PCMA Global Professionals Conference adopts unusual model, focuses on regional culture and business opportunities

Cultural intelligence and emerging business opportunities in Asia-Pacific were among the topics that were discussed at the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Global Professionals Conference Asia Pacific 2017, which kicked off yesterday morning in Bangkok, Thailand.

The by-invite-only event was attended by 40 people, 20 of whom were from professional associations, AMCs and meeting planning agencies.

Mary Pat Heftman (left) and Deborah Sexton agree that PCMA’s new programme will allow delegates to experience more of the city, and learn about its culture and the available meeting facilities

Explaining the focus taken for the event, Mary Pat Heftman, PCMA chairman, told TTGmice that the intention is for its members to “learn about the different cultures” in this region and “the appropriate way… to do business in Thailand and the rest of Asia”.

The conference is also a departure from the usual structure where all knowledge sessions are held in a single venue and where social events happen in the evening. Here, knowledge sessions are presented in a different location daily. For instance, Tuesday’s sessions were conducted at IMPACT Arena and IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Centre, while Wednesday’s session will be at the Avani Riverside Bangkok Hotel.

As well, the daily knowledge sessions will be interspersed by social activities, such as an elephant painting CSR activity with the Elephant Parade welfare organisation at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, and a rice planting activity at the Sampran Riverside.

Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of PCMA, described the programme as an “exciting” one as it would allow delegates “a great opportunity to see more of Bangkok and the type of facilities that are available here for meeting planners”.

She said: “It is great that we won’t be meeting in a single location every day. Our attendees need and want to understand a destination, and opportunities for this are often only in the evening. I’m glad that TCEB (the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau) came up with this decision for the programme.”

Heftman added: “We find that adults do not want to learn sitting in a room and being spoken to. There is a real transformation in the business events industry now for planners to immerse their delegates in experiences. There’s no better way for our delegates at this conference to see the various venues (in Bangkok) than to experience them, and to live and breathe (the city).”

When asked if PCMA had plans to do more with TCEB on educational conferences beyond this week’s event, Heftman said: “We’ve been to Australia, we’ve been to Singapore, and we are here now. But having recently acquired ICESAP, we are going to take a step back and think about our next step in our strategy.”

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