Partnerships key for associations and meetings industry suppliers

Working together as partners will benefit all, say panellists

Solid partnerships are key to organising a successful business event and ensuring that operations run smoothly while participants leave with a memorable experience, say panellists at ICCA Congress 2023’s Partnership makes a difference session on November 14, 2023.

Iain Bitran, executive director of the International Society for Professional Innovation Management, said it is important that all parties take a “two-way” approach.

Working together as partners will benefit all, say panellists

“We also want to try and give something back to the city, it’s not a one-way thing,” he remarked.

Partnerships with destinations are key in connecting organisers with stakeholders there, such as convention bureaus, associations, chambers of commerce, relevant ministries, universities, and companies.

“(The partnership) does not stop when we leave because we effectively become (a destination’s) ambassadors. I don’t understand why you don’t use us more in that way because I now work for (the destination) for free,” Bitran added.

Marina Knittel, manager associations at Vienna Convention Bureau, said part of the bureau’s success lies in establishing long-term partnerships with association clients.

“The secret of this success can be applied to any relationship. It’s trust and transparent communication,” she said.

Weemin Ong, vice president of sales and MICE at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, said a key element to successfully attracting business meant “true collaboration” with other destination stakeholders to “craft experiences” for attendees.

“That’s where true collaboration comes in. Looking at what each partner has to offer and stringing them together in a series of experiences,” said Ong.

Sarah Markey-Hamm, CEO of ICMS, said PCOs act as advisors to associations. However, there can be challenges in getting associations to take the advice of PCOs, such as when it pertains to the risk of choosing a certain venue.

“We know it’s the wrong selection, but (associations may) stick with their decision and then complain that (the venue) can’t deliver what they need. We’ve told you, but you just didn’t want to listen,” she said.

Often, Vienna Convention Bureau is seen as a partner and strategic advisor, Knittel added. “We also learn a lot from associations, and we try to share this knowledge with other associations.”

Tamara Bernstein, regional director Europe and head of partnerships at ICCA, said partnerships are a “living, breathing thing” that must be nurtured.

“It’s not just one static, dynamic, ever-changing process. We have to adapt and re-examine partnerships every year,” she explained.

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