Association executives debate shape of the sector’s future at Association Day

Wednesday 26, May 2010


Association executives debate shape of the sector’s future at Association Day


The buying power, size and resilience of the global association meeting market was demonstrated yesterday when almost 300 association meeting planners gathered for the eighth IMEX Association Day at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Centre.



IMEX Association Day is a unique annual event for association meeting planners which focuses exclusively on professional education and round-table debates with each session tailored specifically to address the professional concerns of association executives. Sessions run concurrently during the day to allow delegates to achieve maximum return from their time. Association buyers regularly account for approximately 12 per cent of IMEX’s hosted buyers each year. As such, they deliver huge buying power and influence to the show. 


The Day is organised annually by IMEX and ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) with input and co-operation from many of the meetings industry’s leading global associations including AIPC, ASAE, ESAE, PCMA, IAPCO, IAEE and DMAI. 


This year’s programme concentrated on the issues of strategic planning, long-term future trends and how best to manage online content. It also included German language sessions on ‘Management Excellence’ which were devised by the German Convention Bureau working with association management company, MCI Group. 


The “strategic global planning” sessions were moderated by Greta Kotler, Chief Knowledge and Strategy Officer at ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) with contributions from speakers Chip Deale, Head of Global Society Relations at the CFA Institute (Global Association of Investment Professionals); Helga Severyns, Senior Director of the UITP (International Association of Public Transport) and Luc Hendricx, Director of IDF (Congresses and Governance for the International Diabetes Federation). These sessions examined how best to expand influence and drive up membership numbers whilst increasing loyalty. In a second session, CEO of ICCA, Martin Sirk, examined the different factors at play when deciding where to hold an international congress, using ICCA’s recently updated framework as a discussion document. A discussion about the value and purpose of online content also proved popular with delegates. Pol Van De Perre, Association Director of MCI Brussels outlined the importance of providing valuable online content for event delegates as well as how to leverage such content for revenue generation. 


The Day’s educational programme ended with the ever popular round-table sessions, organised by MCI, which give delegates the opportunity to discuss issues of their choice with their peers. This followed an exclusive snapshot of first results from the new Convention 2020 research study, whose co-founding sponsors are ICCA and IMEX. Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future Research, outlined how changing business models, technology and funding patterns are likely to transform the way in which associations plan and deliver large scale events and conferences in the next 10 years. (Further findings from this global study are being made available at different seminars throughout IMEX 2010). 


Speaking about their reaction to the Association Day programme, Jeffrey Thomson, President and CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants (USA) said: “As a professional organiser, I thought everything was incredibly well organised and planned – especially as I was looking for answers to three issues. The first being globalisation. The second managing growth and, finally, learning more about innovation.”


Mr Kare Drager, President of The International Emergency Management Society from Norway, which has members in 40 countries, commented: “I have learned a great deal and been able to share problems and gain solutions. IMEX allows me to find excellent partners worldwide.”


Association Day delegates then joined more than 500 IMEX exhibitors for a networking and cocktail reception at the Westin Grand Hotel. This reception has become the unofficial opening event of IMEX and provides an opportunity for suppliers to meet and do business with important association buyers they might not normally meet. 




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