The only way is up, baby.

So good riddance 2020! It was a year the meetings industry will remember for its prophets of doom and profits of Zoom. Even with the light of vaccination shining from the end of the tunnel, there is pain still to come for most. Things here in the United Kingdom are grim with the variant strain of the virus spreading fast. At least Santa has just dropped a last minute post-Brexit trade deal down the chimney to brighten an otherwise miserable Christmas eve.

The year has seen real heroes and heroines stepping up to the plate and battling against the brutal forces of nature. But even as we plan to build back better, the devastation around is hard to miss. The Iceberg was born of the need for sector advocacy, and there has never been a more critical time to demonstrate this industry’s worth.

You can join us in that goal by becoming a partner or ambassador of The Iceberg. Please click the link at the top of this issue! But below I also repost the two-part webinar that the Iceberg team produced to support the Joint Meetings Industry Council’s Global Manifesto in July. This was our own contribution to the fight and (we like to think) is a serious resource for recovery advocacy. The recent posting of JMIC’s Local Government and Community Advocacy: Some Basics (see Research below) should also further the legacy of the JMIC Global Manifesto.

The Iceberg‘s JMIC Manifesto Webinar Part I. Full feature here.

In Features this issue there is more advocacy. The completed Kaohsiung Protocol, a global recovery framework document, finally gets posted. This is the crowdsourced legacy outcome of Iceberg partner ICCA’s 59th Congress. Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Convention Advocates Partnership is marking a ten year legacy securing conferences for the Queensland capital. The article includes an interview about COVID-19 vaccines with immunologist Professor Ian Frazer, who I had the privilege of interviewing myself a few years back.

In News this issue, things have been busy for Iceberg partner and global association of the exhibition industry UFI. The 87th UFI Global Congress was attended by about 700 members from over fifty countries, making it the largest edition ever. UFI has also just released the eleventh edition of its annual Euro Fair Statistics, plus the second edition of its report on the exhibition industry in Latin America. The latter study now covers sixteen markets in the region, reveals healthy growth prospects prior to the pandemic hit and also the prominence of women in senior roles across the region. UFI and live event research specialists Explori have released the second part of Global Recovery Insights 2020, which focuses on the future of digital and hybrid events.

The Iceberg‘s JMIC Manifesto Webinar Part II. Full feature here.

Other research is also making News. The global exhibition market is likely to shrink $19.9 billion, a total year-end contraction of 69 percent. So says the twelfth edition of market assessment Globex. By 2022, the report expects to see the market back at 78 percent of its 2019 size. Shrinking budgets for travel and visa issues are causing concern to planners of international association meetings, according to a survey from the Union of International Associations. The IBTM Global Trends Report 2021 “Build Back Better” has drawn on the pandemic to forecast what could lie ahead for the business events sector in 2021.

The IBTM Global Trends Report was launched at the first IBTM World Virtual. The Iceberg partner’s online event closed with Reed Travel Exhibitions reporting nearly 13,000 business meetings as having taken place and almost 8,300 eventprofs as having taken part. The 2020 Global Forum of Iceberg partner BestCities Global Alliance has been held, mixing physical and digital elements to create a unique hybrid meeting for over 128 delegates around the world. The BMO Convention Centre in Calgary has completed its new Exhibition Hall F. The total expansion project is to cost $500 million, and the facility upon completion will be Western Canada’s largest. COVID-19 SMART testing (Systematic Meaningful Asymptomatic Repeated Testing) was successfully used at the Livercool Conference 2020 for the first time, following the mass testing of 90,000 Liverpool residents in November. After both the protests and the pandemic, Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association has welcomed the HKSAR Government’s recognition of the exhibition sector and also its commitment to expanding meeting space.

All twelve Opinions articles this issue are fresh, and what a breadth of perspective they make! Ten well-known UK exhibition organisers have been describing their thoughts and plans for next year. Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director and CEO of Iceberg partner UFI, offers with his team five trends to drive industry development. Five European convention bureaux share perspectives on the role of the meetings industry and the function destinations now play as intellectual capitals. Managing Editor at Iceberg partner Mash Media Paul Colston has put questions to Ray Bloom, Chairman and Founder of the IMEX Group, also a partner. The CEO of Cape Town International Convention Centre, Taubie Motlhabane, has been talking about her career path and pandemic journey.

Also in Opinions, listen to two podcasts. David Thompson, the Event Director of Iceberg partner IBTM World, has been talking to M&IT Acting Editor Paul Harvey, and Fiona Pelham, CEO of Iceberg partner Positive Impact, with AMI Editor James Lancaster. After years at the helm of the Meetings Industry Association of Australia and Business Events Council of Australia, industry legend and friend of the Iceberg Elizabeth Rich remains a keen observer in challenging times. A keynote was given at the 87th Global Congress of Iceberg partner UFI by the President and CEO of WTTC (the World Travel and Tourism Council) Gloria Guevara Manzo. Read highlights of her address. Convention centres around the world have been working quickly to install broadcast studios. We have a global roundup of this emerging trend. Coronavirus vaccinations are already happening, thanks in part events like “Vaccinology in the Age of Pandemics: Strategies Against COVID-19 and Other Global Threats” held online in June. Plus, during the pandemic venues have been used as field hospitals. Why shouldn’t the sector also help roll out the vaccines? So argues Julian Agostini, Managing Director at Mash Media.

In Research you will find PCMA’s COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard for November. From UFI also read Euro Fair Statistics 2019 (December 2020), from IBTM the IBTM Trends Watch Report 2021 plus from JMIC Local Government and Community Advocacy: Some Basics, all mentioned above. Competitive Index 2020, posted by Iceberg partner GainingEdge, is essential reading as well.

This issue’s parish notices start with previously published coronavirus resource pages from within our own partner community: the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), IMEX Group, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), plus publications Meetings & Incentive Travel (M&IT)Association Meetings International (AMI)Conference & Meetings World, Conference NewsExhibition WorldExhibition News and ASAE’s Associations Now Today’s Coronavirus Tracker.

JMIC, which presents The Iceberg, has announced Cliff Wallace as the winner of the 2020 JMIC Unity Award. Wallace has had many years of service in the design, construction and management of public assembly venues and has elevated those facilities to a respected presence in the communities in which they are located. He has also been a senior leader of many industry associations and an instructor and mentor across a wide range of training programs.

There are association resources aplenty at the new website of Iceberg partner Global Association Hubs, including a Free Virtual Meetings Guide made available by Julius Solaris of, and COVID-19 advisories from the four GAH destinations: Brussels, Dubai, Singapore and Washington DC.

The 87th UFI Global Congress welcomed a united and resilient industry. The association’s first digital running of the event drew its biggest audience to date, with sixteen hours of live broadcasts from Hong Kong, London, Bogotá and Dubai. Over 1,200 connections were forged through the congress platform. Iceberg partner Mash Media posted reports from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 of the event.

Anbu Varathan, the Director General and CEO of the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers’ Association and the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, has become UFI President for 2020 – 2021. The baton was passed to him by outgoing President Mary Larkin at the Global Congress closing ceremony on November 18th. Anbu Varathan has since posted a December message.

UFI has announced themes for its 2021 awards. The focus will be on awarding best practice and highlighting creative solutions during and after the pandemic. The entry deadline for all categories is March 16th 2021.

Sven Bossu, CEO of Iceberg partner AIPC, has posted thoughts on the association’s hybrid annual conference in Paris. AIPC member Congress Center Messe Frankfurt has been completely modernised and reopened, with the new design already snagging an award. Software business partner Ungerboeck has unveiled a video campaign around the challenges faced by the event industry over the past year, “We Will Event Again”. AIPC member Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre recorded a contribution of more than AU$740 million in economic impact to Victoria in the 2019 – 2020 financial year, despite a reduction in activity due to the pandemic.

IMEX Group has announced that about 6,000 planners and suppliers attended the October edition of PlanetIMEX. 95 percent of survey respondents said the event had met or exceeded expectations.

Iceberg partner AIME has announced new exhibitors for its 2021 show. These include Business Events Cairns and Great Barrier Reef, Daydream Island in Queensland, Sapporo Convention Bureau in Japan and India. Potential hosted buyers from Australia and New Zealand gathered together on November 5th, with those in Asia joining on November 18th, for the AIME-first regional Virtual Gatherings. AIME has also announced an AIMEbassador programme to kick-start business in 2021.

Meetings and events industry trade show IBTM Asia Pacific has announced it will take run at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention centre on June 8th and 9th 2021, to “allow time for travel restrictions to be eased so that as many as possible of the event’s international audience can attend in person”. Originally scheduled for May 2021, Reed Exhibitions Mexico, organiser of IBTM Americas, has announced the event’s postponement to August 18th and 19th 2021. The new event dates have also been announced as an ongoing result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reed Travel Exhibitions has announced that Shane Hannam is stepping down from his position as Portfolio Director of IBTM Events after almost three years in the role. The IBTM Events portfolio will now be managed by Claude Blanc. Commenting on his move, Shane Hannam said: “While I’m sad to be leaving Reed Exhibitions, it’s been a great experience, both professionally and personally, and I’m incredibly proud of what the IBTM team has achieved”. The Financial Times of London has reported at least 500 staff have already left Reed Exhibitions or will be gone by the end of the year. The world’s second largest exhibition organiser, Reed’s redundancy programme can be seen as a result of the industry’s slow recovery from the pandemic. Newly published insights from Reed Exhibitions’ COVID-19 Customer Needs and Mindset Barometer has revealed that 84 percent of visitors and exhibitors have tried at least one new digital service since the lockdown was introduced in March 2020.

Iceberg partner BestCities Global Alliance has run its annual Global Forum, blending “physical” and “digital” to create a unique hybrid educational event for delegates around the world. The event featured one-of-a-kind experimental sessions on transforming events to future-proof models. The Forum also saw the announcement of BestCities Global Forum Madrid 2021, hotly anticipated since its postponement this year. BestCities has posted nine takeaways from the experience.

Iceberg partner European Cities Marketing has launched the ECM Benchmarking Report and the ECM Meetings Statistics Report, with results from the 2019 on both bed nights and meetings in Europe. These reports show the healthy growth of the industry before the pandemic that has changed the sector forever.

Iceberg partner Mash Media has announced that nominations for its newly unveiled Digital Event Awards are open. The DEAs has been launched to recognise excellence in the delivery and production of digital events that have come to the fore in 2020 due to the postponement of live events. The team behind the new DEAs has announced its first group of judges. The panel will be chaired by Dr James Morgan, Principal Lecturer in Event Design at the University of Westminster. Meanwhile, the shortlist for the Exhibition News Awards’ COVID-19 categories have been revealed. The new categories, which sit alongside the traditional line-up, were announced to recognise the achievements of the industry during lockdown and include online events, fundraising initiatives and supplier and venue safety products and plans. Tickets for the Exhibition News Awards (EN Awards), now on February 5th 2021, remain on sale.

To add to its Boardroom MiniCourses, the online learning site full of short, high-quality educational videos, Iceberg partner Boardroom has recently launched #Roadmap2030. This will deliver practical, hands-on educational content, networking opportunities, mentorship, news and community engagement all year-round. An initiative by the publishers of Boardroom, Boardroom MiniCourses and the advanced tech company Bond, #Roadmap 2030 is set to become a global resource for associations executives and staff.

Iceberg partner GainingEdge has posted the advisories COVID-19 and Destination PromotersPutting Some Order to the ChaosWhat to Ask Associations Beyond “Will You Be Rebooking?”Partnerships and Collaboration: Now Even More Essential, and Building Confidence with Your Stakeholders, plus insights Tracking the Return of the MICE Events Sector in a COVID-19 WorldThe MICE Sector in a COVID-19 World – Lockdown, Transition, New NormalTracking the Return of the MICE Events Sector in a COVID-19 World – Part 2, and “How Accessible is Your Association?”, plus Bulletin: COVID-19 Issue #1, Issue #2, Issue #3, Issue #4, Issue #5, Issue #6Issue #7, Issue #8, Issue #9, Issue #10, Issue #11, Issue #12, and Issue #13.

Iceberg partner Positive Impact Events is seeking 100,000 event professionals to build the future of the industry. There is a great video here.

There are extensive further COVID-19 resources at the Events Industry Council (EIC), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), the Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA)Meetings Mean Business and Meeting Professionals International (MPI). Northstar Meetings Group has posted a running list of New Dates for Events and Conventions Postponed Due to Coronavirus.

Northstar’s Travel Technology Europe is marking its coming of age by rebranding to TravelTech Show and launching as the first global event for the travel tech industry.

In line with the suggestion in Opinions, industry services are being adapted to assist COVID-19 vaccination efforts. beMatrix, a supplier of exhibitions stands, is helping build sustainable and safe vaccination centres. The company has designed several modular units, which it says can be used to repurpose sports and events halls. Meanwhile global event and specialist logistics provider Production Resources Group has been lending expertise and knowhow to the set-up of a treatment centre in two Berlin exhibition halls. PRG will also complete a similar technical framework for temporary vaccination centres at Tempelhof Airport and the Arena Berlin Treptow.

In cooperation with IMEX and MGM Resorts, MPI is asking event professionals around the world for their input on what the industry’s future will look like. Participation is anonymous, but you can also enter your name and email address to receive an advance look at the survey’s results.

PCMA will hold its flagship annual meeting Convening Leaders as a hybrid event. Originally scheduled to take place in Houston, the conference will now have multiple further hubs for small face-to-face gatherings around the world from January 11th to 14th as well as going online. Held last month in Sydney, PCMA’s Convening Asia Pacific: Global Recovery Forum provided lessons in hybrid event experience design that prioritises safety for in-person attendees and interactivity for digital participants.

The reopening of business events in Australia prompted responses from ICC Sydney, BESydneyAdelaide Convention Bureau, and Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Melbourne Convention Bureau also posted figures, and hosted 140 business events before the sector was forced to close its doors in March.

Auckland Convention Bureau has announced the winning of the bid for the International Association of Women in Police Annual Conference in 2023, and the same year’s International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists. COVID-19 has increased the value New Zealanders put on face-to-face meetings, according to new research conducted in the business events sector for Tourism New Zealand.

The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia broadcast three events live in a hybrid format from ICC Sydney on December 8th. The EEAA Annual General Meeting, CEO Forum and Awards for Excellence were attended by over 150 industry representatives in person and virtually.

South Korea’s Busan is running a new campaign with the slogan “GREEN MICE GREEN BUSAN”. The objective of the campaign is to promote and create a sustainable MICE environment, applying green ideas at all stages of event planning. Meanwhile the PLUS SEOUL support programme has been revamped again by lowering the requirement and enriching customisation. With the pandemic gluing people on the ground in front of their computer screens, SCB has brought the destination to delegates instead with the Virtual Seoul platform.

The Singapore Tourism Board has signed three memoranda of understanding with international event organisers at TravelRevive, a pilot international travel tradeshow and conference powered by ITB Asia and STB. The November meeeting was the first such event to take place physically in Asia Pacific with foreign attendees and exhibitors since the pandemic. Speakers included UFI Managing Director and CEO Kai Hattendorf, ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath, and AIPC President Aloysius Arlando.

The World Economic Forum will convene its Special Annual Meeting 2021 in Singapore this May. It will return to Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, for the Annual Meeting in 2022.

The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau has announced an increased focus on online events, with its “Thailand LOG-IN events” plan. The initiative aims to boost industries which the Thai government is targeting for growth, including logistics and infrastructure.

IMPACT Exhibition Management has given the green light for live audiences to return to the IMPACT Arena in Bangkok. The venue has a number of conferences and exhibitions lined up in the coming weeks. One already held was the twelve-day 37th Thailand International Motor Expo 2020, which attracted 1.2 million visitors and saw over 33,000 car orders placed.

Arab Health, the largest exhibition for healthcare and trade professionals in the region, has announced that its 2021 edition will include a four-day live event taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre in June, as well as a two-month-long series of online events running from May to July. Meanwhile, Medlab Middle East’s live show will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre from June into July 2021, with the online element taking place from May to June.

Organisers of the Paris Air Show have cancelled the event for 2021 because of the “uncertainty” caused by the pandemic. The show, held on alternate years with the UK’s Farnborough International Airshow (cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic) was to have taken place in June. A new date will likely be in June 2023.

Mack-Brooks Exhibitions has announced the postponement of its ICE Europe, CCE International and InPrint Munich 2021 shows, which were scheduled to take place together at the Munich Trade Fair Centre in March. Instead, the exhibitions will run in June. The decision was taken, the organiser said, in light of the ongoing pandemic and continued uncertainty over travel restrictions.

The Brussels European Association Forum, ASSOCIATIONWORLD‘s new association event, now has a new date. Moving from January 15th to 29th, the event will take place with strict compliance to COVID-19 health and safety measure, welcoming a maximum of forty association professionals.

After a successful bid by WEC The Netherlands, together with the proposed host city and several bid partners, Rotterdam is hosting the World Energy Congress 2025. The Rotterdam Ahoy Convention Centre will welcome around 4,000 delegates from all over the world between in September 2025.

The city of Rotterdam and Rotterdam Partners Convention Bureau have launched what they call “The Rotterdam Experiment”. A total of seven hybrid events under specific themes will be used to collect data to find innovative solutions for the meeting of the future.

The Hague Convention Bureau, Ottawa Tourism Business Events, Prague Convention Bureau and Geneva Convention Bureau have launched the Hybrid City Alliance in a collaboration that sees four like-minded destinations joining together to provide a creative offering for conference and event buyers.

After a challenging 2020, the Monaco Convention Bureau is set on building a solid basis for the meetings industry of the Principality for 2021. A new communications campaign with the slogan #REEVENT was launched on December 8th at IBTM World Virtual.

An association of sport scientists has chosen Rimini in Northern Italy as the host destination for its 2024 annual congress after collaboration between two of the region’s prestigious universities. Professor Marco Narici from the University of Padova, with input from the University of Bologna (Rimini campus), formulated the bid on behalf of the city of Rimini and host venue Palacongressi di Rimini.

Milan will host the 2024 World Conference in Earthquake Engineering, arguably the most important international event in the field, after a successful online bid. The meeting, held every four years and attracting around 5,000 delegates, will  be returning to Italy for the first time in more than half a century.

In the midst of this challenging period, Glasgow’s Conference Ambassador Programme has celebrate its thirtieth anniversary. Glasgow Convention Bureau has been sharing memories of successful events brought to the city thanks to its committed academic community.

The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP), the umbrella body for the UK’s events industry, has launched a reopening survey. The poll will show how industry suppliers across the country are preparing to reopen safely. Take part here.

The UK’s One Industry One Voice coalition #WeCreateExperiences B2B campaign kicked off on December 7th. The star-studded launch video was viewed over 250,000 times.

The Face Of Events campaign has been launched by event professionals to highlight the struggles being faced by those in the business events and meetings sector. The aim is to create a virtual gallery of those who have been affected and continue to face hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemicEverybody from the events and hospitality sector is encouraged to take part by simply uploading an image of themselves.

Season’s greetings, and here’s to a better 2021…

Robert Coren, Curator of The Iceberg


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