ICCA Congress 2023: Unveiling Innovation & Collaboration

23rd November 2023

The ICCA Congress 2023, a pinnacle event in the international events calendar, unfolded earlier this month, hosting industry leaders, visionaries, and innovators from around the globe. Held in Bangkok, the congress served as a melting pot of ideas, fostering collaboration, and exploring the evolving landscape of the events industry. It was attended by 1100 delegates from 80 countries, the biggest-ever in Asia-Pacific.

Words Remi Deve

Hosted by Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, the ICCA Congress kicked off with a deep dive into the latest trends shaping the events landscape. Renowned speakers and experts engaged the audience with insightful discussions on the integration of technology, sustainability, and inclusivity in event planning, around the theme of ‘It Start With Us’.

Sessions throughout the congress delved into innovative strategies for enhancing event success. Attendees were treated to real-world case studies, success stories, and interactive workshops, providing them with actionable insights to elevate their own events and to re-think the way they do business.

One of the standout features of the ICCA Congress was its emphasis on fostering global connections. Attendees had the chance to network with industry peers, share experiences, and build valuable relationships that transcend geographical boundaries. The congress truly embodied the spirit of collaboration that defines the international events community.

New this year

New this year were the Sharing Hubs, which aimed to unravel the ongoing advancements, critical issues, and prospective opportunities in the meetings industry. Spread over two days, those Hubs provided attendees with the opportunity to tap into the potential of collaboration, coming together to discover innovative solutions that can transform our business approaches. This served as the arena for posing pivotal questions and embarking on a collective journey to find answers to key issues faced by the industry, including sustainability, DEI, communication and more. The last day was dedicated to the results of these conversations, which ICCA promised to deal with in its future events.

Renowned thought leaders took the stage, sharing their expertise and visions for the future of the events industry. Engaging discussions ranged from the transformative impact of the digital age to the exploration of sustainable event frontiers. The congress emerged as a pivotal platform for stimulating conversations destined to shape the industry’s trajectory. A notable highlight was the Copenhagen Denmark Lecture, featuring the distinguished opening by His Excellency and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. He acknowledged the pivotal role of business events as catalysts for change, emphasizing the ongoing journey toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the work that still lies ahead.

The ICCA Congress also placed a significant emphasis on the importance of diversity and inclusivity in event planning. Attendees were challenged to think beyond traditional norms and explore ways to create events that resonate with a diverse and global audience.

The presentation by Bettina Reventlow-Mourier, Deputy Director of Conventions at Wonderful Copenhagen, who introduced the “Copenhagen Risk Assessment” white paper, a comprehensive resource for the meetings industry, was also highly praised. In response to global changes and the COVID-19 crisis, the document aims to enhance understanding and awareness of risks within the industry. Copenhagen collaborated with experts and conducted surveys and interviews to address concerns of both buyers and suppliers, highlighting issues such as travel restrictions, technology, contracts, and instability. The white paper advocates for a collaborative risk-sharing approach to navigate uncertainties and stresses the importance of knowledge exchange for successful and resilient events. It focuses on three key risk pillars: strategic, financial, and operational aspects, making it particularly relevant to the business events industry as a whole.

During the event, the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) was awarded the Incredible Impacts Programme, a recognition program by the Best Cities Global Alliance and ICCA. This initiative acknowledges the broader societal impact of international association meetings beyond tourism, providing a platform to highlight and advocate for their positive contributions to society.

Beyond the conference rooms, the ICCA Congress allowed attendees to experience the unique offerings of Bangkok, the host city. Cultural excursions, culinary delights, and immersive experiences provided a well-rounded view of the destination, reinforcing the idea that events are not just about business but also about creating memorable experiences. The organization’s outstanding execution was evident throughout the event, hosting all sessions at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre. Social events were held at various offsite venues, such as the Hua Lamphong Railway Station or BEAT Active at BITEC, contributing to an overall high level of satisfaction among participants.

As the curtains came down on the ICCA Congress 2023, the echoes of collaboration, innovation, and inclusivity lingered. Attendees departed with a renewed sense of purpose, armed with fresh ideas and strategies to navigate the evolving landscape of the global events industry.

In 2024, the ICCA Congress will take place in Abu Dhabi. More info on this soon.

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