Sense of purpose grips ICCA Congress in Krakow

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Marta Comes Marta Gomes, incoming ICCA president. Photo Credit: ICCA

The association meetings industry is facing tough economic headwinds with a renewed sense of purpose - focusing on legacy, sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

That’s the unmistakable message that came across at the 61st Congress of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), held in Krakow, Poland this week.

The five-day event focused almost exclusively on these three themes, echoing a prevailing sentiment in the industry that it needs to evolve quickly to meet a host of new challenges.

Taking place at the same time as COP27 in Egypt, there were arguments for the industry to clean up its act and demonstrate the tangible benefits of meetings beyond economic impact.

In one session, run by ICCA and BestCities, three associations – IWRA, ISCBFM and FootballisMedicine – demonstrated how they used meetings to benefit society and improve policy.

The associations were all Incredible Impact Award winners and all three were given a grant of USD$7,500 towards further projects. ICCA has been building bridges between its members and their association clients for several years now and has a 500-strong association community.

Elsewhere we heard how ICCA members – mainly meeting industry suppliers – had created an open innovation platform, led by the German Convention Bureau, to make the industry more dynamic.

Taking part in that session, ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath said the industry had become ‘complacent’ about how things should be done, but since the pandemic that had now changed.

He said: “Innovation is a word that is very close to my heart. I believe our industry must innovate or it will die. Why? Because every other industry is innovating, and we can’t be left behind.”

Earlier ICCA members elected Marta Gomes, deputy executive director, Sales VIParis, as the new ICCA president, succeeding James Rees, executive director - conferences & events, ExCeL London

Gomes, who saw off competition from two Americans - Daniel Palomo, Visit Houston and Greg Talley, Talley Management Group - said she saw ‘blue skies ahead and events are coming back strongly’ but, we should be ‘ever mindful of the challenges ahead’.

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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