Current Affairs

Simply Reconnected

4th November 2021

It was the event everybody was waiting for. From 17 to 19 October, PCMA, the Professional Convention Management Association, organized its first post-pandemic EMEA conference, which had been known as the European Influencer Summit in the past. Hosted by the SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne, the conference, aptly themed ‘Simply reconnecting’ brought together some 300 professionals, primarily from North America and Europe. 

Words Remi Deve

One of the largest international associations of event management professionals, PCMA is known for putting some good content out there, whether at its flashing conference, Convening Leaders, or now at PCMA Convening EMEA, which was organized as a hybrid event this year. In that sense, the latter, attended by a wide variety of participants working across the whole meetings industry chain – associations, corporate planners, suppliers (but don’t call them that!) – didn’t disappoint.

Three pillars

The program for both online and in-person participants revolved around 3 pillars: ‘Talent’, or how to attract, retain and upskill talent for tomorrow’s re-designed workstyles; ‘Future’, where the audience explored new business models, and learned how to engage members thanks to innovative marketing approaches in a post COVID world; and ‘ROI’, which was designed as a journey through the models and economics of omnichannel events.

Keynote speakers included Howard Yu, Lego Professor of Management and Innovation, IMD Business School, who urged the audience to “reset for growth”, thanks to the LEAP strategy: Succeeding in today’s marketplace is no longer just a matter of mastering the old; companies also need to continue the discovery process, harnessing new strategies and advancements in technology while leveraging shifts in the marketplace. Meanwhile, Yves Pigneur, professor at the University of Lausanne, outlined what is required from leaders and organizations to survive and thrive in today’s world. He described how to design an innovation culture, innovation portfolios, while remaining world-class at managing the existing business.

Ample time was of course given to networking because this is also what was the conference was designed for: it was the first post-pandemic trip for many participants, the occasion for them to reconnect with old friends and make new one.

Change for better outcomes

Sherrif Karamat, PCMA CEO & President, emphasized the value of face-to-face meetings again. “If you share a common experience, then change can happen”, he said. “But maybe don’t look at change for the sake of it, but more for the outcome it’s going to create.”

The event also saw the launch of a white paper by the Strategic Alliance of the Convention Bureaux of Europe, which provided a shared vision of the convention bureau of the future and a visionary roadmap for further developing the role of convention bureaux in the coming decade. In this regard, the role of bureaux has definitely changed and DMOs are now seen as strategists, facilitators, experts and communicators. The white paper also highlighted the need for joint action and collaboration to rebuild the business events ecosystem in a more resilient and sustainable way.

PCMA Convening EMEA offered an opportunity to showcase the assets of Lausanne, the canton of Vaud and Switzerland for the organization of conferences and business events to the participating experts. Offsite tours were particularly appreciated, whether the deep-dive into Montreux Jazz Digital Project, which is bringing together 5,000 concerts representative of the greatest artists and musical trends of the last 50 years, a stroll around nearby vineyards complete with wine-tasting, and the inspiring presentation by Swiss explorer Raphaël Domjan, who achieved the first trip around the globe on the largest solar-powered boat in the world. 

“We were particularly pleased with the choice of Lausanne and Switzerland to host our first face-to-face meeting in Europe since 2019,” said Jaimé Bennett, PCMA’s Regional Director EMEA. “At a time when connection is not only key, but essential for post-pandemic success in our industry, Convening EMEA was a catalyst for how the industry recovers in the region. Additionally, we felt holding this revitalized event in the Olympic capital of Lausanne not only enhanced the program but also assisted us in creating a truly immersive experience for attendees.” 

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