The PCO - July 2021

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News from the International A ssociation of Professional Congress Organisers

Issue No. 96 Q3 July 2021




Discover Hamburg’s digital and hybrid diversity


| July 2021


The team from the Hamburg Convention Bureau will support you!

CONTENTS ON THE COVER Photo source: shutterstock Messages from the President and the CEO


The IAPCO Professional Team is Complete


IAPCO International Tourism &


Development Ministers’ Forum Destination Rwanda


PCMA Column: Real-Life Examples Show the


Importance of In-Person Events IAPCO Recognition Award (Interplan x VRtualX)


Online Learning and Member Engagement for



EDUCATION What’s happened and is happening


21st Century Associations Upcoming Events


IAPCO Hosted EDGE in Hangzhou


Five Things The Pandemic Reminded Us


About Member Value How Events Will Return to the Convention


Centers from a PCO Perspective Members' Headlines


Our Partners


ON POINT ARTICLES Keeping up to date with what is happening in the industry

MEMBERS’ EVENTS AND NEWS Read the full stories of our members' news on the IAPCO Knowledge Hub

The PCO: published by IAPCO Whilst every care is taken in the preparation and publishing of The PCO, the views expressed are not necessarily those of IAPCO or its members and no responsibility can be taken for articles, errors or comment. Editor: Caroline Gutierrez / Design:


OUR INDUSTRY RECOVERY IS DEPENDENT ON THE ABILITY TO TRAVEL In 2020, the world of travel came to a dramatic halt. Empty

In May 2020, IAPCO formed the National PCO Associations

airports, deserted roads and grounded airplanes were the

Task Force with 9 (now 14) associations sharing and

story of the year and the beginning of 2021. Now, as COVID

collaborating to advocate for PCOs around the globe.

vaccines become more readily available around the world,

To date, the Task Force has created the PCO Perspective

countries are making moves toward reopening and U.S.

Guide to Advocacy with JMIC, produced and shared

domestic and European airlines are seeing a dramatic

key messages regarding the re-igniting of economies

increase in summer ticket sales.

through the re-opening of business events.

During the last couple of months, airports and airlines have

Thanks to their work, we were able to deliver this week

introduced many new health and safety measures to ensure

a high-level Forum, asking 5 Tourism and Development

that passengers feel safe. And yet, people are concerned

Ministers to share their perspectives on post-pandemic

about the logistics of flying, having to take PCR tests maybe

recovery and the importance that our industry will play.

before and after each flight and having to complete detailed paperwork that may be different from country to country.

The IAPCO Ambassadors have recently delivered a number of critical publications that support both clients and our industry.

Our industry recovery is dependent on the ability to travel.

The Association Bid Guidelines for Virtual and Hybrid

Thus, we need to make sure airlines and airports ease the

Meetings was published in May 2021 alongside Best Cities

process for our delegates.

Global Alliance board members and updates on the series of 5 white papers addressing new RFP considerations,

We have seen a few initiatives like the ‘IATA Travel pass’,

recommendations for Bid Leaders and how to choose

or the ‘EU COVID Digital Certificate’, but this is not enough.

the right PCO will be released this summer.

Governments and International organisations must work together to reach global policies to ease the experience.

This semester, IAPCO’s Educational Faculty has delivered

IAPCO will engage, encourage, and support any initiative

a record number of educational programmes to meeting

in this direction.

professionals from over 60 countries. The 2nd half of 2021 looks just as busy with seminars planned for Thailand and

This was exactly the focus of our recent IAPCO Impact

Malaysia as well as IAPCO Virtual EDGE Seminars in LATAM

Dialogue “The future of Travel” with a panel of leaders

(9th-12th August) and APAC (11-14th October) and the

within the traveling industry, or our recent Forum, where

IAPCO Impact Dialogues that are broadcast monthly.

I had the privilege to ask 5 Tourism ministers about their plans for the MICE industry recovery. These interviews

It’s the coming together of people and organisations that

have been a source of hope.

share similar philosophies and commitments that make all of this possible.

On a personal note, just a few days ago, I booked my first travel since the start of the pandemic. I was as excited as

Ori intimated in his President’s Message that we will continue

a little boy traveling for the first time and I cannot wait to

to advocate for and are optimistic that international travel

do so.

returns. Whilst doing so, IAPCO will also continue to commit to delivering education and supportive initiatives through

As always, staying optimistic about our industry future.

collaborations and partnerships with people and groups that match our long-term objectives. Even more exciting

Ori Lahav, President 2020-2023


| July 2021

times lie ahead… Martin Boyle, CEO


THE IAPCO PROFESSIONAL TEAM IS COMPLETE With the arrivals of Elly and Michael in June, the HQ team at IAPCO is finally complete. Caroline, Elly, Martin, and Michael are looking forward to working together and serve IAPCO’s members and our mission for the years to come. Their common wish for this year is to get to meet each other in person: this is prevented by the current UK travel restrictions but they have hope the situation will ease in the weeks to come and turn their virtual team into something a tad more real. Meet the two new team members:



Elly will work alongside the Training Academy Chair and

Michael will be conducting IAPCO’s membership and

faculty to ensure the logistical coordination of all Education

administration with the same brio that he conducts orchestras,

Programmes for our members.

ensuring the Association continues to run smoothly and efficiently. He’ll also work closely with the Quality Committee

Elly lived in France (where she learned French) and USA

and the Committee of Ethics to ensure that IAPCO’s

for many years before returning to her native England 12

membership profile maintains its high standards and

years ago. Working and travelling abroad has highlighted

excellent business practices.

the importance of respecting cultural differences and embracing the lessons that can be learned from them.

Michael attained the highest possible grades in his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Bristol before

She studied communications and marketing and worked

working for Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir

as a freelance consultant, helping small businesses and

& Orchestras. He was then appointed the Administration,

start-ups for ten years. More recently, she worked at MCI,

Finance, and Operations Manager of the International

UK on an interim basis on both PCO and AMC teams.

Artist Managers' Association, organising their conferences for high-profile individuals from the global music sector across

Elly is a ‘people person’ with tons of energy and enthusiasm.

Europe and North America and crafting a more agile and

When she is not working or chauffeuring her three teenage

efficient business structure for the Association.

children, Elly enjoys playing tennis, sailing and e-bike-packing. She also works with a Tanzanian orphanage to improve the

An accomplished musician, he will continue dedicating half of

lives of 128 children.

his time to piano, singing, and conducting. In his spare time, Michael works with two homelessness charities in London. TEAM OVERVIEW: Martin Boyle, CEO Caroline Gutierrez, Marketing and Communication Manager Elly Butler, Education Portfolio Manager Michael Robson-Kiernan, Membership and Administration Manager | July 2021



A TALE OF OPTIMISM: 5 MINISTERS SHARE THEIR VIEWS ON THE RECOVERY OF THE BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL EVENTS INDUSTRY IN THEIR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES WITH IAPCO Foreword by Ori Lahav, IAPCO President In December 2019, when COVID-19 started making the headlines, the stories of a lock-down in Wuhan Province sounded unreal, almost dystopic from everywhere else in the world. We looked at the news in disbelief, certain that a lock-down would be impossible for us – economy shut down, schools closed: unthinkable. We blindly affirmed that the virus would remain distant and contained. After all, measures were taken to keep the virus

them on 5 key aspects of re-opening the business events sector. Videos of these interviews are available here. These interviews bring me hope, as optimism and resilience inhabit each of the messages Ministers shared : the road ahead is still long but together we go further.

Denise Guillén, Vice Minister of Tourism, Panama

out of our borders, and we believed that was enough. We

We are looking at re-opening

were collectively dismissing the nature of a virus and the

in July, with progressively

nature of our societies: in our global environment, borders

adapting our capacity

don’t matter much.

standards. We have built strong biosafety protocols

We all know what happened next. The experience was

that have met international

chaotic and uncoordinated. We quickly realised how critical collaboration is. As I was leading our first IAPCO virtual Council in May 2020, our industry was collapsing. We were in need of a better understanding of what was happening locally, and build a collective answer. We decided to call on national associations of Professional Congress Organisers (PCOs) to share knowledge and leverage local intelligence to propose a global approach. The Strategic Global Task Force of National PCO Associations, under the lead of Monica Freire and now, Alejandro Ramirez Tabche, was born. Using the combined expertise of the 9 associations and IAPCO members, the Task Force created and distributed advocacy guidelines for PCOs worldwide in collaboration with Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC).

implementing the IATA Travel Pass. We feel ready. Panama has a lot to offer, and we are confident for 2022. We are focusing on sustainability and believe it will be key to future successes.

Michelle Fridman Hirsch, Secretary of Tourism Development, Yucatan, Mexico The MICE industry represents 1.6% of global income in Mexico - which is a big part of the economy, yet we have to ensure that this is known. We see other industries being

Over the months, 14 associations joined the group and worked relentlessly to advocate for our industry as recovery plans were being established. I would like to thank each of the members for their outstanding dedication and hard work. Today, we are going a step further: we are bringing together 5 Tourism and Development Ministers to discuss their plans for the future of the meeting and events industry. I interviewed 6

standards. We are considering

| July 2021

more influential despite bringing a smaller share. The government and business organisations share a common goal: I believe they are the true heroes and the PCO is one of the key players we engage with at government level. I am very optimistic and confident that we will rise stronger, and hopefully more sustainable, inclusive and with a long

IAPCO INTERNATIONAL TOURISM & DEVELOPMENT MINISTERS’ FORUM term focus. I don’t think it is going to be easy. We will need to

Greece has been a pioneer in re-opening for international

be creative and innovative and use technology in our favour,

events. We are very proud to have initiated the idea for a

not against us. I believe that in the future we will need extra

common EU vaccination digital certificate, which was finally

motivation to travel and thus experiences will be key. We are

adopted by all member states and came into place in July 1st.

a strong and resilient industry and we will find a way.

I am optimistic about the way forward. This is a long-term opportunity to assess the way we have been doing business,

Nigel Huddleston MP, Under Secretary of State (Minister for Sport and Tourism), United Kingdom

revise our policies and bring more sustainability and more fairness.

Prior to COVID-19, the UK

The MICE industry has suffered a lot from the pandemic but

business events industry

it is time to get back up and be back stronger. We are working

was worth over £31.2 billion

together with the public sector, citizens, private sector towards

annually in direct visitor

a strong re-opening of Tourism, facilitating travel and restart of


business events.

by event attendees and it employed an estimated 700,000 people. The UK government is committed to getting the sector up

Remo Monzeglio Deputy Minister of Tourism (Tourism Undersecretary), Uruguay

and running as soon as it is safe to do so, and has made business tourism a full part of its Tourism Recovery Plan

Uruguay relies a lot on the

launched in June.

tourism industry, but we have been closed to tourism,

The government is working closely with private sector

including business tourism,

organisations and associations, such as ABPCO, as they

since 13th March 2020. It has

are an important source of data and intelligence.

been an economic disaster with huge impact.

The UK Tourism Recovery Plan will be regularly adapted to the situation and our knowledge. We are taking a cautious –

Our Ministry has worked together with all organizations in

adaptable and swift approach to re-opening business events.

related fields, including

Events of 2022 will be the springboard for visitors to come to the UK again.

AUDOCA – Uruguayan Association of Conference and Events Organizers to elaborate specific protocols for MICE tourism.

We realise much more is still be done, but our ambition is to

The sanitary passport is under study following example of

maintain and increase UK’s attractiveness for international

other countries.

events. This also gives us a chance to reflect on sustainability. There has also been a lot of work done between private sector

Sofia Zacharaki, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Greece

and government, implementing subsidies, tax exemptions and other tools to ease the economic burden which Tourism companies have been enduring during more than a year now.

The professional events and business tourism sector in

We believe the events industry will be recovering through

Greece is highly important.

2022 and Uruguay will be one of the first countries to open

It boosts tourism in quiet

up in South America, once vaccination and herd immunity is

times, generates 4 to 5 times

reached and international connectivity resumes. In the long

more spending, offers a

term, our country has lots to offer for the MICE sector.

high-end exchange of knowledge, boosts further development, and creates an

View all complete video interviews on

agenda of substance to Greece.

| July 2021



Meet in Remarkable Rwanda Reward Yourself With an Exceptional Luxury Incentive Golf Escape.



@Rwanda Convention Bureau

| July 2021



“We interrupt this regularly scheduled virtual auto show

At the same time, we have seen over the past year the power

with breaking news: There are people attending the 2021

of digital events to create communities, share knowledge, and

Shanghai Auto Show in person!”

make important connections. Our stories on the following pages don’t discount the value and benefits of online events,

That was the breathless opening line to a story capturing

nor is it a call to action to return to physical events the way

the highlights of the show on Driving, a website for auto

they were, no matter what, and simply view our past year of

enthusiasts. Not only was the mid-April Shanghai Auto Show

digital experimentation and success as a stop-gap measure.

notable because it was one of the first large in-person shows

We know theyare now part of the fabric of business events

held in China in 2021 — there were around 1,000 Chineseand

going forward.

international companies participating — it was a chance to actually look under the hood at an industry and touch, feel,

What you find going to the links on this page simply

and see its future.

demonstrate — via case-study examples — what we all know to be true: “Gathering is an essential part of being human,”

But the show in Shanghai also made headlines for another

as the hotelier and former Airbnb executive Chip Conley

reason. A disgruntled Tesla car owner seized the spotlight

told Convene — and an essential part of our society’s

on Day 1 by climbing onto the roof of a red display Model 3,

progress. We can’t wait for the live events industry to rev

repeatedly yelling, “Tesla’s brakes don’t work!” The protester

up its engines — to quote what has become an industry

captured the attention of the media, which then scrutinized

refrain among CVBs — when the time is right.

Tesla’s lackluster public response in addressing concerns about malfunctioning brakes.

Perhaps we once took for granted the larger role that face-to-face events play in our society, but the past year

Leaving aside the question of whether or not the protester had

has shown us that they are far more than economic engines.

reasonable grounds for her actions, the publicity she created

PCMA has gathered 4 case studies to show how physical

underscores an essential truth: Things happen at IRL events

events have given fledgling industries a foot-hold and path

that can’t be replicated in URL. It would be hard to imagine

to success. Access all case studies on the PCMA website.

a complaint in the chat box of a virtual platform generating similar attention.

| July 2021




VRrtualX is the proud recipient of the 2021 IAPCO Best

Christine Kiendl, from Interplan, shares her experience

Supplier Recognition award, nominated by Interplan. VRtualX

working with VRtualX:

conceives and implements VR, AR and software projects that are able to extend virtual congresses and create attractive

“Congresses are about experiences, about meeting

and user-friendly settings.

fellow professionals, about networking and interpersonal connections. With the pandemic hitting us in 2020, we

VRtualX entered this specialised field at the beginning

wondered how would it be possible to transfer all of this

of the pandemic and they rapidly gained an up-to-date

toa virtual world without losing our delegates or industry

understanding of the situation, anticipated needs of their

partners along the way.

clients and started developing tailored software solutions with an impressive speed and quality.

VRtualX seemed to be the perfect supplier to re-create the congress experience and to make the feeling of a

Interplan believes that the accessible and innovative

meet-up tangible.

combination of face to face meetings & virtual worlds will strengthen the outreach of congresses in the future. To them,

When I first started working with VRtualX, it felt like pioneering

a partnership with VRtualX will guarantee the right ideas at the

towards the moon landing for me. All this new vocabulary,

right time and state-of-the-art implementation for their clients.

technical terms and environment. Nevertheless, VRtualX turned

Interplan values the open exchange relationship they have

out to be best partner for this endeavour! Working fast-paced,

with VRtualX as a key success factor in their ability to design

straightforward and creative – just as ourselves.

and implement many outstanding projects in the shortest possible time and delivering state-of-the-art virtual events.

In just over 2 months’ time, thanks to their flexibility in workflows, we transformed a complex onsite meeting into


| July 2021


VRtualX seemed to be the perfect supplier to re-create the congress experience and to make the feeling of a meet-up tangible.

IAPCO DRIVING EXCELLENCE – RECOGNITION AWARD Too often our suppliers go unrecognised, when in fact they are the fundamental foundation of a successful event. Recognising their service, commitment and delivery is what this award is all about. Find out more and nominate now on To watch the virtual award ceremony in a VRtualX environment: About VRtualX:

a virtual congress. Together with VRtualX and a streaming supplier, we built an online experience reflecting all features of a “normal” congress: lectures, industry symposia, networking and an innovative virtual industry exhibition with over 40 booths. And were unexpectedly overwhelmed with positive feedback from our delegates, our client and even the pharmaceutical industry! After this initial success, we stuck with the credo “never change a winning formula" and thus, from July 2020 until today, realised a variation of projects in individual settings together with VRtualX. As the meeting industry is ever changing, rapidly developing new ideas, we are currently involved with VRtualX in creating innovative concepts for hybrid congresses, leading us into the future of the “new normal” in meetings.”

| July 2021 11



Many aspects of our lives have recently shifted to online

match your existing learning objectives. If not, it’s time to

solutions, and that includes learning. Educational institutions

design content from scratch.

were among the first to switch to online platforms at the start of the pandemic and were able to provide continuity of service

But before doing that, it is useful to understand the key

even amidst serious disruption. Many of these institutions

guidelines that help create an engaging learning environment.

already used online learning platforms, while others combined e-learning with traditional classroom environments. In any

Setting Up A Productive Learning Environment

case, their preparedness paid off. To create a motivating virtual classroom environment, Educational institutions aren’t the only organisations that can

carefully plan design, features, and content.

benefit from implementing digital learning. Online learning strategies are open to any organisation that wants to spread

Sustaining motivation can be harder in e-learning

knowledge and help others grow. Since these elements are

environments than in face to face settings, especially since

at the heart of professional associations, it makes sense to

many professionals today struggle with online fatigue.

examine how you can incorporate online learning for better member engagement.

To combat this, Learning theories, the ERGA learning model – Experience, Reflect (observe) Generalize and Apply,

The First Steps In Designing Effective Online Learning Strategies For Member Engagement

mentioned by our Congrex’ Account Manager Jeff Bateman in this interview, or the ARCS Model Of Motivational Design Theories can be applied to e-learning contexts:

First, ensure all stakeholders understand the benefits of strengthening your online learning programme.

1. Attention

The second step involves requesting feedback about your

Educators with experience teaching online know that

members’ needs, since they may have changed over the

surprising or challenging the learner is a good way of getting

past year.

their attention and preventing boredom. Achieve this by delivering content in multiple formats and catering to different

Once you define those needs, balance them against your

learning styles (i.e. expanding beyond long-form content and

association’s goals. Key questions to ask include:

including videos, tutorials, quizzes, etc.).

• Where is the common ground?

2. Relevance

• Which of those needs must be prioritised? Content should be relevant to your members’ goals and skills Next, match needs and learning objectives. In short, decide

and must be designed to have a practical application. Make

what will members accomplish once the learning process is

sure to use real-life examples, case studies, and group work

complete. If your association already offers training (whether

that fosters the exchange of professional experiences.

in person or via online courses), determine if current needs 12

| July 2021


and collaborating in small groups Do not overlook this aspect when designing online learning experiences.

Members who feel valued and confident in their contribution to an association are more likely to be fully engaged in the

Discussion groups, forums, chat rooms, and panel discussions

learning process. Make sure to request feedback often and act

can all facilitate interaction and promote active participation.

upon the findings. This will support students in achieving their

Their success is based on the principles of collaborative

learning outcomes.

learning, which prioritises group work, peer teaching, and shared experiences.

4. Satisfaction At the same time, planning activities that encourage Platform design, user experience, and content should

interaction can strengthen the reputation of your

reinforce the value and enjoyment found in the learning

association as a community-oriented organisation.

experience. And when learners are satisfied with their achievements, they are more likely to get involved in

Assessments, Rewards & Incentives

future training. Well-designed assessments can keep students motivated.

Choosing A Learning Management System

Ideally, you want to use a mix of formal and informal methods. Make sure to clearly outline goals and assessment criteria

Modern learning management systems (LMS) are built to be

from the start.

accessible and engaging, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Here you can find an overview of LMS

Moreover, self-evaluation methods (such as portfolio-based

features that are particularly useful

assessments) can contribute to deeper learning given

to associations.

that they encourage students to reflect on the practical and personal value of educational content.

The best LMS platforms have a strong focus on eLearning Content Standards. These are technical

Do not limit rewards and incentives to conventional

specifications that set the necessary foundations to sustain

certificates. In addition, use virtual badges, leaderboards,

high student engagement levels and include standards for

and online award ceremonies to reward students work

assessing work, uploading content, and facilitating member

and to acknowledge their progress.

discussions. Similarly, micro-credentials are already on the rise in The key is choosing the platform that facilitates the

the labour market and can be applied to any learning setting.

highest possible degree of personalisation, irrespective

This requires dividing the learning process into multiple

of how and when students access the content. In practical

stages, each associated with a skill, topic, or competence.

terms, this means choosing a system that lets you create

The model suits self-directed or self-paced learning, which

individual learning paths and that follows the

is often preferred among working professionals who are used

anywhere-anytime model.

to organising their workload and setting their own goals.

Ease of use is another important consideration. Even simple


actions like being able to log in from a social media platform like LinkedIn (where members may already have a profile)

In the era of online learning, virtual training and education

can ease the path towards their learning goals.

programmes are valuable tools that can help associations achieve higher member engagement. The key is to formulate

Networking & Interaction in off and online learning

a strategy that unites association goals and your members’ professional development needs and to ensure that

Professional learning programmes are rarely 100%

interactive, collaborative, and personalised methods and

educational. In-person events and courses also have a strong

content permeate every aspect of your association’s online

social component. They present opportunities for networking

learning strategy. | July 2021 13


UPCOMING EVENTS Impact Dialogues IAPCO Impact Dialogues are monthly one-hour, online panel discussions designed to trigger reflection and discussion amongst industry practitioners. Impact dialogues are free and open to all.

July 29

IAPCO Impact Dialogue, supported by Destination Toronto. “Innovation and cyber-security in the meetings industry.” IAPCO Innovation Award will also be presented by IMEX.

August 31 IAPCO Impact Dialogue, presented by Rwanda Convention Bureau September 28 IAPCO Impact Dialogue, presented by Hong Kong Tourism Board

EDGE Seminars IAPCO Edge Seminars are multiple-day-seminars designed for meetings and events professionals to build new skills and refresh their practices. The programme is a mix of lectures and practical workshops. Registration is open to members and non-members, with a fee.

August 9-12 Programme, speakers and registration information:

October 11-14 Save the date.

Hosted EDGE Seminars IAPCO Hosted Edge is a programme designed for organisations wishing to tailor an Edge Seminar for a specific audience (limited to an organisation, country, specific topic…). If you are interested in hosting an EDGE Seminar for your community, we will work with you in designing and delivering the perfect programme. IAPCO will send a team of experts appropriate to the seminar content or we can deliver a seminar remotely in virtual formats. Registration is restricted and managed by host.

TCEB 14/15 July :


Hosted EDGE 25/26 August: Advanced - date subject to change due to current restrictions MyCEB/KLCC 25/27 August Hosted EDGE

Full calendar of events: 14

| July 2021



IAPCO hosted EDGE, a customized version of the IAPCO Edge

Trainees left the training recharged, and with new confidence

seminars tailored to the specific needs and requirements of a

to successfully lead future industry development. They will

community, has been offered in China since 2016. For the first

join the growing network of IAPCO Edge alumni in China to

time this year, and with the support of Hangzhou Meeting and

continue collaboration.

Incentive Tourism Industry Association, the training was successfully held in Hangzhou from 2 to 4 June. Over two-thirds of the 63 participants chose to participate in the face-to-face training in Hangzhou, the rest joined online. Unable to travel, the international faculty lead by Stephen Noble, Managing Director of the Conference Company in Australia taught remotely, with the support of CarolTong

Trainees left the training recharged, and with new confidence to successfully lead future industry development

and Alicia Yao onsite to drive activities and coordinate simultaneous translation.

About IAPCO hosted EDGE seminars: Would you like to benefit from the high quality standards of IAPCO

Coming from a broad spectrum of backgrounds – from the

Education and organized a programme tailored to the

traditional MICE industry companies to the more unusual

needs of your organization or community? IAPCO Faculty

interactive movie and intelligent production- and different

will work with you in building and delivering a programme

parts of China, the high professional level group of trainees

meeting your requirements in terms of topics, level, and

actively engaged with peers and presenters to maximise

languages. Contact us for more info:

the value of their participation. In addition to the knowledge gained in meeting design and

IAPCO Edge in China is an initiative lead by Alicia Yao,

management, they particularly enjoyed gaining international

Managing Director of IME Consulting CO., Ltd.

perspective, discovering new markets and business opportunities, unique management methods and fresh ways to collaborate. | July 2021 15




Educator Randy Paush once said that “Experience is what you

But beyond just being a business necessity, diversifying our

get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” There’s no question

associations’ offerings is also a sound member value strategy.

that the global pandemic has prevented us as association pro-

Associations that had pinned their entire value proposition on

fessionals from getting many of the things that we wanted for

one or two conferences saw large drops in membership during

our associations and ourselves. But as we look to the future,

the pandemic, whereas those that were able to occupy a more

this is the perfect time to consider the experience we’ve gained

holistic role as industry advisors, advocates, and relationship

and how it can help us to refocus on member value. Here are a

brokers saw membership numbers stay much more resilient

few that stand out for me.

in the face of event cancellations or shifts to virtual. Going forward, the most successful associations will be the ones that

1. The value of trust is at an all-time high.

deliver a broad variety of offerings, to avoid major disruptions to both their revenue and their value proposition.

Study after study shows that the pandemic has accelerated the already declining level of public trust in institutions. This is a huge challenge for associations and society at large, but here’s

3. The “cannibalization” of live events by virtual ones is a myth.

one potential silver lining - associations that can still manage to earn and maintain high levels of trust among their audienc-

Has there ever been a bigger moment for virtual events than

es can shine like never before.

2020 and 2021? Thanks to the pandemic, even the staunchest luddites have been taking 10 video calls a day and even the

Research for the American Society of Association Executives’

humblest of virtual event tech startups is fending off funding

"Impact of Associations on Society” study showed that associ-

and acquisition offers left and right.

ation professionals, members, and nonmembers rated associations’ role as a “trusted source of information” as their most

And yet, at the same time, is there anyone who isn’t desperate

important role in the past and present and for the future. Diffi-

to get back to in-person travel and conferences? If virtual at its

cult to earn, and very easy to lose, this “trust score” will be our

peak still hasn’t replaced the demand for in-person events, can

most important currency going forward, and a key element of

we finally just put this age-old fear to rest once and for all?

how stakeholders evaluate our member value proposition.

Going forward, I hope we can all start doing what savvy associations always have, that is – recognizing live and virtual

2. Live events have to be part of a diversified portfolio of revenue streams.

events as two powerful tools in our toolbox and using each to its greatest advantage to deliver member value. Let’s use our live events to create impactful, world-class experiences that

As an association management consultant, I find that revenue

surprise and delight, and create meaningful connections be-

diversification is unfortunately one of those conversations

tween people. And let’s leverage virtual to deliver convenient,

that boards don’t really value until it becomes concrete. As the

just-in-time, bite-sized chunks of learning, engagement, and

pandemic sidelined the in-person conferences that many as-

key messaging.

sociations were relying on for most, if not all, of their nondues revenue, revenue diversification became an urgent topic out of necessity. 16

| July 2021



One thing that associations can still do better than anyone else is to make meaningful connections between members

4. Members are hungry for innovation (and ready to forgive growing pains).

For instance, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants created a "Talking Series," identifying vulnerable and emerging sectors early in the pandemic and setting up

In the early days of the pandemic, the rug was abruptly pulled

discussions via Microsoft Teams to help bring members

out from under us, and we found ourselves trying to reinvent

together, share their experiences and support each other.

our entire business models overnight. In some cases, we

ACCA Member Engagement Manager Amanda Thurlow said,

succeeded. For instance, Christina Lewellen, Executive Director

“We have used the insight gained to help guide content, target

of the Association of Technology Leaders in Independent

issues and shape government responses. By getting closer to

Schools (ATLIS), and her team successfully replanned the as-

more members, we have been able to talk to them about what

sociation’s annual conference to be fully virtual, managing to

is affecting them, showcase members via our channels, and

retain almost 100% of the collected registration and sponsor-

invite them to contribute to research.”

ship revenue, and delivering an innovative new experience to members at the same time. Lewellen said, "We know that our

What lessons about member value has the pandemic

value to our community lies in the thought leadership and col-

highlighted for you? I’d love to hear from you on twitter at

laboration our events encourage. Our members were open to

@ml_riley or via email at

innovation and new ideas in terms of how we met their needs, and at the same time they also knew they could rely on us to provide the same value we had always delivered." We’re often afraid to innovate because we’re worried that if we make a mistake, we’ll be criticized by our members, but the pandemic reminded us that when we’re intentional, transparent, and enthusiastic about trying out innovative new ways to deliver value, stakeholders are actually happy to tolerate a few bumps in the road.

Matt Riley, CAE, is the Director of Associations for IAPCO member ICS, an internationally recognized full service PCO

5. Making connections is more important than ever (and associations still do this better).

and association management company with over 40 years of experience managing global medical, academic, and scientific conferences, and societies.

One thing that associations can still do better than anyone else is to make meaningful connections between members. From

A Certified Association Executive, Matt has held senior

hackathons that pair members with industry to tackle exciting

leadership positions in numerous associations including the

challenges to scheduled virtual “brain dates” to mentoring,

National Court Reporters Association and Shop Environments

associations have a unique ability to build bridges, rally indi-

Association, and he also worked as a PCO in London, providing

viduals around an issue, and encourage them to share their

event management and strategy guidance to European and

ideas and passions.

North American association clients.

| July 2021 17



• 79.5% agreed that they had a strong preference to use

opinions as to how venues will be affected, and how they need

external meeting platform suppliers of the PCO choice

to adapt, from 2021 onwards, to ensure a return of meetings within their facilities.

• 70.2% agreed that their expectations were that venues should have a full virtual technology infrastructure

The statistics compiled from the IAPCO 2020 Member Survey regarding PCO expectations of a venue in terms of

• 46% had a strong preference for in-house venue hybrid

their virtual technology offerings revealed that:

meeting platform capabilities.


| July 2021

ON POINT ARTICLES • A more sophisticated infrastructure regarding technology able to deal with live streaming of sessions from all meeting rooms and offering a wide range of technological solutions becomes a must for venues. One positive aspect of Hub & Spoke events is that several venues will be needed in multiple geographical regions for one and the same meeting. This opens up a whole new range of

IF VENUES WANT TO HOST ASSOCIATION MEETINGS IN THE FUTURE Opinion: André Vietor Managing Director, Bco Congresos In my opinion venues and convention centres should see the future with a degree of optimism as long as they know how to adapt to the changing market requirements. After more than 12 months of organizing solely virtual events we can already see a certain fatigue of meeting online resulting in a strong desire to meet in person. The meetings formats,

opportunities for venues to become a satellite hub for a conference connecting with the central hub chosen at a determined location. For everyone who is part of the business events industry, all we can do at this moment is be prepared to adapt to a fast-changing environment.

For everyone who is part of the business events industry, all we can do at this moment is be prepared to adapt to a fast-changing environment.

however, that will dominate the market tomorrow are Hybrid Events and Hub & Spoke. Both have direct implications for venues who want to host association meetings: • The meeting size will most probably shrink. The primary reason for using less space than in the past is due to the fact that a percentage of attendees and exhibitors will wish to continue to participate online. • Creativity and flexibility of venues with regard to meeting design in order to enhance the overall experience of the conference participants will dominate. Venues will have to show an ability to meet the increasing client expectations and to offer innovative solutions in this regard. • Going Hybrid as well as Hub & Spoke are increasing the overall cost structure of the event for clients and therefore competitive pricing is key to attract them. • Showing flexibility with regard to postponement or cancellation of the conference relating to Force Majeure, or offering an insurance covering these aspects, will be needed in order to make feel clients comfortable and “safe”.

WHAT THE ORGANIZERS/ PCOS NEED Opinion: Vicky Marmolejo, Kenes Group Latin America We are looking for destinations, venues and local infrastructures which have solid safety protocols in place in order to reduce the health risks at events thus creating an environment where our clients can hold inspiring meetings.

| July 2021 19


Venues and convention centres which have many of the services needed by conference organizers in-house will benefit, in part by being able to guarantee that strict safety regulations are followed. Those structures which have extensive space will further benefit, making social distancing a possibility even for larger events. Many of the convention centres around the world are equipped with high-speed internet, essential for broadcasting to virtual audiences and which will be of great importance to attract future bookings. Some venues have made adaptations during the pandemic creating top-notch studios within their facilities, offering a variety of possibilities and creating yet another dimension for hybrid events.

Opinion: Mariano Castex, Managing Director Latam Region, MCI GROUP My opinion is not going to say anything new but it needs emphasising. After a year without any real operations in convention centers and hotels with convention facilities, one can only admire the magic of the administrators of these venues in keeping

Face-to-face meetings are a crucial component of the world economy and continue to be a strategic tool for associations and companies alike. CVBs will have to work closely with their partners to ensure that regulations are correctly implemented and communicated to PCOs. Face-to-face meetings are a crucial component of the world economy and continue to be a strategic tool for associations and companies alike. Having competitive pricing, good protocols in place, and booking flexibility, will all play a part in future bookings. We believe in the potential of LATAM venues, and we are looking forward to returning to in-person events soon. With the advancement of administered vaccines in the region, the fact that borders are mostly open, conferences and events will, in my view, return in-person very soon to the region. 20


| July 2021

them open. Indeed, today, many have developed interesting television studios within their facilities, adapting the halls and pavilions to a new reality: that of virtuality. The issue on which I want to focus is how these structures are going to reach the end of this prohibition to meet. I say this because I think that COVID-19 will not go away. We are going to have to operate meetings whilst living with this virus for many years. Hybridity will be the new reality.

venues are now asking the organizers for guarantees with their events, guarantees that the organizers are unable to give due to the variables beyond their control But not knowing when the end will be reached is generating tension between venues and organizers. The flexibility that was key throughout 2020 seems to have faded. The venues

ON POINT ARTICLES are now asking the organizers for guarantees with their events, guarantees that the organizers are unable to give due to t he variables beyond their control. From the moment an organizer decides to start organising/hosting a meeting, thousands of dollars have to be invested in order for it to be activated - investments that do not have the support of Governments. The organizer also has to manage for 365 days without being able to invoice for any revenue - with debts and many without liquidity.

In my opinion the industry will be reactivated with small events in the last quarter of 2021 and moving into 2022 with hybrid events. To this end, it is essential that venues and convention centers

It is understandable that venues require payments and

can accommodate the current needs of education, training

guarantees in order to maintain their assets. But what I'm

and communication through digital and technological tools

wondering is where are the states, where are the cities in this

that generate a low touch experience by adopting measures

scenario? What role do they play and will they, in the future,

involving low touch interactions to both the organizer and

play? As is already well known and amply demonstrated,

participant such as optical code reading, facial recognition,

local communities always benefit from holding these

streaming, broadcasting, among others.

meetings which, in turn, implies that cities must also play a role in enabling these meetings to be held in their

The market discovered a new form of interaction across

communities. The states, the cities, need to collaborate to

customizable digital platforms and, in turn, the events have

neutralize the financial tensions, with concrete realities.

a lower financial capacity as a result of a battered economy in a recovery process stage. The industry is aware that it is essential to achieve market re-uptake strategies: finding in exhibitions an opportunity to reactivate the events; obtaining a greater presence of participants eager for interaction; attending to a sociological need of the human being; adapting its duration; and prioritizing the controlled capacity per day. Venues and convention centers must become a strategic ally of the organizer taking into account the facilities and


flexibility that the market itself will demand, both economically and operationally.

Opinion: Alejandro Ramirez Tabche, CEO, BTC, Mexico The business model has evolved as a result of the global situation; the market today is not only focused on meetings but the communication expectations which demand to stay connected through the different platforms that today have demonstrated an evolution in daily life. In my opinion the industry will be reactivated with small events in the last quarter of 2021 and moving into 2022 with hybrid events.

| July 2021 21



The web-platform

the Digital Evolution', a communications campaign dedicated

is a content hub which includes videos, quizzes, infographics

to health professionals and the public. It aims to raise

and in-depth information on scientific topics of interest to

awareness of lung health, air quality and sustainable practices.

healthcare professionals and the public (e.g., the incidence

The project is made possible by unconditional support

of respiratory problems related to air pollution).

from the Pharmaceutical Company the Chiesi Group.

Read more



| July 2021


BCO CONGRESOS PRESENTS SOME KEY FIGURES OF BCO CONNECTS, A NEW BRAND AND SERVICES INTRODUCED IN 2020 Member: Bco Congresos Some key figures published by Bco Congresos do clearly

The Managing Director of Bco Congresos,

demonstrate the ability of the company to innovate and

André Vietor, comments:

reinvent its business model, to adapt their services to the circumstances of the current pandemic and to continue

“As of March last year the entire team of professionals of Bco

assisting their clients by creating value attending the

Congresos was intensively working towards the goal of provid-

demand of the rapidly changing market needs.

ing new solutions and a 360º service for all our clients in Europe and Latin America. These new service introduced under the

The company philosophy and ambition to continuously

brand name Bco Connects not only add value to virtual and

improve their products and services led to the development of

hybrid events for our clients but offers the most advanced

Bco Connects in 2020, an exclusive service 360º that offers full

technical solutions at highly competitive rates. The figures

online management of virtual and hybrid events.

shown in the infographic do clearly reflect how well this service was received by our clients and increases our enthusiasm to continue developing new services and products.”

ADMEI 2021 – SUCCESSFUL RECHARGE Member: Kenes, Portugal With a global presence, the Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI) is the voice of DMCs. Their 2021 conference was planned to take place in Lisbon, but due to the non-permitting situation in February, they had to change the format. Lacking knowledge of how to produce a virtual event, they started looking for a partner – choosing Kenes Group from among 15 other companies. Read more

| July 2021 23



AIM Group International supported the International

to a brand-new way to meet during their first full virtual

Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP)

congress, IASP 2020 Virtual Conference, titled The Human

to completely innovate their annual conference, pivoting

Factor. Connecting People, Communities and their Innovation Ecosystems. Read more


The German Parkinson and Movement Disorder Congress

was forced to postpone the scheduled on-site congress from

takes place biannually and moves from congress location

March 2021 to March 2022. However, the two organizing asso-

to another within Germany, CPO HANSER SERVICE has been

ciations, the German Association for Parkinson and Movement

organising the congress for a long time. With the Covid-19

Disorders and the Botulinum Toxin Working Group, agreed to

pandemic putting the on-site congress business on hold, the

offer a shorter virtual highlights event instead of simply going

German Association for Parkinson and Movement Disorders

into hiatus. Read more


| July 2021



When you invest in a woman, change happens. Because when

there is a Woman, there is Magic!” aiming at recognizing

a woman thrives, a family thrives, a community prospers, an

women in leading roles who are shaping the present and

entire nation creates the foundations for peace and prosperity.

future of communities & business worldwide. Shedding lights on extraordinary women who are helping to change the lives

We are not alone. Companies all over the world are focusing

of girls & women around the world. Read more

on the power of women to create big and lasting change. Recently ICOM Group created a campaign called “Where


In the effort to celebrate the role of Women in the Meetings

various campaigns and actions, launched around the world

& Tourism Industry, as well as to highlight the power of the

on the International Women’s Day (March 8th 2021).

female element in Business in general, AFEA participated in

Read more

| July 2021 25


During the 2nd week of March, we had the pleasure of implementing the 3rd edition of “Bahrain Diabetes and Endocrine Review Conference - BDER” from 11 – 13 Mar. 2021. Due to the severe impact of COVID-19, and as the past several months witnessed the suspension of several physical

to shift the event to be in a virtual mode to maintain the safety & health of the attendees. Thanks to ICOM technical team - the event was livestreamed via a 3D platform providing an engaging experience to all attendees. Read more

gatherings and events. The board members of BDER decided



| July 2021


IAPCO member MCI announced it has appointed Oscar

sustainability, and creative solutions that enable

Cerezales as Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). Oscar will advance

organisations to excel and achieve their goals.

the global strategy and positioning of the agency as a connector of people, ideas, and projects.

Reporting directly to CEO Sebastien Tondeur, Oscar will be a key member of the Executive Leadership Team. Oscar

In his new role, Oscar will further guide MCI’s strategy,

Cerezales has extensive experience in the international

alliances, and partnerships to support clients’ go-to-market

meetings and events industry, having worked for the company

plans, transformation, and growth. He will be responsible for

for almost fifteen years across Europe, APAC and LATAM.

driving and integrating hybrid business models, technology,


Spotted on Social Media: While Europe was sleeping, C-IN was busy delivering day 3 of the Virtual Congress for the International Confederation of Midwives. | July 2021 27


DESTINATION PARTNERS Long-term partners of IAPCO, each representing specific regions of the world

webEDGE Supporters of web-EDGE educational programme

HOSTS, SERVICE PROVIDERS & CONVENTION CENTRES Recognising convention centres and suppliers to the meetings industry who provide an insight into current trends, latest innovations, advice and tips and quality service.

Service Provider

Convention Centre


| July 2021

Service Provider

Annual Meeting Host 2022

Service Provider

Powering the IAPCO Day