An Emerging Knowledge-Based Economy in Rwanda

January 14, 2018

An Emerging Knowledge-Based Economy in Rwanda

A relatively newcomer in the meetings world, Rwanda is shaping up as one of East Africa’s premier business tourism destinations, thanks to the efforts made by the government and its partners to help strengthen and grow the sector. Betting on a knowledge-based economy, the country’s continuing growth can indeed be attributed to its good governance and sound fiscal discipline, as well as to the commitment from both its public and private sectors to build a more equitable country. Words Rémi Dévé

There is definitely something going on in Rwanda and its capital city Kigali. Over the past decade, the government and the private sector have invested massively in building the right infrastructure, skills, and institutional frameworks to provide an environment that is conducive to making a profound change in the country: from the establishment of higher institutions of learning, like the African Leadership University, University of Global Health equity or AIMS university, to the laying of fiber-optic cable nationwide, this landlocked territory is overcoming all obstacles and moving forward.

The idea has indeed been to transform into a knowledge-based nation. Unlike most African nations, Rwanda has limited natural resources. Far from being a limitation, this has presented an opportunity for the country to take an approach to development that differs from that of its neighbors—an approach where information and communication technologies (ICTs) form the foundations of its plans to fundamentally transform its economy. At the beginning of the century, Rwanda drew up a blueprint—dubbed Vision 2020—for how to achieve this goal. Adopted in 2000, it outlined several initiatives, programs, and strategies for transforming Rwanda into a middle-income country and transitioning its agrarian economy into an information-rich, knowledge-based and service-oriented one by 2020. Rwanda’s unique experience has also been driven by strong partnerships among the regulatory, policy, and implementing bodies.

The business events sector lies at the heart of this transformation. As Rwanda and Kigali host more and more international meetings —the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Global African Investment Summit, the African Union Summit (AU), the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), and The World Academy of Sciences, just to name a few— the Convention Bureau, which was one of the first established in East Africa, has been instrumental in getting the destination on the map. As a result, out of 39 countries, Rwanda placed 5th in Africa in the 2016 ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) rankings, while Kigali placed 3rd among the continent’s top cities for meetings, conventions and events.

Ranked 1st as the safest country in Africa and 9th in the world by the World Economic Forum in 2017, Rwanda is indeed quickly becoming a destination of choice for international conferences, with infrastructure development including the Kigali Convention Centre and the growing presence of international hotel chains, collectively offering numerous meeting spaces.

The full version of this article will be published in the next issue of Boardroom, due out early February.

January 5, 2018

Building Connections with BestCities in Tokyo

Comprised of twelve convention bureaus partnering to help associations achieve success through their events, the BestCities Global Alliance has, for some time now, put in a lot of efforts on education, best practice, and advocacy within the meetings industry. After a successful first forum in Dubai, the second edition, themed ‘Building Global Connections Across Cultures’ took place in Tokyo in December 2017. Words Rémi Dévé

Championing inclusivity and multi-culturalism within the meeting tourism industry in 2018 and beyond: that was the aim of the second BestCities Global Forum and on that matter the four-day programme, packed with thought-provoking sessions and plenty of networking opportunities, definitely delivered. Fifty or so delegates coming from all over the world and all kinds of associations took part in workshops and informative presentations learning about cultural management and intelligence, while looking at ways of establishing purposeful meetings, and acquiring practical skills they can apply to their day to day work back home and future events.

What is the BestCities Global Alliance ?

The BestCities Global Alliance is a worldwide partnership of convention bureaux whose objective is to deliver the world’s best convention bureau practices for the meetings industry. The Alliance comprises of members in Vancouver, Bogota, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Houston, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo, Madrid and Berlin. The members exchange business leads, organise sales missions and client workshops as well as sharing best practices and knowledge on the international meetings industry. Not only does BestCities work alongside the association through all phases of their events, they also ensure that this support continues year over year.

A means to an end

In his introductory address, Paul Vallee, Managing Director of the Alliance, explained: “What we can help with is providing value beyond pure tourism benefits. Associations have a higher purpose than just the organisation of meetings, which must become more than simply well planned events, with an increasing focus on their lasting impact and success in the long-term. For destinations and associations, events in general should be regarded as a means to an end, not an end in itself. And BestCities can help in the matter. In fact, that’s exactly what we want to promote with our Incredible Impacts grants, which were just given out to the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis (ISTH), the World Parkinson Coalition (WPC) and the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT): those were really chosen as examples of excellence and what can be best done in the meeting industry.

In fact, the possible – and now necessary – legacy component of meetings was what a lot of delegates took away from the Forum. Theo Tunga, Head, Operations Service, of Geneva-based ITU Telecom, clearly realised that is something his organisation could work more on. Recognising that our association events can go “beyond tourism” in areas such as legacy development, sustainability and accessibility was really an eye-opener for me. And the fact that an alliance like BestCities can help us just do that and advance the purpose of our associations by helping to create lasting legacies was, in a way, reassuring. We’re not alone in this he said.

Collaborating on strategic outcomes with international associations, while really understanding what they want to achieve and what they’re about from the inside out, the BestCities network conducts and shares detailed event research to aid planners in creating innovative meeting outcomes. In addition, they work closely with local industry stakeholders while also providing access to global knowledge and contacts. In this context, most of the associations present at the Forum came to understand BestCities’ added values when organising events.

Cathedral thinking

On the content front, the session led by Rick Antonson on cathedral thinking proved to be very popular. In the Middle Ages, building a cathedral was considered one of the greatest works that a community could undertake. But constructing such a monument was an endeavour of such scale that they would often take decades or even centuries to finish. The people that laid the foundations would do so in the almost certain knowledge that they would never live to see the finished product.

Like the craftsmen that laid the first stones at Notre Dame, today’s leading scientists, business leaders and creative innovators are beginning to think in terms of a new kind of wealth – the handing down of purposeful and life-affirming projects that only their grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren, will see bear fruit. Medical industries might be the epitome of cathedral thinking: it’s very likely that scientists trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease won’t be around when there will be one. Rick Antonson urged the audience to think about what they can cause, not only what they can do, and to reflect on the kind of long-term legacies that meetings can have.

Other sessions explored the impact of culture in business intelligence and the Hofstede’s cultural dimension model or how workplace values are affected by culture. In partnership with the Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau – the organisation was smooth and flawless to say the least, with the best timekeeping I have ever experienced! – the Forum also of course offered attendees a few cultural activities in order to explore Japan’s unique heritage.

Has your association a great legacy programme? Has your last conference left something great behind?  You could apply for and win an Incredible Impact grant from BestCities, in partnership with the International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA). For more information, visit


December 21, 2017

Defining Innovation & Creating an Intrapreneurial Culture

In over a decade at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), Michael Walsh has seen a large amounts of transformation within the sector. The Director of Strategy and Innovation shares with Boardroom what innovation and technology mean to him, how to keep pace with consumer behaviour, and how to adapt to a changing workforce.

Innovation vs. technology

Nobody knows technology inside a venue more than Michael Walsh, as he has led the venue’s technology since its build in 2006. In his current role, Michael oversees marketing, communications, business and innovation. To him, innovation can be defined as “change that adds value” – and this has sometimes nothing to do with technology.

An example of a recent innovation at MCEC? the recent launch, at the venue, of Shed Cafe inside the exhibition area. “The idea for Shed Cafe came from our front-of-house and kitchen staff who identified the existing cafe was in the wrong location – tucked away from where people congregate and pass by. We invested half a million dollars to relocate the cafe and it’s now one of our most successful revenue earners” says Michael.

Keeping pace with consumer behaviour

As consumers demand faster internet speeds, more live content, high definition presentations and zero tolerance to internet dark spots – so too do event organisers and attendees.

Walsh says events at MCEC are adopting a hybrid model where audiences can access content remotely and in person. Recently, CISCO ran their annual conference at MCEC where live social media updates were displayed across the venue, generating almost 7,000 tweets from the event – a 20 per cent increase from the previous year.

Creating a culture of innovation

A key part of Walsh’s role is creating and continually fostering a culture of innovation. The MCEC do this through an internal innovation or intrapreneurial program called THINK.

“THINK is about cultivating ideas from our workforce and not just the executive team” says Walsh. Staff at all levels are encouraged to submit their ideas for change that adds value via an online forum. The ideas go directly to the business innovation team who then work with senior management to explore them further.

MCEC’s Visualisation Studio was born out of THINK and allows event planners to create a virtual 3D model of their event space. The technology enables better event planning and a sales tool for event planners to pitch their event and even sell tickets.

Flexible spaces

“To create a truly innovative space, we listened to our customers. There is demand for greater efficiencies when it comes to hosting events. Businesses want to avoid logistical nightmares moving large groups of people from a large convention centre to an intimate gala dinner space” says Walsh.

As work is underway for MCEC’s expansion to a 70,000 square metre space, the focus is on delivering what Walsh calls flexible spaces. Due to open in mid-2018, the new MCEC will allow the same space to be transformed from a meeting to a black tie event within hours.

No replacement for human contact

When asked what the future of innovation within the events sector looks like, Walsh pinned an increasingly hybrid approach using both technology and face-to-face contact.

Walsh says there will be more frequent and better use of event based mobile apps and SMS allowing participants to access content. He also expects to see better use of social media including live streaming through platforms such as Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, “… but nothing will replace the need for human contact” he said.

This article was sponsored by Business Events Australia. Contact them today and find out for yourself why there’s nothing like Australia for business events. Simon Gidman / Business Events Manager, UK/ Europe / T: +44 207 438 4633 / /

December 15, 2017

The Importance of Empathy Within Associations

openIt is the very essence of associations to gather different kinds of individuals and personalities, most of the time coming from the world over, around a single cause. Franco Viviani, President of the International Council for Physical Activity and Fitness Research (ICPAFR), reflects here on the notion of empathy and what it means for associations.

In international associations, it is not uncommon to find different human typologies, each of them with different backgrounds. For anthropologists and sociologists, a Chinese is, for instance, the product of a society composed of interdependent individuals. In Asia, individuals adapt to the situation because they do not want to break the harmony of the whole. Good relations with others are of paramount importance, resulting in a strong sense of belonging for every member of the group. For example, if exercising on a regular basis is considered to be a good thing by the group, the individual will never jeopardize the equilibrium with, say, his or her laziness.

Different is the American, who can be considered as independent. Americans consider their individual rights as inalienable, and constantly struggle to show their uniqueness. If, for example, they decide to register to a gym to lose weight, they will experience huge satisfaction when achieving the goal. Contrary to the Asians, Americans focus on the product (the ideal weight) and not on the process.

What happens

One question at this point: how can empathy actually happen when culture seems to determine the way people think and behave? Association executives and members have to be aware of cultural differences, in order to interpret desires, goals, and aspirations of their peers the right way.

But first, what is empathy exactly? An emphatic relationship requires from us to let go, but, at the same time, to take a step back. We all have the capacity to share our feelings with others, something that the Germans call Einfϋhlung, or “feeling into”. “Fellow feeling” was conceptualized by Adam Smith, a 18th-century economist: everybody can have the sensation – good or bad – that what is happening to others is happening to them as well. And, more than a decade ago, neuroscientists started to recognize different kinds of empathy, all of them connected to the fact that humans share what the psychologists call “the Theory of Mind”, ie the capacity to understand not only the emotions and feelings of others, but also their beliefs and intentions. That way we can anticipate and hopefully act accordingly.

Clearly, some components of empathy are simple, others complex. For example, compassion includes the motivation to act when we see someone suffer. Cognitive empathy, in addition, is defined as the ability to “put oneself in someone else’s shoes” and understand their feelings. The most studied aspect is emotional empathy, ie the capacity to share another’s feelings by entering that person’s behavioural state. These three components are critical for our social life: mastering them is fundamental to build good relationships.

Recently, empathy started to be taught at trainings, with the aim to resolve disputes. Chariness is here requested because this complex emotion has many nuances, depending on the circumstances in which it appears. For some scientists it is a sort of “Russian doll”, in appearance very simple, but in reality very complex as we get to the core of its mechanism. What is interesting is the fact that empathy and kindness don’t always go together, as empathy tends to appear if the other person is close to us. This must be kept in mind in international settings.

Interpersonal Relationships

Empathy also often softens the relationships in circumscribed groups (family and friends), but doesn’t necessarily improve the dealings with outsiders. Recently, considering the pseudo-virtues of empathy Bloom & Davidson argued that the outcomes of its exaltation go in the opposite direction to the starting assumptions. Empathy is not an ethical guiding light, as the attention focuses on a few individuals and its field of action is limited. In short, empathy is valid for interpersonal relationships, but can become harmful when it appears in broader circumstances. In this context, the notion of public opinion is antithetic to that of empathy, as it implies a contrast of ideas and not identification among peers.

Back to the associations. As they are generally formed by individuals who share common goals, empathy may be useful to mollify interpersonal relationships. Some of them, who clearly play a role in globalization processes, lack empathy, as they don’t see or impact the general public. They are testament of what I call the “cosmopolitan eradication” of the gated communities of the international metropolises, like London, New York, Dubai, or Singapore, in which they work. Social networks, with their filter bubbles, echo chambers and one-to-one marketing, encourage closed communities of like-minded individuals and discourage openness.

If associations need to promote empathy, some measures can be taken, starting, for instance, with the inclusion of women, particularly in the board, as research shows that women tend to be empathic than men. Empathic efforts can also include individuals of different ages and cultural background – young people may display a diffused intelligence that counterbalances the crystalized one of the senior executives. They are also more open, especially if raised in an international context. Different backgrounds indeed exert multiple influences on cognition. For example, different mother languages impart different cognitive abilities, and that can promote nuanced inclinations towards empathy.

Future research will clarify whether or not empathy has been overestimated. For the moment, we can use it cautiously, in well-defined circumstances, bearing in mind that putting oneself in other people’s shoes can have unexpected consequences.

This article was contributed by Franco Viviani, President of ICPAFR, University of Padua, FISPPA & Biomedicine Departments.


December 7, 2017

Introducing ICC Wales

With other regions in the UK well established as key players in hosting international conferences, Wales felt it was time to claim a spot on the meetings industry map. The construction of a large scale convention centre in the region already attracts a lot of attention from the global association market. Words Vicky Koffa

As soon as the decision for the location of the first ever International Convention Centre for Wales was made, building work began on the site in June 2017. The grounds of the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport offered an easily accessible site for the new Centre as it is adjacent to the M4 and just over two hours from London and close to Newport’s main line train station as well as the international airports at Cardiff and Bristol. Due for completion in June 2019, ICC Wales will provide a variety of facilities, such as total floor space for meetings, conferences, exhibitions and events of 26.000sqm, including a 4.000sqm pillar-free main hall, a 1.500 seated auditorium, 12 flexible meeting rooms, a double-height glass atrium and a 2.500sqm outdoor plaza for outside events and teambuilding.

With important universities covering all fields from Art to Medicine, such as the Bangor University and the Cardiff University, and high quality hospitals and research facilities, ICC Wales is eager to attract major international conferences in line with the knowledge opportunities the city has to offer.

Ian Edwards, Chief Executive of ICC Wales commented: “The hosting of large events like the 2014 NATO Summit or the Ryder Cup in 2010 showed that Wales has an appetite to be a contender in the meetings industry. With the building of ICC Wales, which will open in 2019, we will be able to accommodate large-scale conferences for up to 5,000 delegates, which we simply couldn’t do before. That way, the ICC will compete with leading venues around the world and, crucially, for the first time, position Wales as a leading business tourism destination, complete with prestigious universities, amazing hospitals and altogether some high-level knowledge you can’t find anywhere else.” 

A joint venture between the owners of the Celtic Manor Resort and Welsh Government, it is managed by Celtic Manor’s leadership team and has already two large scale conferences booked at the venue – Alzheimer’s Research UK Conference in March 2020 and the venue’s inaugural event – The Hospitality and Catering Expo in July 2019. Led by Dr Rosa Sancho, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Alzheimer’s two-day annual conference will feature presentations from researchers and clinicians as well as opportunities to network and forge collaborations.


December 4, 2017

Breaking Down Brexit for Associations

Just because the UK is leaving the EU, it doesn’t mean they should be left out of the conversation. Now is the time for associations to refocus and adapt to an already changing world. Despite a lack of clarity about the effects of Brexit and what this means for associations, many are looking at this decision as an opportunity to effect change and create EU-wide coalitions. – Words Lane Nieset

“When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” This quote from scientist Alexander Graham Bell couldn’t ring more true today in the time of Brexit, a political situation Europe hasn’t faced and quite frankly, isn’t sure how to face. “We’re not quite certain what questions to ask since the situation changes each day, each week,” explains Dr. Rachel Barlow, senior advisor to Ellwood Atfield and Co-founder of the Association Leadership Academy, whose clients include international and EU business associations. “The UK government doesn’t seem to be in a strong negotiation position with the EU, which is what the EU wants; they want a solution to this.”

With trade between the UK and the rest of the EU worth over €600 billion per year, the UK industry is now looking to avoid what they call a ‘cliff edge,’ the case of there being no arrangement in place by March 2019 when Britain officially leaves the EU. “The way things are looking today, there’s a real prospect of there being no deal in March 2019,” Barlow says. “All of this political discussion doesn’t bode well for business. Brexit means uncertainty, and this has led to 40 percent of UK firms reducing or delaying investment.”

So what does this mean for European or international associations, who may receive EU funding or have English members? According to the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), whose members comprise pan-EU and global banks, as well as key regional banks, brokers, law firms and other financial market participants: “Brexit will have an impact on both our UK and EU27 members and it will vary considerably across banks, which are conducting extensive planning and putting in place arrangements, including setting up footholds in the EU27, to minimize disruption to their businesses and clients.”

Many associations initially took a stance of neutrality, but now this is starting to change. If associations don’t seek to influence the political situation and be there to defend their business platform, there’s a great risk that somebody else may do that for them.

While some European associations led by British members saw their director generals stepping down following the Brexit decision, others used this as a chance to show unity. “We already have members from Norway, Switzerland and Australia, so why shouldn’t the UK remain a member?” asks CEEMET Director General Uwe Combüchen, who represents more than 200,000 manufacturers across Europe. “We are inclusive. The UK is sitting in all of the meetings. We are standing together here from the employer side, which I understand is not the case for all associations.”

One great example is when CEEMET Chairman Terry Scuoler, who also serves as CEO of EEF, the UK manufacturers’ organization, offered to step down due to the political situation. CEEMET members overwhelmingly responded with a firm rejection his offer. “We want to show unity and that there are no borders for thoughts, no borders for brains,” Combüchen says.

While protecting and including British members is one side of the coin, the other is the very real possibility of UK-based EU associations, such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA), having to leave their current headquarters. EU states may compete to be the new headquarters for powerful European regulatory agencies like this one, where Bucharest has popped up as the unlikely bidder.

 “Bucharest argues that Romania remains the largest EU member state without a European Union agency based in its territory,” said Alexander Smotrov, Global Counsel’s Practice Lead on Russia, the CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, in one of the London-based firm’s recent post. “It will probably resonate with Brussels policymakers already anxious that the Brexit process become neither a policy stitch-up at the hands of Berlin and Paris, nor a carve up of EU assets in the UK between ‘older’ members.”

The full version of this article can be read in the November issue of Boardroom

November 27, 2017

Paris – Larger Than Life

Conferences and meetings are not just events organized in venues. Their impacts, whether on a scientific, social, economic and sometimes cultural level, are always greater than they are. A city like Paris may have understood this better than any other. With the opening, last week, of the Paris Convention Centre, the largest in Europe, it will attract even larger conferences and radiate like never before. Words Rémi Dévé

Paris Convention Centre in numbers

The new Centre is part of a large-scale renovation effort that will turn the Paris expo Porte de Versailles into an open space open to everybody. Located just 15 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, it features a main conference room for up to 5,200 people, directly connected to 44,000 sqm of exhibition space and is ideal for very large international conferences of up to 35,000 attendees. Its gardens, terrace and rooftop event space can accommodate up to 1,000 people, and features an exceptional view of Paris. The building has been given a new façade of undulating glass surfaces that open up the space the lobby is lit with daylight, like most of its meeting rooms and, unusually, its plenary hall.

Viparis, which manages the ten main meeting venues in the Paris-Ile-de-France region, had arranged a very special press trip on the occasion of the inauguration of Paris Convention Centre. It was not only about the new centre itself – even though the tour of the new facility with its highly modular hall of 25,000 sqm under an immense glassroof was quite impressive – it was also about showing the excellence of the region in many sectors, its key industries and, hence, its attraction to European and international associations.

In this context, the visit of NeuroSpin, a cutting-edge research centre in Saclay, was an eye-opener. The fastest growing scientific and technological cluster located 20 kms south of Paris, close to Versailles, Saclay is an educational hub with global reach, housing 15% of French public research from major research institutions like CEA, CNRS, INRA, and universities. There we were treated with an exclusive viewing of the giant magnet weighing 130 metric tons and the core component of the most powerful MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner in the world to be used for human brain imaging. To make such a powerful magnet, CEA research engineers had to design an instrument larger than any other.

Camilla Andersson, Forum Coordinator at the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, said: The FENS Forum has established itself as the largest Neuroscience event in Europe. Taking place in even years, it usually attracts more than 6000 international delegates. In 2022, we have chosen Paris as our host destination because it’s a major player in the field, with a strong network of scientists, partners and collaborators, and literally dozens of research centres across the Ile-de-France region. We aim to promote excellence in neuroscience research in Europe at large and facilitate the exchange of knowledge – in this regard, Paris seems to be the ideal place to do so.

With the holding of the Olympics in 2024 and the unified effort that was deployed to win the bid to host the Games, it seems like something is happening in Paris. A metropolis with a human feel, where mobility is the priority, and all stakeholders involved in organising conferences seem to be on the same page, working hand in hand to make any kind of event a success, Paris has never been more ready to be a major player on the global scene.

More info on the venues managed by Viparis: /

(Photo: Paris Convention Centre, the day of its inauguration, on 22 November 2017)


November 19, 2017

Qatar Confirmed to Host ICEIRD 2018

Thanks to unified effort by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) and Qatar University (QU), Qatar has won the bid to host the International Conference on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Regional Development (ICEIRD) in October 2018. Over 250 conference delegates are expected to attend the conference for which Qatar University will be ‘local host’.

ICEIRD is a three-day conference organised by the University of Sheffield’s International Faculty bringing together academics, university technology managers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and businesses to foster and promote innovation-led growth. The conference offers a platform for academics, university technology managers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers and businesses interested in the theory and practice of university-industry links as well as innovation, entrepreneurship, and regional development.

First held in 2007, ICEIRD has been taking place annually for the past 10 years in Europe; for its second decade, it will rotate worldwide and be hosted in a different region every year. The 2018 edition will be the first edition to be hosted in the Middle East.

,Qatar has a strong track-record in successfully hosting large-scale international conferences and events. Between 2014 and 2016, Qatar hosted a total of 56 events affiliated with the International Congress and Convention Association.

Ahmed Al Obaidli, Director of Exhibitions at QTA said: “ICEIRD is a perfect match for Qatar as it is a regional hub where academics, innovators and entrepreneurs can continue to learn and share knowledge within and outside the walls of a conference hall.” He added, “The hosting of this event comes as part of our continuous efforts to work with local partners to attract international events and boost business events tourism’s contribution to the national economy.”

Professor Panayiotis Ketikidis, Founder of ICEIRD, added: “Taking the 11th ICEIRD beyond Europe is a step towards to satisfying global demand for the wealth of knowledge that the conference has produced through its wide network over the past decade. We are highly honoured that the ICEIRD 2018 will be hosted by the University of Qatar and are confident that being hosted in a true regional innovation hub will further expand the conference’s network.”

Qatar Tourism expands international efforts to further establish the destination’s relevance for congress organizers – recent steps include a waiver of visa for 80 international countries.

Meet the team of QTA at ibtm Barcelona at Stand J60, join the Qatar Tourism Authority for a VIP Welcome Business Lunch on Tuesday 28 November at 1PM (to register click here) or contact Johanna Fischer of tmf dialogue marketing Germany (, +49 9002 111).


November 12, 2017

Washington, DC:
Meetings With a Difference

Association planners looking for added value and a city that naturally enhances their program find that Washington, DC delivers. Innovative and vibrant, the U.S. capital offers not only state-of-the-art infrastructure, should it host your next event, it’s also a knowledge hub for key sectors that gives unmatched access to federal government and policy leaders.

According to Smith Travel Research’s 2017 DestinationMAP, Washington, DC is among the top three North American meeting destinations. Planners found DC’s safety and attractiveness appealing, as well as value and ease of access via three local airports. DC was also named the first LEED Platinum City in the world by the U.S. Green Building Council. Attendees will find environmentally-friendly practices throughout the city, starting with energy-reducing and recycling programs at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Washington, DC delivers beyond traditional destination advantages. It is a top city for social entrepreneurs, the most educated city in the U.S. and serves as headquarters for renowned organizations such as the National Institutes of Health. These factors and many more have established the nation’s capital as a leader in industries including tech, biotech/pharma, education and medical.

“The District continues to be the epicenter for inclusive innovation and technology in the country,” said Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. “From opportunities that foster women entrepreneurs to the creation of innovation labs and incentives for tech company headquarters, DC is at the forefront of the tech movement and inclusive innovation growth.”

Easy to get to, easy to navigate by foot or bike, the nation’s capital offers unique cultural diversity, pairing international influence with a distinct local identity: it boasts exceptional venues and a dining scene packed with culinary talent, not to mention the country’s finest monuments and memorials and captivating museums that you can experience for free. And thanks to $11.8 billion in development underway, there will always be something new for you to discover!

This content is powered by Destination DC. Connect with them and read more about meetings and conventions in Washington, DC at



November 6, 2017

Going Further with GDPR

In order to move forward towards a greater compliance with the GDPR, associations should pay a good deal of attention to the following aspects, Benjamin Docquir writes.

Mapping the data flows and the entities responsible for them

One of the cornerstones of the GDPR is that organisations, including associations, must be able to identify what categories of personal data they process and who may decide upon the usage of such personal data. The entity identified as the “data controller” is accountable for the processing of the personal data vis-à-vis the individuals concerned (e.g. the employees or the individuals members of an association) and must be ready to answer requests from the regulatory authorities.

Where an association is active on a global scale or across several countries, including outside the EU, the GDPR may nevertheless be entirely applicable. The data controller must therefore ascertain whether and to what extent the GDPR applies to its activities and, where necessary, appoint a representative in the European Union.

Not only must the data controller have a comprehensive view of the data flows and data processing operations, it must also determine and implement appropriate policies and measures to ensure that the provisions of the GDPR are fully respected. Such measures will generally include drafting a comprehensive data protection policy, which will disclose in plain language the policies and practices of the association with respect to the processing of personal data.

Implementing the rights of employees and members (individuals)

Generally speaking, associations are likely to process the personal data of (i) their employees and internal resources and (ii) their individual members. The GDPR gives the so-called “data subjects” (i.e. the people whose data are processed) a number of rights in order to reinforce the degree of transparency and control over their personal data.

As a result, the associations must be prepared to inform the employees and members in a comprehensive manner, through the data protection policy or by giving them notice of a specific document, and make sure that they are provided with a number of information such as the categories of data processed, the purposes of processing, the legitimate aims pursued by the association, the storage duration of the categories of data, the recipients or categories of recipients of data, etc.

Managing relationships and contracts with data processors

The data controller may entrust an external entity, called the data processor, with the a number of tasks on its behalf. In such situations, the associations must carefully select the external provider, but also make sure that there is a written agreement in place that takes full account of all the obligatory mentions under the GDPR. The first and foremost of such mentions is that the data processor must process the personal data only upon the documented instructions of the data controller.

Again, associations must therefore have a clear picture of what categories of data they are making available or transmitting to their data processors, so as to be able to keep control of such data. Other topics that must be addressed in the written agreement with the data processors are the security requirements, the notification of data breaches, the obligation to take part to audits, the duty to assist the associations when dealing with a request from a member or an employee, etc.

Creating and maintaining a register of data processing operations

Associations must set up – and keep updated – a register describing the data processing operations. This register may be held in English. It must be made available on request to the regulators and contain a description of the categories of data processed, of the purposes of the processing, of the recipients or categories of recipients of data (i.e. who has access to the data), of the existence (if any) of transfers of data outside the European Union (or the EEA), etc.

Implementing security measures and data breach notification procedures

Associations must determine and implement appropriate security measures and policies to address the potential risks for rights and freedoms of individuals whose data are processed. Those measures may include encryption, pseudonymisation, access control and access management, training of employees, etc.

Whenever a security incident occurs, that may trigger an additional risk for individuals, the associations (data controllers) must notify such breach to the data protection authority, with a description of the data that is leaked or compromized, of the potential impact of the security breach and of the measures taken to remedy such impact, to address the flaws and errors that were identified and to mitigate the risks. In some circumstances, the data controller must also notify the individuals themselves about the breach.

International data transfers

Last but not least, associations must ensure that the rules on the transfer of personal data outside the EEA (EU + Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) are respected. Such transfers occur whenever a database is centralized in a third country (like the US for instance), or when personal data may be accessed from that third country.

Also, when associations appoint a service provider or a cloud computing services provider, there is a possibility of the data being hosted/stored outside the EEA. That shouldn’t happen without the association being aware thereof, because basically the GDPR states that such transfers are only allowed under specific circumstances or subject to specific conditions. These conditions may involve the fact that the third country is regarded as “safe” or providing an adequate level of protection, or the conclusion of specific agreements related to the data transfer, to ensure that the entity importing the data in the third country will abide by a minimum of fundamental principles of data protection.

The full version of this article can be read in the November issue of Boardroom. Benjamin Docquir is Partner at Osborne Clark, a law firm working across key industry sectors offering agile, insightful solutions, ground-breaking legal planning and a passion for bringing about meaningful, positive change. More information on