How Conferences Can Be Life-Changing Events

June 12, 2019

How Conferences Can Be Life-Changing Events

Dr Lance O’Sullivan (pictured) knows the power of conferences. Aged 17, the self-confessed disruptive child from a deprived background was taken to a conference on Māori medicine by his aunt. The twice-expelled teenager set his sights on medical school, later becoming a GP and advocate for Māori health in New Zealand’s Far North. By 2014 he was known as a disruptive medical professional and was named New Zealander of the Year.

O’Sullivan was speaking on “Transforming desperation into disruption”, at Tourism New Zealand’s MAP2019 (MEETINGS Association Programme) Workshop. Attendees included 20 association executives who have recently won, or are currently bidding for, international conferences. “It’s important the intellectual capital that comes with holding conferences,” O’Sullivan said. “It highlights what we do that is smart, and brings people here that leave something beneficial behind.”

O’Sullivan outlined his progression from dysfunctional childhood to becoming a champion for equal health care in New Zealand. With the establishment of Navilluso Medical, the former GP is now a leading health innovator, with the aim of increasing access to quality health care using digital technologies.

Conferences again were a factor: “It all started with me attending an international medical conference at SkyCity. I was a fledgling medical disruptor dude and at that formative time in my career I was fortunate to listen to an influential international visitor that planted a seed.”

That speaker – talking about the introduction of telemedicine in Alaska – shared a panel with O’Sullivan, whose time as a GP in Kaitaia had led him to concerns over access to care, particularly in remote areas, or where families are living in poverty. The result was the iMOKO digital health system; a quick health assessment is made on a mobile device and uploaded to the cloud for a team of medical professionals to assess.

O’Sullivan gave the example of a Kaitaia boy who had suffered sores on his legs for nine months. Within 8 minutes of the photos and assessment being uploaded by his educator on an iPad, O’Sullivan had overseen the case – on his phone, while in America – and a prescription for treatment sent to the boy’s closest pharmacy. His legs were healed within weeks.

People of Kaitaia

O’Sullivan’s latest project involves working with New Zealand AI specialists Soul Machines on the creation of digital health professionals. This includes work with mental health advocate Mike King to roll out ‘mental health navigators’. These AI avatars will support tech-savvy young people who may be too embarrassed to seek help face-to-face, providing advice and potentially steering them on the path to mental health services.

O’Sullivan told attendees that he was hopeful a small conference he had been involved in organising in Kaitaia, this time on genetics, would also prove inspirational. The Waharoa ki te Toi Health Research Centre opened in 2018 at Kaitaia Hospital, a partnership between O’Sullivan’s Moko Foundation and the Maurice Wilkins Centre. It has received $500,000 of funding to establish and deliver a genetic programme run by and for the people of Kaitaia. It is studying genetics as a predictor of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease – health issues that are prevalent in communities such as Kaitaia.

Attendees at MAP2019 spoke of their own hopes for their upcoming conferences: from leading social change in New Zealand around gender equity through the IWG World Conference on Women and Sport, coming to Auckland in 2022; to raising public awareness of the importance of wetlands to New Zealand’s landscape and ecology at the INTECOL International Wetlands Conference, taking place in Christchurch in 2020.

*Tourism New Zealand’s MAP event coincides with the annual CINZ MEETINGS trade show. The workshop also involved practical discussion on conference legacy, design and sponsorship.

June 3, 2019

Preparing for the Congress of the Future  

In 2040, what are some of the scenarios that associations may encounter? While no one has a crystal ball to predict the future, BestCities 2019 Copenhagen Global Forum looks to offer the next best thing: a futurologists’ analysis of the challenges the meetings industry may face in 20 years’ time.

Working together with the Copenhagen Convention Bureau (CCB), the conference will take place in the Danish capital 8 – 11 December 2019 and dive deep into the theme of “Exploring the Congress of the Future – Fortifying Impact.” “Our impressive programme of education, insight and networking at the fourth annual Global Forum will address the opportunities and challenges the future has in store for global associations and congresses industry,” explains BestCities managing director, Paul Vallee. “Our world-class speakers, workshops and networking sessions will provide participants with informed strategic advice and practical tools that they can work into their long-term strategies.”

For the programme, BestCities will work together with the Danish Design Centre and futurologists of Public Futures to drive discussion on some of the potential challenges that may arise in the industry and how associations can build legacy and outreach. In addition to providing delegates with a digital tool that can assist with future strategy development, the discussions will be consolidated to form the basis of a white paper with strategic recommendations that will be published early next year. “BestCities is a thought-leading alliance and we want to share and co-create with the entire industry, and only through collaboration is true impact possible,” says Kit Lykketoft, director of convention for Wonderful Copenhagen and board member of the BestCities Global Alliance.“Legacy comes from ambition and the ability to take on new perspectives.”

David Meade, lecturer and researcher in International business and Strategy at the University of Ulster, will host the programme’s sessions, practical workshops, and interactive breakout challenges, which are “designed to unlock knowledge within the room,” according to BestCities. Copenhagen Marriott Hotel, set along the Kalvebod Brygge on the harbourfront, will serve as the headquarters for the Global Forum, and sessions will be held in a number of venues around the city to give delegates a chance to discover “hygge,” the Danish concept of cosiness or “togetherness.”

Attendees will have the chance to network with members from the alliance’s 12 partner destinations—Berlin, Bogotá, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Edinburgh, Houston, Madrid, Melbourne, Singapore, Tokyo and Vancouver—as well as local ambassadors, who will join delegates during the Ambassador Dinner. Delegates will also experience some of the city’s local charm like the Winter Wonderland at Tivoli Gardens, in addition to learning about Copenhagen’s top culinary offerings from one of the co-founders of the world’s best restaurant, Noma’s Claus Meyer. “We have already set out on the journey to build in-depth researched scenarios engaging with the global industry in the process leading up to the Global Forum,” Lykketoft explains. “We wish for the Copenhagen Global Forum to have a lasting impact and to bring the global conversation to a highly informed level.”

This article was written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset. The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.

May 31, 2019

Leaving Medical Legacies in Hamburg

Take a refurbished and renovated convention centre, CCH – Congress Center Hamburg (pictured), due to reopen in 2020, a city that is systematically building on its cluster industries, some amazing infrastructural features, as well as a long track record of hosting conferences in the medical field and you’ll get a winning combination worth deep-dive into.

In the past decade much of Hamburg, one of Germany’s most prosperous cities, has revitalized and reinvented itself. New venues, hotels and office buildings rose from the ground and gentrified the former, often quite bleak, riverside warehouse districts – HafenCity is considered to this day Europe’s largest and most innovative urban redevelopment site. A stone’s throw away lies the restored Speicherstadt area, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron designed Elbphilharmonie, an awe-inspiring 12-story glass structure set on top of a former brick warehouse overlooking the Elbe River on the western tip of HafenCity – its inauguration made headline news, and rightly so.

Medical hub

As Hamburg Convention Bureau is busy profiling the city as a medical hub, so is the soon-to-reopen CCH – Congress Center Hamburg. “In Hamburg, there’s definitely a whole-of-a-city approach to association congresses,” says Heike Mahmoud, COO of the new CCH. “We work closely with scientists, professors, and academia to help leverage the knowledge we have here. Our objective is to create a network of excellence, and position our beautiful destination as a science hub, and the best place for knowledge exchange and best practice sharing in the context of international conferences. The new CCH will be the ideal platform to do just that.” 

With an internationally renowned system of doctors and hospitals as well as a nearly unmatched density of medical practices, Hamburg is among Europe’s leading cities in the healthcare industry. More than 169,000 people and counting work in Hamburg’s healthcare sector – actually no less than one out of seven employees working in the city! The metropolitan region includes a total of 79 hospitals, including many internationally-renowned specialists’ clinics, among whom as many as 12,500 practitioners, dentists and psychotherapists. Over the past decade, the gross value added by Hamburg’s healthcare sector has increased steadily by an average of more than 4 percent annually and now amounts to more than €9.6 billion.

Focusing on various health-related topics such as e-health, health and ageing, education and innovation as well as corporate health management, Hamburg’s healthcare cluster is managed by Gesundheitswirtschaft Hamburg GmbH (GWHH), a subsidiary of the City of Hamburg and the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. The aim is to position and strengthen Hamburg as a healthcare location that ensures good medical care, meets the requirements for qualified staff and leverages the opportunities created by digitization. To do so, the cluster initiates cross-sectoral and cross-industry activities and projects that are intended to increase the potential for growth, employment, system innovations and quality of care.

In this context, the Life Science Nord cluster also aims to develop an internationally leading life sciences network within the region and to harness the potential of integrating the areas of business, science and politics. This particular cluster mainly focuses on biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical technology.

Congress wins

It comes hardly as a surprise, then, that Hamburg is securing one medical congress after another, including the 2021 annual congress of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS), which is due to attract around 3,000 specialists to the city. Prof. Dr Manfred Westphal, EANS Member and EANS2021 Congress President, from the University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) explains: It is a great success that we have been able to win the bid for the EANS congress with this second attempt. For the UKE, this congress is an opportunity to demonstrate the strong and extensive expertise we have here at the UKE.” Heike Mahmoud adds: “I’m positive that, with the highly attractive new CCH – Congress Center Hamburg and its long tradition and vast experience, Hamburg will play an even more important role in the field of medical congresses in the future.”

Another major win is the 2021 Annual Meeting of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the largest global gathering of stem cell scientists, which will bring about 4,000 researchers from around the world to the CCH as well. The successful bid was put together by the Life Science Nord (LSN) cluster, Fraunhofer IME ScreeningPort, the Hamburg Ministry for Science, Research and Equality (BWFG), the Hamburg Convention Bureau (HCB) and the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg, demonstrating all stakeholders always work hand in hand to put Hamburg even more strongly on the medical meetings map.

With a robust scientific programme featuring top scientists presenting and discussing the latest findings in stem cell research, the ISSCR annual meeting is – once again – testament to Hamburg’s pronounced expertise in this area of medicine.“We look forward to bringing the meeting to Hamburg, a beautiful city in Germany, where there is a vibrant scientific community,”said ISSCR CEO Nancy Witty. “A number of research groups have collaborated in putting together a terrific venue to showcase the latest in stem cell research.”

This article was written by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. More information on Hamburg: The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.


May 27, 2019

Switzerland: Let the People Talk

It’s always better to have organizers talk about their experience in a given destination than just convention bureaus explaining how great it would be for you – and them – if you chose them for their next event. In order for you to get familiar, once again, with Switzerland and where its expertise lies, we now let a few planners do the talking.

About the knowledge in Switzerland – Dr. Martin Wernli of Aarau Cantonal Hospital

For Switzerland as a research location, it is important that the Annual Conference of the German and Swiss Societies of Haematology and Medical Oncology is held in the country on a regular basis. There are so many experts in haematology and medical oncology based in Switzerland that it’s easy to discuss current research results and challenges in the treatment of blood diseases and cancer.

About Switzerland’s compactness and competitiveness – Adrian Ott, CEO of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology

Who can boast saying: when you get off your plane you can walk to the congress centre? As for the pricey image of Switzerland it is important to raise the competitive rate of Swiss VAT. If the rates of hotels are often perceived as high, they are in fact part of a logic of an indicative price range, a standard convention price if you like. This approach facilitates the overall planning for the organizer who can count on stable guidance in the budget phase.

About Switzerland’s know-how – Rieke Zantinge, Director, Inspirators Factory

I am most impressed by Switzerland team’s professionalism and expertise in handling all possible areas proactively and effectively. There are a lot of pearls in Switzerland to be discovered, among which Basel, Zürich, Pontresina and the Alpine resort town of Sankt Moritz. There is definitely a Swiss concept that works well for events of all formats and sizes.

About Switzerland’s friendliness – Dr. Luc Beco, Coordinator of the ESVD-ECVD Conference (European Society of Veterinary Dermatology & European College of Veterinary Dermatology)

At first glance, Switzerland is a little ‘The Unreachable Star’ to paraphrase The Quest, a song by Jacques Brel. It is a charming country, but financially unaffordable. There was a lot of opposition internally. During a visit to the EIBTM fair in Barcelona, ​​I still showed up on the stand of Switzerland and I met with, it must be said, exceptionally dynamic and kind people. I told them all my constraints, they analyzed my needs and then we shorlisted four destinations – we ended up organizing our conference in Lausanne, which proved to be very successful.

This verbatim was produced by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. More information on Switzerland as a conference destination: /

May 16, 2019

Securing South African Legacies with Congresses

Business and professional events are key to economic and social transformation. South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, confirmed as much at Meetings Africa 2019, held recently in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Securing the 2013 World Congress in Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in Cape Town (pictured) opened the floodgates to subsequent inbound medical events, including pan-African meetings, and left tangible legacies in improved patient care.

Read and watch all about it on our partner The Iceberg’s platform.

May 9, 2019

Highlights of a IAPCO Celebration in Basel

The IAPCO Annual Meeting & General Assembly was this year a true celebration as it marked the 50thanniversary of the organisation. As a non-profit, IAPCO aims to boost and enhance the quality of the meetings industry as a whole and help its key players network around the globe.

For Basel as a meeting destination – but also for Convention Bureau Basel – being able to welcome the international conference industry for a “home game” as they called it and be present in the international spotlight created a major opportunity.

The Council of the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers, presided over by Mathias Posch, put together a program that was both provocative and attractive. Together with Congrex Switzerland, the local PCO that was in charge of organising the event, they came up with an innovative concept: the traditional, theater-style format with classic chairs and stage was replaced by an interesting combination of different types of tables and seats, creating a nice ambiance to sit and chat instead of just listening passively to various sessions.

And the content was highly qualitative. The idea behind the choice of topics was to stimulate new thinking and to be innovative. After all, the end clients of all IAPCO members – associations among many others – have to make sure they are innovative themselves if they want to remain competitive and attract attendees. So PCOs have to lead by example and realise that the traditional way of organising a conference has to be adapted in future as well. Professor Zeilhofer made this clear during an interesting session called ‘Innovation Snapshot’ while introducing the surgical robot CARLO who is set to become a game changer in the surgery field. Will the congress world similarly have to deal with disruptive ideas?

Other subjects stayed more in line with the usual topics but were innovative in their own way. Subjects such as ‘Positive Leadership’, ‘Adapt your business model to create greater value’, ‘Innovate or Die’ or ‘Cathedral thinking’ gave the 130 international attendees ample food for thought.

One session stood out by being a bit provocative when a hostage situation took place on the scene, as an experimental learning session on team bonding and leadership development. I still cannot figure out what to make of this, but needless to say it was very intriguing.

Attendee Kaoru Shibuta from Tokyo’s Congress Corp commented: I was very impressed with all the ‘eco’ aspects of this year’s meeting. For all the social events for instance, we used public transportation instead of a chartered bus. It contributed to making the conference green, and also gave us plenty of opportunities to enjoy the town of Basel’.

Oh and by the way the food served by Congress Centre Basel was excellent. Refreshing, modern, often with vegan options, and nicely presented. They say if the food is good, you will remember the event even more fondly. That definitely what happened in this nice Swiss city.

This article was written by Cecile Koch (, and is exclusively owned by the Publisher, unless mentioned otherwise. The right to use or reproduce it, or part of it, has to be granted by the Publisher. 



May 6, 2019

AfSAE’s Association Management Training Leaves Lasting Legacy

Eighty-Nine association professionals and nonprofit managers in Rwanda, Kenya and Nigeria successfully completed the certificate course training in association management offered by the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE). Gathered in Kigali in April, the association training and development workshop was sponsored by the Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB) and facilitated by AfSAE. The training took place at Ubumwe Grande Hotel.

Premised on the veritable platform of AfSAE’s vision of education, advocacy, networking, and as a voice of the association profession in Africa, the three-day training was the most intense that the society has conducted since it was founded in 2016. Gregg Talley, CAE, FASAE, President and CEO of Talley Management Group, Inc. and Jeffers Miruka, AfSAE President and CEO of the African Association Management Company (AFAMCO) facilitated the training. The workshop was intertwined with several group discussions and short presentations from participants, all aimed at maximizing learning and promoting networking. Delegates were disallowed from sharing the same tables with similar faces during the training to foster free interactions.

The certificate program in association management course, that leads to a Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential is a product of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) also known as the Center for Association Leadership. This was made possible through a grant of program license and faculty status agreement between ASAE and AfSAE. The courses covered included; essential practices in association management, effectively managing volunteer committees and task forces, membership development, communication and public relation, and developing your leadership potential. The first course of the program, essential practices in association management was first offered during Meetings Africa 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and in February 2019 in Accra Ghana. It’s the intention of AfSAE to spread this training in Africa as it promotes the association management profession in the continent and give voices to associations, equipped the AfSAE president.

While opening the workshop, the CEO of Rwanda Convention Bureau, Nelly Mukazayire extoled her organization’s visionary partnership with AfSAE that made it possible for Rwanda to be the first country in Africa to offer this training. Mukazayire said that through such partnership, association events in Rwanda have spiked in the last two years, helping position Rwanda as a key association meetings destination in Africa. With the Kigali Convention Centre as Rwanda’s flagship venue, the country’s business events market potential has increased making it one of the industries with the highest foreign exchange earner eclipsing some of the traditional sectors, affirmed Mukazayire. With these happening, international brands like Radisson Blu, Marriott and the Serena Group have firmly set foot in the country. Rwanda derides itself as the most welcoming country to visit in Africa, and also easiest to start and do business in the continent.

Speaking after the training, Lady Justice Roselyn Nambuye, a Kenyan Appellate court judge, who is a founder member of Kenya Women Judges Association, Africa Women Judges Association, and International Women Judges Association, was full of praise for the training. She promised to rope in her colleagues and office administrators during all future trainings. Apart from honing her association management skills, she acknowledged a double harvest that will help her also discharge her leadership duties at her new workplace station and in making a positive contribution to her profession and associations. “The role of associations in impacting societies both socially and economically have become more pronounced during this training” she commented.

Pascaline Umulisa the Executive Secretary of Association des Guides du Rwanda, agreed that the training was a big eye opener to her, especially in capacity building. Each course, she said, was quite unique and impacted me differently, having lived through similar scenarios in my workplace. “Am now well prepared to reengineer my workplace to be better” she said.

Dr. Andrew Wetende, Chairman of the Kenya Dental Association was originally torn between canceling all his patients appointments at his clinic in Nairobi to attend the training or vice versa. He chose the latter and doesn’t regret it at all. He said this training will help him be a better leader and would recommend it to anyone managing similar organizations. Barely three months into her new roles, Jahou Faal, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa (CAPA) observed that the training was a great opportunity to reflect on how associations function and how to lead CAPA. “I have identified my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, and the strategies I will deploy in my association” she observed. “As a new Secretary General of CAPA, this really helps me to settle down and quickly understand the environment and how to move forward and to communicate with my members.”

Meanwhile, McLean Essiene flew all the way from Nigeria to participate. As a member of the Association of Corporate Governance Professionals of Nigeria, he was quite impressed with the level of in-depth training, networking and the value it has to the African association industry. He pledged to work towards making this happen in Nigeria.

Frank Murangwa, Director of Destination Marketing at the Rwanda Convention Bureau, said that associations have made his organisation set new targets for revenues earned from hosting business events from  $74 million in 2018 to $88 million in 2019. With events such as Transform Africa Summit (TAS) and International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA 2019) lined up, Rwanda is well positioned to be a force to reckon with as a business events destination in Africa.

April 29, 2019

The ICT CSR Legacies of Sarawak Convention Bureau

School computer labs across rural Sarawak, Malaysia, will be benefitting after convention organisers and their delegates complete surveys from the Sarawak Convention Bureau. Sarawak CB will be making a donation for each returned form to the Chumbaka Junior Innovate Fund, writes Jane Vong Holmes, Senior Manager Asia, at Iceberg Partner GainingEdge, a partner of Boardroom.

Read Jane’s report here.

April 24, 2019

Darwin: Driving Australia’s Medical Discussion

The Northern Territory is quintessential Australia: heritage-listed wetlands, wildlife parks, rock domes dating back 500 million years, and the home of national icon Uluru, after all. And while the region is rich in natural resources, it’s also a pioneer in agribusiness, international education and remote-area health services. After a day of productive meetings, you’ll be in the perfect spot to watch the captivating sunset over the sea right from the capital Darwin, the gateway to Northern Australia.

Darwin has particularly excelled in the sector of tropical health, responding to the growing health research needs of nearby tropical regions—which comprise 40 percent of the world’s population. As Australia’s leading medical research institution, Menzies School of Health Research has conducted research on malaria in over 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, saving thousands of lives in the process. The research facility is also home to RHDAustralia, the Australian government’s national coordination unit that helps prevent and reduce acute rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in Australia.

The National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) is strategically positioned in Darwin to ensure Australia has the best readily deployable medical workforce to rapidly respond to sudden health emergencies both across Australia, and throughout Asia. Darwin’s NCCTRC has a renowned international reputation for excellence in health training and is a key element of the Australian Government’s disaster and emergency medical response to incidents of national and international significance. The also NCCTRC provides clinical and academic leadership in trauma and critical care.

Darwin’s cutting-edge research and top-notch facilities are drawing the attention of international congresses like the World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses (WFNN), which recently announced it will host the 13th annual congress at the Darwin Convention Centre in July 2021. Playing on a theme of “Create – Imagine – Inspire – Discover,” the congress will “provide a platform for an open dialogue about best practice that will challenge thinking to contribute to better care worldwide,” says Vicki Evans, WFNN Vice President and Scientific Chair.

Destination City

Last October, the Australian College of Remote and Rural Medicine and the Rural Doctors Association of Australiachose Darwin as the destination for the Rural Medicine Australia (RMA) Conference, the main national event for rural and remote doctors in Australia and abroad. “Darwin was one of those places we weren’t sure if everyone was going to make the trip,” explained Michelle Cuzens, the event coordinator. “Many of our delegates told us they’d never been to Darwin, and in our post-event survey, it was a massive stand-out that Darwin is a ‘destination city’—it turned out to be a must-visit, and for our delegates.”

RMA usually aims for an attendance of 500, but the four-day event was one of the largest yet, drawing a final count of 775 attendees with themes revolving around indigenous health, women in health, tropical medicine and innovation in remote settings—sectors Darwin specializes in. In big cities, it’s easy to lose delegates who head off to restaurants or are stuck on other sides of town, but having hotels within walking distance of the venue—and exclusive use of the Centre—helped delegates feel at home, with many exclaiming it was the best RMA yet. “Darwin is a capital city, but it’s smaller compared to other Australian cites, which made it special; the culture there is different and the pace is relaxed,” Cuzens says. “We recognised that immediately and tried to embrace it by bringing the NT into RMA and not just the RMA Conference into the NT.”

The full version of this article, written by Boardroom editor Lane Nieset, is available in the May issue of Boardroom.

Picture: Darwin Convention Centre (

April 10, 2019

#Meet4impact: An Actionable Impact Framework… and More

The #MEET4IMPACT project was initially announced in the February 2019 edition of Boardroom. Founded by Geneviève Leclerc, CMP, founder of Caravelle Strategies, along with several partners, this ambitious project aims to create an impact framework that offers support in social impact generation and measurement for associations and business events destinations. 

Impact Management

One of the ultimate goals of “measuring” social impact is being able to show the entire value that an organizationis delivering to its beneficiaries, and ultimately to society at large. Because associations are social organisations and their mission is essential to their existence, having the capacity to report on how well that mission is being served provides the organisation with the proof that it is doing what it’s supposed to do. But when expanded intoa broader process, it can be a powerful management strategy to achieve operational excellence, improve processes and delivery, and demonstrate great governance by holding itself accountable for the outcomes it generates.

Through the #MEET4IMPACT initiative, we aim to empower our partners to consider impact as an end-to-end process which can be purposefully created, managed, captured, and communicated for value. This means supporting them throughout their journey from the initial impact goal setting to the identification of which stakeholders can assist with this goal; to making sure it fulfills the business objectives of enhancing its value proposition to funders and members; to determining what it should be measuring and how to do it; to providing the know-how and tools to register this and track it; to analysing the data collected and how to communicate it; to finally leveraging this data and knowledge to ultimately get greater clarity on how it should improve its programme and service delivery.

Impact Measurement

The measurement of societal impact will use “impact” as a currency by which the organisation will be able to report on its organisational effectiveness in carrying out its mission, in a similar way that one would report on financial results. To measure the societal impact of an activity, such as an event, the association will want to assess the economic, social, regulatory and environmental effects on the local host communities, on the event participants, and on its community of interest as a whole. This is typically done through three types of measurements: 1) demonstrating change, 2) monetizing change and 3) calculating indicators showing progress.

Initially, when demonstrating change, you have to evaluate outcomes against what was there before and benchmark on your own objectives. In many cases, this is the best way of reporting on impact when there are no metrics available, or when the change created by your actions can be observed but not quantified. By formulating a hypothesis of cause-to-effect relationship between your desired impact goal and the outcome (IF I do this… THEN this happens…), you can prove that you undertook the necessary actions and you can claim contribution to the impact being created. The “demonstrating change” method uses narrative to provide information about the value it creates.

Secondly, to monetize social change, you have to quantify the economic value of your action through generating an increase in well-being or in any other societal gain. In social impact, this is done mostly with the help of the SROI framework (Social return on investment), which basically attributes a financial “market value” to certain changes in social condition. SROI uses financial currency as a way of conveying the gain in value for society.

Finally, to calculate indicators, you have to compile quantitative metrics and compare these results over time or against others. This falls into the realm of data management and it implies that the organisation is ready to commit resources to data collection, compilation, analysis, and communication. The key to impact measurement is to be able to identify what data it should really be tracking and what value it will gain out of this. Social impact experts at #MEET4IMPACT have mapped out this process and they can help identifying what data capacity your organization has and what needs developing.

How can you be a part of #Meet4impact?

We’re a global not-for-profit aiming to build a community passionate about social impact in our sector:

  • Associations and destinations collaborating on a specific event can become Founding partners and benefit from all our tools and expert accompaniment.
  • Organisations wishing to embark on their impact journey can also work with us to gain new knowledge or explore a theoretical approach before diving into implementation.
  • We can design and facilitate educational social impact “boot camps” for your team.
  • And anyone can join the #Meet4impactcommunity, sharing their stories and learning from others’ progress.

Keep looking out for more updates on social media following the #Meet4impact/ #Associations4impact/ #Cities4Impact keywords; visit; or write to to tell us your story.

Online Platform

One of the finest features of the #MEET4IMPACT project is the platform it will be rolling out this year. The comprehensive online tool that will be made available to #MEET4IMPACT partners will be both a community platform and a social impact management dashboard.

The platform will support organisations taking part in the project by allowing them to map their desired impact and select from a catalog of impact KPIs to create their own impact journey and dashboard; enter and visualize their data as it is being collected; and create visually attractive impact reports conveying powerful impact stories to a broad range of stakeholders – all from the same tool. Indicators from existing global impact frameworks and calculators will be built in and distributed in the areas of focus that we have selected for demonstrating social change in the business events industry, such as: knowledge transfer and research; innovation; community well-being; environment; policy; and many others.

The online platform will also enable partners to share their own journey with others on this path; exchange success and failure stories; and contribute valuable insights as everyone is collectively learning.

Design Thinking

The #MEET4IMPACT team uses Design Thinking as a core principle of our methodology. Design Thinking was first coined in the 1960s by John E. Arnold but really came of age when it was adapted for business purposes by IDEO in California, who created a workable framework for it. Tackling a challenge with purpose and intentionality moves us into the discipline of design. Design Thinking has proven to be particularly effective when dealing with a big challenge and multiple stakeholders who want to create an impact; Design is about finding solutions drawing on intentionality and creativity.

The various steps proposed will guide you through a successful problem-solving process: 1) Frame a question; 2) Gather inspiration; 3) Generate ideas; 4) Make ideas tangible; 5) Test to learn; 6) Share the story.

Design thinking is deeply anchored in responding to a need and creating new value and is an ideal methodology to accompany an organisation on an impact journey. It’s a mindset of constant iteration and learning and as such, is an integral part of #MEET4IMPACT and how we create value for our partners.


Good storytelling is essential to conveying the real value created by your events and connecting with your audience in a meaningful way. We’re all born storytellers and crave for good stories; this is how humanity has constructed its sense of meaning since the dawn of time. Smart organisations know that their message will have more impact if they connect emotionally with their stakeholders. When talking about your impact efforts, storytelling is the new panacea to influence decision-making, and you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your actions most powerfully by incorporating both qualitative and quantitative information to enable a compelling and data-driven impact story. The #Meet4Impact platform and its experts will enable you to draw those elements together into an effective impact report and create a strong narrative on the positive social value you have generated.

Social Innovation

What do we mean by social innovation? This telling quote from Social Innovation Generation evocatively reflects our mission: “Social Innovation… assumes a world where ultimate good in society can be not only imagined, but also created. It is an initiative or process that profoundly changes beliefs, behaviors, resource and authority flows of any ecosystem in the direction of greater resilience. Successful social innovations have durability, impact and scale.”

#MEET4IMPACT offers an entirely new approach in this sector… we’re trailblazers and so are our partners. Our objective is that #MEET4IMPACT be co-designed by the community and anchored in cross-learning and collaboration practices, and we believe that it can ultimately change the way business events define success in the future.By allowing our project to be built on an open innovation platform, adopting a “lean startup” mindset of rapid experimentation and iterations, and channeling collective intelligence to design our end product will ultimately, we hope, enable associations and other meetings sector stakeholders to become real agents of change in society.