Last month, just prior to IBTM World’s staging, the Iceberg partner’s inaugural Global Policy and Practice Forum was held in partnership with The Business of Events. Supporting the gathering were the Barcelona Convention Bureau, PCMA (the Professional Convention Management Association) and JMIC (the Joint Meetings Industry Council, which presents The Iceberg).

The forum brought together leading destinations, national and regional convention bureaux and policy makers to discuss how business events can be used to support and influence wider policy outcomes. “We’re using that power of your relationships, and your understanding and insight today”, said Simon Hughes, Vice Chair of the UK’s Business Visits and Events Partnership, “to gather some really constructive thinking about how we move events and business events away from just being something that takes place, and leaves a few hotel rooms full, and leaves a few restaurants a bit better off, into something that impacts and makes real social change, and drives real economic success.”.

Sherrif Karamat, President and CEO of PCMA, saw the industry’s relationship with government working better when government is approaching the industry, rather than the other way round, the industry with its hand out. Examples of industry relevance engineering such interaction were given by Tracy Halliwell, Director Tourism, Conventions and Major Events at London & Partners. Her convention bureau set up London Tech Week on its own, only then to have government getting involved. Halliwell told a similar story of Britain’s Department of International Trade participating at the recent London Sibos.

Radiation oncology association ESTRO’s Head of Innovation Sven Bossu described how meetings are increasingly moving beyond their creators to involve destination communities and deliver wider legacies to them. Neil Brownlee, Head of Business Events at VisitScotland, talked of using meeting selection to advance government policy. In a policy-driven model, the bidding for major conferences is approached with the pillars of Scotland’s annual Programme for Government in mind.

Kit Lykketoft, Director of Conventions at Wonderful Copenhagen, believed there can’t be a legacy model without a policy model. Kai Hattendorf, MD and CEO at exhibition industry global association UFI (and also Honorary President of JMIC), warned against ignoring sustainable development’s social and economic aspects in favour of the current trend of measuring industry impact on ecology and the environment. “Flight shaming” may in turn lead to “event shaming”, but the industry should be able to defend itself by holding up the benefits and legacies that derive from staging events. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, Hattendorf suggested, provide an appropriate and widely understood framework for benchmarking true sustainability.

Other key voices in this video review include Isabel Bardinet, CEO of the European Society of Cardiology, and Melissa Riley, VP, Convention Sales and Services at Destination DC.

The IBTM Global Policy and Practice Forum 2019.


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