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AIPC 2016 Annual Conference outcomes underline key centre issues

A wide range of speakers and sessions addressed the key issues of diversification and adaptation at the 2016 edition of the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) Annual Conference last week in Nantes, France. The program brought together both industry expertise and a range of related speakers who collectively offered insights into both industry-specific topics as well as how other business sectors are dealing with similar issues in an effort to encourage the widest possible spectrum of thinking.

“The AIPC Annual Conference program always seeks to combine the expertise of our members with relevant outside perspectives and this year’s theme particularly lent itself to such a combination” said AIPC President Geoff Donaghy. “Today, the ability to both compete and adapt to changing client expectations are the greatest urgencies facing our members and by seeing how others have addressed the same kind of challenges while considering strategies for their own future produced the best possible outcomes”.

Global thought leaders such as John Thackara, author of How To Thrive In The Next Economy, Robert Govers, Chairman of the International Place Branding Association and Gary Kayye, President and CEO of rAVe Publications and InfoComm’s Educator of the Year looked at topics ranging from global economic transitions such as disruptive business practices, destination brand development and maintenance and emerging technology while Simon Naudi, founder of the international consultancy Answers Training helped members identify and assist in developing strategies for adaptive responses required by centres in planning for change.  

Other sessions explored adjacent areas impacting centre business development, including an analysis of the critical accommodation sector by Elizabeth Winkle, Chief Strategy Officer for Smith Travel Research and a global expert on the hotel industry as well as how the global exhibition business is evolving according to Kai Hattendorf, Managing Director at UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and Eric Préat | Vice President, Product Development, Artexis & easyFairs Group.  

One area receiving particular attention was that of managing the impacts of terrorist attacks on destination reputation and business prospects, which has become a key issue in the past few years, and this was addressed by a senior level panel of representatives from Brussels, Paris and Istanbul, all of whom have experienced direct impacts in recent months.  

A key outcome of the Conference was the awarding of the 2016 AIPC Apex Award for the “Best Client Rated Convention Centre”. This year’s winner of the prestigious Award, which has been maintained by AIPC for over 20 years and is based entirely on the basis of client ratings as assessed by the global market research company Ipsos, was the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC), with the Kongresskultur BregenzGmbH and the Hawaii Convention Centre identified as runners-up.  

In a concluding decision, members voted to accept an invitation from Istanbul, Turkey to host the 2018 AIPC Annual Conference. The decision was made on the basis of both an excellent proposal and as AIPC President Geoff Donaghy said “our determination to support colleagues experiencing challenges which as we now all realize can be visited upon destinations anywhere in the world today”.  

In summarizing the Conference Donaghy noted that “The AIPC Annual Conference has become a very senior learning and strategic planning session, and this year’s program and outcomes were solid demonstrations of that principle. I believe that all our attending members and guests will have left this event with a new appreciation for how we can both collectively and individually approach the most challenging issues of our time”.

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