in a small convention bureau (with a team of only five) is sometimes hectic. When we meet with associations, it gives them assurance the meeting is worth having,” he says.

The Value of One Voice

By consolidating partners or collaborating with other destinations for a shared purpose, bureaus and businesses can serve as one voice with a strong message for associations. With the help of local ambassador programs and in-person meetings, associations can learn which of these alliances may be more relevant to their cause and feel confident that through this shared network of knowledge, destinations will better understand what associations are aiming to achieve. The same goes for members of the partnership. They can target associations who are more relevant for their destinations and industries, as well as learn from some of the best in the business. On the destination side, alliances can help other partners find solutions for issues they’re facing in their cities, such as subventions or KPIs. By working together as a team, they can bring this globally garnered knowledge back to the board at home to make future proposals even stronger.

Read the rest of this article in Boardroom #2 – IMEX edition – out in May.

April 6, 2017

Three Legacy Opportunities for Associations

International professional associations that convene congresses in destinations around the world mustn’t miss out on the opportunity to leave a legacy that reflects the values of the association, whether tangible or intangible, social, or economic or environmental. Three legacy opportunities present themselves to the rotating congresses that are hosted by international professional associations around the world. Words Keith Burton and Kristen Tremeer

Community-engagement

The first type is a community-engagement legacy in which congress participants make a time donation and take part in an outreach activity which generates a tangible and long-lasting outcome. Examples might be planting a vegetable garden for a seniors’ centre, building a playground for a preschool, or constructing a library at a community centre. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute planning and problem-solving as well as elbow grease as they work together toward a result. Engagement with the beneficiaries of the outreach activity is another positive outcome.

This type of engagement can be very inspiring for the participants, and can leave long-lasting positive memories of the congress and destination. It’s a “volun-tourism” approach that gives visitors to a destination a chance to interact with local residents that they might not have otherwise been able to meet. The timeframe for planning is short and the budget can be almost entirely dedicated to materials and supplies as the labour will be supplied by the participants. And, most beneficial to the association executive, the activity can be arranged by a congress management service provider in the destination.

Content driven

The next type is wider reaching, and more content driven, and depends on the nature of the profession that the association represents. Convening a congress in a global destination presents opportunities for expanding the base of congress participation, promoting association membership growth in the host country or region, and strategic linkages with other countries in the region.

The funding model may be based on congress participants being asked to make a voluntary monetary donation during registration, or a portion of the congress budget can be set aside for the intended legacy. Because this legacy is more linked to the nature of the profession that the association represents, the time burden on the association executive will be greater as it is not something that can be outsourced to a congress management company.

Examples range from the establishment of an endowment in a relevant university department to a scholarship for participants from developing economies to attend future congresses. Something as simple as abstract support in which established academics or well-seasoned congress goers assist first-time abstract submitters to craft an abstract to the congress standards can leave a long-lasting legacy: getting an international congress under his or her belt can significantly impact the career of a young professional.

Making bursaries available to local or regional participants will demonstrate intent to grow the profession as well as create the vehicle for participants who may not have previously had the means to attend an international conference in their field. Using the host association’s members as congress volunteers is another way to share access to content and the association’s professionalism.

Skills transfer

Finally, a skills transfer or skills development legacy opportunity is available when a congress brings to any destination world experts on a specific topic or skill, whether medical, academic or professional. A mobile clinic in an under-developed facility staffed by leading physicians who treat and train is a possible example, as are special training sessions for students in a particular field.

The type of legacy chosen will depend on many factors, including the objectives and values of the association, the nature of the profession it represents, the location of the congress, and the enthusiasm of members but no matter the choice, both the association and the destination will benefit.

Authors Keith Burton (IAPCO Council Member), Managing Director, African Agenda, and Kristen Tremeer, Owner and Director, African Agenda, are based in Cape Town. IAPCO has members in 40 countries; they are professional organisers, meeting planners and managers of international and national congresses, conventions and special events.

April 3, 2017

Master in Association Management: A Brussels’ Exclusive

Association executives need perspective and skills in core managerial activities but also the soft skills to continue to play the important socio-political role in Europe and to understand its continuously changing economic, social and political environment.

To efficiently manage an association means facing new challenges in the wake of increasing competition, resources crunch and economic crisis. Leading a membership-based association requires today a constant balancing of current needs, external demands, and long-term vision.

Three years ago, the Solvay Brussels Schools of Economics and Management filled a gap and launched a management course aimed at professionals from the association industry, in collaboration with the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE), the Federation of European and International Associations (FAIB), the Union of International Associations (UIA) and visit.brussels.

The Executive Master in International Association Management (EMIAM) course is taught by university professors from the Solvay Brussels School-EM and graced with the regular presence of leading lights from the association industry who come and share their knowledge and their expertise. The objective is to provide association professionals with opportunities to learn and improve themselves professionally.

“The Executive Masters in International Association management is the only one of its kind in Europe. Managers of international associations need perspectives, skills and understanding of the best management practices so that they can continue to play a major socio-political role in Europe and around the world,” explains , CEO of the European SocieTy for Radiotherapy & Oncology (ESTRO), and a lecturer of the EMIAM.

The course includes 17 days of training spread over 7 themed modules. Classes are taught in English and organised in sessions lasting a full day each on Fridays and Saturdays. So far 42 students have taken the course, and every year each module, but also the programme as a whole, is evaluated. Thanks to participants’ suggestions, a module revised covering specifically the governance topic is on offer since 2016. After the input of the 2016 participants, an entire day on VAT was also introduced within the Finance module.

Adline Lewuillon, Congress Operations Senior Manager at ECCO (European CanCer Organisation) views the Master as “a unique combination of theoretical concepts widely supported by practical case studies. The Solvay professors bring their invaluable insights (and sense of humour), and join forces with association experts. Together, they cover all key elements of international association management, and help you bring this deep strategic knowledge to the practical field.”

The Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management (SBS-EM) is a benchmark for participants, businesses and institutes that want to reap the rewards of the highest level of education and research in the fields of economics and management in Europe. Its goal is to generate and share skills in the fields of economics and management in order to train professionals and managers and to meet needs in terms of governance, productivity and innovation that run through our society, which is constantly evolving.

March 29, 2017

Legacy: Feeding the Hungry in Host Meeting Destinations

In January of last year, Jeannie Power, CMP, co-founder of Power Event Group, was on site in Miami, Florida, preparing for a financial-sector meeting. Outside of Power’s hotel room, it was sunny and warm. Meanwhile, in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. — where all the attendees were traveling from — a major blizzard was gathering strength. Their flights were canceled; the meeting followed suit. – Words Michelle Russell, editor in chief of PCMA Convene

Among the loose ends that Power — contracted for this event by Strategic Meetings & Events — had to tie up was what to do with all of the food that had been ordered for the two-and-a-half-day event. Fortunately, Power was in a unique position to put those meals to good use. In her former role at event-technology company EventMobi, Power had worked with hunger think tank Rock and Wrap It Up! to develop the Whole Earth Calculator mobile app.

On the RWU website, she used the Hungerpedia search tool, a resource that matches food donors with agencies in need, and then she reached out to RWU’s founder, Syd Mandelbaum, and Meeting U. President James Spellos, CMP, RWU’s volunteer IT director and board member. “I wanted to make sure they didn’t have any recommendations beyond what I saw on Hungerpedia,” Power said.

Mandelbaum and Spellos connected her with the Miami Rescue Mission, which arranged to pick up the approximately 540 pounds of food to serve at its homeless shelter. According to the Whole Earth Calculator, the food equaled 415 meals.

Power is quick to point out that the entire process was easy, and not because she’s in the know. Unfortunately, she’s found that many of her colleagues in North America don’t make the effort to donate leftover food because they think it’s too complicated — or that it would make their organizations liable to lawsuits.

Indeed, Spellos said many in the industry remain unaware of the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed into U.S. law in 1996, which removes any legal liability for organizations and their food suppliers “if they donate food that is prepared but not served, and connect with an organization that is charitable,” he said.

RWU evaluates charities to ensure that they “have the necessary equipment to take the donations and serve them safely,” Power said, and many of charities can pick up the food as well. “Event planners and hotels — individuals, venues, and caterers,” she said, “need to know that this is not something that’s going to require a lot of effort on their part.”

March 27, 2017

Knowledge Sharing at the European Association Summit

The annual gathering of professionals from the association sector, the European Association Summit (EAS) will be held in Brussels on 30 and 31 May 2017 at SQUARE-BRUSSELS MEETING CENTRE.

For the fifth consecutive year, visit.brussels is organising the European Association Summit together with its partners from the association world. Over the years, the event has become an important opportunity to share information and knowledge, and network with other international associations. As the headquarters of many European and of international organisations, Brussels is a fitting place to host such an event with particular focus on associations and the issues and challenges they are facing.

The summit is designed by international association executives for international association executives. The idea is to offer them the chance to put their success stories and innovative ideas under the spotlight, and so boost the number of people involved.

This year, the programme is spread over two days in total and the content has been enhanced with the addition of new topics, featuring a range of subjects and speakers who will share their experience with an audience on the lookout for new knowledge. The summit will kick off with a speech by Jean-Paul Philippot, President of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and CEO of the RTBF, the French-Speaking Belgian TV and radio broadcaster, on innovation, big data issues and the latest advances in communications.

A new session involving destination partners from the Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP) will ensure that delegates can learn about the challenges and opportunities for associations to grow internationally. Moderated by Terrance Barkan and Hervé Bosquet, the session will involve representatives from different continents, delivering their experience on working at global or regional level, from the Middle East to Singapore, from Washington D.C. to Dubai.

Distributed in breakout sessions, speakers representing a wide range of sectors (e.g. heritage, wine, education, health, process safety) will also tackle good practice trends in event organisation, the management of members and campaigns, communication, and representation and lobbying techniques. Professionals from human resources, legal or European affairs will also speak to the audience at thematic workshops, prior to the closing session.

The EAS is organised in collaboration with leading partners in the sector: ESAE (European Society of Association Executives), FAIB (Federation of European & International Associations Based in Belgium) and UIA (Union of International Associations).

 

March 23, 2017

How to Grow Your Association

With 50 per cent of associations reporting that they are not experiencing any growth in membership, Boardroom looks at a new white paper created by Kenes offering advice for associations looking to grow. (more…)

March 13, 2017

A Political Perspective on the Legacy of Meetings

 

Whether or not we like it, or even think much about it, most of us in the meetings industry are heavily dependent on government support.

Words Geoff Donaghy, AIPC President

Government investments fund the development of major facilities in most parts of the world. Government policies determine to a large extent attendance and participation at many events. And government immigration, trade and access decisions heavily influence the conditions that either facilitate or obstruct the global exchanges we represent.

So it’s important that governments – and the communities they represent – see the value in what we do. And that value must be in terms that matter to them, not just us, if we are to enjoy ongoing support.

That’s why it’s become increasingly important to ensure our industry is seen not just as a source of visitor revenues but a major contributor to key areas like global economic, academic and professional development that contribute in a direct and significant way to a wide range of government policy objectives. The challenge to governments – who remain the major investor in this area due to their typical role as owner / operators of the major convention facilities that make this all possible – is how to measure the return on their investment in as realistic a way as possible.

This is not as easy as it sounds – because the kind of narrow value definition applied for so many years doesn’t even begin to capture the real range of benefits we deliver. It’s time for a more realistic approach because investment decisions need to be made on the basis of measures that address the full spectrum of benefits rather than simply those related to visitor spending.

So what do we say to governments about our role and value? The starting point is a realization that the myriad of organizations and associations that count meetings, conventions and exhibitions amongst their key organizational responsibilities do so because of what they achieve in terms of business, professional and organizational advancement – and this is where the greatest benefits lie for governments and communities as well.

This means that beyond the “tourism effect” – and the associated incremental jobs and derived tax revenues it generates for governments – there is what might best be called event outputs – those business, professional and academic advancements that result from meetings and events and include not only such economic rewards as inward investment, talent attraction, knowledge transfer and innovation / creation that directly support economic policies but also impact many other areas of government policy and responsibility like health care, education and employment readiness.

Once governments realize the breadth of these impacts on their own policy priorities they start to understand why this is an industry they need to support and invest in. The broader values we deliver are never going to be easy to measure with precision – but they still need to be taken into account in order to support good investment decisions, particularly with public money. This is our job – and our responsibility – as an industry and it’s long overdue.

In addition to his role as AIPC President, Geoff Donaghy is CEO at ICC Sydney (the International Convention Centre Sydney) and Director of Convention Centres AEG Ogden. Geoff Donaghy also represents AIPC in the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC). AIPC, the International Association of Convention Centres, represents a global network of over 180 leading centres in 57 countries with the active involvement of more than 900 management-level professionals worldwide. marianne.de.raay@aipc.org / www.aipc.org

March 7, 2017

Accessible Playgrounds in Urban Neighborhoods: A Legacy Story

Nearly two decades ago, Sandra Gordon, former Director of Public Relations for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), was looking for ways to educate the public about AAOS members. Research showed that people knew very little about orthopedic surgeons — and when they did think of them, it was as high-tech practitioners. But actually, Gordon said, orthopedic surgeons are high-touch, caring doctors. She said: “They’re the ones who take care of children who break their legs on playgrounds.”

Words Barbara Palmer, senior editor and director of digital content for PCMA Convene

AAOS already was working on a public-education campaign about playground safety. So, Gordon thought, why not invite attendees at the AAOS Annual Meeting — the largest in the world for orthopedic medical professionals — to build a model playground that is safe and wheelchair-accessible in the meeting destination? The association then would leave the playground behind as a permanent gift to the host city, as well as a lasting illustration of what AAOS members care about.

Since 2000, AAOS has built 17 playgrounds in cities ranging from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. The association’s latest creation — constructed, like all the others, in one day — was at Central Avenue Elementary School in Kissimmee, Florida, near Orlando. (The project was designed with the help of local children, who drew crayon pictures of their ideas of a dream playground.) The AAOS 2016 Annual Meeting was held at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

The “Safe and Accessible Playground Build” program has been a success from the start, Gordon said, in large part because it tracks so closely with AAOS members’ interests. Many of the medical professionals’ patients are wheelchair-bound or have other disabilities that make the average playground they encounter unusable, so each project emphasizes accessibility as well as safety. “Our members went crazy over it,” Gordon said. “Everybody wants to be involved.” And in fact, every year the event draws more willing volunteers than AAOS can handle — more than 200 surgeons, nurses, industry partners, exhibitors, and local community members came together during the six-hour-long project in Kissimmee.

Read the rest of Barbara’s story in Boardroom Launch Issue.

February 23, 2017

World Obesity Federation recognises Vancouver Convention Centre for healthy food

The World Obesity Federation has accredited the Vancouver Convention Centre as a Healthy Venue.

The federation’s Healthy Venue Award recognises venues worldwide who support their visitors and staff in making healthier choices in terms of nutrition and well-being. One of the key factors that lead to the Healthy Venue recognition was everything from dressings and stocks to bread and pastries being made in house and the kitchens offering healthy menu items that feature reduced fat, sugar and sodium.

The Healthy Venues Award is part of World Obesity’s Action Initiative that aims to stimulate and support practical actions that will help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reverse the global obesity crisis. The award focuses on steps that venues can take to support healthy eating and to encourage more activity. The venue worked in partnership with the World Obesity Federation for its international congress, looking holistically at the attendee experience, from healthy snacks in vending machines through to encouraging people to use the stairs rather than lifts.

Chris Trimmer, Executive Director of the World Obesity Federation, says: “The Healthy Venues Award was conceived to help combat the unhealthiness of meetings and conferences and the impact these can have on people’s lives.

“We chose to hold our International Congress on Obesity at the Vancouver Convention Centre because of the efforts they have made in this area. They were able to offer us and our delegates a healthy meeting, with hydration stations, a wonderful healthy menu, standing space at the back of session rooms, not to mention the wonderful location on Vancouver seawall for long lunchtime strolls!”