GainingEdge, as the professional management company of BestCities Global Alliance, is pleased to announce an additional member to its team supporting the alliance of 12 convention bureaus.

From 1 July 2017, Lesley Williams, who was Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh, the past seven years, will be joining GainingEdge. Lesley will take on a new role as Director, Market Development for BestCities, where her focus will be to help drive the alliance’s strategic goal of discovering new markets on behalf of its partners. The BestCities team from GainingEdge currently comprise Paul Vallee (Managing Director), Jane Cunningham (Director, International Associations), Nigel Brown (Manager, Marketing, and Partnerships) and Caryn Wong (Associate, Alliance Operations).

Gary Grimmer, CEO of GainingEdge explained that Lesley will work closely with the BestCities management team and partners to generate results from new markets, evaluating and advancing the alliance’s conferences strategy and developing a global ambassador programme. “With Edinburgh as one of the founding partners of the BestCities Global Alliance back in 2000, the bureau and Lesley have played an important role, helping shape strategy and business development.”

“Lesley’s addition will complement Jane Cunningham’s strategic goal of building customer loyalty and enhancing BestCities’ relationship with international associations. She will do that by developing a deeper knowledge of customer needs and offering services that encourage an ongoing connection with ourAlliance,” added Paul Vallee who also serves as Executive Consultant, Americas for GainingEdge.

Williams has served on a number of committees focused on raising the profile of Scotland as a world leading conference destination including involvement in the Annual Business Tourism for Scotland; as Deputy Chair of Business Tourism for Scotland, and also as Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter.

At this year’s IMEX, BestCities and ICCA announced the “ICCA Incredible Impacts Programme” partnership aimed at advocating the positive societal impact of international association meetings. “Incredible Impacts Grants” will be awarded to associations to encourage communication of the true value of their meetings. Three associations will be awarded a grant of US$7,500 every year beginning in 2017. The winners of each year’s grants will be announced at the ICCA Congress in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Vallee pointed out that this strategic partnership, the convergence of ICCA’s five-year strategic plan and BestCities’ own ambitions, celebrates and directly advocates the “beyond tourism” value of international association meetings.