How a Congress Can Empower Young Meeting Professionals

16th December 2017

The delegates of the 2017 Congress of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) may have noticed plenty of young smiling faces roaming the streets of Prague in November. Boasting blue shirts with “Prague InSpires” on the front and “Bridge to Inspiration” on the back, these young volunteers, or ICCA Pilots as they called themselves, were students of the Travel and Trade at the University of Economics in Prague.

 Last year, the University, together with the Prague Convention Bureau, launched the Event Management course supervised by the Department of the Tourism Management designed for students interested in the meeting industry. More than 60 young individuals joined the winter semester. “This course has a strong emphasis on practice and many renowned experts are involved in it, which is positively perceived by the students. In the 2016/17 summer semester, the Event Management course was even voted as the best one at the Department of Tourism,” explains doc. Ing. Josef Abrhám, Ph.D., Head of the Department of Tourism.

As the ICCA Congress was promoted as a green event in a walkable city, the delegates were encouraged to walk and use public transportation. Bus transfers were organised only for the social evenings at Forum Karlín and the Industrial Palace and from and to the Prague Airport.

Even though the centre of Prague is very compact, the delegates needed to be guided around: that is where the students got into the picture and played a key role. As a part of the Event Management course, the students were asked to create a detailed plan of transportation and navigation, to help delegates move around the city easily. A winning team was then selected and got a chance to implement their project and become a part of the organising committee of the congress.

In addition, the project included entertainment and special activities for the delegates, such as “Build Your Bridge” (an activity where delegates could get a reward if they completed selected tasks) or the “Icebreaking cards” (a small communication game). The students also published a digital daily newspaper called On the Go with interesting facts about the city and distributed traditional Czech wafers and gingerbread cookies to the delegates. In total, more than 140 students joined as volunteers.

“We created our own projects to share and present Czech culture and traditions to the delegates. The Prague Convention Bureau offered plenty of opportunities for us to showcase what we could do but also to engage and learn from meeting professionals. Being engaged in the Congress brought us a lot of experience in the field of event and time management and a general overview of event marketing.” concludes Matěj Buďárek, leader of the winning team.

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