A New Model for Association Meetings?

January 23, 2018

A New Model for Association Meetings?

Increasingly, associations are interrogating traditional ways of creating meetings and events programmes. Delegate numbers are broadly on the up, but audiences continue to demand more engagement and specialist content. Organisations need to draw a balance between managing effective continual professional development, and giving delegates curated content based on their specialities; creating a legacy of knowledge across its often global membership.

For many associations, this need is set aside the requirement to create revenue. So, how can an association continue to create value for its members while also capturing, and commercialising, the scientific value that comes from bringing large numbers of an active community together?

Broader Look

The European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) is one that is taking a broader look, and in doing so, re-writing the manual in terms of how it works within its membership, and how it builds its event programme for now and the future.

In 2016 the ESTRO annual congress attracted over 6,000 delegates across 6 days. It’s 36th gathering was a success both in terms of its growth in delegates, but also in its delivery. However, it became clear to many within the association that more and more ‘breakout’ content was needed and delegate feedback showed that, with the meeting growing so much, traditional networking was getting harder.

Equally, the congress never took its eye off its dual responsibilities to; firstly, ensure that new specialist research and technology was shared amongst the scientific community, and for those within it to be allowed the chance to network, discuss and debate the findings, ultimately adding value to their experience and a lasting legacy for the event.

“We quickly realised the need for a broader business model, spinning off some aspects of the traditional congress,” commented Alessandro Cortese, Chief Executive Officer, ESTRO. “A new approach that gave us the opportunity to create smaller, highly specialised meetings that came directly to the delegates or to the areas of excellence, rather than them coming to us. It gave us the opportunity to host more events, all feeding off the main convention, allowing us to have forums for content throughout the year, and more specialised networking for professionals.”

An Opportunity

In terms of the physical location of these events, again, this presented an opportunity for the association. The main congress continues to benefit from the support of its host destinations, and taps into the city’s network of organisations, academics and opinion leaders that were based on their doorstep. However, a new meeting model would allow events to visit different destinations and tap into richer local networks of academics and professionals.

The first option for such a meeting was Glasgow. Already, ESTRO had a strategic relationship within the city, not only amongst the professional and academic community, but with the city’s main conference centre, the Scottish Event Campus, and the convention bureau, Glasgow Convention Bureau.

Glasgow had also just opened the Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE), attracting a network of globally leading professionals, who were bringing their expertise to the facility. ESTRO itself was incredibly strong in Glasgow, with equally strong relationships with leading experts at the University of Glasgow, as well as professionals at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

“Our new model changed to one where the content, the science, technology and the network would lead the choice of destination. Glasgow was an obvious choice; the strong professionalism in the universities, the newly launched ICE, and our relationship with the city, made it a safe option to try out the new model,” commented Alessandro.

Both the Scottish Event Campus, and the conference bureau were well known to the event organisers at ESTRO, having met through the Leading Centres of Europe network; with an already close understanding of Glasgow and its premier destination, this only increased the desire to come to the city. At its heart, the SEC has a strong reputation for hosting medical conferences, and had the knowledge and expertise to support such a meeting. With this in mind, an agreement was put in place to establish a new event at the Scottish Event Campus, with options to continue the collaboration in the long-term.

“We’ve known Alessandro and the ESTRO team for some time and got to know that there were synergies within the city and the Society,” commented Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales, SEC. “We knew that there was a desire to tap into the scientific community of Glasgow, all we needed was a reason, this was it.”

Scientific Networking

The event took place as a scientific networking workshop for 220 medical physicists involved in Radiotherapy. It was built on a new concept for scientific exchange: five topics were selected and participants, both academic and developers from the industry, were invited to actively contribute to the programme, with the intent of advancing scientific research. The developments in the specific content areas were discussed to facilitate the potential application and maximise the impact on the cure for cancer.

“When associations such as ESTRO look to do something different with their conferences and events, it provides the conference organiser, host convention bureau, and the local academic and business communities with an opportunity to create a more engaging platform for knowledge exchange. This both enhances the overall experience for delegates and has the potential to leave a lasting legacy on the host city,“ commented Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions, Glasgow Convention Bureau.

“ESTRO’s approach is a fantastic example of connecting on far-reaching levels within the destination,” commented Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events, VisitScotland. “Association conferences and conventions provide strong platforms for new ideas and innovative thinking, paving the way for collaborations, research and new discoveries. ESTRO’s model will go far in developing long-term collaboration with Glasgow – long after the main event has taken place.”

This article was contributed by Alistair Turner, Managing Director, EIGHT PR & Marketing. Picture: Glasgow Science Centre and Cityscape.

January 12, 2018

Making a Mark Beyond Tourism

In November the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) welcomed a record number of delegates to its 56th annual congress. Almost 1,300 members, including more than 40 association executives, travelled to Prague for four days of education, chapter meetings and networking.

During the event, the inaugural winners of the “Incredible Impacts” grants supported by both ICCA and BestCities Global Alliance were announced at a session called “A celebration of the beyond tourism impact”. The three winning international associations have each made legacy a central part of their thinking and activities.

One of Boardroom’s partner The Iceberg is currently running a series of videos recorded at the event which celebrate “Incredible Impacts” and the wider effects meetings have on a destination and its region. In this second video of the series, Jane Cunningham, BestCities Global Alliance’s Director of International Associations, delves further into the stories behind two of the “Incredible Impacts” winners…. “…because it’s not just about the conference. It’s about what is left after that conference…”, she explains.

More on this here.

January 6, 2018

Legacies of Dubai Association Conference

Held in December 2017 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, the first-ever Dubai Association Conference was set to reinforce the essential role associations play in Dubai’s socio-economic development and its transition to a knowledge-based economy. On that level, it definitely delivered and brought together association executives, government representatives, university faculties and students, as well as professionals interested in forming associations, coming from Dubai and the region, but also from all corners of the world.              Words Rémi Dévé

Like Dubai itself, or even the United Arab Emirates, the association community based in the region is rather young. Wishing to move away from a purely oil-based economy, the Dubai government realized very early that trade and professional organisations can play a key role in driving social integration, competitiveness, and knowledge sharing, and therefore support in the development of a knowledge economy.

 

Three takeaways of the Dubai Association Conference

Susan Robertson, Executive Vice President of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) reminded the audience that associations make the world smarter, safer, and better (…) and can advance causes that government and official institutions could never do, by providing the most up-to-date information, best practice, and professional development and networking opportunities.”

In a session dedicated to globalisation, David Macadam, CEO of the International Council of Shopping Centers and Middle East Council of Shopping Centres based in the UAE, argued that “better serving your overseas members, providing value and building engagement abroad are key strategies for associations wanting to go global. But you have to think this through: you can significantly increase your likelihood of success by researching the market and the competition and setting clear objectives, timelines, milestones, and metrics and using this research to create a kind of roadmap.”

For successful volunteer engagement, Mark Dorsey, CEO of the Construction Specifications Institute, urged the audience to “be clear about what your organisation expects from its volunteers. People are usually attracted to a purpose and if you’re clear about the purpose, it will be all the more easy. In fact, volunteer work might provide people with opportunities to learn skills they wouldn’t be able to learn otherwise.”

 

Platform for dialogue

In this context, the Dubai Association Centre (DAC) was launched a few years back and has already achieved considerable progress. Offering assistance for the establishment of non-profit, apolitical, and non-religious professional associations and trade bodies in the Emirate of Dubai, its main objective is to become a platform for dialogue and education for associations interested in exploring opportunities in the Middle East Region and to ultimately contribute to building an association community that drives the knowledge economy in the UAE and the wider Arabian Peninsula. The Dubai Association Conference is another step in the road to Dubai’s association success.

In the opening session of the Conference, His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing & Dubai World Trade Centre, explained: “Dubai has seen a tremendous rise in the number of associations over the past few years, which is testament to the city’s significance to reaching their target groups based in the region. This rise has resulted in a heightened demand for networking and engagement platforms for associations across different industries. The Dubai Association Conference has helped respond to that demand and allowed for much-anticipated community-building.”

His Excellency Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry added: “Associations are among the biggest contributors of economic growth and business activity globally, and they are crucial for generating the flow of innovative and creative ideas that can add value to our society. Supporting the growth of Dubai’s association community is one of the main objectives of DAC, as associations have valuable knowledge, expertise and skill sets that can enhance the emirate’s competitiveness and drive its knowledge economy forward.”

Super Kids

‘Building a Community’: that was in fact the very theme of the Conference. As industries ranging from technology and healthcare to education and finance are growing quickly in Dubai and the UAE, there is a need for connecting industry professionals among associations, government, academia, and the private sector, a need for facilitating discussions and networking and knowledge sharing. In addition to providing all of this, the Conference, which had a strong focus on the future and unveiled the concept of the Super Kids during a session that proved very popular, touched upon the latest trends in areas such as membership, online communities, restructuring education, volunteerism and governance, among others. It also went beyond traditional methods of education to focus largely on collaboration and engagement.

The Dubai Association Conference also offered a unique opportunity to discover the various facets of Dubai, and what makes the city one of the most dynamic destinations in the world. At the same time, it provided a better understanding of what is available in the city for associations to tap into. Designed as a study mission, the itinerary featured a deep-dive into the UAE’s rich heritage at the Etihad Museum, a glimpse into the future at the Prime Minister’s Office and Dubai Future Academy and its Dubai Future Accelerators. There was also a behind-the-scenes peek of the site that will host Expo 2020 Dubai.

 

 

December 16, 2017

How a Congress Can Empower Young Meeting Professionals

The delegates of the 2017 Congress of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) may have noticed plenty of young smiling faces roaming the streets of Prague in November. Boasting blue shirts with “Prague InSpires” on the front and “Bridge to Inspiration” on the back, these young volunteers, or ICCA Pilots as they called themselves, were students of the Travel and Trade at the University of Economics in Prague.

 Last year, the University, together with the Prague Convention Bureau, launched the Event Management course supervised by the Department of the Tourism Management designed for students interested in the meeting industry. More than 60 young individuals joined the winter semester. “This course has a strong emphasis on practice and many renowned experts are involved in it, which is positively perceived by the students. In the 2016/17 summer semester, the Event Management course was even voted as the best one at the Department of Tourism,” explains doc. Ing. Josef Abrhám, Ph.D., Head of the Department of Tourism.

As the ICCA Congress was promoted as a green event in a walkable city, the delegates were encouraged to walk and use public transportation. Bus transfers were organised only for the social evenings at Forum Karlín and the Industrial Palace and from and to the Prague Airport.

Even though the centre of Prague is very compact, the delegates needed to be guided around: that is where the students got into the picture and played a key role. As a part of the Event Management course, the students were asked to create a detailed plan of transportation and navigation, to help delegates move around the city easily. A winning team was then selected and got a chance to implement their project and become a part of the organising committee of the congress.

In addition, the project included entertainment and special activities for the delegates, such as “Build Your Bridge” (an activity where delegates could get a reward if they completed selected tasks) or the “Icebreaking cards” (a small communication game). The students also published a digital daily newspaper called On the Go with interesting facts about the city and distributed traditional Czech wafers and gingerbread cookies to the delegates. In total, more than 140 students joined as volunteers.

“We created our own projects to share and present Czech culture and traditions to the delegates. The Prague Convention Bureau offered plenty of opportunities for us to showcase what we could do but also to engage and learn from meeting professionals. Being engaged in the Congress brought us a lot of experience in the field of event and time management and a general overview of event marketing.” concludes Matěj Buďárek, leader of the winning team.

 

December 2, 2017

ICC Sydney Pioneers First-Ever Legacy Programme

International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) has unveiled a new multi-faceted legacy programme designed to show that conferences can go beyond the spending of dollars, booking of to meeting rooms and hotel accommodation or the riding of taxis. Starting next January, the Australian venue will offer its clients the opportunity to engage with the destination across four streams: Innovators, Generation Next, Aboriginal Australia, and Sustainability.

In an effort to document how a convention centre can make broader economic, academic, business and professional achievements out of the meetings it hosts, ICC Sydney hopes to positively influence the city’s reputation. Each stream will provide clients with an opportunity to connect with locals through dedicated initiatives: delegates and organisers alike will be able to benefit from direct exposure to Sydney’s network of entrepreneurs and startups, foster the next generation of thought leaders via student engagement, work with local Aboriginal corporations, and even measure the ecological impact of events.

Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney, said: “We have already been working collaboratively with a network of partners across the four streams and are thrilled to formalise something that will invigorate our clients’ event programmes, strengthen Sydney’s knowledge economy and support local businesses with tangible commercial benefit. Venues like ICC Sydney can foster and promote the qualities of a destination in a myriad of ways, however, it’s the power of its connections that can lead to true legacy and innovation.”

ICC Sydney’s Legacy Program launch is expected to deepen relationships with leading thinkers and innovators visiting Australia as it, and partner Business Events Sydney, continue to confirm some of the world’s most prestigious events for Sydney.

“We’re proud to be attracting some of the world’s most-highly regarded conferences and events to Sydney, including the likes of CeBIT Australia, Sibos 2018, COSPAR 2020 – dubbed the space Olympics – and the 18th World Congress on Medical and Health Informatics (MedInfo 2021). With our new Legacy Program in place, ICC Sydney will be even better placed to support clients and build the city’s reputation as one of the world’s leading event destinations,” Donaghy said.

As we move along our own daily paths, there is always a risk of losing focus on the bigger picture. There is more to a venue’s work than maximizing revenue. All of its activities, including events, should be meaningful and make a lasting impact – and ICC Sydney seems to have understood this like no other.

November 26, 2017

PCAAE Association Summit 5’s Legacies in Manila

With over 200 attendees from associations and other member-serving organizations here and abroad rating the event highly, the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives’ (PCAAE) Association Summit 5 exceeded its promise to provide quality content, topnotch speakers, and great attendee experience.  Aptly themed, “Stronger Together”, the two-day conference, co-presented by PCAAE and the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), was held on November 22-23, 2017 at the Philippine International  Convention Center in Manila (PICC).

The Summit featured 15 plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and learning tracks, and had 30 distinguished speakers who shared best practices and insights on association governance, leadership, and management as well as what associations have done/are doing in helping boost national economic development.

International speakers included Jeffers Miruka of the African Society of Association Executives (Building the Management Association Profession); Datuk John Lau Pang Heng, Chairman Acme Integrated Services Sdn Bhd. Malaysia and past international president of Toasts-masters International (Strengthening Executive Leadership); Kathy Nguyen, Manager Client Services, Association Forum Pty Ltd Asutralia (Recruiting, Retaining and Engaging Members); Alicia Yao Hong, director of China Social Organization (Building the Association Committee: The China Experience); Chris Dingcong, founder and creative director of Springtime Design (The Role of Brand for Association); and Eric L. Schmidt, Co-founder and CEO of EventBank (Building Association Communities Through Events & High-Touch Engagement).  John Graham IV, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), also joined via live video.

Speakers from Philippine associations and other organizations were le, among others, by Ms. Alegria Sibal Limjoco, Vice Chairman, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) who made the opening keynote; Mr. Crisanto Frianeza, Secretary General, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI); Mr. Peter Angelo V. Perfecto, Executive Director, Makati Business Club; Ms. Marife Zamora; President, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP); Mr. Paul Angelo Santos, President, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA); Ms. Penny Bongato, FPM, Executive Director, Talent Development IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

Aside from the various educational tracks during the event, the Association Summit 5 also shone the spotlight on outstanding associations and association board members and professionals through the “Ang Susi Awards” , which, this year were: for Association Executives of the Year, Dr. Ernesto M. Ordonez, President, Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP), and Mr. Arnold P. Salvador, Executive Director of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP); Board Member of the Year, Mr. Lorenzo C. Formoso, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA); People Empowerment Award, Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) for its “Certified Franchise Executive Program”; Community Service Award, Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc.Foundation (ASKI) for its “Agriculture Value Chain for Onion Farmers in San Jose City: Onion and Vegetables Producers Cooperative” and “Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program”.  Merit Awards, Manila Sanitarium Foundation, Inc for its “Medical Outreach Programs”, Philippine Nurses Association, Inc. for its “Salamat Doc” project and Psychological Association of the Philippines for its initiative, Taskforce on Drug Recovery  Support, Katatagan Kontra Droga sa Kumunidad: a community-based drug recovery program; Industry Development Award, Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) for its “Franchise Asia Philippines”; Technology Innovation Award, Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) for its “NRCE Charbot”; and Change Catalyst Award, Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) for its “Building Beyond Business Development Program and Practice”.

The PCAAE, dubbed as an “association of associations”, has over 1,000 members and supporters and was launched on November 20, 2013 to further advance association governance and management in member-serving organizations in the country.

October 31, 2017

ICRA 2017 in Singapore – Building a Smarter Nation

“Will robots replace our jobs?” This is a common question that keeps popping up in lectures and conferences as entrepreneurs and practitioners are looking to robotics and automatic technology to solve world-wide problems, from shortage of labour to an ageing society. Instead of viewing robots as a replacement, countries like Singapore are turning to this innovative technology as a way to open up opportunities in healthcare, defence and manpower. Lane Nieset reports

Singapore is one of the many societies that faces the issue of an aging population and decline in younger people and is on the hunt for innovative technology that will create a sustainable world for current and future generations. It’s no surprise, then, that the city was chosen to host this year’s IEEE Robotics and Automation Society‘s flagship conference.

On May 29, 13 prominent robotics experts and over 3,000 delegates gathered in Singapore at the 120,000-square-metre Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre for the ICRA 2017 conference. This year’s theme centred on “Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Real-World Solutions,” highlighted the value of robotics and automation technology when it comes to solving problems around the globe. Over the course of the five-day event, 57 authors from around the world had the chance to present their work during interactive sessions, as well as attend a number of workshops, tutorials and technical tours.

Participants joined local researchers and experts to experience first-hand some of the projects already underway in Singapore, catching autonomous driving demos and examples of human-robot interaction at the Advanced Robotics Centre at the National University of Singapore. The conference also drew a wealth of talent to the city as keynote speakers, such as Dr. Ayanna Howard from Georgia Tech in the United States, crossed the globe to share about international issues. In her presentation, the professor examined how robotics could assist with paediatric therapy and solve real-life development goals for the 150 million children around the world living with a disability.

By coming together to present these ideas while also looking at the city’s living laboratories, the conference directly impacted Singapore’s goal of establishing a lasting legacy in the life-saving field of robotics. Delegates had the opportunity to not only gain and share knowledge, they could also showcase innovative ideas that have the potential to be put to use in real-life scenarios, using Singapore as a reference site for wide-scale adoption and commercialization of innovations.

“Normally with this type of academic conference, it’s focused on academic output, but we wanted to also focus on innovation,” explained co-organiser Albert Causo, a research fellow at the Robotics Research Centre, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University. “We tried to introduce new ideas this year in Singapore and selected quite a few robotic entrepreneur start-ups to showcase their projects. The whole conference was a good venue for them to meet other players like investors and researchers who are capable of building something that can be commercialized later. For potential investors, it’s easier for them to find everything they need in one place.”

October 17, 2017

Australia Rockets to Success
with IAC 2017

Australia rocketed firmly into the space industry with the hosting of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide in September 2017 – the largest conference to be held in Adelaide to date and the first to be held at the newly expanded Adelaide Convention Centre.

The Paris-based International Astronautical Federation (IAF) is the world’s leading space advocacy body whose members include all key space agencies, companies, societies, associations and institutes across 66 countries.

The annual conference of the world’s ‘space family’ is the largest gathering of the space industry in the world. Each year, the IAC changes country, theme and local organiser. The Adelaide Convention Bureau, in conjunction with the Space Industry Association of Australia, commenced researching and pursuing this congress almost ten years ago.

COMPLEX PROGRAM

The program for IAC2017 was extremely complex, and used every part of the new East Wing of the Adelaide Convention Centre. In addition to meals and networking sessions, there were eight plenary sessions, several highlight lectures, and more than 250 technical sessions. There was also an exhibition where 80 exhibitors from the space sector showcased their latest offerings and developments.

FAST FACTS

Event: International Astronautical Congress 2017 (IAC2017)

Location: Adelaide, Australia

Venue: Adelaide Convention Centre

When: September 2017

Who: Adelaide Convention Bureau; International Astronautical Federation; Space Industry Association of Australia; All Occasions Management (PCO)

Attendees: 5,000 from more than 60 countries

Theme: Unlocking Imagination, Fostering Innovation and Strengthening Security

“As the first major event since completing our redevelopment, IAC was always going to be a great test to our team. Utilising every inch of area we had, in various configurations, it was a great demonstration of the flexible nature of our venue,” said Alec Gilbert, CEO of the Adelaide Convention Centre.

The program featured many highlights including a presentation by SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, on ‘Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species’. Lockheed Martin unveiled an update to their plans for human exploration of Mars in the 2020s; and many new business opportunities and relationships forged during the week-long event, such as Italy’s largest privately-owned space company SITAEL signing a letter of intent with local start up Inovar to jointly establish a multi-million-dollar company in South Australia.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT & LASTING LEGACIES

As the host city, the event brought greater visibility to Adelaide’s expertise in the space sector, complemented by community outreach programs. More than 700 school children attended the large interactive exhibition in a dedicated event space; while 3,500 members of the public attended the ‘open’ session of the exhibition on Friday morning. The State Library of South Australia staged an exhibition titled ‘From Outback to Outer Space: Woomera 1955-1980’ and the South Australian Museum hosted a ‘Spectacular Space’ exhibition.

“This event is the epitome of what hosting conferences is all about. The IAC absolutely captivated the city and in addition to the large economic benefit for tourism operators, it is the value of the incredible legacies that come into play well after the last delegate has returned home that truly highlight the importance of winning these large-scale industry events for South Australia,” said Damien Kitto, CEO of the Adelaide Convention Bureau.

Technical site visits to some of South Australia’s key locations were also arranged including the Woomera Test Range; the Institute for Telecommunications Research at the University of South Australia; Adelaide Planetarium; and an excursion to Stockport Observatory.

Perhaps more importantly than the immediate benefits bought about by hosting a conference are the legacies they leave. The Australian Federal Government, buoyed by the build up to the event, chose its opening day to announce that Australia will launch its own Space Agency. The South Australian Government also announced that a space industry centre would be established in the state.

In summarising the event, Brett Biddington, CEO of IAC 2017 said: “Adelaide has been a splendid host city for IAC 2017, and its  collaborative approach has simply been exemplary. Our delegate numbers have by far exceeded our expectations proving that delegates will travel from long distances if the content and the destination of the conference are right. Australia should be justifiably proud of the legacies the event will leave.”

“The IAC2017 conference is testament to the capability of Australia’s business events industry to deliver an extraordinary event that exceeds expectations. When you pair these attributes with Australia’s beautiful landscapes, unique wildlife and excellent food and wine, it’s not surprising that the appetite for Australia as a leading business events destination continues to grow,” said John O’Sullivan, Managing Director, Tourism Australia.

This article was sponsored by Business Events Australia. Contact them today and find out for yourself why there’s nothing like Australia for business events. Simon Gidman / Business Events Manager, UK/ Europe / T: +44 207 438 4633 / sgidman@tourism.australia.com / www.australia.com/businessevents
Photo: IAC Opening Ceremony ©Simon Casson Photographer III

September 29, 2017

Sarawak Help Associations Make an Impact

Amelia Roziman is the COO of the Sarawak Convention Bureau. She explains to Rémi Dévé all about the organization’s efforts to attract associations to Kuching, on the island of Borneo and how it partakes of an overall strategy to make the region grow, while leaving a long-lasting impact.

Can you elaborate on the alignment of the conference you attract to Sarawak and the key industries there?

We primarily target association businesses, conferences, in addition to other areas of business events. Special emphasis is given to agriculture, renewable energy, public health, education, security, development of women and children, and most recently, digital economy.

Hence our strategy is geared towards these pillars. They are the priority for marketing endeavours, focused overall on Asia Pacific with an emphasis on Singapore, West Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and USA.

Geographically, we target international association clients in efforts to expand global branding. A good practice we can divulge is we think out of the box when hosting FAM trips for potential clients.

Can you explain the positioning of Sarawak as an association destination?

Riding on the wave of the accumulative success over the last decade and with the recent ICCA Congress 2016 cementing Sarawak as a formidable meetings destination, we have gained traction over the art of conducting purposeful and sustainable business events.

Beyond the destination appeal, Sarawak is known for its level of service, government support, and the recognition of impact that an association can have on the greater society.

We see associations as our tribal ally; integral to the global tribes of business events. We explore many possibilities when we align ourselves with various associations. In addition to bring out the best in each association’s internal goals, we connect and facilitate associations with government agencies and local partners in an effort to create sustainable impact beyond the immediate economic one.

We also emphasize that meetings are the answer to almost everything from problem solving to nation-building. For example, the sudden rise from infant business event industries with the growth of New Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) sectors primarily creates a need for specialisation and eads to the establishment of professional associations – equating to more conferences in the country.

In what way(s) do you cater to international associations?

Firstly, to participate in the global context and commanding a presence in the business of business events, Sarawak affiliates itself with international bodies such as ICCA and the Union of International Associations (UIA). This alliance is also evident by the recent success of the 55th ICCA Congress 2016, Sarawak is the one of the few “second tier” locations in Asia to win and successfully host this event.

To better prepare the destination for international events, we are keeping up with advancements which complement the industry – such as embracing technology and how it can aid and propel efforts as well as active soft development: education and training via our dedicated partnership ‘BESarawak’ initiative; a 3-prong programme (Communicating, Educating and Awarding) for local associations, corporate organisations, government agencies, media, and industry partners.

Last but not least, the Bureau is opening its doors to local and foreign associations related to key sectors the state government had identified for further development to locate their Asia Pacific based offices to Kuching by providing two year assistance for office rental and taking care of utility bills such as electricity, Internet and telephone. It will also allow associations to use the meeting spaces within the bureau’s office.

The Bureau welcomes all sectors but strongly encourage sectors which are of the state’s special focus, which includes, renewable energy, agriculture, infrastructure development, urban planning, medical, education, IT, and women and children, as well as digital economy.

By having the Asia Pacific offices in Sarawak, we hope to position Sarawak as a business events friendly destination and attract more regional meetings. It will also help to strengthen the branding and marketing of Sarawak as a business events destination.

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.