Conference Design

Initiating Changes for a Better World

24th March 2022

These are times of changes – changes that some destinations, like Paris, have embraced with open arms. After all, this is a good opportunity for innovation, when one has to let go of old habits. This Paris has clearly understood: with collaboration, engagement and sustainability as lodestars, it’s building back a better meetings world and actively preparing the 2024 Olympic Games.

Words Remi Deve

2021 ended on a high note for Paris, as it hosted the European hub of the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) Congress at the end of October. Organized in a hybrid format, the event gathered about 1500 event professionals, in-person and online, who discussed and exchanged on topics such as innovation, sustainable tourism, and other major challenges related to the future of the meetings industry, like technology and inclusion.

“Hosting the 60th ICCA Congress was definitely a milestone for us,” explains Corinne Menegaux, General Director of the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The hybrid format allowed us to showcase the extreme resilience of our industry, while highlighting our commitment to sustainability at the same time. Paris cannot but play an active role in the building of a better tomorrow, and we do believe hospitality as a whole can play an instrumental part in it. The French capital is by essence hospitable and the ICCA Congress really demonstrated this.”

All things sustainable

Paris, indeed, is a frontrunner in all things sustainable. As it’s working to be carbon-neutral by 2050, it wants to become the capital city of sustainability, especially when it comes to hosting events. As such, it wants to attract congresses and conferences that have a positive impact, not only on the destination itself but also on the local communities. The aim is to contribute positively to the city’s economic and social growth – as was recommended by the first Sustainable Tourism Conferences that took place in Paris last summer. The Conferences identified several areas which could be improved: they encouraged, for instance, a short supply chain approach for all Parisian stakeholders.

“The whole supply chain – institutions, private companies, venues, agencies – have clearly grown aware they will lose if they don’t promote responsible, eco-friendly behaviours,” explains Corinne Menegaux. “Event venues are at the forefront of this approach and adapting to a rapidly changing sector. Best practices that meet the new ecological requirements of association organizers are now an added value that will make the scale tip the right way for Paris.”

This of course doesn’t come as a surprise for a destination that has always occupied the top of the lists of the best meeting cities in the world. The French capital, which has proudly topped the ICCA ranking in 2019 and 2020, is persistently reinventing itself to welcome large-scale events, with state-of-the-art, constantly renewed infrastructure and an exceptional know-how in hosting scientific congresses.

In this regard, content is key. Paris is known for having a strong expertise and savoir-faire in many major fields such as sports, science, culture, creation, and fashion, and has established itself as a major innovation hub. This attractiveness is also due the city’s prestige and its hosting capacity but to the fact that event organizers are always enriching their offers with new experiences as well– which is paramount for conference delegates. In Paris in fact, attendance in international events is on average 20% higher than anywhere else: a percentage that has everything to do with the fact that the French capital never stay at a standstill – even during the pandemic. In Paris, as you would expect, new exhibitions, like the ones on Gaudí at the Musée d’Orsay or Charles Ray at the newly-opened Bourse du Commerce for instance, or openings happen on a weekly basis.

Turned toward the stars

This must have played a role for the selection of Paris to organize the 2022 International Astronautical Congress. Hosted by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), a member of International Astronautical Federation since 1981, it will welcome the burgeoning global ecosystem of start-ups, entrepreneurs, laboratories, research scientists and manufacturers who are involved in space activities or benefit from them. 

It may not be known, but the heart of French space but also of European space beats from Paris,” explains Philippe Collot, Congress Director at CNES. “The headquarters of CNES and the European Space Agency are located in the French capital. Many other activities related to space technologies – whether institutional, industrial or scientific – are also based in Paris or in the Ile de France region. Because of its influence or its central position in Europe that is very well connected to the rest of the world, Paris is a ‘hub’ where the world can ideally meet up.”

Meanwhile, Paris is also excitedly anticipating the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. Such mega events usually represent a factor of acceleration and engagement: the Paris candidacy was based on the principles of responsibility, community impact, and infrastructure improvement. As such, the Games will allow Paris to showcase to the world its sense of hospitality and the richness of its cultural offer in all areas of endeavours, while implementing major sustainable projects, with new venues, revegetation of key spaces and the promotion of soft mobility altogether. In this context, the City of Paris and the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, with the support of Paris 2024, recently launched ‘bienVenue 2024’, a free platform aimed to facilitate the interactions and the networking between exceptional venues and professionals.

Our major challenge and our vision for the years to come is to make sure that events we host, no matter what format or size, are embedded in our local ecosystem,” concludes Corinne Menegaux. “Events cannot happen in a vacuum. Our role is to make sure that they have an impact, that everybody benefits from them, no matter where they stand on the value or the supply chain.”

More information on Paris as a congress destination:

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