Collaboration is Key to Success

20th December 2021

In a recent post inspired by a panel discussion he took part in at IBTM World in Barcelona, Octavio “Bobby” Peralta, founder and CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, argued the underlying factor of building back differently for associations is anchored on collaboration among associations, nationally and globally. This could definitely apply to convention bureaux as they seek to attract association meetings that can make a difference in these challenging times. The EU CVB Network, which gathers seven European convention bureaux, may have understood this better than others: with a strong belief in collaboration, they can help associations make the most of their conferences.

Words Remi Deve

With a focus on cooperation, seven convention bureaux representing the cities of FlorenceGothenburg, LjubljanaLyonRotterdamSalzburg and València came together in 2020 to create the EU CVB Network. This collaborative partnership was formed as each and every one of them deeply believe in the power of working together and knowledge sharing, in the exchange of experiences and best practices that associations can ultimately benefit from.

Collaboration is all about working together. In fact, even though no formal agreement links its members tightly, the EU CVB Network is embracing the true definition of collaboration: the concept оf working together and the value оf interdepency. As an informal network of DMOs, who have championed the belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts in business and teamwork.

They have indeed understood that collaboration is a key element in taking their business practice to the next level. It is a powerful business-buіlding strategy — an often overlooked, yet easy practice that produces powerful results while increasing their leverage іn today’s market. Effectively putting together resources, energy, talents and goals paves the way for success.

Building relationships

In this regard, the EU CVB Network has come up with a few initiatives designed at building mutually beneficial relationships with associations, offering them a one-stop shop of experienced European meetings destinations from north to south. The inaugural EU City Summit took place in Brussels in March 2020 – just before the pandemic hit! – and this was followed by another in-person event in September this year at the Royal Library in the Palace of Charles of Lorraine in the European capital as well.

A series of online events, designed as Happy Hours, were also organized when meeting in person was a no-go. They all featured a concise presentation of the network, plus a short presentation of each partner, followed by networking opportunities – ultimately attracting 21 associations and 7 representatives of major PCOs who all expressed great interest in learning more about the partnership.

As Valerie Thiollet, Team Manager of the Specialty Congress Department at European Society of Cardiology, put it: “The EU CVB Network is a great new initiative! Destinations are cooperating rather than competing which can create new opportunities for event planners. The small group allows for personalized interaction and can only add value when looking for future destinations. It already triggered a couple of opportunities!”

Rotation & Multi Hubs

The member destinations of the Network share many common characteristics – starting with compact city centres and centrally located meeting facilities for instance – and they have a knack for being smart: three of them so far have been recognized as European Capitals of Smart Tourism. They also boast strong ties with the local communities and a focus on sustainability and innovation.

In addition to offering associations a much-needed personal approach in a post-COVID era, they are geographically spread across Europe, which can suit an association’s rotation pattern while making multi-hub events possible if need be. In fact, all destinations have invested in the technological infrastructure required to meet the needs of tomorrow.

Melanie Decker, Director Events & Exhibitions at Parenteral Drug Association Europe, attended one of the Network’s events. She reckons: The EU CVB Network has provided great opportunities for me to exchange ideas and share experiences with other associations. It also opens new ways for me to get to know other locations better, to have a direct contact and built-in trust. It saves me a lot of time and communication in the research to find a suitable destination and venue for our events. The Network builds on experience and the destinations support each other without competing. The CVBs and convention centres are already informed about our association from past events in an EU CVB Network destination and can build their offer on it and, at the same time, know what our focus is. For me as an event organizer, it is definitely a big plus.’’

2022 is now looking very busy for the EU CVB Network: another joint physical event for associations is in the books, while various marketing activities are planned at different industry events and a new initiative is also in the pipeline. The Network is therefore actively working on future association meetings to make sure new business opportunities for international congresses are created.

To follow the EU CVB Network on LinkedIn, click here.

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