Connecting the dots 2.0



# tags: Venues , Associations , Meetings Industry

One of the main purposes of an association is connecting the dots. By definition we do so by bringing our communities together, enabling networking and sharing of knowledge.

Over the last two years, we explored different ways of doing so, resulting into a blend of formats to be used going forward, increasing both our reach and impact. At the same time, the challenges faced by the AIPC community provide an opportunity to create a different kind of bridges, forfilling our role as global association for convention centers even more.

As part of the preparation of the AIPC Academy, a one-week management course for upcoming convention center leaders, we ask the particpants about the challenges they face. For this year’s edition, we received ten (10) pages of challenges in total, from venues located in 9 countries (from Singapore to Canada).

Service excellence is on the top of minds of almost all the participants and more specifically delivering excellence in a changing (market) environment. The changing customer requirements, in combination with factors out of control of convention center management, create a level of uncertainty which is not easily translated into business opportunities. Just to give an example: the big resignation creates labour shortage at convention centers, impacting service levels. In some cases, this means that convention centers need to cancel events, because they feel that the service level they can deliver is not in line with the level they want to deliver.

This begs for the question: what can AIPC do to support its members in these circumstances? It is a challenge which AIPC shares with many associations worldwide. During the Brussels International Associations Forum (BIAF), it was one of the key topics – both on stage and during the informal networking moments. Many associations transformed themselves into agile, multi-channel community platforms, requiring completely new skillsets from their staff and – not to be underestimated – a new type of engagement with their members. But what more needs to be done?

The Board of AIPC decided to take action addressing three key questions: 1) how can we address the resource issue by creating a talent pipeline for convention centers? 2) how can we stimulate innovation by building a bridge between start-ups and convention centers? and 3) how can stimulate knowledge sharing using our events as platforms?

The first step in addressing the resource issue was the creation of a talent programme. Fourteen upcoming leaders convention center leaders were selected for a 9 month elevated management programme, which includes the development of an idea which can transform the future of convention centers. The outcome will be presented at the 2022 Annual Congress to an audience of convention center C-level leaders. This will be followed by the second step: transforming these 14 leaders into ambassadors for our industry, attracting talent by showcasing the opportunities offered.

Building a bridge between start-ups and the convention center community is a second pilar. The idea is to channel the wealth of ideas generated in event start-up hubs across the world to the AIPC Community, providing the start-ups with a platform to showcase their ideas and giving the AIPC members the opportunity to discover cutting edge technolgy, which could bring value to them and their customers. The AIPC Start-Up Lab was launched in March and we hope to see the first results soon.

The third pilar is leveraging our events to become real platforms for knowledge sharing. This is of course already the case to a certain level, also because AIPC is a relatively small association, which allows for real engagement between members when they meet at our events. But we wanted to take it a couple of steps further. A first test was our Operations & Facility Summit last December, which we transformed into a one day workshop facilitated by a global strategic thinker. Outcome at the end of the day: an exhausted and inspired group of participants. As a result, this format will play a more important role in all our events, including the Annual Conference, where we will have a Lego Seriously Play session.

The goal of the actions described above is simple: to support the AIPC Community in bringing excellence to the next level, by connecting the dots – globally and in a different way.

© Sven Bossu Opinion