CMW talks to the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) new EMEA regional business director, Luca Favetta
What has prompted the PCMA expansion into Europe and EMEA?
Historically, PCMA’s engagement has been focused in North America. However, our industry is increasingly engaged in global meetings management and, while the vast majority of our membership is in the US, Canada and Mexico, PCMA has members in 12 Asia Pacific countries and 22 EMEA countries.
As our members and partners are increasingly searching for global solutions, PCMA needs to provide education globally in conjunction with local partners. We want to provide customised education and a platform that enables industry leaders to connect and share knowledge, ultimately creating a new generation of business event strategists around the world. However, everything we do is created using our mantra of ‘for Europe by Europe’.
In my new role, my first objective is to enhance PCMA’s brand awareness and customer engagement in the region. We are working with a number of organisations that have similar values to PCMA, so that we can strengthen our offerings and continue to elevate the role of the business event professional.
How did you adapt from the corporate world to an association?
I spent my entire professional career (25+ years) in the Corporate Events sector, with organisations such as HP and SAP. But the association world is not completely new to me.
I have worked with multiple industry associations in many different environments.
I’ve had the opportunity of collaborating and supporting PCMA over the last few years and so, when I heard about this career opportunity, I thought PCMA was the perfect organisation for me to try something new. And corporate business event strategists are still one of our key audiences, so I’m still very connected with my ‘old world’.
What trends are you are seeing in the associations market in Europe?
• Making Technology Work – Mobile and Virtual – how to use these tools to enhance the impact/value/experience for all stakeholders. This is related to many aspects of the industry, including design, engagement and diversification.
• Compliance Curve – and trying to stay ahead and on top of it– This will have an impact not only on revenues but even on venue selection, marketing, sponsor relations, etc. I don’t believe this will be limited to just the field of healthcare.
• Managing/Mitigating Risk in a volatile geo-political environment. This all has an impact on delegate, data, financial and brand security.
• Understanding & Articulating ROI – and addressing perspectives of all stakeholders. All stakeholders want proof of ROI using multiple forms of measurement, including engagement, revenue, and sales, supported by data.
In my opinion corporate events are one step ahead in respect to association meetings, where detailed measurement processes are still not always in place.
What is the next big project for yourself and the EMEA advisory board?
The primary scope of the PCMA European Advisory Board is to help focus the regional priorities and craft our engagement plan.
We met for the first time in January at Convening Leaders in Austin, Texas, and started a very constructive conversation. We have since had more talented and highly experienced people join to help us to develop our strategy for Europe.
Our next big project is the PCMA Influencers Summit, 25-27 June in Monaco. It will seek to gain insights and expertise to develop a range of solutions for Europe by Europe in the industry.
The event will bring together approximately 40 senior European industry leaders to share knowledge, discuss community engagement and create a new framework for PCMA education, which will be delivered in to the market.
What are some of the ways the PCMA and your European representation can help association meeting organisers and what do you see as their main challenges?
We live in a fast changing industry and to keep up we have to evolve and adapt to new engagement models. This is already happening in the corporate environment. It is happening in the association market but at a slower pace, I still see the need for a mind shift in adopting new business models in order to compete in the future. Education is one of the keys for professional growth and we should all invest the right amount of time and energy on this. This is challenging, especially in these days where budgets and resources are constantly under pressure. To be successful it is critical to select the right development opportunities available.
What are your targets over the next couple of years?
While we have a development strategy in place, we don’t have targets for the long term yet. My primary focus for the first year will be creating brand awareness in Europe for PCMA. This will reflect in an increase in customer engagement and, at a later stage, into growth.At the same time we are defining which kind of programmes are needed in our region and where the focus should be. The PCMA Influencers Summit in June will help us to design the framework for PCMA Education that will be delivered in the near future.
How does the European MICE market differ from the North American model?
There are many similarities among the topics that challenge the industry, however many times the local nuances are somewhat different. These are important to understand and discuss, in order for business to be done more efficiently. Pricing models vary from country to country, not just Europe to North America. When doing business in destinations we are not familiar with, we should ensure we have no assumptions and ask a lot of questions of the right people.
Communication is the best way to overcome the challenges we might face. By sharing ideas and experiences we can help our industry grow and develop, no matter where that is.