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BestCities Global Alliance client workshop creates a legacy of success

Berlin passes BC workshop batton to Dubai
BestCities Global Alliance, a strategic collaboration between the world’s premier meeting destinations, is toasting the success of its annual Client Workshop, which took place in Berlin, hosted by VisitBerlin at the Berlin Convention Bureau from 26 to 29 August.
With a theme of Legacy running throughout the four-day programme, the client workshop brought together a carefully selected list of association representatives, with BestCities members and Berlin’s business tourism influencers and ambassadors, enabling delegates to learn more about the Alliances’ unique 12 city offering, while gaining practical insight and learnings to assist with their own important conference planning and association management.

Thirteen association representatives from 10 countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, the USA, India, and China made the journey to Berlin, responding to an exclusive invitation issued to the world’s leading associations with experience of planning conferences in locations across the globe.  

Informative 1:2 sessions with city member representatives, enabled delegates to gain an in-depth and bespoke understanding of each city’s unique, high quality offering, guaranteed by the BestCities Alliance standard. Group sessions, hosted in a number of Berlin’s stunning business tourism venues, provided a valuable learning platform, enabling intelligence sharing between association representatives and member cities. Ways BestCities can deliver the best outcomes for its clients’ meetings and facilitate more effective collaboration, was a key part of a workshop programme which focused on education and take-away learnings.  

Legacy proved a crucial theme running throughout the workshop, with a strong emphasis on ways congresses can make a lasting difference in advancing their causes, including what they leave behind for their host communities. Future opportunities for BestCities to work closer with clients to further support the next generation of event planners also proved a popular topic. A session, moderated by Sherrif Karamat, Chief Operating Officer of Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), which focused on emerging trends and other topics, proved a valuable forum for association planners to share knowledge and experience, was regarded as particularly beneficial by the attendees.  

The role of Legacy in events was further captured in the keynote address to the Ambassador’s Dinner at the Einstein Institute in Berlin by Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Best Cities, Karen Bolinger, which highlighted 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.  

Karen said: “We are seeing a growing trend for leading associations to measure the success of meetings and conferences not only by delegate numbers, new sponsors, great keynotes or smooth operations.  Real success is seen as something more enduring, something that will make a long-term difference.  

The International AIDS Conference 2014, which attracted almost 12,000 delegates from over 170 countries to Melbourne was just one example sighted to provide context as to what successful legacy creation looks like and its lasting impact and benefits for the host city. Following the work of the MCB with the International AIDS Society, government and local community to galvanise the Melbourne Planning Group, the collaboration then worked with the conference organisers to deliver an impactful event which also raised awareness of AIDS and implemented new policies to eliminate stigma attached to the disease.  Other outcomes included changes to the law in Melbourne’s state of Victoria around transmission and improved health outcomes for local patients affected by HIV and AIDS.  

Karen continued: “These legacies will give new meaning to meetings and will provide delegates with another reason to join and connect.  By actively creating legacies you can define the success of your meeting, your association and your leadership.  Legacies are about looking forward.  It’s about what you can create today that will make a difference tomorrow.”  

Sherrif Karamat, Chief Operating Officer of PCMA, who facilitated a session at the Workshop said: “The lively discussion session surrounding Legacy, produced some strong insights and raised important issues for both host members and delegates alike. The lasting positive impact conventions can have on a host city is a widely-shared common objective for both convention bureaus and international conference organisers. The discussions led to some really interesting ideas and PCMA is looking forward to working closely with BestCities as it refines its strategic, innovative approach to support its clients in their future Legacy creation.”  

Delegate Aaron Janofsky, Associate Director, Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) commented on the workshop’s diversity: “In addition to the information presented, one outcome of the discussions was the very interesting highlighting of differences in association models of the groups represented at the workshop, making for an instructive day and a return to the office with a number of good ideas.”  

Other event highlights included speeches from Dr. Marion Müller, Einstein-Foundation and Prof. Dr. Detlev Ganten, from World Health Summit who gave an insightful presentation showcasing the scientific and research excellence of Berlin as a host city.  

The next BestCities Client Workshop will take place in Dubai from 5-9 December 2016.

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