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The do’s and don’ts of collaboration: Making partnerships work for you

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During the 2019 ICCA AMP, James Rees, Executive Director, Conferences & Events, ExCeL London and the ICCA President, explored the do's and the don'ts of collaboration - a hard-hitting and complex topic for all of us event profs!

Here is a small sample of the tips and best practices our delegates came up with.

1. What did your session topic cover?

International association meetings span geographical, economic, cultural and social boundaries – and are therefore a minefield of intercultural communication! So, when it comes to international collaboration and partnerships, everybody in our industry has a story to tell: What works and what doesn’t, what is an absolute MUST and what is a big BUST?

2. Which main challenges did the session address and attempt to solve?

International partnerships need to have open and transparent communication and a clear understanding of expectations if they are to work for everyone. We applied that to how this session was set up, “unconference” style. Delegates were encouraged to share their epic failure stories, being open and honest with each other about where they got it wrong in the past. After all, we all make mistakes in our careers – let’s look past the shame we feel and learn from negative experiences as the global community we are.

3. What are the 3 main lessons you hope delegates learnt?

  • Start all your partnerships with a foundation of trust and honesty. Good communication is key to a shared vision: keep all your stakeholders and partners informed and provide them with access to the same level of information. 
  • Not every association meeting has the same requirements, so make sure you understand the bidding process from the start. The Request for Proposal document is your Bible! Don’t ask questions of the association that is included in the RFP, don’t miss deadlines, and show you understand the client’s needs. 
  • Get your local heavyweights on board. This is key to a successful bid and therefore a strong collaboration with your association partner. Obtain input and support from the local association and captains of industry; demonstrate clearly how their meeting will benefit your destination. If you’re looking for government buy-in in particular, using your official convention bureau are a lobbying channel is vital. No official CVB in your destination? Setting one up is a crucial first step!

4. How can these lessons inspire them to go further in their professional lives? How should someone implement this advice back at the office?

The most important thing you need to succeed back at your office is the full support of your team and a checklist for your internal procedures. Make sure everyone working on the bid follows standard operating procedure within your organisation and fully understands the RFP requirements.

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