A combination of member expertise and global insights addressed an overall theme of “Transformation” at the 2017 Annual Conference of the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) this past week in Sydney Australia. Enhanced by a destination and a new host facility – the ICC Sydney – with a lot of very recent experience in the re-invention process, the theme embraced a series of topics ranging from potential impact of current geopolitical challenges to more immediately practical issues such as cyber-security, evolving client expectations and emerging competition in the industry.
The conference drew on the recent experiences of the host city Sydney with a series of presenters who described and illustrated the dynamic of a city renewal process that relied heavily on a convention centre component as a catalyst for new business events activity. At the same time, global thought leaders such as Prof. Greg Clark, Chairman of the Business of Cities Ltd, an intelligence and strategy group based in London UK that observes/reports on global trends and changes in cities and Dr. Razeen Sally, an international economist, Co-Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy and Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore provided research-based insights into how areas as diverse as city relationships and emerging geo-political disruptions could impact centres along with suggestions for strategies to address them.
Other sessions explored areas of immediate centre concern including the growing spectre of cyber-security, the opportunities associated with the rise of a powerful Asian industry, and how key client groups are re-shaping event formats, centre expectations and traditional business practices. At the same time, a range of new AIPC programs and research results was unveiled that directly addressed some of the most important challenges and provided members with both insights and tools to respond to these.
An important vehicle for information and creative exchange – the AIPC Innovation Award – generated a competition amongst 15 AIPC members and a wealth of new ideas for delegates as a whole. Winners of the Award were the Palais des congrès de Montréal for the “Urban Agriculture Lab”, a green rooftop development created by the centre to explore green inner-city opportunities and the Cairns Convention Centre for their highly innovative response to the question “What to do with an old roof”.
The highlight of the General Assembly which accompanies the Annual Conference was the election of a new Board of Directors, including Aloysius Arlando, CEO of the Singapore EXPO Convention and Exhibition Centre and former AIPC Vice President as President, Greg O’Dell, CEO of the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre in Washington DC, USA as Vice President, Jan van den Bosch, Senior Vice-President of the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, Netherlands as Treasurer and two new Directors: David Pegler, Chief Executive of ExCeL London in the UK and Peter King, CEO of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in Australia. The existing directors, Julie-May Ellingston, CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre; and Marc Rodrigues, General Manager of the CCIB – Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona, complete the 7-member AIPC Board of Directors.
A decision was also taken to accept an invitation from the Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp in Belgium to host the 2019 AIPC Conference in their new facilities.
In summarizing the Conference Arlando noted that “Ours is a conference attended by a very clearly defined group of senior convention centre executives, which enabled us to target content highly strategically to the leading and pressing issues facing that group today. The result is a depth of information and discussion which our ongoing conference surveys tell us delivers highly valued content – of both immediate and long-term planning value – in a highly efficient way. In a time of some rapidly emerging global disruptions, this year’s conference was a good example of that principle in action”.