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BestCities Global Alliance creates legacy at PCMA Convening Leaders 

BestCities Global Alliance kicked off 2016 with a bang alongside its strategic partner - Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA) at signature event Convening Leaders, which also saw BestCities destination Vancouver host the annual congress from 9th to 13th January.

The hotly anticipated industry event which saw more than 4,000 industry leaders gather for four days of unparalleled education and orchestrated networking (a further 1,200 attending virtually), provided a platform for BestCities to reaffirm its commitment to excellence as an alliance and bolster its already strong and fruitful partnership with the PCMA.    

With a theme of legacy running throughout the convention programme, BestCities utilised this opportunity to share its knowledge and the collective expertise of its members and Customer Advisory Board, to deliver a series of sessions which encouraged members and customers to reappraise their approach to meeting planning globally.   

Sessions included an Open Mic Session whereby members and customers were encouraged to share their experiences and challenges of coordinating congresses globally and reappraise their approach with learnings from their peers, this being an ongoing benefit to BestCities member cities who are collectively committed to the highest standard of client service.   

Furthermore, as hosts of the Global Hub, BestCities set up a charitable initiative, ‘Coffee for a Cause’, in aid of Child Aid. The $2,500 usually spent on producing promotional materials will go directly to a primary school in Tzampetey, Guatemala, where motivational sessions will be delivered embodying the ethos, “what happens in a meeting can change people’s lives forever”.  Five teachers and seventy students will benefit this year alone, and BestCities aims to continue the fundraising initiative at next year’s Convening Leaders, in Austin, to generate capital for further years funding.  

Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Best Cities, Karen Bolinger, comments on the critical role of international association conferences in advancing the cause of others for the local destination, their community and the cause they each represent: “The success of Convening Leaders has never been about attendee numbers but the delivery of high-level content, high-octane networking and the outcomes and legacy left behind in each city.  

“Over the past few years there has been a growing focus on collaboration, with emerging trends that hone in on working together to achieve a greater, long-term success from events outside of the conference itself. This mind-set has been at the forefront of BestCities partners, building on legacies from local communities and working with associations to ensure that those created in a meeting during one year are continued to future years throughout their network.  

“This year’s conference generated USD 2,500 for Child Aid through ‘Coffee for a Cause’, a very simple example of how an event led initiative can have a lasting impact on the wider community.  Through this contribution we will be building on the charity’s ongoing work, which just last year saw Child Aid hire and train 397 teachers, open 88 libraries, create 9 new school libraries and distribute 96,262 books to schools.”    

Karen continued: “Legacies are about looking forward and considering the long term impact, of the conference beyond the event itself. By actively creating legacies, you’re working together to develop the future.”

The Alliance’s vision for the cultivation of legacies in congress host cities globally also mirrors one of the trends predicted by PCMA at Convening Leaders Vancouver - ‘tribalism’; the coming together of planners, cities and communities to create kinships which deliver stronger results and longer lasting impact than would be achievable alone.   

Michael Foreman, BestCities CAB Member and Founder of Kindology, a specialist agency which creates concepts to do good at professional events, said: “It is clear that planning for the creation of legacies in congress host cities will leave a positive impact, but the measurement of success is yet to be defined.  Our Customer Advisory Board meeting addressed this concern, with BestCities committing to setting goals and objectives for client congresses in five different ‘legacy currencies’: financial, physical, educational, emotional and social impact.   

“Essentially, BestCities destinations will involve communities, key individuals and stakeholders across the relevant industry networks, from research centres to universities, to help towards an organisation’s success in the longer term.”  

The next PCMA Convening Leaders will take place in Austin, Texas from 8-11 January 2017.

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