Korea and Associations: A Love Story ?

June 27, 2017

Korea and Associations: A Love Story ?

Korea now ranks in the #1 spot worldwide for global congresses hosted the previous year, according to the most recent International Meetings Statistics Report released by the Union of International Associations (UIA), reflecting the country’s strong growth. Boardroom asked Mr. Kapsoo Kim, Executive Director of the Korea MICE Bureau at Korea Tourism Organization, to explain what makes Korea such a great association destination.

Can you explain how Korea caters to international associations?

In Korea, there is a dedicated team of professionals, including local convention bureaus, convention centres, and service providers to help organize and execute business events in the country. We, Korea MICE Bureau, act as a liason between these professionals and international associations. In addition, we work closely with these international associations’ local counterpart or in the absence of which, we link them to universities and other local associations who are experts of their given field. This way, we are able to host international meetings in Korea, open an entire new knowledge pool, and also provide these associations an excellent support program – be it marketing, financial support, etc.

(the complete details of the Korea Convention Support Program can be found here.)

Can you talk about the knowledge clusters, the expertise there is in Korea and that associations can relate to?

Regional attractions add to the colorful spectrum of Korea’s MICE destinations. While Seoul, the capital city of Korea, hosts diverse international conventions, other major regions has its own cultural/touristic charm and specialized industry, making it even more appealing together with its beautiful convention centers equipped with modern facilities. This way, organizers can choose the destination that best suits their group’s needs and preferences.

In terms of MICE regions and specialized industries, among many others, I can mention Incheon and water management, Daegu and textile and water industries, self-driving cars and IoT-based wellness, Busan and offshore plants, film, and marine tourism. Lesser known but deserving destinations include Gyeonggi and IT and public safety, Gangwon and bioenergy, smart healthcare and tourism and Daejeon and science & technology, Asian wine, advanced sensors and biopharming.

(A list of local convention bureaus in Korean can be found here.)

How do you see the future of Korea as a business events destination?

Korea ranks 1st in the recent UIA International Meetings Statistics produced this June. On the other hand, Korea ranked 13th place on the latest ICCA rankings; however, Korea has exceptionally exceeded the other top 10 countries in terms of the number of international delegates where it ranked 9th with approximately 160,000+ international meeting delegates from 267 meetings.

Just by looking at these numbers, we are confident at the positive growth of the Korea as a MICE destination. Moreover, with Samsung, Hyundai, and LG becoming a household name – Korea is gaining more attention from the science and technology industry. Their technological breakthroughs highlight Korea’s great pool of industry innovators and leaders who are very much willing to address the international community through congress and scientific convention in the country. They are not only great source of innovation but are also great source of network.

In addition, the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games is also contributing to the vast infrastructure development in the country, creating more accommodation options, venues, and impressive transportation network, including the speed train which reduces the 5-hour travel time from Seoul to Gangwon province to 2.5 hours!

June 21, 2017

Association Salary Survey – A Report

Operating in Brussels for more than 10 years placing many candidates in public affairs, communication and association leadership positions, Ellwood Atfield has launched a new 28-page report on remuneration within European associations. Through regular contacts with clients and candidates they have amassed considerable data on compensation packages in Brussels, across sectors and seniority levels. The core of this salary report is based on an in-depth survey we finalized in 2017 of over 200 senior association secretariat staff.

Words Mark Dober, Senior Director, Ellwood Atfield

EU-focused associations are big business. According to the Federation of European and International Associations (FAIB) there are 2,265 associations based in and around Brussels, which have a total estimated annual income of €2.9 billion, and employ 13,400 people. These include professional associations representing specific professions; important Non-Governmental Organisations; and some 1,600 European trade associations representing business sectors.

The key finding of our previous remuneration analysis was that salaries in Brussels vary enormously. Again we found this to be the case with associations, across all levels of seniority. There are a number of new elements presented here, including job satisfaction. Notably, according to our 2017 study of senior staff in Brussels-based European associations, almost three-quarters reported being happy or very happy in their jobs. There are many reasons and interesting personal examples behind this data. In our one-to-one interviews we do find tremendous satisfaction amongst association leaders which is often explained by a strong sense of freedom to operate, and long term thinking, especially compared to corporate environments.

Overall European association salaries are considerably higher than those found in the general Belgian economy, reflecting the premium paid for European affairs positions, which attract high calibre staff from around the European Union. Although association staff are relatively well paid they are also highly taxed; data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that Belgium has the highest income taxes in the developed world. Belgian taxation partly explains why associations do not tend to have a strong bonus culture. According to our research almost half of secretariat staff receive no bonus whatsoever, and only about 15% receive more than a 10% annual bonus. However, there are a number of perks and benefits available to association staff in Belgium, which are less common elsewhere. For instance, cars In Belgium with the free use of fuel are fairly common for senior staff due to their relatively favourable tax treatment.

While some Brussels Director General (DG) salaries may seem high, they are not the highest in the world. On a recent visit to meet our Washington DC headhunter associates at Lochlin Partners we discovered that the average DG/CEO of a US trade association earns in excess of US $650,000. Indeed, the US Chamber of Commerce CEO earns more than US $6 million in base salary and bonus per year. DGs can also earn very high salaries in other European jurisdictions where we operate especially when running international associations in Geneva. In the UK, Ellwood Atfield recently partnered with the Trade Association Forum to survey salaries from 102 trade associations that together employ 1,530 staff. According to the research UK DGs typically earn £73,000 to £124,000 with a number earning up to £332,000 per annum excluding bonus. The detailed report is available on request.

 Association Leaders

Whether salaried or independent the DG of a European association statistically speaking on average earns €144,550 income per year. Around one-quarter of DGs are employed as independent contractors, with the rest operating as salaried employees of the association.

Although around half of independent DGs earn €120,000 up to €210,000, over 40% of Independent DGs we surveyed earn €210,000 – €350,000 per annum, with a fortunate few earning more than €350,000. Of the salaried employee DGs, just over a quarter earn less than €100,000, almost 40% earn €100,000 – €160,000, and just over 30% earn €160,000 to €300,000 with only a very few earning higher amounts. Salaried DGs enjoy the highest amounts of benefits with the majority having meal vouchers, group pension plans, smartphones, private healthcare, car leases and petrol cards.

According to our research, the majority of heads of policy or public affairs in trade associations are highly experienced, with almost 70% having between 10 and 20 years’ work experience since leaving university. Around 85% are salaried employees and 15% are self-employed. Almost two-thirds of Heads of Policy earn under €100,000, while only around one-fifth earn €120,000 to €200,000, with a fortunate few earning higher amounts normally as independents.

According to our research, 85% of policy officers in trade associations have less than 10 years’ work experience, and nearly all are salaried employees. The vast majority of policy officers or public affairs managers earn less than €80,000 per annum. The average salary for this category is around €45,000 with around 40% earning less than €40,000 per annum.

Communication roles

Interestingly, around two-thirds of heads of communications are women, and the majority are highly experienced with over 15 years’ of work experience. Around 70% earn less than €100,000 as a gross salary, and only 20% earn more than €120,000.

Communication managers are less experienced, with around three quarters having less than 14 years’ of experience. Salaries are much lower, with the vast majority earning less than €70,000 per annum. The overall average salary for communications managers is around €55,000.

In our experience, money is only one part of overall job satisfaction, it is also about having positive colleagues and bosses, work/life balance, job autonomy, career development opportunities, job security, and possibly even a higher purpose to what you do. European association jobs typically tick many of these boxes.

This report is available for free download here.

June 14, 2017

The Agile Asian Association: A Perspective

Reflecting from Manila, Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta argues that Asian associations need to be agile organizations – active, quick to adapt to changes, and business savvy – especially in this age of disruption. To achieve this, Asian associations must strive to be well-governed and professionally managed.

Having been an association executive for the last 25 years (and counting) and having had the opportunity to travel to many countries around in Asia and Pacific and elsewhere because of my work, I can say that I am a living witness to the phenomenal economic growth of the region over the years. With this journey to progress, I also noted how associations have evolved with a sense of purpose and commitment to be part of this development process.

I have also learned quite a bit about associations in the U.S. having been a long-standing member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). So, I could say that in my case, I am fortunate to know about association governance and management from both perspectives of “the east and the west”.

Governance in many associations in Asia, and in particular, in the Philippines, however, has not kept in pace with governance developments elsewhere in both the non-profit and corporate worlds. Most associations in the region adopt the board governed and managed model or so-called “volunteer-run” type unlike the board-management delineated model or “volunteer-driven, staff-run” one that is pre-dominant in U.S. associations and which is in the same mould as corporate governance.

A typical association governance structure consists of the board of directors (or trustees) who are elected by members and who acts in their behalf, committees, task forces, components (or chapters) and staff. In the “volunteer-run” (VR) model, this governance system is undertaken solely by volunteers who are not compensated for their work. The difference between the two models lies in the staff complementation. As contrasted with the VR model, in the “volunteer-driven, staff-run” (VDSR) version, the management staff, headed by a chief staff officer (CEO or executive director) is composed of professionals, i.e., salaried employees.

Based on the study of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), hereunder are some basic differences between the two models.

  • Activity focus – In the VR model, activity focus in associations is built around successful programs and short-term membership services while in VDSR, activities are driven by strategic priorities and professional business planning in a holistic view, with focus on the return of investment (ROI).
  • Strategy positioning – Emerging needs and market opportunities are restrained by lack of resources in the VR model while in the VDSR, resources are proactively planned with a focus on integration and delivery of strategy.
  • People resource availability – In VR, knowledge and talent are not that steady since they are based on volunteer availability while in VDSR, knowledge and talent allocation is planned, recruited and cultivated, hence, knowledge is stored and retrievable.
  • Community dimension – A responsive community with key drivers is how best to describe the VR model while in VDSR, the community is multi-driven by as many in the group.

It is apparent from the above-cited differences that the VDSR model would be a better option to emulate and adopt by associations in this part of the world and this is what the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) has been advocating on. But this is easier said than done.

Read the rest of the article in the second issue of Boardroom. You can download it here.

Bobby Peralta is presently the Secretary General of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), the focal point of 106 development banks and other financial institutions engaged in sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. He is also currently the Secretary General of the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDFI), the umbrella organization of 328 development banks in 154 countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, and the Middle East. With over 25 years of experience as an association executive, Bobby Peralta is a long-standing member of and contributor to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the CEO & Founder of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE).


June 7, 2017

Reading the Culture Map in a Global World

The editors of Convene chose to look at globalization through a cultural lens. They give voice to a business professor whose research offers interesting insight into how culture affects business relationships in global settings.

Are you a peach or a coconut? The answer to that question describes your personal interaction style, according to a model developed by Erin Meyer, a professor at international business school INSEAD in Fountainbleau, France. And — as is the premise for her book The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business — your answer is largely influenced by the cultural system in which you were raised.

Meyer, who was born in the United States, shared her insights into navigating cultural differences in areas relevant to meetings last summer at PCMA’s Global Professionals Conference – Europe, held at the end of August at Palais des Congrès de Paris. In her work, Meyer has created a set of scales in eight key areas, such as trusting, scheduling, and evaluating, and ranks countries according to where they fall along a spectrum.

Two Types of Trust

In “peach” cultures, including the United States, people tend to be friendly — soft, like a peach — with strangers or those they have just met. But after some small talk with a peach person, you get to the pit, where the peach protects his or her real self. In these cultures, Meyer said, friendliness isn’t the same thing as friendship.

In “coconut” cultures, people are less open (like the hard shell of a coconut) with those they don’t already know. It takes a while to get to know coconut people, but as you do, they become friendlier and open up. Relationships are built slowly.

What might that mean for international meeting professionals, whose conferences are now attracting participants from around the globe?, Convene asked Meyer. More specifically, how do you accommodate attendees from countries for whom building personal relationships takes more time and is a necessary precursor to building trust — and therefore doing business — with others? Those countries include Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Japan, China, and India — and to a lesser extent, France, Italy, and Spain.

Scheduling plentiful and longer networking breaks to enable this kind of meaningful interaction is more important than ever at international events, Meyer said. “Instead of a five-minute quick break,” she said, “make your networking breaks at least a half-hour long.”

Time Warps

Meyer brought up another cultural challenge when it comes to meetings — scheduling, which has more to do with managing your own expectations than building the conference itinerary. Certain cultures (see above list, with the exception of Japan), are more flexible in their approach to time than others (including the United States, Germany, and Switzerland), Meyer said, so you should expect to see attendees from the more time-flexible cultures enter and leave sessions without regard for the schedule. Which, in turn, requires flexibility on the part of time-obsessed North American meeting organizers.

In Africa, “the idea that things would start on time and end on time, and that the schedule would be followed more or less to the minute — just forget it,” Meyer told Convene in an earlier interview. South Africa, including Johannesburg and Cape Town, are exceptions, she said. But in general, “if you’re in Africa, then that’s the most flexible time part of the world.”

“The whole focus is going to be on flexibility and adaptability and relationship building,” she continued, “and speakers will go way over or go way under, and everyone is very relaxed about it. Those are emerging markets, and if you live in Africa, you have to be extremely flexible in order to be successful. That just carries over into all aspects of business.”

Read the rest of the article in the second issue of Boardroom. Download it here.

June 1, 2017

Zurich Walks the Sustainability Talk 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 24, 2017

KES International – An Ideal Platform for Knowledge Dissemination

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

Interview Rémi Dévé

Can you explain what Kes International is about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you find most challenging as an association executive?

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

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

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

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

May 17, 2017

Associations Going Global – Common Oversights

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

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

Branding and Positioning

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

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

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

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

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

Business and Community Models

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

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

May 9, 2017

220 Associations Convene in Vienna for a World Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winners included:

Executive Director of the Year : Anthony Wilkinson, RQA

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

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

Conference Development : A2P2 – EAPPC | BEAMS | MEGAGAUSS 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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



May 3, 2017

Understanding Cultural Differences in a Global World

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

Words Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 27, 2017

Making a Convention Centre “International”

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

Words Geoff Donaghy – AIPC President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition to his role as AIPC President, Geoff Donaghy is CEO at ICC Sydney (the International Convention Centre Sydney) and Director of Convention Centres AEG Ogden.

Photo: ICC Sydney