The End of the Legacy Road? Is a lack of C-suite association engagement leaving destinations isolated in pursuit of event legacies?

“The dialogue between associations and destinations, in Europe at least, is at its lowest peak concerning impact and legacy – the topic may well be extinguished, already,” says ESTRO chief executive and Iceberg Hero, Alessandro Cortese. “Destinations talk about marketing and competitive edge through impact; associations talk about their missions. In between, there is almost no strategic overlap”, concludes the pioneer of the engagement project and new model RFP issued by ESTRO, and the cancer treatment community, in 2019 (See ‘Adjusting to Changes’ by Convene Magazine in Features and ‘CLARITY OF MISSION: How the ESTRO Madrid Project Yielded a 700m euro legacy for cancer patients in Spain’ in Case Studies).

Sarah Fleming, Iceberg Ambassador and MD at lead development and bid-support agency, SF-Connect – the lead generator for destinations – confirms that despite her destination clients seeking to advance the association mission through Intellectual Capitalism, and further social alignment to the challenges faced by the local community, the associations are simply not taking the bait. An Opinion echoed by Paul Mockler, Head of Commercial Development at Failte Ireland who shares concerns that associations and destinations need clear definitions of what is meant by impact and legacy and so avoid falling out over language.

This lack of association engagement, however, is becoming thematic and threatens to extinguish the impact and legacy of events movement with a return to the dark days of commoditisation of destinations (dates / rates / space and subvention) by member-centric associations.

In Features – Matty Rubenstein, who has worked with several senior IEEE executives, weighs in to conclude that convention bureaus need to re-direct the conversation upstream to the association C-suite/Board level or the legacy conversation is over. If, and that’s a big IF, associations are genuine in claiming their mission-centricity, then the legacy discussion should be front and centre of a New Product Development strategy by the whole of the BE Sector and not just a few well-intentioned volunteers. However, the conference division of an association is not the starting point but instead the delivery arm of any strategic conversation. Find ways to talk to the organ grinders at C-suite and Board level, he suggests, and include senior political figures, or Mayors, to conduct the dialogue to plug the strategic overlap that Cortese cites as missing.

And not all is lost as EASL, the Home of Hepatology’s ILC in Vienna, disproves Cortese’s assertion that impact strategies don’t cut and paste with a stunning repeat of its Love Your Liver Campaign – the sequel to The Iceberg’s case study titled ‘Why Are We Killing Our Children‘ brought this year by AMI’s James Lancaster featuring CEO, Ben Hainsworth, and Advocacy and Legacy expert, Maraika Geisterfer-Black – see ‘How EASL Took its Annual Congress into the Classroom‘ in Case Studies. Geisterfer-Black shares her own reflections of EASL’s Love Your Liver impact strategy successfully deployed in London and Vienna in Opinions.

IEEE, the $500m turnover organisation, is itself now one of 30 financial contributors to the Net Zero Carbon Events Movement administered by JMIC.

In videos in #107, PCMA’s Project Spark leads the way in curating the sector’s way forward on AI. President & CEO Sherrif Karamat CAE, and event tech partner Gevme’s CEO Veemal Gungadin, introduce the industry inflection point and education required to exploit the opportunities and threats presented by the new technologies. Tourism Australia’s Commercial & Business Events Executive General Manager, Robin Mack, reflects upon the social and funding legacies of Sydney’s hosting of WorldPride while PCMA’s Convene also shares the pitfalls of corporate sponsorship surrounding such an event via the Dhalia+ Agency’s feature article. And Iceberg Ambassador Greg Newton basks in another hoof-whopping Stampede from the new BMO Centre in Calgary which collected the AIPC Innovation Award at the convention centre management conference held in Luxembourg just last month.

In News, Victoria blots its copybook. Can it be trusted again as editor at Conference & Meetings World, Paul Colston, reports that state Premier Daniel Andrews has announced its withdrawal from hosting of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, stating that “I’ve made a lot of difficult calls, a lot of very difficult decisions in this job. This is not one of them.” Colston also brings home news of a substantial investment, alongside Informa, in the exhibition sector by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund – no ambiguity in the for-profit sector compared to that of non-profits.

ABEA, the new peak industry body of Australia announces its new CEO while Loren Christie replaces Iceberg Ambassador, Lesley Williams, at the BestCities Global Alliance. Lviv, in Ukraine, hosted over 700 international planners, architects and local government officials in preparation for the reconstruction of Ukraine. Read the remarkable story of UNBROKEN Ukraine and the National Rehabilitation Centre which is to have a new surgical building developed after renown Japanese architects attending the Urban Forum submitted plans immediately post-event. And Iceberg Ambassador, Tommy Goodwin of the Exhibitions & Conferences Alliance (ECA) leads the Anti-Fraud Movement in the U.S, while another Iceberg Ambassador, Virginie de Visschers unveils the secret to securing Destination Canada’s EIC-IMEX Sustainability Award.

These and more among a sea of A-list contributors, publications, newsletters, research and even a 50-Year celebration of Meetings Made in Germany by our bearded friend are on the menu for you to cogitate, consume, and digest as we at The Iceberg head into our own summer recess. We’ll see you in September for a bumper edition, but a special invitation awaits mission-centric associations (assuming there are any) on September 11th at the ICCA Association Forum…

Enjoy, or chew a wasp, but certainly share!


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