The Iceberg is now identifying and celebrating the greater mass of hard-to-see business events legacies that lie hidden beneath the surface in a new podcast “Below the Waterline”.

In the third of a series featuring major meetings industry players, Iceberg founder James Latham catches up with Sissi Lygnou, CEO, Operations and Development, at AFEA Travel & Congress Services.


AFEA Travel & Congress Services CEO, Operations and Development, Sissi Lygnou.

Sissi graduated from the German School of Athens before completing studies and a dissertation about business administration and tourism at the University of Regensburg, Germany. She worked in the PR and Events Department in the run up to the Athens 2004 Olympics, then as Communications Manager for the Olympic and Paralympic Village during the Games. Sissi is now CEO, Operations and Development, at the “family owned” AFEA. She has also been General Secretary of HAPCO  (the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organisers) since 2007, General Secretary of EFAPCO (the European Federation of the Associations of PCOs) since 2008, and is active on other advisory boards and committees, including those of IAPCO (the International Association of PCOs).

In this third “Below the Waterline”, James was talking to Sissi in London at the 33rd Summer School of Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing. They spoke about her faculty role at that educational event, defining the function of Professional Congress Organiser for delegates. Are PCOs merely the “hod carriers” of business events, or can they aspire to be strategic partners, actively delivering meeting legacies? What role do they play in the value chain?

Sissi and James also discuss event compliance in relation to the PhRMA Code (of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), guidelines and restrictions in bidding for meetings, as well as how to deliver event outcomes. They talk about how destinations are getting choosier in selecting which meetings to target, in alignment with their promoted knowledge sectors. They discuss the easing of tensions between PCOs and convention bureaux, plus the role of UEMS (the European Union of Medical Specialists) and its EACCME (European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education). Also mentioned are conference ambassador programmes, local organising committees, and the importance of measuring both the contribution of meetings to economic impact and (much harder) to knowledge economy development. Above all Sissi and James agree that PCOs should be right at the core of any city’s development strategy.


Podcast production: Toby Miller.

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