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Presidential Message December - 2019 Reflections: The spirit of change!

2019 has certainly been a very busy year for the ICCA family.

After our successful congress in Houston and having concluded my first year as ICCA President, I reflect on the sense of personal responsibility to ICCA and am thankful to everyone that has spoken to me, shared their views about ICCA’s future and for the positive messages of support I have received over the course of this year.

During my speech in Dubai 2018, I spoke about how I would aim to lead ICCA through the inevitable change we face in the coming years and the need for innovation, creativity and incentive for improvement. As a result, our entire focus during 2019 has been about seeking new ways of working and bringing more value to all of us as ICCA members. New commercial ideas have been brought to fruition. New services have been agreed and are being rolled out for those members who have asked for ICCA’s assistance in growing their business. And new events are being launched, including the first ever ICCA AsiaPacific Chapter Summit which will be held in Penang, Malaysia, 5-6 December.

For association and business events to continue to grow and thrive, it is increasingly important for us to work with colleagues across the industry to find new ways of working and collaborating. For that reason, in June this year, you will have seen that we signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” with both AIPC and UFI, representing the G3 Alliance. This partnership will allow us to collaborate on areas such as research, joint education and, importantly, co-operation in our joint efforts towards greater advocacy for the economic and societal change our industry brings.

2019 has allowed us to see two great examples of how ICCA events can support the growth of our sector in host destinations. Firstly, in June, ICCA’s AMP event was attended by 128 delegates and association executives in the wonderful city of Durban and the stunning ICC Durban Convention Centre. Our thanks once again go to the whole team in Durban who hosted the AMP as ICCA returned to South Africa for the first time in 15 years. During the event we had the opportunity to meet with the Mayor of Durban and to see, first-hand that association events will play an important role in the city’s strategy going forward, and ICCA has committed to supporting those aims in the months and years ahead.

In August, the Board of Directors held a strategic meeting in Israel, hosted by our ICCA colleagues in Tel Aviv and the holy city of Jerusalem. For many of the Board, this was a first ever visit to Israel and we were welcomed personally by the Director General of the Ministry of Tourism and were able to meet with all of the city stakeholders of Tel Aviv to discuss how they move their tourism strategy towards business events, all the while aligned to the industrial strategy of Israel as a country, and a shining example of how our industry can support societal and economic development.

Against this historic background, the Board were able to debate ICCA’s future strategic direction and re-evaluate the existing 5-year plan which was published back in 2015 and, liaising with our CEO and his management team, we will seek to publish our revised strategic plan early in 2020.

One of the key areas of debate for ICCA over recent years has been how we evolve our relationship with the associations we serve, moving from supplier-buyer relationship to that of real partnership and collaboration. Traditionally, ICCA has engaged with association executives and built close relationships with them, however our statutes and bye-laws have meant that we have not included them as full members.

The result of extensive work from the Board of Directors, ICCA Management and ICCA members from around the world has been the official launch of the ICCA Association Community. This is a crucial step for ICCA. With associations integrated into our community, we will have direct input from an important voice in the world of association meetings. Embracing associations provides us with a greater understanding of their needs now, and in the future, helping to grow ICCA’s relevance whilst maintaining our unique values and integrity.

For ICCA to continue to thrive in an increasingly complex world, it must recognise a challenge faced by many international associations – that of a potential future leadership vacuum and lack of continuity that could lead to the demise of the association. ICCA is not immune to this situation and so the idea of establishing a Shadow Board of younger ICCA members provides us with the opportunity to guide the next generation of our future leaders.

This in turn will stimulate interest from a younger member category, raise awareness within the next tier of members, provide opportunity for engagement and contributions whilst ensuring continuity and depth within the association. It will also allow us to explore new thinking and will ensure the Board of Directors is continually challenged with new ideas. For that reason, during the congress in Houston, I was delighted to announce the launch of ICCA’s Future Leaders Council.

The new council will comprise of members of each of ICCA’s 6 geographical regions, ensuring that opinion and knowledge from across the globe is brought into the new Council’s thinking. The Council will be tasked with tackling present and future challenges that ICCA faces and to report their findings and recommendations to the full ICCA Board for discussion and implementation. Full details on the nomination and application process and the expected responsibilities will be published this December. Good luck to all of you that apply to join and I look forward to sharing the outcomes from the council at our congress next year in Kaohsiung.

Finally, this year has been one of ambition – ambition to grow what we do, to grow our industry and provide tailored services to members that provide more value and business advantage. In doing this, we will enhance and protect the future of ICCA and I thank our Board of Directors, our new CEO and the ICCA team around the world for embracing the spirit of change and driving our organisation forward. 

Wishing you and your families a joyful festive period.

Yours in ICCA,

James Rees

ICCA President