Zurich Walks the Sustainability Talk 

June 1, 2017

Zurich Walks the Sustainability Talk 

Are you looking for a smart destination that walks the sustainability talk for your next association meeting? Then why don’t you consider Zurich?

Zurich was ranked #1 in last year’s Arcadis Sustainable Cities Ranking, #2 in the latest Mercer Quality of Living Ranking and #3 in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS).

The city is also home to one of the world’s leading technical universities – ETH Zürich, currently #8 in the QS World University Rankings (2016) – and is an inspiring hub for innovation in science and biotech, as well as for start-ups. No wonder that Google, IBM and many others have chosen this city as their second home.

It all started in 2008, when the people of Zurich voted in favor of a 2000-watt society and thus the sustainable development of their city. This ambitious long-term goal is now part of the municipal code and Zurich is working hard to reduce its energy consumption and annual CO2 emissions, as well as to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

A wide variety of eco-friendly projects have been set up by both public and private initiatives, and the tourism sector and local hotel industry are also investing heavily in sustainability initiatives – from waste reduction and the use of fresh, local produce to incentive programs for eco-friendly meetings. This shared vision is the most effective way to become a smart destination.

Zurich is not only ecologically smart, but also strong in terms of social performance, supplier performance and convention bureau performance (for more information visit www.gds-index.com). What does this mean for your event? Zurich is safe, Zurich is clean, Zurich is efficient. The proximity of reliable urban infrastructure and refreshing natural surroundings makes a business event a professional but relaxed experience.

Zurich is a convenient and cost-effective destination. For example, did you know that you can reach Zurich airport within 10 minutes using public transport? Or that 98% of the city’s hotels are easily accessible (within 30 minutes) by public transport from the convention and exhibition centers?

Zürich Tourism – which is certified as a sustainable enterprise (ISO) – and its partners take social and environmental responsibility seriously, and will ensure that your event does the same.

For more information about sustainable meeting planning, please contact the Convention Bureau team at Zürich Tourism: congress@zuerich.com / meeting.zuerich.com
For more information on Switzerland as a meetings destination: contact Myriam Winnepenninckx, Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, T. +32 (0)2 345 83, myriam.winnepenninckx@switzerland.com, www.MySwitzerland.com/meetings

May 24, 2017

KES International – An Ideal Platform for Knowledge Dissemination

We met Professor Robert J. Howlett on the occasion of one of Ottawa Tourism’s association sales missions in London in March. Immediately KES International intrigued us, especially when we found out its tagline read : « KES brings people together to make … Knowledge Connections. » What could that mean exactly ? Isn’t that precisely what any association aims to do? Anyway, this seemed quite interesting. Together with Faye Alexander, Professor Howlett explains here what the organisation is about and what kind of challenges the’ve had to overcome in the past years.

Interview Rémi Dévé

Can you explain what Kes International is about?

For over two decades the mission of KES International has provided a professional community, networking and publication opportunities for all those who work in knowledge-intensive subjects. At KES we are passionate about the dissemination, transfer, sharing and brokerage of knowledge. The KES community consists of several thousand experts, scientists, academics, engineers students and practitioners who participate in KES activities.

Can you share what products and services you provide to your members?

KES operates a portfolio of conferences with international participation in different countries of the world on leading edge topics, accessible to academics, researchers, industry and students. Topics include intelligent computer systems, sustainable buildings, design and manufacturing, innovation and knowledge transfer.

KES International also edits a range of journals and serials on knowledg- intensive subjects as well as publishing several book series containing the results of applied and theoretical research on a range of leading-edge topics.

KES also provides live and online training courses on all the topics in its portfolio. Having recently been successful in government funding KES has delivered a wide range of modular based training events in the UK alongside relevant networking activities.

Finally KES International provides a platform for academics who need to disseminate research results as part of a project or EU project and do not wish to create a new conference in order to do so. We have worked with many project workshops providing  specialist knowledge of how to run a conference to disseminate research results alongside one of or existing events.

Are there any particular challenges that the organisation has had to overcome in the past years?

Conferences (especially academic events) are becoming very competitive and providing a high-quality event at a reasonable price is becoming more difficult.

The challenge of keeping abreast of the ever-changing and increasing social media marketing world has been somewhat interesting. Choosing a strong marketeer who can target our very niche audience and also have an understanding of what our customers use to research events, is a long-lasting challenge for a small team and a very busy association!

What kind of events Kes International organizes? How do you decide where to go?

We have a portfolio of academic conferences which cover subjects such as Intelligent Systems, Intelligent Decision Technologies, Intelligent Interactive Multimedia Systems and Services, Agent and Multi Agent Systems, Smart Technology based Education and Training, Sustainable Technology, Sustainability in Energy and Buildings, Smart Energy, Sustainable Design and Manufacturing. Other conference topics include Innovation, Knowledge Transfer, Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Innovation in Medicine and Healthcare, Digital Media and Innovation in Music.

Each conference delivers its own networking drinks reception, gala dinner and often a bespoke choice of social event with links to the local area.

Being academic conferences, virtually all of our delegates come to present their work in a 20-minute presentation, and they each submit an article which is published by a major publisher.

There are so many conferences worldwide that academics can more or less choose where they want to go to to deliver their work and network.  We have a motto of ‘A high quality academic conference in a nice place to visit’ – we choose an attractive destination, accessible, good flight routes, safe and affordable for our events.

What do you find most challenging as an association executive?

Amid constantly changing technology, resources, and an increasingly younger demographic, it can be difficult to stay relevant to your membership. We not only need to keep attracting new members to KES International in an ever increasing and competitive market for academic conferences, but we work hard to maintain our extremely high standards within the way we operate our events which, for over 20 years, has made our organisation niche in the product and level of service we deliver.

According to you, what are the latest trends in the global association community?

Our delegates want to go to new places, but they need to be safe, accessible, and cost effective.

Virtual conferences, removing the expense of travel, have been discussed for a number of years, but they don’t seem to be getting much traction.  The ‘fringe benefits’ of a conference, meeting people who might participate in research collaborations or grant applications, is a very important part of attending an event, and it is hard to make the right kind of relationships over the internet.  Some of the best business is done in the bar at the end of the day!

May 17, 2017

Associations Going Global – Common Oversights

Expanding any business globally is a big step that requires careful preparation. In order for the expansion to be successful, it is critically important to develop a thorough plan including objectives, market situation, entry strategy, financial and ROI analysis, goals and measurement. All this is very hard work, yet it comes with great opportunities for business growth, such as extending product life cycle, brand awareness, and the possibility of hedging your business by taking advantage of foreign exchange fluctuation and balancing revenue streams from different economies.

There are three critical pillars that help organizations promote and sustain growth: Branding & Positioning, Adequate Business & Community Models and Ecosystem Dimensions. In my experience with corporations and not-for-profit associations, although most organizations develop well organized market entry analysis and plans, few associations focus enough on these three important areas.

Branding and Positioning

The core of any organization is its brand, therefore closely monitoring its development is of great importance! There are key elements that require proactive management:

A powerful mission is a strong differentiator and can open a multitude of doors globally, for both business and community growth. It should concisely define what the organization is about and its impact in the world. Associations and not-for-profit organizations generally have powerful missions but don’t leverage them to their full extent, like many for-profit corporations would. Communicate it on all possible occasions, maximize your public relations efforts, partner up with organizations that complement and enhance your story!

Shift the organization’s focus from product to user experience. As thought leaders, most associations offer great products, but little focus is given to the experience, especially in foreign markets. Develop member and customer experiences that are locally relevant, dynamic and connected. Evaluate the user journey applying an ecosystem thinking rather than a siloed approach by product line. By understanding behaviors where user journeys typically start, stop and overlap, we’re able to visualize its non-linearity and prolong engagement through your line of products and services, resulting in a much stronger branding opportunity for the organization. Starbucks doesn’t have the best coffee, but the experience is remarkable!

Positioning nurtures brands. Do we want to be positioned as a local or a global voice? Do we have enough resources to compete with local associations? It may be wiser to partner with the locals instead. If you are positioned as the global voice, translations may not be a priority! Your training materials can feature global instead of local examples. Global or local, the right positioning aligns volunteers, product and membership teams to develop programs tailored to the right audience. This is focus!

Empower volunteers to convey the organization’s message. Associations often have several employees and an army of volunteers communicating their brands. By providing them with the right tools, the brand can be communicated at its best. Empower them to translate your brand and adjust it each local transaction. This can be as simple as templates, presentations, videos and other materials to support their interactions, while communicating the right branding message.

Business and Community Models

Business and community models define the frame of a global structure. Each country has cultural, social and economic differences. There are a variety of business models available to test and explore: partnerships, joint ventures, sales agents, contractors, regional and/or local representation, wholly- owned subsidiaries, just to name a few. Develop models that speak to each market, as no two countries are the same. The business and community framework should be connected to the market entry strategy. For example, depending on the market, you may want to focus on B2B initially, to then build the B2C gradually. In certain cultures, like Singapore, employees look for guidance from employers before engaging in professional associations. An organization’s framework should reflect its objectives and resources, as well as the market reality.

Read the rest of Renata’s article in the second issue of Boardroom available here.

May 9, 2017

220 Associations Convene in Vienna for a World Congress

It looks like the the Associations World Congress, now in its 10th year, goes from strength to strength. It took place last week at the Austria Center Vienna and was attended by more than 220 association executives – and all paid for their attendance and coming over, quite unusual in this industry.

Organised by the Association of Association Executives (AAE), the largest conference for employees and officers of professional, scientific and trade membership organisations in Europe aimed to cover a wide range of topics. Along with a list of key speakers was a packed programme of streams and sessions designed to offer great education, networking and information.

If some subjects that were touched upon were more ‘traditonal’ – a whole day was devoted to digital related content looking at member engagement strategies, CRM and MRM, successful online communities and tribal marketing  – the AAE tried to innovate, quite successfully, with a Video and TV Channel Stream. Video is a fast-growing communication method and a critical way to provide regular sector information to members. Each month associations are launching video channels/offerings (unrelated to event recordings) and this stream helped guide them on creation, planning and how to fund them.

The speaker line up included people from in and out the association community, like Andreas Felser, executive director of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine; Simon Shelley – head of the ITN Industry News, part of the global ITN news organisation and Konrad Friedrich – head of conference management and marketing at the European Society of Radiology. I particularly liked the keynote speech of Lodewijk Klootwijk, from the European Golf Course Owners Association, who went back to the basics and explained the  fascinating importance of tribe or how the sense of belonging is the very essence of any organisation.

The Association of Association Executives (AAE) also announced the launch of its year-round Association Success Story Programme at the Congress, a new, year-round programme that focuses on creating valuable content for associations. The programme takes the form of detailed case studies – how, for instance, organisations have developed or created new products, services and events for their members and particular sector. These include in the areas of: conference mergers and partnerships; multi-location webcast events; adoption of new event technologies; event growth campaigns; sector weeks; publicity and lobbying campaigns; social media projects; eLearning offerings; and member engagement programmes.

Alongside the congress the International and European Association Awards ceremony was held on the evening of 3 May, which recognised excellence in leadership, development and service across European and International membership organisations.

Winners included:

Executive Director of the Year : Anthony Wilkinson, RQA

Effective Voice of the Year : World Obesity Federation – World Obesity Day 2016

Best Social Media Campaign : The European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) – Friends of Glass “Endless Lives of Glass”

Conference Development : A2P2 – EAPPC | BEAMS | MEGAGAUSS 2016

Best eLearning / Online Education : European Society for Immunodeficiencies (ESID) – ESID eSchool

Best Association Website : European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA)

Best Membership Engagement: Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

Best TV Video Channel : European Association of Urology – EAU TV

Best Association E-Newsletter : The Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL)

A Special Award for Best Membership Engagement was handed out to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).



May 3, 2017

Understanding Cultural Differences in a Global World

A global presence has become an increasingly significant reality for many PCOs while organising conferences but doing business worldwide presents far greater challenges then just working locally.

Words Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno

There are many complex problems to be solved and choices to be made and of those, many are not straightforward. Numerous strategic aspects must be considered before a commitment can be made: starting with understanding the difference between “global” and “international.” These words seem interchangeable but there are significant differences. “Global” means worldwide or universal, applying to the whole world while the word “international” applies to two or more countries.

So if we take for granted these definitions we can say that an International conference means a conference with delegates coming from at least 5 countries while a global conference is a conference with participants coming from all over the world.

How do these definitions impact the conferences we organise? Does our approach need to change? Will our distinctive resources and capabilities already developed at home translate to a global market? Expansion can be widely profitable, as long as marketing, promotion and the different strategies for boosting attendance are considered with the aim of making it really “global”.

While geography no longer stands in the way of globalization there are still many barriers. Language comes to mind but, realistically, it is the least of our worries. Due diligence must be done as innumerable issues of administrative and compliance issues impact setting up a global conference. So start by asking a few basic questions.

Do we understand all the applicable laws and regulations of the targeted location? If we don’t know what we are up against we can’t develop a strategy that realistically weighs risks and rewards. Every country has a different set of rules for doing business so we cannot assume that what we did in Country A will work in Country B. What travel compliances are required? Attendees from which countries need visas? Are there other travel restrictions? We can’t dazzle participants if we are unable to get them to the conference! And remember, it’s not only about moving people. Shipping material overseas is another challenge. Give our attendees, as well as sponsors and exhibitors, information that includes warnings about the obstacles they may face throughout the event.

What are the current events and developments taking place in our targeted part of the world? Attracting attendees to our event today may be very different from what was done a year ago for the very same conference. Know what is happening and do not over simplify the challenges for attendees. We need to keep up with current affairs if we want to be global.

Read the rest of this article in Boardroom#2 – May 2017. Out now.

April 27, 2017

Making a Convention Centre “International”

Convention centres worldwide comprise a wide spectrum of facilities, with few invariable constants, even in terms of fixed definitions (congress centres? convention centres? conference centres?). At the same time, there is increasingly a blurring of such distinctions as do exist, with what were formerly more exclusively focussed facilities like exhibition or special event centres add new kinds of function spaces in order to diversify their business potential and respond to new trends like the inclusion of more educational components into trade show programming.

Words Geoff Donaghy – AIPC President

The same is true of the term “international”. In an increasingly global industry, there are legitimate questions as to what that designation implies, and when applied to a convention centre, what assurances it should give clients who are looking for the right kind of “fit” for their event. For many centres, the application of the designation often simply reflects the aspirations of owners and managers – an expression of their interest in being able to access more than simply local or regional business. But at a practical level, there’s a lot more to it than that.

First of all, “International” as a function of an organization holding an event is once again a term that is pretty loosely applied in our industry. In my view, it requires three measures: first, that membership be comprised of representation from different countries; secondly, that leadership is similarly distributed and third, that events have a global vs. simply a regional rotation. And while that is a pretty straightforward definition, in many parts of the world it is less than rigorously applied, adding another level of confusion.

However, if we accept that definition, it follows that centres that consider themselves to be ‘international’ are those actively pursuing those kinds of events – and that means at the same time, they need to be prepared to respond to their needs. That carries some important responsibilities.

First, it means recognizing and addressing the standards and expectations of groups that rotate world-wide and who are looking for some level of consistency in terms of spaces and services, including areas like food and beverage and technology. While most events that rotate do so in response to the distribution of their membership (or the pursuit of potential members) their programs generally have certain requirements attached that are largely the same wherever they may go. That means a centre must be able to supply these in order to be considered, and the easiest way to do that is to identify and observe the most relevant standards for such events and to make the effort to identify and understand what it is that specific groups need based on their previous history.

Secondly, a non-domestic organization will likely have formal requirements that are more complex, or at least different, from those coming from within the same country.

Things like legal and accountability requirements, contractual arrangements and technology expectations are all things that will inevitably be a lot more complicated with a range of international clients than purely domestic ones, and again, a centre pursuing this business must have the capability and flexibility to be able to respond.

Third, it needs to be understood that this is not simply a centre-specific exercise. The centre itself is only one part of the overall destination experience so an ‘international’ designated centre also has a role to play in ensuring that other destination partners such as hotels, bureaus, suppliers and satellite venues are also capable of meeting the broader and potentially more diverse range of client expectations arising from this group. Without this, even the most internationally-oriented facility can fail to deliver the overall quality that will be expected by more demanding international clients.

But there’s another side to the equation. As important as consistency and standards are, they should not come at the expense of losing the unique qualities that are a desired part of the experience of travelling to different parts of the world. Delegates to an international event are attracted at least partly in the opportunity to experience local customs and cultures, sample different food and enjoy off-site activities that represent what makes that destination different. The centre has a role here too, needing to play an active part in delivering on those expectations rather than focussing entirely on consistent operating standards.

In the end, it’s a balance; to be truly ‘International’, and enjoy all the business benefits that designation implies, a centre needs to be prepared to address the full range of expectations that accompany such events, and to do so in a recognizable way. At the same time, they need to take on some responsibility for delivering the kind of unique experience and qualities that make their destination distinctive.

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.

Photo: ICC Sydney

April 19, 2017

Riga & Latvia – The Power of Subventions, Really ?

While far from universal, a growing number of national tourism boards and even city-level convention and visitors bureaus are offering some form of subventions to attract associations that are considering bringing a large meeting to their destination. But should that really come into play? Isn’t the whole picture worth being identified before rushing to accept cash, as Aigars Smiltans’ MEET RĪGA argues?

Words Rémi Dévé

Described by some as a necessary evil, “subvention” – subsidies given by convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) to attract large conferences – has become more generous as destinations battle it out to win new association meetings.  The latest research conducted by The Right Solutions Ltd indicates that they are playing, if not a large, but a critical role when an associations makes the decision as to where to take their next event. In the 2016 BVEP Subvention Research, 50% of respondents acknowledge “significant influence in decision making” if there are offered subventions. The highest stake is cash subsidy – according 75% from all respondents – followed by discounts on venues costs. Only 17% of the respondents admit that subventions don’t impact the selection of a destination.

But instead of looking through a kind of ‘subvention’ magnifying glass, should’nt planners look at the bigger picture? Should they really just compare who gives the largest subsidies? As Aigars Smiltans puts it, « it might be wiser to base yourself on the general costs of your meeting(s). Do, for example, hotel rooms rates include breakfast or free wifi, or the rates will be for accommodation only? And if some marketing material is “offered”, will it be as good as if you had done it yourself? » Digging deeper, are associations always playing a fair game when requesting a proposal from a destination? Do they really have their delegates in mind? « Is transportation affordable? Is the destination easily accessible? What does an average meal or cab fare cost for instance? All this will have an influence on the decision for a delegate to come. » Aigars continues.

Then why choose Riga or Latvia for your next meeting? Well, there are numerous, good reasons. Read all about them in the next issue of Boardroom, out next month.

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


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.