The 54th ICCA Congress in Buenos Aires posted a record attendance for North America and set out a five-year expansion plan, as well as taking time to tango. Paul Colston reports.
The president of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Nina Freysen-Pretorius unveiled a five-year strategic plan for expansion for the global association at its General Assembly in Buenos Aires, in November 2015.
The association’s chief executive Martin Sirk told delegates meeting in La Rural convention centre in the Argentinian capital that 766 attendees had attended the Congress, an all time record for the Americas.
The congress proper followed the General Assembly with an opening ceremony at the Centro Cultural Kirchner.
Freysen-Pretorius had told the General Assembly her leadership would mean a more active association. “ICCA should be an actor, a shaper of events not a member of the audience,” she said.
The president laid out the framework of the board’s new Strategic Plan and underlined ICCA’s mission statement: “To be the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry, creating competitive advantage.”
The big idea to come through from the new plan was investment in a push to bring association executives into the fold, rather than continuing to promote the supplier-client relationship alone.
The new direction, Sirk added, was based on a 33% membership response rate to a survey, which showed members wanted ICCA to play a bigger role in advocacy for the industry.
In other financial and budget reports, Sirk said the association’s membership was up last year from 962 to 995 and he expected membership to hit 1,030 in the New Year.
The chief executive reported a surplus of €41,00 and reserves of €1.13m.
The expansion of the association’s administration continues, with Sirk announcing new regional offices in Dubai and South Africa. New directors will take up their posts in January 2016.
The General Assembly voted to hold the membership fees’ increase to 1%, although 25% voted against even that small rise, which Sirk had said was in line with Dutch inflation.
New technology efficiencies and more members, Sirk said, rather than any above inflation hikes in fees, was the route the board had taken to expand the association’s reach and efficiency.
The General Assembly also heard Houston named as the host of the 2019 ICCA Congress.
A convention centre still under construction won the ICCA Best Marketing Award, thanks to some innovative pre-opening branding.
Halifax Convention Centre, in Nova Scotia, came out ahead in a stronger than usual final of four, including Istanbul Convention and Visitors Bureau, ProColombia and Visit Aarhus Convention Bureau.
Scott Ferguson, president & CEO of Halifax Convention Centre presented his venue’s imaginative campaign, which included ‘Gary the fork’ and samples of carpet being sent to clients for evaluation. He said: “This award provides great global recognition for the city of Halifax and the province of Nova Scotia, and the wonderful team at the Halifax Convention Centre. Bold, simple and fun, that’s who we are.”
Looking forward to hosting the 2016 Congress, the wonderfully named Yang Berhormat Datuk Amar Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, Sarawak tourism minister, said: “Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, has further elevated its position in the international arena as one of the top business events destinations. This is a great privilege for us, as it has provided a great impetus to the State of Sarawak in developing local industries and enhancing our global network.”
Also on the awards list were Greater Bogota Convention Bureau, which won ICCA Best PR Award for successfully telling its One Young World story and CAT’s Martin Lewis was honoured with the ICCA Moises Shuster Award.
ICCA also launched another extension of its Big Data Search tool at the Congress, which included a comprehensive set of education sessions, and the Copenhagen Lecture delivered by co-founder of Noma (voted the world’s best restaurant), entrepreneur and Nordic food revolutionary, Claus Meyer.