Providing Tailor-Made Solutions for Association Events

October 17, 2019

Providing Tailor-Made Solutions for Association Events

Offering meaningful experiences answering tomorrow’s travel and lifestyle needs, this is the mission that Accor set for themselves. To do so, they have created a holistic ecosystem, a portfolio of brands and services to deliver your vision.

Accor is one of the world’s largest hospitality groups, running a network of 4,900+ properties ranging from luxury, premium, and midscale to economy. Whether it is a convention, a seminar, a conference, a networking initiative, a forum, a congress, they are dedicated to your success and clearly have a space for any type of association event.

Local expertise

Accor know that the success of your events depends on the knowledge they have of your business. Inspired by the destinations, your association’s background and the message you want to convey, they work closely with local actors such as convention bureaus, congress centres or exhibition venues. On the associative event market more than ever, Accor sales teams and properties also work jointly with all the local stakeholders to get the best of every destination. Markus Keller, Senior Vice President, Global Sales at Accor, puts it this way: “Representing Accor in every corner of the world, our teams combine their strengths to deliver topline results”.

Solid event expertise

Accor have an excellent track record of hosting events, seminars, networking initiatives and educational activities for associations and host around 1,500 congresses per year – 1,450 in 2018. Across the world, their 47 Sales Offices generated a turnover of 61.6M€ in 2018 with this market alone, building up a solid event expertise and reinforcing an already strong and reliable network.

Whether you want to organize your event months or years in advance, Accor teams understand your business model, and use their wide hotel network to offer you flexible and tailored offers with the best rates for your needs.

For associations indeed, the organization to get there is as important as the events themselves. Whatever your conference needs, they have a certain way of making the planning process effortless, more cost-effective and more rewarding. So whether you’re looking for choice, savings, or flexibility, Accor might well be your next option – their dedicated support team will surely provide you with a much-needed peace of mind.

This article was powered by Boardroom and Accor. For more information on Accor’s tailor-made solutions for associations, get in touch with or visit this website.

October 15, 2019

A Hotspot for Global Health Innovation

From cancer prevention to microbiome research, and from cardiovascular education and patient care to ground-breaking medicine for stroke treatment, Calgary’s talent lays the groundwork for better quality of life, while attracting international associations. With the Rocky Mountains in the backdrop providing a healthy natural environment, the just over 1 million inhabitants of this south-western Canadian city enjoy the perfect combination of high-end education and innovative breakthroughs when it comes to Life Sciences and Health Care.

As of late, Calgary has seen a record of five-year steady growth, partly due to its start-up ecosystem, especially in the Life Sciences. The more than 200 relevant companies, start-up and mature alike, located in the wider region of Alberta have increased the growth in capital by 300% since 2008. R&D spending from these companies grew by 49% in health and biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in 2018.

A full-scale hub

Evidently, Calgary is on track to taking the reins of the sector. The University of Calgary (UCalgary) has its eye on becoming one of Canada’s top research universities, currently focusing on infections, inflammation and chronic diseases, brain and mental health and biomedical engineering. Its top-range facilities and specialized researchers enable international companies and associations to have access to innovative research.

With innovation as a priority, Calgary became the home of Innovate Calgary, the innovation transfer and business incubator centre for the UCalgary, as well as the Creative Destruction Lab, a seed-stage program for massively scalable, science-based companies.

Research clusters spread across the city complete the puzzle of the sector. The Tom Baker Cancer Centre, for example, is Alberta’s leading cancer centre in innovative research, prevention, treatment and care initiatives, with the intention of becoming the largest cancer research centre in Canada by 2024. Located in University Research Park, the Life Sciences Innovation Hub is a centre for research excellence and innovation, used by students, researchers, start-ups and companies to interact, create and explore new ideas and concepts.

The non-exhaustive list includes the leading International Microbiome Centre, Canada’s largest germ-free facility, real-time imaging and droid robotics and the Ward of the 21st Century (WC21C), a beta test site for new technologies, prototypical hospital design, novel approaches to health care delivery, and human factors research.

Conference wealth

Like-minded association conferences have seen the potential impact their meetings can have in Calgary and have been piling up. This summer the 27th Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB 2019) and the 43rdAnnual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB 2019) took place at the Calgary TELUS Convention Center attracting 2000 delegates.

Dr. Walter Herzog, Conference Chair, explained why Calgary: “With an international reputation as a global leader in the field of biomechanics (#1 ranked Faculty of Kinesiology in North America), the city of Calgary, along with the University of Calgary, was a natural choice for us. The support network that the city offers congress organizers through Meetings + Conventions Calgary, was impeccable in their backing of our organizing committee and anticipation of our needs.”

More conferences are to follow in the coming years, including the Canadian Diabetes Association 2020 Professional Conference and the International Society of Quality of Life Research 28th Annual Conference in 2021.

This article was written by Boardroom Editor Vicky Koffa. The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.


October 11, 2019

The Secret to Successful Social Value

Before planning a conference, there’s a few questions to consider: Who does this event affect? What will attendees find to be important and how can organisers incorporate these aspects? What value does the event have for society in a larger context? And what may actually be a net drain on society?

“Events respond to a need among a community or group to meet around specific themes, which can be anything from water management and horticulture to drones,” wrote RAI Amsterdam’s CSR manager, Stephanie Mathas, in a recent article. The success of your event depends on how well you can respond to the requirements of potential and current exhibitors and visitors. But there are many other needs and parties for which you can also create value—your event doesn’t take place in a vacuum, but in a context in which you encounter a variety of social needs.”

Context is key. By paying attention to the needs to the community—as well as delegates—associations can ensure they’re enhancing their event’s social value to the fullest, while tackling social challenges as they arise along the way.

Neighbourhood Venue

RAI Amsterdam is one venue that treats itself more as a neighbour than a conventional conference centre. Since the venue sits in the heart of Amsterdam, RAI Amsterdam works closely with organisers to limit noise and traffic congestion—pesky issues that inconvenience local residents. Instead of waiting for neighbours to complain about these problems, RAI Amsterdam takes a proactive approach to see how the venue (and organisers) can reduce concerns before they become critical concerns.

Another key approach for venues to find their footing in the neighbourhood is by looking to new opportunities that could offer potential value to the surrounding community or environment. It is a loss for society when any potential value that you could offer through or via your event is left unrealised, especially since there are often plenty of ways to make that happen,” Mathas writes. “Look around and get a feel for what’s going on and who might need what you have to offer. If you view your event purely as a closed economic system, you sell it short.”

RAI Amsterdam, for example, has opened up its potential value by catering to the needs of local organisations like HeenenWeer Foundation, a social service for those living in the De Pijp and Rivierenbuurt districts. Residents who are unable to walk short distances are matched with one of the foundation’s social volunteer drivers, who can transport them to the market or a doctor’s appointment. The foundation parks its electric vehicles at residential care center d’Oude Raai, which is under renovation until 2020. RAI Amsterdam acknowledged this need for temporary parking and swiftly responded to fill the gap by offering free parking facilities for the four green cars.

 “As an event organizer, you can generate a lot of value,” Mathas writes.“The question is: Who needs it? Or turn the question around: What social needs are there and how can you contribute to meeting them with your event? Finding the answers requires matchmaking, which fortunately is something our industry is good at.”

CSR Power Move

Not all waste is created—and disposed of—equally. It’s a known fact that conferences generate a variety of waste, from display materials to food from catering. But the way this waste is reused adds a new type of value, particularly when it’s donated back to the community in a manner that shows off tangible good. RAI Amsterdam will introduce the concept of a “donation room” for the first time during an event in September, offering exhibitors a list of social initiatives so they know where their donated items are being distributed in the community. A similar initiative is the ongoing partnership with the Salvation Army in Bij Bosshardt, in the north of Amsterdam, where RAI Amsterdam sponsors a free lunch programme every Thursday.

Lots of food is prepared in the kitchens of the RAI Amsterdam, and every week, part of this food, which would otherwise be thrown out, is allocated to us,” says Yvonne van Lambalgen, Bij Bosshardt Salvation Army captain. “This enables us to offer some 50 neighbourhood residents a free hot meal every Thursday. The people who come to eat here would probably not meet in other circumstances—they are often lonely individuals on a tight budget.” 

Part of RAI Amsterdam’s sustainable catering program, the Heartwarming Amsterdam concept was dreamt up years ago as a way to incorporate ingredients with added value into the venue’s kitchen—which processes 500 tonnes of food a year. Associations were increasingly asking for sustainable catering, looking for eco-friendly, seasonal, organic, and regional ingredients to serve delegates during conferences. As a response, RAI Amsterdam launched Heartwarming Amsterdam, and switched to organic and sustainable alternatives, such as sustainably caught fish from the North Sea and animal-friendly choices like free-range veal in place of meat from boxed calves. In the process, the venue supports small-scale producers in the metropolitan area and adds value to the region as a whole—not to mention doing its part to support the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Now, by sponsoring initiatives like free Thursday lunch at Salvation Army, the venue—along with the associations hosting conferences in Amsterdam—is giving back in a way that directly benefits the community.

“At Bij Bosshardt, an initiative of the Salvation Army, we think this is a great initiative by the RAI Amsterdam,” van Lambalgen says.“It helps keep people fed, and also creates valuable friendships by facilitating meetings and allowing people to enjoy a meal together. This has a positive impact on reducing loneliness in the city, and thus our society as a whole.”

This article was written by Boardroom Editor Lane Nieset. The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.


October 4, 2019

The Pros & Cons of Digital Advocacy

Margaux Rundstadler, Association Manager at Kellen, argues that, if going digital has become a prerequisite for associations, it also means it should be carefully planned and reviewed.

Embracing a digital mindset has become an essential and a daily feature of how associations communicate, persuade and inform, i.e. advocate. A successful (digital) advocacy is when the message you try to get across is well received, understood and acted upon by your intended audience. Going digital is key in order to remain competitive towards other associations and stakeholders. However, is going all digital the best strategy? How to be sure it brings added value? What are the pros and cons of digital advocacy?

The pros of digital tools

One of the main benefits of digital tools is allowing the ‘360 degrees approach’, thanks to the various channels. These can be paid channels (e.g. social media advertising), earned (e.g. press coverage), shared (social media) and owned media (website). Integrating the four media types can drive messages in a very consistent manner and help establish a certain authority. The various channels also allow tailored communication through a very granular and detailed audience segmentation.

Then, comes the significant roles played by measurement and reporting tools. Thanks to free tools such as Google and Twitter Analytics, it is now possible to measure whether an online communication strategy has had the intended outcome. Today, one can study whether the targeted audience has been reached, how many times an infographic or a white paper has been downloaded, how often a linked has been clicked on… It gives clear outcomes as well as concrete figures when reporting to the association’s staff and board members, while increasing credibility and respect for the communication function.

Another real pro of digital advocacy is the ‘democratic’ aspect of it. Prices are often cost-friendly, tools can even be free, which is the case for newsletters, surveys, online invitation, etc. They do not require significant investment and are often flexible and easy to adjust, therefore accessible by anyone.

Overall, digital tools can constitute a real differentiator towards certain competitors on the market and they are an added benefit for the association through the rapid spread of information they allow. Yet, this opens up to a potential con of digital communication, namely ‘digital fatigue’.

The downsides

One of the main issues of digital communication is the increasing ‘digitalfatigue, which is due to the rise in social media channels to follow. It therefore also makes it more difficult to stand out from others and fight for the attention of a target audience, especially as associations often target the same audiences, be they policy makers, prospect members or stakeholders. Communication styles tend to be more and more aggressive, increasing the difficulty for users to differentiate between false and true information.

However, the main challenge, or mistake, when it comes to digital communication in particular, is the lack of a concrete strategy. As digital tools are often accessible by anyone, they can be perceived as being easy to use and one could be tempted to manage as many channels as possible. This misconception can result in an excessive use of the different channels, without a defined strategy —online, as off-line channels, do require a strategy.

In addition, a solid governance and an operational planning are crucial. The more channels you use, the more difficult it is to update them all. For social media especially, there is a need for constant content feed. Hence, the strategy is key to a successful advocacy or member growth.

How to remain competitive?

Digital mindset and digital readiness go hand in hand. However, as there exists two types of generations, the digital-savvy and the reluctant ones, it is important to consider to what extent the members of an association are open to digital tools. Some audiences remain sensitive to more off-line communication styles. It is therefore important to combine on and off-line tools, in order to have a real added value for members.

The fact that digital tools allow the information to be spread quickly among the members of your target audience constitutes a real added value. To always remain competitive, it is also key to monitor the competition as well as those organisations that you work with. Keeping informed of the market is part of the digital mindset and necessary for improvements.

A best practice example

This past year, in view of the EU elections, one of Kellen’s largest associations launched an advocacy campaign to reach out to policy makers. In February, a manifesto was released, aiming at conveying the ‘wish list’ of the industry towards newly elected or re-elected Members of the European Parliament. To maximise its impact, a high-level event was organised in Brussels, for which relevant digital tools were used: e-blast of invitations, promotion of the event via social media channels, information on the website of the association, live tweets during the event, to name a few.

Following the event, a press release was issued, the manifesto went online and links were shared via promoted tweets. The association measured the number of times the manifesto was downloaded via Google Analytics as well as the number of people reached by promoted posts via Twitter Analytics. Here, the ‘360 degrees’ approach was achieved, because on- and off-line tools were used as the result of a pre-defined strategy with set goals.

The question is therefore not whether going digital is necessary to remain competitive; it has become a prerequisite. Digital tools have clear benefits especially in terms of reporting, evaluating and measuring KPIs, which are easier to do with online rather than off-line tools. It increases the efficiency of a communication strategy as well as the ability to remain ‘in the game’. With digital tools, it is easier to evaluate whether the expected outcome has been reached, whereas in the past it was more difficult. It is equally clear that an alldigital strategy without careful review and revision might be insufficient because of the risk of ‘digital fatigue’.It is therefore crucial to find the right balance between on and off-line advocacy tools. 

Margaux Rundstadler is Association Manager at Kellen, a global association management and communications company born to help build stronger not-for-profit organizations, so they can make the greatest impact ( The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.


October 3, 2019

Postcards from the Principality

A multicultural destination with an impressive reputation that offers associations high standards alongside eco-friendly facilities and stunning views, Monaco has been working hard to consolidate its position as a destination of excellence and expertise. Time has come to write about the latest novelties of a destination which seems to never stand still.

With a 2-sqkm territory, the Principality of Monaco offers international organizations the possibility to experience the assets of this small country for several days in the most ideal conditions. The city-state takes advantage of 2,500 rooms within all categories of hotels at walking distance from a high-tech, eco-certified convention centre, the Grimaldi Forum Monaco, which can accommodate from 400 to 3000 delegates.

The Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer Group inaugurated, in June 2019, its brand-new One Monte-Carlo conference centre, offering multiple options for hosting exhibitions, conventions, seminars, and cocktail receptions. The venue, with a total area of 1445 sqm and 9 meeting rooms strengthens, the MICE offer of the destination. Among those, let’s highlight the Salle des Arts. A perfect replica of the eponymous room of the former Sporting d’Hiver imitating the classic Art Deco style, it can seat up to 300 people.

Recently created

Located in the heart of the Principality, a short walk from the train station, the three-star, recently renovated Novotel Monte-Carlo offers a unique experience to its guests. It houses the Wojo Corner, a co-working space where delegates can have access to amenities such as office space, wifi, printers, etc. The hotel, with its 530 sqm of meeting rooms and a multipurpose hall of 250 sqm, can host groups up to 200 participants and brings new types of cuisine to the Principality: a food truck at the Wojo Corner, the restaurant Azzura for meals, and the Azzura Bar for coffee and snacks. In addition, the terrace on the 7th floor is the ideal place for cocktail receptions, accommodating up to 300 people.

Last but not least, the iconic Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, founded by H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco’s great-great-grandfather Prince Albert the 1st, recently createda new, exciting place, called ‘The Odyssey of Marine Turtles”. This open-air area of 550 sqm, made in the extension of the Museum overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, can be privatized in the evening for up to 100 people. Theinstallation takes guests on a fabulous discovery of sea turtles, from their life cycle to the dangers that threaten their existence, from their unique nesting habits to the actions beingtaken to preserve them.Next to this space, three new breakout rooms with sea view complete the offer of the Museum: the  Salle des Tortues  hosts up to 100 people, while the Salle Hirondelle and the Salle Princesse Alice accommodate up to 50 and 48 respectively.

The Monaco Convention Bureau will attend ICCA Annual Congress 2019 in Houston (27-30 October 2019) and IBTM in Barcelona (19-21 November 2019).

Contact: / This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.


September 30, 2019

European Industry Associations & Online Engagement

Digital technologies change the world and the way we interact with one another. Consecutive waves of innovation have created a new technological reality through which we communicate, advertise, vote, position ourselves and even build long-term relationships.

As there is almost no sector which is spared, digitalisation is also transforming the activities of European industry associations. The majority of such associations recognise the importance of integrating the digital dimension in their day-to-day activities and engaging efficiently their audience online. To remain competitive in an environment full of information and keep bringing added value to their membership, associations can consider integrating innovative digital tools to their strategy and its implementation.

Most of the associations have three key roles: 1) Advocacy – with the aim to influence decisions-makers; 2) Communication – with the aim to spread key messages to a targeted audience and 3) Management – including the administration of the association and the acquisition of new members.

To fulfil those roles, an association implements several activities which could benefit from digital tools. Here are some examples.

Communication and advocacy via social media

Social media are nowadays indispensable for engaging in communication and advocacy. For instance, out of 750 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), there are 666 active Twitter profiles[1]! Social media can enhance advocacy capacity through legislation monitoring, economic intelligence, keeping up-to-date with industry news, networking and coalitions building.

Of course, before rushing into a chaotic creation of accounts and posting random messages, an association should carefully elaborate a social media strategy. In it, the association should, among other things, select the right channels to use, elaborate on key messages, identify its audience, prepare an editorial calendar, consider “Live” posting and anticipate a regular analysis of the progress of the account

Furthermore, the association should not disqualify the possibility to develop paid campaigns as it can increase the visibility of the account and the reach of its messages. Social media is also an invaluable source of big data whose collection and analysis could help associations tailoring their advocacy campaign to their audience.

Organisation of events

Associations can make use of digital tools to increase the dissemination of their events and their outcomes. Information should be published on the association’s website before the event actually takes place, yet other websites specifically dedicated to the advertisement of events (e.g. Eventbrite) can be considered.

Moreover, associations could envisage the possibility to promote social media posts that will spread the event towards an identified audience. During the event, digital polling could be implemented to trigger more interactivity and engage the engagement in the discussion.

Members & Community

Digital tools can enable associations to engage with their members more successfully or in targeted ways. Also, online platforms (e.g. Basecamp) can facilitate the communication within an association, as well as the information exchange and documents sharing. Others (e.g. YourMembership) provide a single place for the acquisition, renewal, management, and communication with members allowing to save staff time and resources.

In fact, digitalization can easily bring people and groups together paving the way towards better community management of associations. This is especially useful for associations whose goal is to advance the interest of a particular profession towards decision-makers. Thanks to online tools (e.g. SurveyMonkey, SurveyHero), a professional association can conduct a survey among the professionals it represents to obtain their feedback and suggestions on how to proceed on a particular matter. Social media analytics (e.g. Sprout Social, Keyhole) are helpful to understand what animates the professional audience and enable the association to proactively address the issue.

Lastly, digital platforms easily provide a forum for professionals to mutually raise their awareness on a given matter affecting the sector, establish and maintain professional and social contacts.

Not without hurdles

However, digitalization does not go without hurdles, and there are a few that can be identified. The first one relates to the mindset of some organisations. Some EU associations lag behind in the process of digitalization due to the lack of understanding of how digital tools can be beneficial. Currently, 25% of the EU associations have yet to adopt online tools. By having an open-minded attitude about the benefits that digital technologies can bring, an association can open a new world of opportunities for its members.

Data protection and privacy can also be an issue. The use of online tools might involve the handling of personal data. National and European legislation (e.g. General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR) seek to protect the personal data of citizens and any infringement could entail substantial fines. For this reason, associations wishing to embrace the digital path need to make sure that all personal data processed by them is respected.

In a similar vein, the use of digital technologies opens the risk of cyberattacks whose consequences could be devastating as they can disrupt the workflow, lead to a loss of critical data and harm the image of the association and its members. Therefore, the association should take the appropriate steps to protect the data it collects and processes and the integrity of its computing assets.

The last one concerns the investments digitalizationmay imply.  While some digital tools are free, the use of others could bear considerable costs. Before kickstarting a digital transformation, the association should carefully assess its objectives and available resources in order to avoid unnecessary spending which would not bring results.

In the digital age, in conclusion, EU industry associations are challenged: new trends and new technologies require associations to adapt their operations while envisaging new ways of engaging effectively their audiences. While digital novelty brings uncertainty, it bears constant evolving opportunities and tools that associations can grasp to effectively engage their audiences. Amid disruptive technological changes, EU associations should ask how to properly tap into the potential the digital revolution offers.

This article was written by Attilio Caligiani, ESAE Board Member and Director General of the World Iodine Association (WIA), an industry association representing the interests of iodine producers, processors, formulators, distributors and end users around the world. Boardroom has an exclusive partnership with the European Society of Association Executives. For more information on ESAE, visit The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.

[1]EuVisions, MEPs on Twitter – More on:  

September 27, 2019

A Country of Superlatives

Canada can easily be called a country of superlatives. It’s where the architects of the global tech revolution live, work and research, and where the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies conduct clinical trials. It’s where you’ll find the highest concentration of Artificial Intelligence start-ups on the globe and it is home to the continent’s third-largest life science research hub—as well as the world’s largest centre of excellence for AI. These research and innovation centres aren’t just churning out data—they’re building a booming global business, and giving Canada a leading role in the process.

As Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, executive director of Global Business Events Canada puts it: “When you convene in Canada for meetings and conventions, you’ll be connected with the innovators who are shaping the future, the thought leaders who are leading the way, and the business and research architects who elevate Canada’s position on the world stage across a spectrum of industries.”

Out of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada offers the most highly educated workforce, with over 460 private and public post-secondary institutions that are grooming the “workforce of the future.” And thanks to successful sectors like Life Sciences, Technology, Agribusiness, Aerospace, CleanTech, Natural Resources and Advanced Manufacturing, the country is coming out on top as a leading competitor, making it “an alluring destination for global meetings and business events,”according to Virginie De Visscher, director of Business Development Economic Sectors, Business Events Canada. By connecting with industry and academia, planners gain important access to resources that can shape their conference agenda, help grow their membership and elevate the profile of their event on the world stage.”

Successful Sectors 

At the moment, Canada ranks fourth on the Global Cleantech Innovation Index for its work reducing carbon and cutting back on energy consumption. Écotech Québec is one organization that’s making big strides by bringing together some of the key clean tech decision makers. The Agricultural Clean Technology program is also putting $25 million toward clean technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting sustainable and clean growth.

The country’s progressive green visions aren’t going unnoticed, either. Last year, two Vancouver-based companies—Awesense and MineSense Technologies—received awards at the 2018 Cleantech Forum San Francisco, drawing major attention to the world’s third greenest city. In Calgary, the hub of Canada’s energy industry, 150 companies are employing 4,500 people in oil and clean gas technology, and the city sports a number of world-class research centres like the Clean Resource Innovation Network.

Ontario-based not-for-profit Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, meanwhile, is one of the organizations leading Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster initiative, a sector expected to have a $13.5 billion impact on the Canadian economy over the next 10 years. Over 130 participants in the supercluster, including the University of Waterloo and software developer Autodesk, are driving forward advanced manufacturing in technology like 3D printing, machine learning and cybersecurity.

Toronto in particular acts as an advanced manufacturing leader, where 250-plus companies and industry organizations collaborate on advanced manufacturing research with the University of Toronto (home to both the Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics and Toronto Institute of Advanced Manufacturing). The city of London also serves as a headquarters for a number of impressive research facilities, including the 130-acre Advanced Manufacturing Park, which houses the Wind Engineering, Energy and Environmental Research Institute (WindEEE RI), the world’s only facility that can reproduce a tornado vortex. It’s also the base of the Additive Design in Surgical Solutions Centre, which has developed innovations like 3D-printed surgical guides and jaw implants. In addition, auto parts giant Brose Canada chose London as the locale for its only Canadian facility, where two plants have stamped more than 180 million seat frames and 22.5 million seat adjusters since 2005.

In terms of aerospace, Aéro Montréal is Canada’s largest cluster, and the city helps generate 52 percent of the country’s aerospace industry sales, in addition to bringing conferences like the upcoming AHS International’s 76thAnnual Forum American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in May 2020. It’s no surprise the city is bringing conferences of this scale, considering Greater Montréal is one of the world’s three major aerospace centres (sitting alongside Seattle and Toulouse) and Québec ranks fifth worldwide in the aerospace sector.

In Ottawa—Canada’s national capital and hub for the aerospace, defence and security sector—you’ll find some of the country’s best R&D capabilities and tech innovators, from Lockheed Martin to Boeing Canada. Ottawa is also the base for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and Department of National Defence and brings large-scale conferences in the sector like the Canadian Aerospace Summit, which drew 1,200 to the 2018 edition.

Natural Beauty

The largest country in the Western Hemisphere is among the world’s largest energy producers, and in 2017 alone, Canada exported $251 billion worth of natural resources. The country boasts one of the most advanced programs for enforcing sustainable fisheries practices, in addition to the third-largest crude oil reserve. Pair these features with the fact that Canada claims the world’s longest coastline—and fourth-largest ocean territory—and you’ll see why the country is leading the way as an innovator across ocean sectors.

St. John’s, Newfoundland, is promoting Canada’s ocean economy by serving as a base for startups like Seaformatics Systems Inc., which developed the WaterLily low-speed turbine that uses water or wind to charge USB devices. And, next year, 2,000 attendees will descend on the city during the World Aquaculture Society (WAS) North America 2020 conference, the first collaboration between WAS and the Aquaculture Association of Canada (AAC) in some time. 

Food for Thought

The Greater Toronto Area ranks second-largest food industry hub in North America behind Los Angeles. And as the fifth-largest global exporter of agri-food products (generating 5.7 percent of the world’s exports), Canada is known particularly for commodities like poultry in Newfoundland and Labrador; hogs in Manitoba and Quebec; grains and oilseeds in the Prairies; and eggs in the Northwest Territories. Several companies in Québec City (a hub for food and nutrition information) are also part of the Québec Health Food Cluster, which helps market healthier, value-added products.

Canada as a whole features 19 agricultural clusters and 15 food and beverage clusters, with stand-out superclusters like the Protein Industries Canada (PIC), 145 stakeholders across the western part of the country that focus on crop breeding, production and export development. Saskatchewan is the country’s leading agricultural exporter and every variety of pulse crop grown in the province was developed at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon—a world leader in pulse crops. Regina, the province’s capital, is one of the supercluster’s active members and where corporations like DOT Technology designed breakthroughs like autonomous vehicles to replace human-operated tractors. Last October, the city attracted 120,000 attendees for the Canadian Western Agribition, the country’s largest livestock show. Another success story worth pointing out: the ISM Canada Centre of Excellence at the University of Regina, which features the world’s first data hub for agriculture, where the focus is heavily on food traceability solutions.

As Murad Al-Katib, president & CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients and 2017 EY World Entrepreneur of the Year, puts it: “The opportunity for Canada is that we’re going to be the first stop on the protein highway. The whole game now is about feeding the world, and, as we move toward 10 billion people by 2050, Regina will be the place to be to ensure we actually seize that opportunity and feed the world.”

More info on Canada as a conference destination: – This article, whose extended version is available in the September issue of Boardroom, was written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset.  The right to use this article has to be granted by the Publisher.


September 23, 2019

Recruitment is the Easy Part

Giuseppe Marletta is the Managing Director Europe at the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and President of ESAE, European Society of Association Executives. As a member of Boardroom Advisory Board, we have asked him to contribute a column on his experience. This is Giuseppe’s third contribution.

Members are the raw material of associations. That’s a rather less obvious point than it seems. Associations like the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), active in 85 countries, publish surveys and white papers, host international events, file briefs in international courts. But none of those accomplishments would mean anything without a base of people, willing to pay dues to enjoy certain benefits or promote a certain cause. (ACC has 45,000 members, which partly explains its prodigious output.)

A successful membership strategy keeps an association afloat. Broadly, that strategy should have three parts: discovery, engagement, and retention.

Discovery is what it sounds like: finding potential members. In 2019, the most effective way to do this is digitally. Social media platforms are often the best starting point for discovering a potential audience. Each platform has its own advantages and disadvantages, and attracts users who may or may not fit the profile of a potential member. Lawyers, for instance, tend to be reticent on free-for-alls like Twitter, preferring the staid, non-confrontational stability of LinkedIn. Associations involved in the arts, from interior designer to photojournalism, may have better luck on Instagram.

Facebook and LinkedIn both offer an audience-matching toolbox, with paid and free features. They let you target audiences by location (from continent to city), industry, and position. These options, like the paid advertisements that have become ubiquitous in social media, are worth the investment.

Speaking of investment, be sure to allocate adequate funds toward your outreach or social media budget. Most social media analytic metrics will be able to demonstrate return on investment (ROI) down to the cost of each new sign-up.

Engagement is simpler than discovery. It’s easy to sum up: treat your new members (actually, all your members) like people. Avoid generic form emails as much as possible. Phone calls are more personal, and more effective. Regular check-ins by phone help assure your new members that they are valued; emails rarely create that kind of connection.

Of course, phone calls are time-consuming. If you’re running a small staff, you may not have the time or manpower to call all your new members. In that case, online surveys and interactions may prove helpful. In any event, remember that newly recruited members are people. Your association is in a relationship with them.

Relationships are the hardest and most important element of membership strategy. Retention means developing a member relationship. A one-year member relationship has very little impact on your association’s bottom line; a 20-year relationship does. Retention is also the most difficult part of a membership strategy. In the words of my colleague Kerri McGovern, senior director of membership at ACC, “Recruitment is sexy. Retention is hard work.”

The secret to good retention is in the “touch,” or contact between the membership team and the member. This could be an email, a phone call, or a physical letter. Different associations have a different optimal number of touches per year, some as low as seven and some as high as 25. What’s important is the plan: how long after a new member signs up do you call them and check in; when is a letter with the CEO’s signature appropriate to send; how many emails will keep a member feeling valued but not spammed. That depends largely on your association’s larger strategic calendar.

As stated before, each touch should be as personal as possible. Some websites are equipped to track each individual member’s online engagement; if you have that capacity for that, make use of it. Demonstrating that you’re aware and appreciative of a member’s activity makes a membership renewal seem all the more inviting. And it should. Only the member can choose to continue your relationship. The point of strategy is to make them want to.

September 19, 2019

Meet in Switzerland’s Highest-Knowledge City

A congress city with a long tradition of hosting meetings of all sizes and formats, Davos is perhaps best known as the venue of the World Economic Forum, which gathers around 3,000 leading figures from the worlds of business, politics and science every year. As such, it has all the expertise and the capacity to host association events, as Professor Geoff Richards, Director, AO Research Institute Davos, can surely testify.

The highest-altitude city and the largest municipality in Switzerland in terms of surface area, Davos has since long been established as a congress, research and clinic destination. What was once only a health resort has developed into what is known today as Science City Davos. The knowledge accumulated here – primarily in the fields of natural science and medicine – has been passed on since the beginning of the 20thcentury.

In that regards, the AO Foundation leads the way in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Founded in 1958 as a medically guided, not-for-profit organization led by an international group of surgeons, it has now a global network of over 200,000 healthcare professionals.

Knowledge sharing

Director of the AO Research Institute Davos, one of the four institutes of the AO Foundation, Professor Geoff Richards has been organizing the eCM Conferences for some time now. As the place where clinicians and industry meet, it brings together, by design, a rather limited number of participants (max 200) to ensure ample opportunities for knowledge sharing in basic, translational and clinical research. In this context, scientists of all kinds, including biologists, engineers and material experts, bring clinical problems to the table, consider industrial requirements of possible solutions and often initiate collaborative projects to answer these clinical problems.

“But our flagship congress is the one that the AO Foundation has been running every year in December since 1960 in Davos and since 1969 at Davos Congress Centre”, says Professor Richards. “It brings togetheraround 1,500 surgeons from different specialties, from craniomaxillofacial and spine to trauma and veterinary and now re-con (joint replacement). The Foundation is the biggest educator in this field in the world. We run numerous courses around the world every year: there were 832 educational events (courses, seminars and symposia) in 2018, plus 53 courses for operational room personnel (ORP) and our pinnacle courses are in Davos. Overall we taught around 61,000 surgeons and 2,400 ORP last year on operations skills and basic knowledge behind surgeries.”

Historically, because there was a need for a place to hold some advanced training courses in several fields, the Davos Congress Centre (pictured) was built in 1969, where the AO Foundation world flagship courses have run ever since and where the World Economic Forum has been held every year since 1971. As Davos progressively developed into an internationally known congress location, the Congress Centre was extended in 1979, and again in 1989 and 2010, to cope with an ever-increasing number of participants. Today, Davos Congress Centre has an overall capacity of 5,000 participants.

“With respect to holding a congress at Davos Congress Centre, nearly everything can be organized for you by Davos Congress and its PCO service, which is very convenient.” says Professor Richards. “Accommodation can be booked through their website, from budget hotels to all-stars facilities. In general, rates are cheaper than in the rest of Europe, and the quality is good. Davos Congress Centrecan cater to all needs from budget congresses to high-end events such as the World Economic Forum of course, which I personallyattend each year. The venue is really of top quality and its staff very flexible and professional. There are many rooms that can be used for parallel meetings and its large, lecture hall can accommodate up to 1,800 pax. I have just run my eCM congress on bone infection there, and it was flawless.”

More info on and on Switzerland: This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve. The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.


September 16, 2019

A Brief Guide to Association Digitalization

Digitalization is already underway, so embracing it is not a matter of if, but instead of when and how. In this article, Frank M. Waechter takes a look at the most effective strategies and solutions that associations can use to achieve this.

According to the World Economic Forum, digitalization is one of the key disruptors of the 21st-century[1]. This process has caused profound changes in the way we interact and go about our lives, and has also transformed the nature of work and organizations. Ernst & Young suggests that the digital transformation is here to stay[2], and so it’s essential for associations to jump on board, embrace the digital mindset, and bring added value to their members – especially to new generations who are digital natives.

Should Your Association Go “All Digital”?

The first step to kick-start a digital transformation strategy is deciding what to implement, how to do it, and in which time frame. Although it might be tempting to go “all-in” on digital, this isn’t always practical or necessary. Implementation success rates seem to be rather low – under 30% according to the McKinsey survey[3].

On the other hand, those who are successful take an incremental approach to digitalization. Digital organizations don’t become so overnight, they work and rework their strategy until they are able to create new and stronger forms of engagement with their members. Therefore, it is wise to make gradual changes strategically, using carefully chosen digital tools to enhance existing and more traditional operational models.

Low-Cost, High Impact Solutions

Mindset is as important as tools when it comes to the digitalization of associations. The process starts with building digital skills into the association’s culture[4], bringing key stakeholders on board, and breaking down silos before going all out. You can achieve this with limited financial resources – it all starts with the right mindset and with the disposition to make small-scale changes that have a significant impact.

Free content analytics tools are an excellent place to start. These tools enable data-driven decision making, which forms the basis for digital strategy. With this anticipatory intelligence, you can discover which content drives interaction best and which digital technologies your members are already using. The information can be used to predict what your members need and to formulate digital marketing campaigns using the format and channels your members prefer.

For example, setting up an online community on a social media platform allows members to share and network 24/7 using tools with which they are already familiar. Some organizations, such as the Association for Clinical Research Professionals, have created their online community platforms[5], whereas others (like Trades Union Congress) offer their members online training in a webinar format[6], all through their website.

Another cost-effective tool is marketing automation. While not free, these software packages can save on labour costs and, at the same time, deliver highly targeted communications that reach the right person with the right message at the right time. Also, consider the products or services your association already offers and how can they be digitalized. With marketing automation, it is possible to segment members based on their interests and goals, and offer them tailored content.

Digital tools such as machine learning or artificial intelligence have enormous potential for success, and they don’t need to be costly. Chatbots can be quickly built on social media platforms and drive a conversational approach to member interaction. And since they can learn autonomously and become more accurate over time, they are a sound investment.

Other Opportunities

Conferences and events are other areas of opportunity. Event apps are replacing printedconference guides, making them more portable and user-friendly. Organisations like the National Association of College and University Business Officers are building membership value into their events using year-round, multi-event apps that not only deliver smooth registration, networking and personalized content but also engagement, interaction and intelligence[7].

Another example of how digitalization can strengthen the reach of events: BILD[8], a Toronto-based land management association, went paperless for its annual awards event. To do so, they implemented a CSP (content services platform), which bridges the gap between digital experience management (DxM) and content management. For the annual event, this move allowed members to submit and manage applications on a self-serve basis, reducing greatly time-related inefficiencies and risks of human error. Content management systems can be pricey, but there are affordable options too. In the beginning, association leaders may want to explore basic packages and solutions, making sure their features target the most important goals for a particular event.

The digitalization of associations is complex and multi-faceted, but its benefits outweigh the challenges. Taking a gradual approach to digital transformation can help your association remain competitive, future-focused and member-oriented. Start taking steps now to give your association a strategic advantage and establish it as a trusted leader in your field. It is never too late to become digitally aware and lead transformation successfully.

This article was provided by IAPCO, the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers, author Frank M. Waechter, founder and CEO of | Digital Marketing. IAPCO represents today 135 companies comprised of over 9,100 professional congress organizers, meeting planners and managers of international and national congresses, conventions and special events from 40 countries. \ \ The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.