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The ICCA Mediterranean Chapter meets in Rome

On Sunday February 2nd, the ICCA Mediterranean Chapter Summit began with a welcome networking evening at the Sheraton Hotel in Rome.  The annual meeting of this Chapter of the International Congress & Convention Association convenes members from Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, South East France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Serbia and Turkey.  Jointly organised by three Italian PCO's AIM Group, Studio Ega and Triumph Group, on behalf of the ICCA Italian Committee, chaired by Federica Lucini, the Summit has seen the participation of 70 delegates from 11 countries.

“The Mediterranean Chapter has one of the largest number of members of all the operating ICCA Chapters” explains the President Elif Balci Fisunoglu. “The Summit is the result of the need of the members to be able to confront each other on themes of common interest, to analyse the complete scenario of the meeting industry in the Mediterranean area, and to try to find common solutions to the challenges of today's market. Particular focus is given to the theme of destination marketing, an area which directly involves Convention Bureau's, PCO's and Congress Centers”.

“The Italian Committee enthusiastically accepted the suggestion made by Martin Sirk to host the Summit which has been designed to give greater cohesion to the Mediterranean Chapter” declared Federica Lucini. “I am particularly satisfied that Italy is giving a strong sign of participation through the very high number of members present, and by the commitment shown by AIM Group, Studio Ega and Triumph Group in organising the Event”.

Work began on Monday, February 3rd at the Marriott Park Hotel, with an introduction given by Emma Aru, President of Studio Ega. Her speech dealt with the theme of the competitiveness of destinations on the congress market, and explained that quality, costs and the reputation of meeting spaces together with the accessibility of the destination, the mobility solutions offered and the quality and reputation of the hotels are the main aspects taken into consideration by PCO's and event organisers when choosing a destination.

The keynote speech was carried out by Bertrand Cabedoche, an Information and Communication Sciences lecturer in Grenoble and President of Orbicom, the worldwide network of UNESCO Presidents. He concentrated on the centrality of the Mediterranean area and on its evolution. The Mediterranean area, he states, is a stage for diversity and conflict, yet it is also a bridge which joins cultures. The Mediterranean area has always been a source for innovation, integration and new social, political and economic models; Cabedouc stresses the importance to restart from this original DNA so as to be able to take advantage of the present and new opportunities.

The day's program proceeded with the session entitled Ideas Move People, Things and Means, chaired by Pier Paolo Mariotti, Meeting Manager of EURAC in Bolzano. During this session, three case histories were presented which illustrated how event destinations and locations are being organised in accordance with new concepts so as to efficiently compete on the market. The first, presented by Ante Jankovic, General Manager of Jonkeping Convention Bureau, showed the Swedish network of Convention Bureau's – a network of 21 Swedish Bureau's that, due to the lack of a National Convention Bureau, have come together in collaboration and at a low cost, to create a governance, to gather data regarding the sector, to mediate with the Institutions, and to find new business opportunities. The second case history was that of the Swiss Tech Convention Center, the new EPFL  (Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne)  a technological congress center which will open next April.

Béat Kuntz, Managing Director of the Center told of how the Swiss Tech Convention Center was conceived not so much as to satisfy logistic necessities but as an instrument for the dissemination of academic knowledge on a Regional, National and International level. It is intended to be the propelling center of a scientific ecosystem of excellence realised thanks to a public/private partnership. The third experience presented was that of the Firenze Convention Bureau: its Director, Carlotta Ferrari, described the transitional process from a mainly public to a mainly private model with 175 partners holding 65% of shares. This has greatly benefited the operational agility and the capacity to generate a congress-orientated business for the entire city.

During the second part of the morning, the participants worked in groups to define the strong points and the weaknesses of their destinations with reference to four specific themes: norms for medical and/or pharmaceutical congresses, art and architecture, well-being, fun and entertainment. The object of the Workshop was that of gathering information from other delegates and of clarifying specificity and aspects which are common to all countries with the aim of defining the elements for a coherent and strategic “branding” of the Mediterranean destinations on the International market of events.

The session entitled The Client's Perspective took place in the afternoon and was chaired by ICCA's CEO, Martin Sirk: a panel of four event organisers, two companies and two associations illustrated to ICCA members the aims of their events and the supplier/partner relationship, highlighting the areas of improvement in the working procedure. Present on stage were Bruna Migliazza, Marketing Manager of Hay Group - a consultancy company, Maya Novacic, Head of Public Affairs of Huawei - a Chinese multinational company that produces mobile devices, Salvatore di Somma, President of Great – a network of emergency doctors, and Gianluca Santilli, President of the Organising Committee of the Granfondo Campagnolo Roma – a non-professional cycling event which counts over five thousand participants.

Concluding the first day were theme-based speeches on Company Social Responsibility (CSR) and on the organisation of large political-institutional events. The CSR theme was illustrated by Patrizia Buongiorno, Vice-President of AIM Group International who underlined the benefits and the opportunities, for associations that promote congresses, of including initiatives of social responsibility in their programs. These should directly involve the participants and leave a positive legacy to the territory and the communities that have hosted the Event. The theme of political and institutional events was taken on by Rita Zanchini and Francesca Campedelli from Triumph Group. They illustrated the logistic and, above all, the safety problems tied to the organisation of the G8 Summit in Geneva in 2001 and in L'Aquila in 2009, and those relating to the General Assembly of Interpol in Rome in 2012.

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