KES International – An Ideal Platform for Knowledge Dissemination

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 22, 2017

Associations Can Now Organize ‘Greener’ conferences in Glasgow

Led by Glasgow Convention Bureau, the city has unveiled a new ‘green conventions team’ which brings together representatives from across the city’s tourism and hospitality sectors, academic and business communities, and local government to champion the city’s credentials as a world-leader in sustainable business tourism.

Silke Schlinnertz, Head of Operations and Events at Euroheat & Power said : “There is a genuine commitment in Glasgow to environmental sustainability and the values and principles that make it possible. Being the first UK city to be included in the Global Destination Sustainability Index (GDS-Index) gives event planners one more reason to choose the city as their next meeting destination.” The 38th Euroheat & Power Congress, which was just held in Glasgow, was attended by nearly 500 overseas delegates.

Working with Glasgow City Council’s Land and Environmental Services department and local seed-planting business, Kabloom; the People Make Glasgow Greener campaign will deliver bespoke ‘horticultural therapy’ packages for conference organisers interested in offering sustainable team-building activities for delegates. These will take place across the city’s parks and gardens and include workshops on enhancing biodiversity, maintaining green-spaces and replanting Scottish wildflowers. A toolkit identifying some of the city’s leading sustainable businesses has also been created to simplify the process of organising a sustainable conference in Glasgow. It aims to make it easier for conference organisers to find the services they require from suppliers with similar green objectives.

By the end of 2018, Glasgow will have hosted 20 energy, sustainability and low carbon industry-related conferences over a 24 month period delivering nearly 60,000 delegate days.

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 11, 2017

The Educational Value of IMEX in Frankfurt

With over 200 education sessions taking place throughout the show, including a new dedicated day in the form of EduMonday, IMEX in Frankfurt taking place 16 – 18 May offers its biggest ever education programme.

Planners can take part in high quality education the day before IMEX in Frankfurt begins with EduMonday, a brand new education experience taking place on Monday 15 May. With registration free of charge and open to all, this interactive day will provide insights into event design, future trends and hot new technologies, using informal, contemporary learning styles. IMEX’s EduMonday will feature experts from the new Zeus Eventtech Academy, the German Convention Bureau (GCB), Meetology® Masterclasses and Play with a Purpose.

The show’s first ever English language education keynote explores this year’s IMEX Talking Point, Purposeful Meetings. Janet Sperstad from Madison Area Technical College shares the preliminary results of a major piece of industry research into Purposeful meetings research: creating deeper meaning.

A wider programme of free education also runs across the three days of the show. Participants can choose from 10 tracks including technology, business skills, diversity and marketing in order to create their own bespoke schedule. MPI is delivering a session on Exploring unique learning formats, IAEE explores The next 40 years of trade shows and Play With A Purpose addresses how to engage younger planners in Interaction for millennials. There are over 200 seminars, including workshops, campfires and bite-sized show-floor education- all designed to help planners at all levels keep a finger on the pulse of the industry.

May 10, 2017

Associations to Flock to Wales with Opening of New ICC

Directors at the ICC Wales, in partnership with Welsh Government, have announced their ambition to put Wales firmly on the international business tourism stage now that final funding for the project has been secured and construction has commenced.

Ian Edwards, Chief Executive of the ICC Wales said: “Until now, Wales simply hasn’t had the capacity to accommodate large-scale global conferences and events for upwards of 5,000 delegates but the ICC will compete with leading venues around the world and, crucially, for the first time, position Wales as a destination at the forefront of business tourism centres.  The venue’s design and facilities are truly world class, and its location – adjacent to the M4 just over two hours from London and close to Newport’s main line train station as well as the international airports at Cardiff and Bristol – makes the ICC Wales an accessible and attractive proposition for international and national association conferences, corporate conferences, political summits and exhibitions.”

The ICC Wales will open in 2019 and is located within the grounds of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport just two minutes from the M4.  The new-build 26,000sqm venue will accommodate 5,000 delegates and includes a 4,000sqm pillar-free main hall, a 1,500 seated auditorium, 12 flexible meeting rooms, a double-height glass atrium and a 2,500sqm outdoor plaza for outside events and teambuilding.

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.

May 2, 2017

Leaders’ Forum at the Associations World Congress

Association leaders have a lot to deal with. Besides leading the team, sector issues, and the commercial aspects of running an association, there are the strategic aims, governance, and development, to name but a few. The old adage ‘it’s lonely at the top’ can certainly apply to leaders of associations. When the going gets tough, where do the tough go for advice, inspiration and a friendly ear?

The new Association Leaders’ Forum global event series recently announced by the Association of Association Executives (AAE) aims to provide just that. Leaders’ events have been held in the past, but often as an add-on to another event. With this new series, the AAE is providing a place where senior association executives can take time out with their peers to focus on what is important to them at a strategic level, without being overly clouded by all of the day-to-day matters.

AAE Executive Director Damian Hutt explains: “Leaders of associations face a unique set of challenges. Senior association executives already attend our various events internationally, but we wanted to create a space where leaders of membership organisations could hear new ideas for them and engage deeply with their peers, learning from each other. Based on feedback, we have structured the new event series to address topics such as strategic growth, member engagement, creating value and good and bad governance – the topics are selected according to local needs. All sessions are led by a professional facilitator who ensures focus and maximises the value for delegates in practical and applicable take-aways.”

The Chatham House rule will be applied to the Association Leaders’ Forums events, ensuring that participants feel free to comment without their points being attributed. This is an important aspect of the format, enabling association leaders to air concerns they might otherwise hold back on. Open dialogue is very much the focus, with all participants encouraged to speak freely about challenges and concerns where peer discussion and insight from those who have experienced similar issues can really help.

The first Leaders’ Forum in the new series will take place today 2 May in Vienna the day before the annual Associations World Congress (full report on the congress to follow!). Key topics included growing associations and membership development internationally – over 30 association executive heads attended.

The series this year is being held in London, Switzerland, Middle East, Hong Kong and India.

Photo: Damian Hutt

 

April 28, 2017

Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre’s Expansion: What’s in it for Associations?

The Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre (SECC) has presented the third phase of its expansion plans up until 2030. The planned expansion has been thought out to maximise the venue and the city of Gothenburg’s potential to grow internationally and attract more visitors. The vision? To create Europe’s most attractive venue by offering the best overall experience. The focus will be placed on building a larger main entrance with a terrace and a hotel and office complex beside Korsvägen, a central hub in the events district of Gothenburg. The plans are ready and construction of the new entrances will start in 2017.

“Our all-under-one-roof concept is very successful and attractive, and this expansion is planned to meet an even higher demand from not at least international associations. We will be able to offer a much higher capacity, not only in terms of hotel rooms but also larger entrances, flexible meeting- and conference areas and interesting food & beverage concepts. Our location, right in the centre, in the heart of Gothenburg, is really beneficial for all visitors having everything within walking distance”, says Carin Kindbom, President and CEO, SECC.

“This will give us capacity for about 350 additional hotel rooms and more office and meeting rooms,” Carin continues. “The plans also include building another hotel and office building beside Mölndalsån at a later stage. We aim to achieve a total hotel capacity of roughly 2,000 rooms by 2030.”

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