A Few Takeaways from AIPC Annual Conference

15th July 2021

Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve just returned from Lausanne where he attended the in-person AIPC Annual Conference. He now shares a few things he’s learned.

For my very first in-person conference in a long time due to reasons you will easy guess, I was very happy to go to Lausanne for the AIPC Annual Conference. The programme on paper looked strong, the SwissTech Convention Center, with its super good looks, high versatility and university location right next to the EPFL was the ideal place to reconvene, and unsurprisingly I was looking forward to reconnecting with many industry colleagues and meeting new faces. In that regard, the event didn’t disappoint at all.

Looking at these past two days, here are my few takeaways:

+ Nothing beats in-person events: serendipitous encounters are what makes them so worth attending and going through the hassle of travelling in theses challenging times. There is no such thing as online serendipity. In Lausanne, I met an architect, a digital director, an Everest climber and of course many venue managers, with whom I had interesting conversations.

+ The current circumstances have changed the way we look at event design. Clients need to be reassured that they will gather in the safest environment possible, strict sanitary measures must be carefully managed and communicated upon. At the same, it seems they are more open to trying new things, new ideas – we all have learned how to be creative in spite of everything.

+ Successful events will be the ones that perfectly combine high-quality knowledge and strong networking opportunities. The fact that people have not been able to meet for a long time have made them eager to reconnect physically and all networking options have to be carefully explored and managed.

+ Sustainability in the broadest sense of the term will be key to ‘build back (forward?) better’ a new world. In this regard, our industry has a strong role to play and I was happy to hear that the main industry associations, ie AIPC, ICCA, UFI and IAPCO are working hand in hand on a project that will be submitted to the UN Climate Change secretariat before the end of the year. More on this later – but the alignement is here: we all have understood the biodiversity loss and climate change could cause damages that will be fear greater than the pandemic has.

+ The education of tomorrow’s leaders is of paramount importance: AIPC launched Future Shapers, a program to support venue managers to develop their high performers, accelerate their leadership skills and provide them with a platform to influence outcomes and improve the industry,

+ As an industry, we’re climbing to new heights, so we can actually learn from real climbers. The story of Cathy O’Dowd, the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest from both south and north sides, was really fascinating and clearly resonated among delegates, Cathy’s most challenging Himalayan epic was as part of a team attempting a new route on an 8000 metre peak. Although Cathy herself did not reach the summit, two of her teammates did, doing the first ascent of Nanga Parbat via the Mazeno ridge, and winning the prestigious Piolet d’Or for their achievement. She has turned this experience into a fascinating interactive case-study of successful project execution of truly innovative goals.

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