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UK’s ‘second city’ attracts more association executives than London

The Associations Congress UK 2019 saw more association event professionals than ever before descend on Birmingham’s ICC for two days of education, engagement and entertainment.

It was the first time Birmingham has hosted the event, which saw 169 delegates from across a spectrum of disciplines come together to experience a range of workshops, expert briefings, and hear success stories from some of the industry’s best talent.

The two-day event programme took in sessions on strategy, leadership, events, membership, communications, marketing, education, professional development and technology, followed by an awards lunch to close on the final afternoon.

Damian Hutt, executive director of the Association of Association Executives, organiser of the Associations Congress UK said: “It’s gone very well. We’ve had very good feedback. People have been saying they’ve got a lot of good ideas they can apply to their own events.

“What’s been nice is that we’ve come out of London and we’ve got more delegates than last year. We’re nicely surprised, because London usually attracts more.

“The 19 association success stories this year have been a highlight, last year we had 12 so it’s great to see that increase. They’re going to be available on the website at the beginning of January, free of charge.

“At the global conference we developed operations and strategy streams and we’ll be instituting that at the UK congress next year. We got a 38 per cent increase in event directors. They want something much more strategic. It outlines how important events are for associations.

“The refurbished ICC is just amazing. They’re going to finish the Symphony Hall next year. For the associations it’s perfect to see what it’s going to be like.”

Linda Best, association account director at the ICC said: “This has been the perfect occasion for associations from across the UK to come together to share learnings and best practice, and the ICC team are proud to host such an influential event.”

Kelly Haslehurst, director of marketing for conventions and exhibitions at the NEC Group: “This has been a welcome opportunity to showcase to association organisers the ICC’s fantastic credentials for events of all shapes and sizes. Our multi-million-pound investment programme has included the refurbishment of our halls and executive meeting rooms, plus the enhancement of wayfinding, Wi-Fi, lighting and bathroom facilities. The Associations Congress has benefitted from all this and hopefully also encouraged delegates to return to the venue with their own events in the future.”